I often find that people who have never been a stay-at-home parent have very "interesting" ideas of what their lives would look like if they were. I find this is especially true of those who work outside of the home and daydream (if only occasionally) about what life would be like if they didn't leave for work every day. Like most daydreams, they're completely unrealistic. Still, when one's own partner doesn't conform to their presumption, things can get a little tense. But guys: there are questions no dad should ask his stay-at-home partner at the end of the day. (And I'm going to talk specifically to dads here because, I'll be honest: most of the complaints I'm hearing are about y'all.)
Before we go on, I feel the need to defend my own partner's honor here: I've never once heard anything from the list below escape his lips. You see, before I left my office job, my husband was actually a stay-at-home dad with our oldest son for two years. So when I began staying home with the kids while he went to an office, he knew what I was in for. As such, he comes home to our family every evening with an intimate knowledge of just how hellish a day can be without it actually seeming all that bad on paper. When I say, "They were a pair of monsters all day," he doesn't just imagine how bad that must be, only to have his imagination fail him. He knows how bad it is to deal with two monster babies for hours on end and on your own. Moreover, he knows the cumulative effect this has on one's psyche after doing it day in and day out.
However, many parents who have never stayed at home with children before, unfortunately, just don't get it. To you blokes, I say: be better. Dig to whatever depths you need within your soul to find some compassion. In the meantime, completely avoid asking your partner the following questions at the end of your day:
"Why Is It Such A Mess In Here?"
Because your children are damn animals, that's why. Do you know how many times I have cleaned this room today? Just this room? It's been immaculate in here several times, but our beloved children always seem to find it again and want to make a pillow fort or drop their crackers all over the damn place or dump their box of crayons to find the perfect shade of red before deciding, actually, they don't much feel like coloring after all. Then they move on to the next room.
You know the only difference between me and Sisyphus, the tragic figure in Greek mythology sentenced to roll a boulder up a hill for all eternity? Literally nothing, bro.
"Did You Get Dressed Today?"
These are obviously my nice leggings and cute top that I wear out of the house. They are not to be confused with the yoga pants and shirt I wear to bed, or the workout pants and pullover I wear to the gym. If you can't tell the difference between my assorted leisurewear options then I'm sorry, but that's on you.
"Meatloaf? Could You Make Something Else?"
Oh sure, sweetie. Here, let me hop in the time machine in the garage, go back to earlier in the day when I started prepping tonight's dinner. Or hey, even better, why don't I go back to earlier this week when I ran the week's menu by you and asked for your input and you said, and I quote, "Whatever, that sounds good." I'll rush over to past you and let you know, "Actually, you're not going to want meatloaf on Wednesday night! Let past me know right away!"
Haven't you been a parent long enough at this point to realize these sort of things cannot be changed at the drop of a hat?
"Why Did You Make Instant Mashed Potatoes? Why Didn't You Make Real Mashed Potatoes?"
Because real mashed potatoes take 45 minutes and instant mashed potatoes are ready in two? Seriously, "instant" is right in the name, so I feel like you've already answered your own query.
How is this even a question? For real though: even simple things are difficult when you're trying to accomplish them with small children underfoot, so please don't judge the corners I cut that don't really affect anything major and make my life just that little bit easier.
"I've Been Working All Day. Do You Mind [Doing Chore] Yourself?"
Yeah, you're right: the children and I have just been sitting here in sleep mode waiting for you to come home and boot us up. Honestly, it's a wonder you even had the energy to do that. Thank you so much. The least I can do is everything!
"Did You At Least...?"
As much as I want to hear exactly how you feel I've fallen short today, I really just think it's best for everyone's safety if you stop talking basically immediately. Or take a moment and re-frame the question so that it's something along the lines of, "Did you get a chance to...?" or, "I know you had a busy day, but did you happen to...?" or even just a, "Did you...?" in a not-snotty disappointed tone.
"Do I Have To [Do Childcare Related Task]?"
Yes. Unless you want me to hop back in that time machine to the point before we had kids and let you know not to go for it, because they're a ton of work. Shall I go ahead and do that?
As the stay-at-home-parent, I recognize and accept that most of the childcare tasks will fall to me simply by virtue of my being here most of the time. That doesn't mean they all fall on me. We're both parents 24/7, meaning that when we're both around tasks are just as much your responsibility as they are mine.
"Do You Know How Stressful My Days Are?"
Oh. I think I have an inkling...
"I Drank The Last Of The Wine. Is That OK?"
Why? Why would you do that? No. Don't apologize. It's too late for that. I want you to tell me why you would do that? What kind of monster are you?
"You Know What You Should Do?"
Tread carefully, young man. Unless your next words are "Go to the spa, my treat!" or "Put your feet up, because I've got this," you might want to think twice. Giving advice about a job you have not done before is very often ill-advised, condescending, and haughty.
"What Do You Do All Day?"
Do you actually want me to answer that? No, you know what? I'll do you one better: I'll show you! I'll show you by no longer doing what I do all day. You can come home to a house that has been completely free from my influence all day long.
I believe your tune will change pretty quickly.