My wife stays at home with our kids. I work full-time.
Her job at home is challenging. That’s exactly why I wrote “15 Benefits the Working Spouse Has Over the Stay-at-Home Parent”. It was an ode to her – and all other stay-at-home parents – about the stuff they have to deal with that the working spouse does not.
Yet life as a working spouse is difficult in its own, unique ways. If you are a stay-at-home parent, your working spouse wants to hear from you that 1) you recognize the sacrifices they make by working, and 2) that you appreciate what they do for the family. (Besides, they very well may read the counterpart list of ways they can appreciate you!)
Finally, let me make it clear that this list is in appreciation for the working spouse. It is not about whose role is harder as both roles have their own unique challenges and benefits.
Because I work and don’t stay at home:
I rarely get to see my kids’ “firsts”
I missed my firstborn’s first steps because I was working. First world problem? Yes, but it was still a big bummer to me. Getting to see some of my colleagues’ firsts – like the first time Ralph clogged the toilet – just isn’t the same.
I have a boss
Bosses get a bad rap for a reason. They set up meetings with you just so they can review all the stuff you’re doing wrong, IN DETAIL. I’m glad my wife is spared from this torture.
I have to give presentations
To many of us, bombing in front of a bunch of yawning, half-listening people is worse than death.
I have to tell my kids I can’t be there with them
My three-year-old son gets upset when I tell him I have to leave for work. I try to explain that I work so we can have money, but, based on his reaction, it’s as if I’m leaving because I want to.
There is no nap time
My kids still nap every day for at least two hours, giving my wife some (much needed) free time. The last time one of my colleagues slept at work, he ended up getting fired. True story.
I feel the pressure of being the sole breadwinner
I enjoy winning bread. But it’s stressful when I think about being the only person in the family who earns income. My family’s livelihood literally depends on me earning money.
I don’t get as much time with my friends
My wife has playdates with her friends all the time. It kind of makes me jealous. I see my non-work friends maybe once a week. Close friends are an essential part of life so, as trivial as it might sound, I see this as a real sacrifice of working full-time.
I have to deal with commuter traffic
I share the road every weekday morning and afternoon with those select few distracted drivers, incompetent drivers, and even cold-hearted drivers. They make for a stressful beginning and end to my workday.
I see my kids less
I don’t get as many hugs or as much playtime with my kids. Even though work probably consumes less energy than caring for my kids, the trade-off wouldn’t be worth it if I didn’t need to earn income for my family.
I have deadlines
Sometimes I have to work long days in order to meet a hard deadline. If I don’t meet these deadlines, my clients could very well fire me.
I wake up early
Having an extra one to two hours of sleep every morning, or at any time in the day, would be pretty awesome.
I can’t wear pajamas
I help people with their taxes. As you can imagine, the tax industry isn’t the most casual sort of crowd. As such, I have to spend time getting ready every morning, making sure my clothes are pressed and neat.
I sit through boring meetings
It isn’t just that the meetings are boring; it’s that I know I could otherwise be getting actual work accomplished, thereby making it easier for me to leave work on time. I know my wife deals with boring stuff with the kids, but I wonder how it compares to corporate-taxes-level boring.
I don’t get to experience their joy as often
Do you know why Christmas is so awesome with kids? Because we get to watch their faces as they open presents. My wife gets to experience this joy every day – joy that I miss because I’m at work.
I have to travel for work
Dumping the full load of child caring on my spouse to sit in stuffy planes and be far away from my family is not my idea of a vacation, even if all expenses are paid.
If your spouse works hard for your family, let them know you are proud of them and thankful for the sacrifices they make.