By Heather Miller, Crosswalk.com
Practical ways to say "I love you"
Homeschool fathers often feel as though they'd like to do more for their wives, but they're just not sure what. Dad, a few small gestures on your part can go farther than you could ever imagine in building up and helping out your wife. Some of the 12 suggestions below may be new to you. Others may be things you already do without even realizing what a huge impact they have on your wife's happiness.
1. Ask the Kids Questions
When you get home from work, maybe over dinner or at bedtime, ask your kids questions about what they've done and learned that day. Ask them to tell you about a story they read or how their science experiment turned out. Pay attention and remember what's going on from one week to the next. Not only does this review help your kids remember their lessons, it shows them—and Mom—that Dad is really interested in what they've been doing all day.
2. Know Your Curriculum
Find out what exactly your wife is teaching your children. Look through the books, peruse the lesson plans. You cannot possibly know how thrilled we moms are when our husbands take an interest in what we're doing. At times we may seem a little defensive because we're afraid you're not going to approve of what we've selected to teach the children, but do it anyway. Just do it in a loving way! Make suggestions, ask questions. Make sure that if someone asks you what your kids are learning at home, you know the answer!
3. Do a Little Teaching
What are you good at? What subjects interest you? Do you find chemistry thrilling or history enthralling? Share that enthusiasm with your children by teaching a few classes. If circumstances allow, teach the subject for the entire year! If you don't really find any of your kids' subjects interesting, make up a new subject to share with them, or find ways to make the boring stuff more fun. This shows the kids that Dad is a pretty smart guy and gives Mom a bit of a break.
4. Take the Day Off
Whenever the situation allows for it, take the day off to accompany your wife and kids on field trips and outings. This takes stress off Mom and gives the kids the benefit of enjoying more time with Dad—and you'll get the benefit of spending more time with them! This is especially helpful on trips with serious travel time or visits to very big, busy places. Two sets of eyes keeping track of kids are always better than one.
5. Really Take the Day Off
Many businesses are now converting to four-day workweeks. If you have the chance to do this, it will be such a blessing to your wife! This past summer, my own husband took this opportunity at work and now has every Wednesday off. Wednesday is a great day, because it's like a little break right in the middle of the week. Take this day to help your wife out with schoolwork or housework or just to be an adult for her to talk to!
6. Get Your Hands Dirty
It is primarily the wife's responsibility to care for the home, and most of us (myself included) would not dispute that. But it sure helps to have another pair of hands around sometimes to wash dishes or fold laundry or mop the floors. Find out what your wife's most dreaded chore is, and do it for her every few days. Mine is washing dishes, and I always love to hear my husband say, "I'll wash the dishes tonight, honey."
7. Give Mom a Day Out
Every once in a while—and it doesn't have to be every week; once every few months will do—give Mom a day out. Let her do whatever she wants to do, minus you and the kids. Keep the kids busy at home while she shops, or walks, or enjoys lunch with friends. Moms need time to themselves every once in a while, whether they admit it or not.
For people who say, "Well, so do dads!" I couldn't agree more. But please consider that we stay-at-home moms would be overjoyed to have the twenty-minute commute to work that most dads get. Twenty minutes in the morning, and then twenty minutes again in the afternoon, all by yourself in the car to think your own thoughts and enjoy the quiet! In a five-day work week, that's over three hours of alone time for dads. If you can help your wife find a little time alone, you will be a tremendous help to her.
8. Give Mom a Day In
Just as important as a day out—and to some moms, more so—is the occasional day in. Take the kids to Grandma's (and stay with them) or to the park and lunch. Do whatever you need to do, but let Mom have some peace at home. The thought of cleaning house in the morning, then just lazing around all day at home without having to clean again . . . and again . . . and again. . . is like heaven to a mom! Different women will prefer days out over days in and vice versa. Ask your wife which she prefers and help her out!
9. Let Her Know Her Maternal Skills Are Attractive
Tell her how beautiful she looks when she rocks the baby. Let her know how it warms your heart to see her reading to your children. Make sure she knows that motherhood has not taken away from her attractiveness to you—it has increased it! Tell her all the time what a good mom she is and how thankful you are to know that your children are safe at home with her during the day instead of in a public school with strangers.
10. Let Her Know She's Attractive, Period
Don't let the fact that the kids are in the room stop you from holding hands or hugging each other or even—gasp—kissing! Tell her she's attractive, play with her hair, hold her tight. When a woman spends all day at home surrounded by kids, it's easy to forget that she is still a woman, a woman attractive to and desired by her husband. Grab her as she walks by and lay one on her!
11. Be Interested in Her
Do you know what your wife enjoys doing? What books she is reading right now? How she feels about the new class at church? What things she is dreaming of getting done around the house? What things are stressing her out? Get to know what is going on in your wife's thoughts. Let her know that you find her fascinating and that what is important to her is important to you as well. Buy her the expensive book she's had her eye on for months now. Surprise her with the rose bushes she's been dreaming of. Everyone likes to feel understood and appreciated!
12. Thank God for Her Every Day, and Let Her Know It
No gift you can give your wife is as important as your right relationship with God. Strive to be the husband and father God has called you to be. Ask for her help and opinions on things you struggle with. Help her out on the things she needs to work on—lovingly, of course! Let her know that she is truly God's gift to you and how very blessed and thankful you are to have her.
That will make any homeschooling mom's day!
Heather Miller lives in northeastern Oklahoma with her husband, three kids, and five pets. She and her husband have been homeschooling their children since 2004 and loving (almost) every minute of it. In her spare time (what there is of it), Heather also enjoys reading, quilting, gardening, and baking.
This article was originally published in the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. To learn more, or to request a FREE sample copy, visit www.HomeSchoolEnrichment.com.