Dear Ann Cannon • My husband and I are in a bit of a transition. He has recently taken a job that will have him working from home. We have three young kids, and I speak from personal experience when I say working from home is not as cushy as it sounds. Locking yourself in a room with your computer, trying to block out the sound of a meltdown with the babysitter in one room, a small toddler unloading the bathroom drawers in another, and your 4-year-old knocking at the door is by far the hardest job I’ve ever taken on!
Getting to dinnertime with three kids too young for kindergarten is exhausting. I love them, but by the time my husband gets home from work I am ready to pass that torch off. And frankly, he is usually eager and excited to come home, make dinner, play with the kids and put them to bed while I shift into a lower gear for a few hours.
I’m concerned that by the end of the day, we’re both going to want that break, and neither of us will have that fresh family-centered energy to get through dinner and bedtime. I don’t want the dynamic with our kids to change for the worse, as we both become overspent and low on patience week after week. He still has to get his 40 hours in, after all, and I don’t think he is fully prepared for the sort of work environment he’s about to take on. What can I do to help prepare him, myself and the kids for this new transition?
Dear Apprehensive • I feel a personal story coming on. I hope you don’t mind …
So, when I was pregnant with our first child, my husband and I went to a series of Lamaze classes. What I took away from the experience is that if I just inhaled and exhaled correctly, childbirth wouldn’t hurt. WHICH WAS SO NOT THE CASE! Turns out that childbirth hurts a lot, a reality I discovered for myself when I was in the middle of giving birth to our oldest son, Phil.
What’s the moral of this story, you ask? This: While it’s not a bad idea to prepare for what lies ahead, sometimes you just have to take the plunge and then figure out what to do while you’re in the middle of a new experience. In my case, for instance, I called an audible (a really, really loud one) and asked for an epidural. In your case, you’ll have to see how things play out in real time.
That said, I would definitely initiate a conversation with your husband now. Tell him about your concerns. Ask him about his. Discuss divisions of labor. Agree to keep talking before — and during —this major transition. Then exercise confidence in your own resilience. If you believe you can handle this, then you will absolutely find a way to do it.
Best of luck to all of you.
Meanwhile, a perk of my job is that once a month, I head on over to the FOX 13 studio and meet with the good folks on “The Place” who share questions with me from viewers seeking advice. Last week, Big Budah tossed me this question:
Dear Ann Cannon • Every year my boyfriend uses the same online floral delivery service to send me flowers. But when they arrive, they’re always wilted and the stems are broken. Is there a good way I can tell him not to use the same place this year for Valentine’s Day? I love flowers and feel bad when I have to throw them in the trash. I don’t want to seem ungrateful.
— Flower Lover
I started off by saying that Flower Lover should just be upfront with her boyfriend — tell him that he ought to find a new florist. But halfway through my answer I felt like disagreeing with myself. So here’s how I’d respond now:
Dear Flower Lover • Just say thank you.
Sometimes it feels good to have a do-over.