Post by Jody Watson (Registered Clinical Counsellor)
“Sometimes I watch my husband play with our 4 year old twin girls and I think “how does he do that?” Often he comes home from work, and without even changing his clothes he immediately starts playing with our twins- it’s nothing short of inspirational (and somewhat baffling) to me. Does he not need to rush off and do something like clean something, check phone messages, get changed, or get some food going? I have noticed this before with other dads and wondered how on earth they are able to put everything else aside and just play. I mentioned to a friend that I was thinking about this and her response was “that’s because the mom has already made the dinner and checked the phone messages!” While there might be some (and in many cases a lot) of truth to that, I still believe we as moms have a lot we can learn from dads. So after spending some time watching and experiencing this phenomenon I have started to wonder about what moms can learn from dads.
What Happens When Dad is left In Charge?
I have often heard mothers (myself included) complain about the state of the house when the dad has been left at the helm. The usual complaints are often around the state of the house, the lack of things being accomplished (at least that is how a mom might see it) and usually some comment or concern about what the child is wearing (or not wearing) and what they have, or have not, eaten. I know myself on days when I return from work and my husband has stayed at home I often have to say a little mantra before I walk in the door. It goes like this “A happy family is more important than a clean house, what ever you do try not to make the first thing out of your mouth a complaint”. Unfortunately, that mantra often get replaced with “I am going to seriously lose it if I walk in this door and the breakfast dishes have not been put away!”. So what’s the deal? Are mother’s more concerned about these other things or are we just better multitaskers and don’t understand why our husbands can’t? It has led me to this next question…
Is Multitasking Always an Asset?
I am sure I am not alone in priding myself in my ability to multitask as a mom. I can seriously be talking on the phone (phone in the back pocket with my ear phones in) while cooking dinner, checking my email, helping the kids with some art and cleaning as I go.
My husband on the other hand will often claim to be multi tasking while he is holding a broom in one hand, standing perfectly still and checking his e-mail. All I see is one task happening (checking an e-mail), in my books, holding the broom does not equate to sweeping the floor. This can absolutely make me want to pull my hair out because all I am thinking is “seriously, can you not check your e-mail while sweeping?” My other observation is that I am often far more frazzled and less patient with the kids then their dad is – is multitasking to blame?
Learning to Let Go
Sure, I like a clean and orderly house (a lot) and to make nice dinners, but are these things coming at the expense of enjoying my family and actually experiencing life with them? I talk to clients about practicing mindfulness and living in the moment, yet too often I find myself trying to do too many things at the same time and becoming overwhelmed in the process. I know I am not the only mom out there struggling with this, so I am proposing we look at what mom’s can learn from dads and try to let go of some of the expectations we put on ourselves. I am not suggesting that we start serving up Kraft Dinner every night and stop cleaning – but perhaps just remembering to take a moment to breath and just hang out with our kids without trying to do anything else.
Not to worry, next time I will write about what dads can learn from moms!”