In this episode Lisa and Nick discuss the challenges of adapting the household rhythm now they both work from home, and how Lisa had to let go of needing things to be done a certain way.
Join the free 5 day Breakfast Challenge here.
Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:
Lisa: Hey guys, welcome to another episode of the Podcast. Today, I have my husband Nick with me.
Nick: Thanks for that wonderful introduction, Lisa.
Lisa: I didn’t know what to say, except for you’re here!
Nick: I know. Sarcastic.
Lisa: Did you want it to be a bit like, ‘The love of my life, the man of my dreams, the best father to our children’?
Nick: Yes. I mean, keep speaking the truth like that.
Lisa: So, we thought that we would talk a little bit about what’s been happening in our household. So, for the last few months, Nick has been working from home just like me. And we’ve also done a big move interstate. So, our family is learning a totally new rhythm.
There’s been one thing in particular that I’ve noticed myself doing, that I’ve started to not do, and we thought we would talk about that. And also, I guess I’ve had to let go of being the one who does all the things.
And you’d think that that’s easy, happy to handball stuff off, but it hasn’t actually been as smooth as that, perhaps. I mean, it worked. Nick would get up, have a shower, have his breakfast, leave the house, come back at 6:00pm for baths and bed.
Nick: That’s true Lisa. You did say about three or four sentences ago that you got used to being the one that did all the things.
Lisa: OK, you’ve always been a very hands-on dad.
Nick: I just think saying, ‘All the things,’ can be interpreted incorrectly. So, I think you should retract that statement.
Lisa: OK, so Nick has always been – I feel like I’m being bossed around right now – but he has always been a really hands-on dad.
Nick: This is for the record, by the way. So, you know, it can be used in a court of law against me in the future.
Lisa: He’s laughing off to the side, I hope you guys all know. So, always a very hands-on dad, and always really enjoys cooking, so would do that on weekends. Doing the dishes, always helpful around the house. It’s not like he’s gone from zero to hero, he was always pretty hands-on. Always did the kids’ baths, always did the bits and pieces.
Nick: The leftovers.
Lisa: The bits that I was really over by the end of the day, yes. I’m not going to tidy up the kitchen, and the kids, and the house. No. But anyway, it is a totally different ballgame now that we’re both around all the time.
I didn’t realise that there was something that I used to do, and if you’re a parent, you might fall into this trap. If you’re the parent who does most of the childminding, that I kind of just liked things done in a certain way.
For example, it would be the weekend, I’d be getting kids into bathers and sunscreen on, and Nick would be packing a bag. And I’d go and check out that bag, and be like, ‘Oh, God. There’s no snacks for the car in here. Were you going to get them ready or what?’
Nick: Yes. It’s like, ‘What were you thinking? We’re trying to avoid World War 3 here Nick. It’s the end of the world, because there are no snacks in the car.’
Lisa: But you know, I just got used to things being done a certain way. Like dinner being put out, and the vegetables cut in the wrong way could determine whether the children would eat them, or whether they wouldn’t.
Nick: Yet I think that’s just creating a rod for our own back, in terms of obsessive-compulsive children, just wanting things a certain way.
Lisa: So there was always an element of me trying to have things remaining the way that I’ve done them, thinking I know best. Which, can I just say, I was spending the most time with the children, and I did have things in a rhythm.
I knew what needed to be done by when, in order to get out of the door. Or, I knew that I needed to have something ready for them at afternoon tea time, because otherwise – well, that is World War 3 right there.
Now, doing things together, I thought it could be cool to see how you have felt throughout this becoming a more regular part of the family rhythm and routine.
Nick: You know, it’s not without its challenges, and let me just say before we dive right in that it was a particular type of rhythm when I would head out to the office every day. But if we think about what a rhythm is, we’re dancing to the beat of a different drum now, compared to when it was a certain drumbeat six months ago.
It’s still music, at the end of the day. Just because it’s a different drumbeat, a different rhythm, it’s still bloody music, and that’s what I wanted to get across.
Lisa: Explain to me what you mean by that.
Nick: I just mean that a different drumbeat, me being here, doing things a different way – yes, it is a different drumbeat, but at the end of the day things are still getting done. Just in a different way. It’s still music.
Lisa: Right, OK. So, music represents our life with three children.
Nick: Yes, the children are the instruments, and we play them.
Lisa: OK. So, Nick thinks rather creatively and he’s a storyteller. So, hopefully you got that. I do, now, thanks. Slightly literal. Our new drumbeat is that sometimes you’re the one getting the breakfasts ready and doing the lunchboxes, and all that.
I might be just sneaking in an hour’s worth of work, or washing my hair, but not having to get up and do that before everybody else wakes up, because you’re around. How have you found my reactions to the way you do things?
Nick: Mostly challenging, to be honest with you, Lisa. There are times when I’ll pack a lunchbox, and you’ll come over and repack it, and try and say as nicely as possible, ‘You forgot that the kids aren’t allowed to take peanuts to school.’ Well, that’s true, it was a rookie mistake.
Lisa: She doesn’t like cherry tomatoes.
Nick: Yes, and she doesn’t like that particular cheese, and he’s a bit sensitive to this type of bread.
Lisa: Yes, but I’m not unkind.
Nick: No, but the way you sound is quite patronising. Whether it is or not, that’s how I hear it in my head. So, there are times when I just throw my hands up and go, ‘Well, the way that I learn is through my mistakes but you’re not letting me, so eff you all, I’m going for a walk.’
Lisa: This is what I really wanted to talk about. I feel like as women, we create the rods for our own back, because in wanting things to be done a certain way, we exclude our partners from taking on more responsibility willingly and happily.
Because it’s never a problem to do it. The problem comes when I say it’s done wrong. I need to let go a little bit more. I feel like I am, but I have found it hard because I didn’t have to negotiate with anyone about any of this stuff. I had my own standards, or my own way in which things got done that just kind of worked.
It was me and the kids, we were a unit, and now we’ve got an extra person on the team all of the time. Our family is calmer, our mornings are so different. Everything about our house and the way it’s run feels different now.
And it should, because there’s been a bit of a flip in the way that we do things. But I’ve been surprised by my reactions to allowing Nick in a little bit more. I’ve been almost trying to hold on to my role, or something.
I’ve realised that I’ve got friends who talk about when they had their babies. Nick has friends, and no one can penetrate that mother-child bond. The dad wants to help, and do things, but especially when they’re really little and they’re totally dependent on us, it’s hard.
But when do we let go? When do we say, ‘Now it’s time. They’re OK, they’re robust, they’re resilient, things can be done a different way,’ and loosen the grip a bit? Because I feel like it wouldn’t be that fun to be told off when you’re making an effort, is it?
Nick: No, it’s not. And it’s a strange, strange world when someone is hesitant to give up doing chores.
Lisa: I would happily let you vacuum. It’s the first house we’ve had carpet in some rooms. That’s a bit boring, you can do that.
Nick: And the other day, we’ve got into a habit of me doing the washing, mostly. It was a school day, and I hadn’t hung the washing out from the previous night, and lo and behold, there is a pair of school shorts that were still wet.
Lisa: Both of the school shorts.
Nick: So, Lisa then found it necessary to say, ‘The washing is your job. I can’t believe that you’ve let the school shorts be wet before school.’ So, my point is that a new rhythm is being created, a new expectation is being created, and that expectation includes that I own the responsibility of washing now.
Now, when did that actually happen? We never spoke about it. There was never a contract written up. It’s just strange how a new rhythm is being formed.
Lisa: Yes, it is strange, and it’s taking a lot of negotiation, and it’s taking a lot of self-awareness, I think. We will probably share more about how it’s working. I see Nick all day, every day, most of the time now. Which is cool, but then brings on a new set of – I don’t want to say issues.
I mean, we’ve flipped the way we do life. I’ve noticed that I have a tendency, and I have had a tendency over all these years to kind of martyr myself as the one who’s doing everything. And now, I have someone who’s totally in my corner – who always has been, actually.
I know that some of you guys do this too, because I see all the Small Steppers like, ‘Oh, my husband took the kids to McDonald’s,’ or did something like that. We find it hard to let go, and we find it hard for things to be a way that we don’t think they should be.
Or we know how things are going to affect the kids, or we just want to keep the routine, because we don’t want to be annoyed with tired kids and all that kind of stuff. But if what I’ve seen is anything to go by, the more empowered the non-majority-with-the-children parent feels, then the better for everyone.
Nick is right, the kids need things to be done a different way sometimes. I absolutely fall into traps of just doing the same stuff over and over again, even if it’s not working particularly well, so it’s really refreshing having someone else’s eyes in our week.
But we’ll keep navigating this. We’ll keep experimenting, and seeing how it’s going. This was just a call to take a small step to let go a bit, when you can.
Nick: Yes, thank you Lisa. Let go when you can. I’ll give you another example.
Lisa: Not more!
Nick: Well, this one incriminates me a little bit, because at the end of the day I look at the kids’ clothes and I’m a little bit less inclined to throw things in the wash.
Lisa: Oh, this drives me nuts!
Nick: But here I am, trying to save a load of washing. So, I’ll essentially put things back in the drawer. And of course, I’ll put things back in the wrong drawer, so there are piles of clothes that are mixed up, but we’ve got a three-year-old and a five-year-old, and they’re both girls, and it’s very hard to differentiate underwear size.
Lisa: It’s so easy. Oh, it kills me. Do you know what kills me? When he’s like, ‘Oh, this isn’t dirty,’ and puts it back in the drawer dirty. I don’t want to be taking out dirty clothes. He’ll be like, ‘It’s just a little bit around the cuffs.’ Yes, that means it needs a wash.
Nick: It doesn’t in my books. The oceans are filled with tiny, tiny lint particles, because I think we do washing far too often.
Lisa: And there we have it, ladies and gentlemen. That is the real-life stuff that’s going on. Me going, ‘OK, I’ve just got to breathe through this. Alright. She’s going to Kinder with a top she wore three days ago that’s a bit dirty, and she had blueberries. OK, rolling with it. Letting go.’ And it’s not easy.
Nick: It’s not easy for anyone, but hey, the alternative, I think, is worse.
Lisa: You doing consistent walks around the block to cool down because I’ve blown my top because of things. That’s not living a fun life. So, hopefully, you might want to take a little Small Step, release a bit of control, let someone else do something.
Even if it’s your kids. They won’t do things the way that you want them to be done, but we have to for our own sanity, and for our own life enjoyment. I think letting go – I know it’s hard for you A-type personalities, but you’ll get there.
Now, I did just want to remind you before we cut off, are you registered for the Small Steps Breakfast Challenge? This is going to be five days of awesomeness, and you really don’t want to miss it, especially if you’ve got a bit of breakfast shame going on, or you need some refreshing ideas, or you don’t realise how simple it can be to eat wholefoods for breakfast, like, every single day.
I will help you, and we’re going to have an awesome time. It’s kicking off Sunday 26 November, so make sure you’re signed up. The link is in the Show Notes or on the blog, if you are listening to it from there. So, thank you Nick.
Nick: Thanks Lisa, and God bless dirty clothes.
Lisa: Signing off.