Six months ago, my wife and I were blessed with a baby daughter. Despite this new addition to my life, I found my time still being consumed by my nerdy passions. I imagine most new nerd parents are the same: you love your child, but you really need to finish the newest issue of Saga or grinding through that Destiny dungeon. Personally, I kept finding my geek side wanting to take time away from my dad side.
Spending too much time on geeky projects was driving a wedge between my wife and me. It also caused me to miss some important moments in my daughter’s life–moments I was never going to get back. In order to truly remedy this problem, I knew I needed to do something. I started brainstorming, and here are the results:
My wife is a stay-at-home mom, so cooking is one of her many tasks. On a normal day, she would message me while I was at work hoping for ideas for dinner. The default response was simply “food.” Not exactly helpful, but my head was surely filled with code and solving other work-problems so I didn’t have the bandwidth to really contribute.
The solution? Plan dinners on a weekly basis. We have a few staples that we have every week: Tuesdays we have Mexican and Thursdays we always have pizza or pasta. That just leaves us with five days a week to plan. Not only does it mean that my wife has more time to plan what to do with the meal she’s cooking, but I can also run to the supermarket once or twice a week instead of daily, meaning more time at home.
My wife is the superior chef and enjoys cooking, but I’ve volunteered to at least give her one day off a week. Saturday is the night where I sometimes cook whatever I want, though mostly the wife gives me a challenge based off what she’d like to be treated to. Last week I made braised short ribs for the first time ever. It was challenging but fun. We got the recipe from the Brown Eyed Baker. That site is a treasure trove of great recipes.
Call Dibs on at Least One Chore Your Partner Hates
My wife loves to cook but she hates the dishes. After working hard on a wonderful meal, it’s sometimes hard to muster the energy to clean up. I’ve taken over doing all dishes when I’m home–even if I’m the chef. Chances are your partner is already handling a lot of the unglamorous chores that you don’t have to worry about, so taking one on yourself is going to help them get some much needed downtime. Chipping in is also a great example for your child, at least according to this recent study.
Schedule Partner- and Baby-Time
It is so easy for me to zone out into my work, and for hours to pass by without me realizing it. I’ve spent entire weekends curled up with my laptop, catching up on side projects without putting much thought to my surroundings. To combat that, I’ve tried to push myself to have certain boundaries, times I’m not allowed to engage in “passion project time.” The big one is when I first get home from work. From the time I get home until the baby goes to sleep, the laptop stays closed and my attention is on my family. Every night I bathe my daughter before my wife puts her to sleep, and they have my attention until she’s down for the count.
My commute is a short one, as I live only fifteen minutes away from work. Almost every day I run home for lunch. It gives the wife a break from the baby, and it gives me a break from the harsh realities of work. Eating lunch at home also helps our budget, so if that’s something else you can do I can’t recommend it enough.
Be Your Partner’s Enabler
If your partner has a passion of their own (geeky or otherwise), try being their enabler. Some of my wife’s big passions are reading comics, watching football, and writing her own stories. On weekends I try to block off time where I watch our daughter so she can get some writing done. I’m also trying to think of new comics to introduce her to that she’ll really enjoy. The most recent was Preacher, since she has a penchant for the South and her favorite comic is Hellblazer. She’s quickly become a fan. As for football, I’m actually not a fan. However, I was definitely not going to try to get between my wife and her game. We watch together whenever we can, and because of this I’ve gained some interest in the Packers. Whether it’s helping clear your partner’s schedule so they can engage their passions or just surprising them with a new comic, they’ll definitely appreciate it.
I still have a lot of work to do before there’s a perfect balance between my geeky passion projects and my family life, but we’re working on it. Sometimes that’s enough. Let me know in the comments of other ideas you have to help out your partner!
[Note: This post was originally published in 2015, but holds true today.]