Mothers Have Needs Too!

Allison Gilbert, LMFT, Santa Cruz Counselor Lic: MFC 24087

Teach Your Husband

Skewed Perspective
When I was pregnant with my first child, my ideas about being a stay-at-home mom were definitely skewed.  I was looking forward to my "time off".  I had no idea that I was really off to a new job!

Envy and Comparisons
My husband also started a new job at that time.  His though, had a 40 hour work week, while mine ended up being 24/7.  We would look at each other and wish we were in the other's shoes.  He'd see me with that skewed perspective: able to stay home all day and take "time off".  He'd see me setting my own schedule, watching TV (VH1 while I was nursing or rocking the baby to sleep), meeting with friends for lunch, and napping.  I'd see him getting to leave the house, be free and independent, go anywhere, do anything, make money, and gain self-confidence from a job well done.

Unrealistic Expectations
We both had unrealistic expectations of caring for a baby.  I didn't know the reality of motherhood until I had the baby in my arms.  My husband was never able to really understand either until I let him try it all by himself.

Give Him the Job
If your husband just doesn't get it, you need to teach him.  But not by complaining or through comparisons or by flighting over who isn't doing their fair share.  Instead, leave him with the baby or the children.  Take an hour or two for yourself away from home (or even take an entire day away) at least once a week - every week.  Daddy needs time to be in charge and totally responsible for his children: changing diapers, wiping up spit up, holding, feeding, carrying, bathing and in general dealing with all the whining, crying, fussing and fighting.  And give him some occasional night-time duty too.  He won't "get it" until he experiences it for himself.  And it will help you to get away from it all and take a break.

Write it Down
Another way to help him understand is to keep a journal.  Write down your tasks from sun-up to sundown and through the night, if needed.  Record the times and lengths of all of your activities.  Both of you need to realize what you are actually doing with your time.  You'll also begin to see how he can support you.  Then, once he experiences some of it for himself, and sees it all in writing, he should be more supportive and grateful for all the unpaid work you do.

2007 Allison Gilbert, M.A., L.M.F.T.; Free Tips

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 "Allison, you were a lifesaver. I hope you don't mind my rhapsodizing about your help, but I am still incredibly grateful to you for helping our family in our time of need, and so I will continue boasting about how awesome you are to just about anyone who will listen."-Mother of a preschooler and a newborn

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