About a year ago I posted about House Rule #1, which basically stated that any minute my husband was not working, he must have a child with him. Whether he had to run to the store, had just walked through the door, or needed to take a shower, one of our children was required to be with him.
Our children were younger then. We were with them around the clock. Sydney was a baby, and still needed attention most of the time and it still took a good deal of time to get them to sleep whether for a nap or bedtime. I was overwhelmed, it’s true, but also it was important to me that we define our family parameters early on. That two parents were equally responsible for knowing our children.
My husband Kris was totally on board. He needed some reminding once in a while that he was doing something childless, but he is a quick learner.
Our children are older now, and I am calmer. Whole hours can go by where the children are playing independently. Bedtime is easier and requires less. Owen is mostly self sufficient and our time together now is spent enjoying each other rather than meeting basic needs.
Even when Kris has been traveling, I am no longer burned out upon his return. I am not craving ten minutes to take a shower by myself or desperately seeking Facebook connections. Things have gotten easier.
Logically, I knew that this would have to happen, but in the early days of learning how to parent two children it seemed unlikely.
So we are shelving House Rule #1. Technically. But it has created the long lasting result of Kris consistently checking in to make sure things are all right at home before he ventures out sans children. Even if it is just for a run or to pick up a six pack.
I know this seems unnecessary to a lot of people. But each time he checks in it reminds me that we are in this together and that he understands that some days at home with the children are difficult. More importantly it acknowledges how important it is that I am doing well. That my role is important.
Feeling supported goes a long way.
Should we have another baby, House Rule #1 will go back into effect as soon as “morning” sickness strikes. This time though, we would understand how very temporary it is, and realize in how many other ways this rule benefits our family.
But for now, most often when Kris asks if it is convenient for him to run out for a while without the kids, I say “sure” and sometimes even “take your time”.
More often though, Kris does not even ask. He loves having one of the kids with him. It is getting easier for him too.
Though I would like to claim that it was my wisdom and forward thinking that created this outcome, when I instated House Rule #1 it was out of desperation. There was no thought of how it might impact our family long term.
Either way, it does not matter. We have made it through and are headed into the next phase of parenthood. We know a little bit more about who we are as parents and know our children well. I am grateful that we no longer need House Rule #1.
I’ve never been much for rules anyway. (See next weeks entry House Rule #2).