EXPERT Q&A

How can I create a more peaceful household for my family?

Parenting young children can be stressful and overwhelming, which can lead to anger and frustration. Learn help tips for creating a more peaceful household for your family from CareNectar expert Martha Tyler.

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Question

My wife and I have three children—ages 2, 7, and 9, and my wife stays home with our toddler and has a part-time job a few evenings a week. Our older children are in school and an afterschool program all day. And I work full-time, about 50 hours a week. My wife seems very overwhelmed, and I think my long working hours contribute to her stress. I’ve noticed that she becomes angry with our children and will lash out verbally. Some of the things she says are actually pretty mean—calling them names and cursing at the kids, telling them to get away from her and that they drive her crazy. I think they have learned to keep their distance when she seems to be having a rough day, and this only makes me sad for them. I do what I can to help out around the house when I’m not working to relieve some of the stress she’s under, but we have talked about counseling and even looked into whether medication can help. But she seems unwilling to do any of these consistently. I’ve also offered to find a sitter to come a few days a week so she can have a break, but she’s not comfortable with other people caring for the kids. I’m at a loss, but is there anything else I can do to help create more peace in the household?

Answer

This is so very hard. I imagine it feels awful to see your wife and your children struggling. It also sounds like you’ve really tried to offer help and your wife is struggling to accept that help at this moment as well. Here are some things to try. Take with you what serves you from this list and leave anything that doesn’t.

  • Use “I statements” when speaking with your wife on anything relating to this topic. So, you can say something like, “I feel sad and worried when I see how overwhelmed you are” or “I am feeling a deep sense of longing for the peace we once had in our home, do you have any ideas about how we can get back to that peace?”
  • If your wife speaks to you in an unkind way, you can model for your kids how to set boundaries. “Honey, I cannot hear you when you speak to me that way. I would love to talk about this because I see it’s important to you. Please let me know when you’re ready to talk about it in a calm way.”
  • If you believe counseling would be helpful to your wife (which I fully support), next time you bring it up, focus on the connection you want to feel with her. Try to avoid making her feel like she is “broken” and therapy or medication can “fix” her. You could also offer to go to couple’s counseling, so it isn’t just about her.
  • Expressing gratitude can be extremely helpful to break cycles of automatic negative thoughts. Try to tell your wife 1 to 3 things every day that you’re grateful for about her and your family. Leave notes if you won’t see her much that day. If you are all able to sit down and eat together, have everyone in the family say 1 to 3 things they are grateful for. This will encourage your wife to also be on the lookout for things she’s grateful for without shining a spotlight on her.
  • Sit down and talk with your wife without the kids. This can be once they are in bed or whenever you can find a time that works for both of you. Speak to her, using those I Statements, about how worried you’re feeling. Ask her if she has any ideas and make sure to tell her how much you love and admire her for the amazing woman she is. Focus on being on the same team, because you are!
  • If a babysitter won’t work, maybe you could hire someone to take care of her least favorite task around the house. Once a month, have someone come clean the house or send your laundry out to be washed and folded.
  • Who else is in your wife’s support network that you could ask to help? If she doesn’t trust a babysitter, maybe her best friend could swoop in and take care of the kids for a bit. Or her beloved aunt could help bake the cupcakes for the school bake sale.

This is really hard and you’re doing a great job by helping and asking for help. Also, it is so hard to be a parent right now. You and your wife are doing the best you can with the tools you have right now. Keep trying to offer more tools. We’re here to answer questions along the way!

Meet The Expert


Martha Tyler

Martha has her Masters in Education and is a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator. She has worked as a sitter, nanny, tutor, or teaching artist over the past 20+ years. In addition, Martha has hosted a child care podcast, Chronicles of Nannya, for several years. She is also the co-founder of Compassionate Childcare LLC and is thrilled to be able to share her experience, knowledge, and resources with CareNectar!