In November, we added a third arrow in our quiver in the form of an 8lb 7oz bundle of adorable baby boy. It has been a whirlwind to say the least. I would work tirelessly to get things done during the day and when my husband came home from work, I would want to talk to him, have his empathy for the tough parts, his adoration for the hard work, and his help with what needed to be done. I expected to him to just jump in, even though he himself had been working all day as well.
It had been almost impossible to talk in the evenings in those early newborn days because, by the time he got home from work, we ate dinner, cleaned up from dinner, bathed kids, brushed teeth, read books, got snuggles, and then fell into bed ourselves. And in between all of that I was nursing/changing/soothing the baby. We were so exhausted that our communication was breaking down and we were growing irritable and bitter. I knew we needed to be able to communicate even if we couldn’t talk.
That’s when I had an idea.
I made a “daily check-in” sheet. On the paper, I made four different areas each with space to write. I printed the paper double-sided and then laminated it so we could fill it out with a dry erase marker and reuse it. The four different areas are:
This is where my husband and I would write out what we did so the other could get an idea of how we spent our time and what we focused on:
Today, I changed four blowouts before realizing I had baby poop on my yoga pants.
Today, I stayed calm during the 3 year old’s tantrum in Target.
Today, I gave a presentation and almost sweated through my work shirt.
How am I feeling? Am I tired? Angry? On a “high” because I was promoted at work or because I saw my six year old conquer her fear of heights by climbing to the top of the monkey bars?
If either of us need encouragement this is the place to express it. Do you need to hear “thank you”? Or maybe, “Your boss is lucky to have an employee like you”? What about, “I’m proud of you”?
We all need help sometimes in life, so why are we so hesitant to ask for it? Typically in this area I write something along the lines of, “Please do the bedtime routine with the kids” or “Clean up the dishes after dinner”. Sometimes, though, its something as simple as, “Snuggle and watch Netflix with me”.
When the husband comes home, he gives me and he kiddos some hugs and kisses, picks up the paper, and heads to the bathroom (the only room where we can get any kind of privacy) to read what I wrote that day and fill out his side. He typically brings it back and I read his entry while finishing up cooking dinner while he plays with the kids. This piece of paper has done wonders for us. We’ve been able to connect so much more! And although we haven’t filled it out as much as we did a few months ago (we’re finally getting our bearings with this whole “three kid thing”), but it has been a great way for us to let each other know how we feel when we can’t get an uninterrupted moment together.
These years of being parents to littles can be tough. They can stretch our patience and pull us in so many different directions.
But keeping our communication open by any means necessary helps us to know that though these days may bend us, but they won’t break us.