Hapa Papa and I fight the most in two types of situations: Traveling (be it by plane, train, or automobile) or when Hapa Papa works from home.
Traveling seems obvious. Even before we had kids, we would always fight (and not just mere disagreements – full on yelling) when we travelled – especially when we drove. Mostly because we actually had a conversation and discovered that Hapa Papa was surprisingly incorrect on SO MUCH of his thinking.
As for working from home, you’d think that would be awesome, right? No three hour round-trip commute. More time with the family. Some help around the house. Win/Win for every body involved. Especially the children. THINK OF THE CHILDREN!
Well. I was wrong. SO. WRONG.
Yes, it is handy that Hapa Papa is around all day (especially in the evening when the kids are tired and hungry and starting to melt down – and okay, in the mornings, too, so I can sleep in or laze about and the kids are downstairs with Hapa Papa busily NOT eating their breakfast). However, we get into SO MANY fights. Mostly, because poor Hapa Papa still has to work and I think it’s Saturday.
He gets mad because every time he sits down at the couch with his laptop to do something, I ask him to get up and get a tissue/napkin/juice/water/small child/wipe a bottom/change a diaper/just do one more thing. (I can’t imagine why.) I get mad because he expects us to just IGNORE the giant lump of a man on the couch and pretend he isn’t there and not speak or talk to him, or have a conversation, or ask him to do one, tiny thing (though, honestly, it never ends at one). THAT’S WHY WE HAVE AN OFFICE/SPARE BEDROOM.
I have told Hapa Papa time and time again that if he has to get any work done, he needs to disappear. I cannot think, for even a second, that he is home. Otherwise, I will harangue him ceaselessly because I am selfish and when I see a Hapa Papa with nothing child/home related on his hands, it signals to my brain that CLEARLY, Hapa Papa needs something to do. (Working to pay the mortgage is NOT ENOUGH. Far too abstract.)
He, of course, gets annoyed and sad that I’ve confined him to the office when Hapa Papa really wants to see the kids and play with them for a bit. No one likes to be lonely. But geez! How can he even imagine he’ll get anything done when he does that?
Anyhow, here are my tips for how to survive a spouse working from home when you have small children:
1) Have a set start and end time. Since Hapa Papa is working from home, it is very easy to have work and personal time bleed into each other. Since I am lazy and selfish, I assume Hapa Papa is working with the kids downstairs, but really, he’s not getting much done in between getting the kids breakfast and managing the morning chaos. It is helpful to me to know when I have to be downstairs to relieve him as well as when he will be officially done with work to relieve me!
2) Have a designated work area that is out of sight and has a lockable door. It’s true what they say. “Out of sight, out of mind.” As long as I don’t physically see Hapa Papa, I rarely holler at him to do something for me. I can be good all morning and not need his help with the kids but as soon as he comes down for a beverage or sustenance, all I see is an extra pair of hands that clearly is not being properly utilized.
The lock on the door is when Hapa Papa is on a conference call and actually needs to participate. There have been times when Cookie Monster or Gamera miss their Papa and come storming up the stairs, yelling out, “Papa!” and burst into the office, disturbing a call.
3) Have grace for each other. Obviously, grace is necessary in all situations, but just because it’s a generic thing doesn’t mean it’s not applicable! I have to remember that just because I don’t think Hapa Papa is doing anything, doesn’t mean he’s not. Plus, he’s actually very helpful and feels really torn between helping me and doing the work he’s paid to do (you know, to provide for our family). I have to remember to be grateful for his job, his work, and his presence.
Hapa Papa has to remember that I am selfish and if he doesn’t look like he’s doing anything, I will find something for him to do within half a second. He also has to forgive me ALL THE FRICKIN’ TIME.
That’s it. It’s a short list – but let’s face it. If you’re anything like me, you probably can’t remember to do more than three things at a time anyway. What do you think? Did I miss anything?