This can be a joyous or miserable occasion depending on how everyone's day went. Perhaps you spent all afternoon at the DMV and dinner is going to be later than you'd like it to be making you feel somewhat stressed. Maybe your husband loves being mauled by children and dogs when he first walks in the door, but today isn't one of those days. Suppose your middle child is having problems with a bully at school and your oldest wants to have a conversation (again) about dropping out of high school. There are a lot of reasons for the home to become stressful and chaotic between the time your husband walks through the door and everyone sitting down at dinner.
Let's look at you and your day. Okay, so you were at the DMV all afternoon and on the way home you were nearly killed by some 17-year-old punk steering a crotch-rocket in and out of your lane. The minute you get home you are pounced on by all three of your children about when dinner is going to be. You look around the kitchen wondering just how much they will eat at dinner because apparently someone has made grilled cheese sandwiches...and left out the cheese...and the butter....and the bread....and left dirty dishes...and what in the world is stuck on the skillet? and stove? and....ceiling???
I'd imagine when your husband comes home at the least you might want to vent a little so you don't end up on the 6:00 news. At worst, if he leaves his muddy work boots on the carpet ONE MORE TIME...! Neither of these are good ideas as I'm sure you'd agree. Decisions made in the moment are never perfect, and I'm guilty of both venting to him at a bad time and starting an argument just because I feel there is too much on my plate at the moment, and he decided to push my pet peeve button at the wrong time.
Okay, what about his day? All you know is he comes home, throws his work boots in the corner and looks at you like, "If you say a word....". Then he's in the shower for almost 45 minutes before he emerges to sit on the couch in front of one TV show or another yelling at the kids to go find something to do. No, whatever happened during his day doesn't make it okay to act that way, but surely you can understand why if you knew that for the past two months his new 25-year-old boss has been coming down on him and they've decided to take the highway he uses on his commute down to one lane. Maybe today he really screwed up at work and that $3 million project is now six weeks behind. He comes home to see Johnny's bicycle thrown down on the ground (again) in front of the garage. No, it doesn't make it okay to treat everyone in the house as if they are the reason for his bad mood, but people get in bad moods and do things that aren't okay. We are human.
It doesn't really matter if it's you, your husband, or your children causing the stressful environment. The fact is, the air in your house is thick with disdain and catty comments. It's going to be a bad night for everyone unless everyone goes to their rooms and stays out of each others way. What can be done?
Firstly, you cannot control everyone's mood. I've tried this. It doesn't work very well. The best thing you can do is control yourself and your day and teach your children to do the same. You, yourself, will have a better day with some thought and careful planning. Perhaps going to the DMV earlier in the day would have been a better course of action, or if you are unable to do so plan a dinner that can sit in the crock pot. If you are going to be gone when your children come home from school, set their snacks out on the counter with instructions to leave the rest of the kitchen in tact. If you aren't an organized person, I'd suggest getting organized. Pick up a three-ring-binder and some notebook paper. Label each page with the day's date. Write down what needs done each day, even down to what you will have for dinner. For instance:
Monday November 2, 2015
Breakfast: Breakfast Burritos
Dinner: Baked Ham, Potatoes baked with the ham, Cornbread Casserole
Cleaning: Dust, Vacuum, Swish and Swipe Toilets, Clean Out Closet in our bedroom
Reminder for Tomorrow: Gas up car, Trip to DMV, leftover ham with beans in crock pot for dinner, put out snacks for kids before I leave.
Tuesday November 3, 2015
Breakfast: Baked Oatmeal
Dinner: Crock pot ham and beans and leftover cornbread casserole
Cleaning: First thing set computer to defrag, scrub pet bowls, sweep and mop kitchen and bathroom floors, set table for dinner before going to DMV
Trip to DMV (get gas!), put out snacks for kids with note
So you can see how you can avoid a lot of different stresses simply by keeping a good cleaning schedule and planning your outings carefully. Even so, I would caution you that you will still have days where nothing will go right, but they will be better than going through your week with little or no planning whatsoever. Just because you have it written down doesn't mean you won't get in an accident or your aunt won't come over for a 3-hour hen party. What I can tell you is you won't run out of propane halfway through your bread baking, and more often than not your house will be clean enough to have company drop by.
So now that we have your day under control, what do you do about everyone else? As I've said, teach your children. They need to also plan their day. Help them pick a spot to set their clothes out for the next day. Train them to put their homework and school books back in their backpacks the second they are done. Also train them to think about tomorrow the night before. They should have something written down that tells them when library books are due back and when their test on Romeo and Juliet is. I'd recommend a wall calendar for children younger than say 8th grade, but use your judgement. They are your children and I'm sure you know what they'd likely use. As with you, this will not guarantee they will come home from school everyday with smiles on their faces ready to delve into their homework, but their day will go better.
Assuming you have all of this under control, what do you do about your husband's bad mood? Remember, you cannot control his mind or actions. All you can do is control you. Clean your home the very, very best you can. Have dinner every night at the same time, and try hard to make it special and relaxed every day by carefully planning your meals. If he has been in a bad mood for a while and you have been doing those things, try sending your children off for an hour so they don't climb all over him first thing. Just because you love your children doesn't mean you want to be bombarded by questions and look at spelling tests first thing when you open your eyes in the morning. This is kind of how he might feel. He just got home and may need a minute to leave his work day behind him. Let him shower. Have coffee ready for him and you two go sit outside and have coffee before you set dinner on the table.
The biggest thing in your family is communication. You have to talk to each other and in a respectful way. If your husband isn't used to talking to you, try engaging him in conversation about things other than work or things that seem to stress him out, such as your high school's son inability to make it to math class every day. Talk about things the two of you can be excited and/or happy about. Once you can speak at length about these kinds of topics, talk about things you are both passionate about, but nonetheless make you unhappy, such as the state of the government today, or how many commercials are on TV. Learn to communicate. He's your husband. Remember that. You should be able to communicate with him. I wrote a post entitled, Let's Talk. Try giving that a read.
Make your home a sanctuary. It should be a place far and away from the outside world and it's stresses. Keep it clean and homey. Plan your days so that you are efficient and mellow or at least not stressed out.