Welcome Home, Dear!

Amor Eterna by Simon Silva, IAmaChild.Wordpress.com

Scene 1: It’s been a tough day. Your baby is having a growth spurt and wants to nurse like a newborn. Your toddler tornado managed to find the permanent marker and decorate her carpet. Your previously potty-trained three year suddenly wasn’t while you were in doing your weekly grocery shopping. And the five and six year olds are stir-crazy from three straight days of rain. By the time your husband walks in the door, you are so relieved to see another adult you toss him the baby who has gone into 5:00 melt-down mode and head for the shower for a little bit of peace and quiet. Welcome home, dear?  

Scene Two: It's been a fabulous day! After starting a load of laundry, you headed to the park play where you managed some planning with some other moms for an upcoming event while the kids played. Afterwards you trekked to the store to pick up a couple of items that were super-coupon deals, and then even had time for a fun craft with the kids before putting the little ones down for their naps. You started another load of laundry, and then while the little guys were sleeping, you worked with your five year old who is starting to figure out how to read, and then together you baked bread, taking a loaf over to your new neighbor after nap time. The kids all played happily while you worked through emails and spent time researching great activities on the internet for the event you are coordinating with the other moms. One more load of laundry. Phew. As you take satisfaction in the accomplishments of the day, your dear one walks in the door. As he stumbles through the toys and three loads of clean, but unfolded laundry, you realize, oops - the house is in chaos and you have no idea what you're going to serve for dinner. Welcome home, dear?

Scene Three: It’s been a busy, but productive day with the crew. School was intense, but satisfying. At lunch break you managed to hang three loads of laundry on the line. More school, and then out the door. Since you knew you’d be running two of the teens in the mid-afternoon to their volunteer shift at the local science museum, dinner has been in the crockpot since breakfast. The house is in reasonable order. When your dear one arrives home, you’ve been back for a short time, but are already engrossed at the computer helping another teen edit a research paper. “Oh, hi. You’re home already?” you say before returning to the paper. Welcome home, dear?

OK - I might have made a few exaggerations, but these stories are based on actual events that have taken place at one time or another in my home. (That last one is uncomfortably close to the current reality.) Whether we are frazzled from the day and fed up with caring for our children, or exhausted and distracted from a wonderfully productive, but overly ambitious day, or just plain busy and involved with other things, all too often neither we, our children, or our physical setting are ready to welcome our husband home after what may also have been a long and stressful, or productive but wearying, day of his own.

Now, I’m not trying to lay a guilt-trip on anyone! Goodness knows, we put enough burdens on ourselves. And some days are just outrageously bad, though if they are the norm, adjustments need to be made. But for the most part, with a bit of forethought and preparation, some simple steps can make homecoming a very sweet time of the day for everyone in the family. Ask your husband what matters most to him when he comes home, and go for that. If clutter doesn’t phase him, don’t sweat that.  But pick one thing that does and work on that each day.

Seven Ways to Say "Welcome Home, Dear!"

1. Spend a few minutes making the house reasonably tidy before your husband walks through the door. A short time of 5-15 minutes can go a long way! I’m not talking immaculate, but at least he should be able to walk through the living room without stumbling on rhythm instruments, Duplos, and puzzle pieces. (See next post with Quick Pick-Up Tips coming in a few days.)

2. For many men, nothing says, “Welcome home” like the smell of dinner. One wife I know who has a long driveway, has occasionally resorted to sautéing some garlic and onion as she sees her husband begin to drive up. If 5:00 is a bad time of the day with your children, use a slow cooker. Also, you may want to do your major prep time during naps, so the evening cooking time is less stressful.

3. Prepare your heart to greet your husband. Pray for him throughout the day, and if possible, send a quick phone call, email, or text at lunch to let him know you are thinking about him.

4. Prepare yourself. Brush your hair; put on some fresh lipstick if he likes that; make an effort to look nice. And nothing looks better than a smile.

5. Set aside your chores for a few minutes to actually greet him when he arrives. STOP what you are doing more than the five seconds it takes to say, “Oh, wow, I didn’t realize it was so late!” while you continue on working on the computer, weeding the garden, or scrubbing potatoes. (You might guess that this is the area I most need to reform in!)

6. Give him time to decompress before expecting him to instantly step into his daddy role. (I.E. Don’t throw the fussy baby at him as he steps out of the car.)

7. Find time for the two of you to reconnect. Because of phones/texts/email, we tend to think we are more connected than we are, but we need face to face time. This doesn’t have to be instantly, and how you do it will depend on what works in your life situation. Finding private moments can be difficult in a busy household. Tim and I sometimes step outside on the porch for a few minutes or even talk while he showers. Maybe you can put the children in the stroller or a pack and take a walk together.  Just do something.

Maggie Jackson wrote an instructive piece a few years back in the Boston Globe about the importance of marking the transition from work to home. The arrival home of a family member is a “threshold moment,” which way too many of us ignore. In a study of California families a linguistic anthropologist found that only about 1/3 of the wives stopped what they were doing to welcome home their husband. Men did some better, with about 1/2 giving a positive greeting to the returning wife. While young children often eagerly greet a returning parent, older kids often didn’t even look up when their father came home. I found it fascinating and a spur to make more of an effort at welcoming home not only my returning husband but also my teen sons who have outside jobs and other commitments.

Scene Four: You’ve not had a perfect day by any stretch of the imagination, but then neither did he. Yet when your love walks through the door, there is no one else you would rather see. And you let him know it. Welcome home, dear!

Proverbs 31:10-12:  An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.  The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.


Dani McNeilly said…
Thank you for this post, Anne. I needed to hear all of these reminders!
Michal said…
Dear Anne,
I "stumbled upon" this blog post via Elsa Finnegan posting it to Pinterest, not realizing I was reading your blog. As I was reading it, I thought, "This blogger sounds just like Anne Wegener. I should follow her blog!" a-ha-ha.

Thanks for these excellent words. In the busiest weeks, we find ourselves up talking past midnight about the silliest things (politics, theoretical dilemmas, movies, etc) even though they're the times we most need the sleep. But I'm realizing it's because they're the weeks we haven't had a chance to wind down together.

I too often look at Ben like a deer caught in the headlights when he walks through the door. What? 5:30? Oh no!

Thanks for the encouragement!

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