On the weekend, my husband was incapacitated by a terrible flu. Our lovely plan of spending Sunday exploring the open day at Abortsford Convent went ahead only he stayed home asleep and I took the kids. I must admit that I drove away mumbling about man flu. I had felt poorly all the previous week but had soldiered on limping to the finish line on Friday night where I collapsed on the couch depleted and miserable.
While our Sunday outing was fun, it was a lot more effort for me on my own to ensure that the kids stayed with me, kept their shoes on and didn’t bother others in the crowds. At the end of the day we piled in the door. The kids were excited about their painted faces and the toys they won at the fair. But I was exhausted and over it.
My husband had been grateful for the rest and gladly took over being with the kids. He was happy to scrub their faces to get the paint off at bath time (why is face paint so hard to get off??) and read them a bedtime story.
That evening, I thought about how my husband is much better at saying when he is unable to cope and at taking himself to bed when he needs it. I shouldn’t grumble that he does not stretch himself beyond his limit. I should actually take a leaf out of his book.
Then last night after work I came down with the same symptoms. I could barely keep my eyes open. So, I asked if he minded if I went straight to bed and he did the nighttime routine with the kids. He gladly agreed knowing that I had done the same for him on Sunday. I had a long and peaceful sleep. I feel much better today.
It made me think about how there needs to be give and take when you are parents and it is a constant juggle between each person’s needs, their work and other interests. If you try to keep tabs on who has done more housework or who has been able to do more things for themselves, you will go crazy. Things will certainly not be harmonious between you.
I recently asked a senior colleague how she managed a high pressure job and having a young family. Her answer was that her husband was a teacher and able to be around for the childcare pick up while she did the drop off. It seems a common theme for professional mums is that they have supportive and involved partners.
I’ve heard other strategies between partners like if the child is sick on a Tuesday, the professional mum stays home from work but if it is a Wednesday, then the husband will take the child. The day is determined by what important thing each partner has on at work for those particular days each week.
I think that, generally speaking, this generation’s men are a lot more involved in family life than previous ones. This benefits the entire family.
Everyone’s needs are important and while it may seem things are all going my husband’s way some days, pretty soon I will need to stay back at work or attend an after hours work function and I know that if he can do it, my husband will graciously stay home with the kids.
Having a supportive partner to share the family responsibilities is key to staying on top of it all. I’d love to hear how it works in your family and what arrangements you have in place to try to ensure everyone gets what they need and some of what they want too.
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