Ask A Woman: Hey Mama, I know I act a fool…
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My wife stays at home. She gets down a lot of the time because her days are largely all the same and she spends such little time with other adults. The winter months are especially tough because the cold keeps her and the kids inside all day. She loves to get a sitter and go out with friends, so we do that when we can. And I’d love to take her out more often, but a sitter and an evening out is expensive, and we’re on a fairly tight budget.
I do little things like bring her “just because” flowers or chocolates now and then, but I feel like they don’t have the same effect they once did. How do you make a stay-at-home mom feel special these days?
This is a pretty sweet email. I love that you’re trying to make your hard-working wife feel appreciated. First, I wouldn’t assume that she doesn’t love those flowers and chocolates. It may be that she is more distracted, tired, or overburdened than she once was and simply isn’t as effusive with her thanks. I have to believe she appreciates that you notice the good work she’s doing raising your children. If it bothers you though, just mention it–“Honey, I think you’re doing a really great job with all the work you do at home–I hope these flowers express a little bit of my gratitude.”
Date nights are a great way to lift her spirits. Who are your friends who also have children? Or even just neighbors that you trust? Propose trading date nights with them. Once a month, you host their kids at your place for a couple hours; once a month, they do the same for you. This way, you’re not paying for childcare, and you don’t even need to go out if you can’t afford it. With your kids out of the house, you’re free to just sit on the couch with your wife and drink wine (or do, um, other things) and catch up. If you can’t swing that, buy a Groupon for a half-off massage or pedicure for her to enjoy one afternoon. Or send her to a girlfriend’s house for cocktails and some chick flick-viewing. You’ll get some fun one-on-one time with your little rascals and she’ll get a break.
“My life is a gothic novel and until you have lived in that house, with all of them in there with you day after day, week after week, year after freaking year, you are in no position to judge me!”
As for her long, unchanging days cooped up in the house, with only knee-high people to converse with, I empathize. It can be rough. And it’s really nice that you’re thinking of her sanity. But she needs to shoulder the responsibility for finding ways to connect with other people. It’s harder to do on a budget, but entirely possible. That might mean going to the library and letting the kids rifle through the children’s book section, or heading out to a mall to walk some laps and then watch the kids burn off energy in the play area. There are tons of stay-at-home-mom groups that meet regularly in most communities where she can find friendship (use Facebook or good ole’ Google to find the ones in your area). Encourage her to be proactive about connecting with other parents in the same boat.
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