‘Thank you for everything you did this morning.’
I say this to you just before you leave the house. But as you close the door behind you, I wonder if you truly understand the impact of all the little things you do before you leave for work.
From the moment we woke up, you took charge with the kids so that I could start my day with some exercise. While you changed the baby’s nappy and dressed the toddler, I put on noise cancelling headphones and powered through a workout. For 30 minutes I focused on nothing but myself. I finished feeling positive and full of energy.
You gave our toddler breakfast while I had a shower. It doesn’t sound like much but it was likely to be the last solitary moment I would have for the rest of the day, and I savoured every moment. You gave me the time to get dressed and even put on a little makeup. I started the day feeling good about myself.
While I breastfed the baby you passed me a glass of water and a coffee. You made me a breakfast smoothie at the same time as you made your own. You didn’t know it at the time, but had it not been for that smoothie, I wouldn’t have had the time nor the free hands to eat or drink anything until lunchtime.
While I occupied the kids, you tidied the kitchen and, even though you were in a hurry, you took out the rubbish. For the rest of the day, as I rushed around preparing snacks, lunch and dinner, I felt organised and productive. In may sound silly, but clear kitchen benches and an empty bin have the power to make me feel less anxious and overwhelmed.
You see, after you left for work, the toddler had an ‘accident’ on the couch, followed closely by a tumble down the stairs. And he was in one of those combative moods were he fought me on everything. The baby was teething so she cried nonstop and I couldn’t get her to have a nap. It was a struggle to keep both kids happy and entertained whilst also trying to do the housework and prepare meals. It could have been an absolutely awful day!
And yet, it wasn’t. Do you know why?
Because of you. Because of the things you did before you left for work.
I was more resilient and better able to cope with the challenges that the day presented me with because you had helped me start my day with a full cup. And I was better able to meet the needs of our children because I was a calmer and happier person. Your actions not only helped me in a practical sense, but they also made me feel valued and respected. Some days it is easy for me to feel that I am nothing more than just the cook/cleaner/childminder. But by prioritising my needs you showed me that I am an important person in this family.
The things you do before you leave for work are only small things. And I will not patronise you by gushing (we both agree that a man taking care of his own children is not worthy of a medal). But still, I wanted you to know that the small things you do, they matter.
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