Do you ever come home from a crazy day at work and find yourself triaging everything around you? Here’s what that might look like:
Pulling into your driveway, you notice that the recycle bin is still on the curb.
You stop the car, pull the recycle bin back up to the house and see that the mail has been delivered, but your hands are otherwise occupied with your bag, your cold travel mug, your keys and the bin, so you think, “Oh, I’ll come back out and get that.”
You go in the house dropping items out of your bag as you enter and barely making it to the sink to drop the coffee mug in but it splashes in the spaghetti pot you “left to soak” last night and gets greasy red water all over your jacket and the floor. The dogs are circling. “Did you F-E-E-D the dogs?” you yell at your son between muttered curses.
You somehow manage to single handedly subdue the animals, clean the floor, start a load of laundry, and load the dishwasher in your first 15 minutes home. When that’s done you move on to remembering the mail, paying the bills, and trying to interact with your family in a productive and positive way.
If this sounds the least bit familiar, then you know that by the end of the night you are drained, worn out, and feel like you just worked a double shift. Sometimes there are unpreventable situations that require immediate attention. Realistically, on most days you should be able to give yourself time to transition from “work mode” to “home mode.” Here are just a few ideas to help you do that.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was to find a “garbage can” on the way home from work. This is a geographical location or marker on your drive home where you mentally “dump” your day. When you get to that marker, you are done processing, rehashing, and reliving the day’s events.
If you get into the habit of this, you can relieve some of the stress before you walk into the door at home. This helps you view your household members as your beloved family rather than as needy patients.
Take a time out.
I had a friend tell me that every day when her mom got home from work, she took 20 minutes to herself. She would come home, go to her room, shut the door and usually nap. When she came out, she was refreshed and ready to start what I fondly call “the second shift” – the work of being home and taking care of family needs.
Don’t believe everything you think.
This is another way of saying – stop the negative thinking. You will find yourself thinking over and over “Oh, that was the worst day at work!” “I’m so tired!” “I’ll never be able to get anything done, I’m just so overworked!”
When you have a thought like this, look at it and figure out if it’s really true. Try to get to the bottom of what you are really needing (a nap, some quiet, 15 uninterrupted minutes to make the grocery list) and do that thing.
Ask for Help.
Nurses are caretakers, yes, but my personal experience has shown that we are the worst at taking care of ourselves! We are so busy caring for other people that when we find we are in need, we hardly know how to begin meeting it!
It’s easy after coming home from a job where you do everything for everyone to stay in that mode. Let the people who live in your household help with the chores. Have a few daily tasks assigned to your kids so that they know what is expected of them and relieve yourself of some of the burden.
Starting with these small steps, hopefully you will find a way out of the habit of letting your bad day at work become your bad day at home. Here and here are other articles outlining more ways to make your transition from work to home go more smoothly.