Leanne was going to strangle her husband. Ok, not literally, but well… maybe.
Her third baby was almost one. The boys were were a hugely robust and energetic six year old and a quietly clever, mischievous four 1/2 year old.
She was going mad. Not slowly, it had hit her the moment she’d given birth to their much wanted baby girl.
This was it. Her colleagues had farewelled her from the best job she’d ever had when she’d given birth to her first boy. She was going to be home, being a mother, keeping the house, maybe doing a little tutoring on the side, for what seemed FOREVER.
Then Ben came home one day to find the house in chaos. In less than 15 minutes he’d kicked off his work boots, wrestled the boys, got them to play outside, got their little girl to eat something (with a gummy smile at her daddy) and cleared the kitchen bench of the days mountain of stuff.
Leanne was furious! And grateful. But mostly furious.
He thought it was SO easy. HE hadn’t been up since four with the baby. HE hadn’t just done the supermarket run, the school run, the washing, the tidying, trying to keep the middle boy from repeatedly whacking his brother with a pool noodle, dealt with a phone call from the school AND her mother in Australia and trying to get her picky little princess to eat something… And there he was swanning in, flexing his biceps and looking like superman!
Poor Ben. He knew she was mad at him, but he wasn’t sure why. And he had bad news. His hours had been cut. This really made Leanne’s day. Not.
Until… She remembered hearing that her old boss was looking for someone again. But it was full time.
When the kids were in bed they had a serious conversation.
They loved each other. They loved their family lifestyle. They respected each other and respected each other’s needs. This was an emergency and they were a team. It was time to adjust and adapt.
It was time to get radical!
Except… Disaster! The job at her old work place had gone! But she didn’t give up, she networked her butt off and found another job in her field. It would be a challenging role but she was determined. And she got it. The pay was pretty good, not perfect, but not bad.
Ben had a chat with his boss and changed his hours to Saturday’s only.
They had a handover session. There are things that only the parent at home knows about.
Ben called her quite a few times in the first few weeks. He was also called mum quite a few times.
Leanne felt guilty. For about a week. Then she noticed how much happier everyone was. SHE was happier. The kids were absolutely fine. Ben was happy. He got to do his thing on Saturday mornings and earn a bit.
He built veggie gardens. He wore the boys out during the day and had their little girl wrapped round his finger. They noticed that the kids behaved quite differently around dad.
She loved that the kids came racing out to see her when she got home from work. The time she spent with them was so incredibly precious.
When I met Ben and Leanne they’d been living the Role Swap life for three years. It was becoming so normal that they didn’t really see it that way anymore.
Leanne was on the couch in a kid pile reading them a story while Ben and I worked on organising their kitchen post-reno, which he had done in his spare time. He told me about their decision and how well it had worked.
He told me about the adjustments they’d had to make and how much work they’d had to do to make it work for both of them. LOT’s of talking. One thing he told me really stuck with me.
He said he now had a completely different understanding of what it takes to raise children and keep a house and family ticking along. He’d learnt so much, and had to develop skills he’d never even guessed existed. He had so much respect for his wife and his own mother now he knew what it took to raise a family.
He was looking forward to working more hours during the week when the littlest went to kindy and he was thinking of starting a stay-at-home-dads group to share his experiences and offer support.
They were a team, Ben and Leanne. They worked out how to let go of their old beliefs about themselves and let go of old roles that did not serve them. They worked out together how to make sure everyone in the family was happy and well.
Don’t you just love a happy ending?
Ha! I hear you say. That’s NEVER going to happen in my family.
But you can be sure a Certain Person has noticed what’s been happening over the last few weeks. Whatever their behaviour, they have seen what it takes to wrangle the kids and maintain a home, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.