Dealing with a Work-at-Home Spouse

It's an adjustment process, all right

I had a wonderful career before I had children. Once our first daughter came along though, I was glad to leave the fast track behind to stay at home and enjoy all the good and bad that came with raising a child. What I didn't count on, however, was having the added responsibility of looking after a husband who chose to work from home.

Let's face it. Most of us are used to having the house to ourselves (with the kids) during the week. So what would you do if your husband suddenly announced that he's changing careers so he can work from home full time? With the convenience that a good computer and internet access can bring, many men feel they could make a decent living working from home in the comfort of their pajamas. As someone who has been living this way for the past six years, I can provide some expert tips on how to keep from putting your husband in the kids' time out chair.

Will it work financially?
The first thing you and your spouse must decide is if his new career will be economically viable. Sacrifices will have to be made and you may have to adjust your standard of living if he is just starting out. You must also make sure your husband is extremely motivated and is not the kind of person who gives up easily. He has to have a one-track mind that is set on success and will let nothing stand in his way.

Once you have both mapped out a concrete plan and are 100 percent sure his idea has a chance at success, you have to look how your day is scheduled and what needs adjusting to fit in another person. For example, my husband found that he was more productive at night and into the early morning. His late hours meant that I had to keep our two daughters quiet for a few hours in the morning while he slept. This also gave all of us a late start to our day and he ate his breakfast while I was preparing lunch for the rest of the family.

Set up a separate space
It is extremely important that your husband has a separate room or work space away from the family. You must also make this space off limits to your children so daddy isn't constantly interrupted.

Encourage your husband to write out a schedule for himself so everyone knows when he's in work mode or not. One of the problems we had was my husband wandering in and out of his office all day making him fair game for the kids, disappointing them when he had to constantly tell them he had work to do.

One of the pitfalls of having a spouse working from home is that the "work" is always there. No more commuting to make the transition from work to home leaves little time for him to wind down. You may have people over for dinner when your husband suddenly feels creative! That leaves you to entertain your guests.

Dealing with resentment
Perhaps one of the biggest issues you'll have to deal with is resentment. You may feel that because your dear man no longer works outside of the home that he gets all the benefits of being at home without contributing more to the household than he did before. You must both decide on the division of chores to make things fair. You must also be able to talk openly with one another when feelings of resentment appear (believe me they will!).

Once a month reassess how things are going. Is everything going according to plan? Is enough money coming in or do you have to cut back on expenditures? Be honest about how things are really going. If you discover that things aren't working out, best to do something about it before you get further into trouble.

There are many positive things about having a husband around the house all day too. You have someone to watch the kids when you have errands to do and our girls have many happy memories picnicking in our back yard with both mommy and daddy. By the way, my husband recently decided that he needed a change and now commutes to work downtown every day. It's a big adjustment, but we'll get used to it!