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Co-Parenting In A Pandemic: How to Find a Better Balance

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Show Notes

Work. Parenting. Relationships. Remember how elusive the idea of balance used to feel way back in 2019? Now it seems like a downright fantasy. The research shows this pandemic has been disruptive to our families in significant ways.

And it’s disproportionately impacting women and mothers. It’s putting our marriages and relationships to the test. So as we work to support our kids, there are traps we all fall into with our partners and spouses. We’re going to talk about learning to ask for help in the right way, dropping defensiveness, reducing resentment, and I’m going to tell you why in how improving your co- parenting will help your kids more than you know.

In this episode Robin references Deb Perelmen’s article in the New York Times: “In the Covid-19 Economy, You Can Have a Kid or a Job. You Can’t Have Both.”

Robin also references an episode of Celebrity Wife Swap but could not remember who starred in the episode. It was actually the premiere episode featuring Carnie Wilson and Tracey Gold.

Robin speaks of her past as a travel writer and how she’s trying to bring the feeling of a vacation into the home.

And if you need some inspiration, we have that summer episode guide from last week with all sorts of ways to create some family fun.

The end song is Susie Tallman’s Kookaburra, from one of her many outstanding children’s albums.

Episode Transcript

Lynn Lyons  0:00 

Home. Work. Parenting. Relationships. Remember how elusive the idea of balance used to feel way back in 2019? Now it seems like a downright fantasy. The research is emerging, this pandemic has been disruptive to our families in significant ways. And it’s disproportionately impacting women and mothers. It’s putting our relationships to the test. So, as we work to support our kids, no matter how those partnerships look for you and your family, there are traps we all fall into, but we’re going to talk about learning to ask for help in the right way. Dropping that defensiveness, reducing that resentment, and I’m going to tell you why in how improving your co-parenting will help your kids more than you know.

I’m Lynn Lyons, psychotherapist, author, anxiety expert, and I’m here with my co-host and sister in law Robin. Hi, Robin.

Robin Hutson  0:55 

Hi, Lynn.

Lynn Lyons  0:56 

How’s your day going so far?

Robin Hutson 0:57

Very good. Happy summer to you.

Lynn Lyons 0:59

Oh, yeah. Happy summer to you to.

Robin Hutson  1:01 

My Facebook feed this morning was exploding because of the New York Times editorial published by Deb Perlman of Smitten Kitchen. It’s interesting because there’s been a number of studies and publications about the impact of the pandemic and how it has affected work balance for parents, and the work share of families between the mother and her partner on childcare and stuff.

So, it’s interesting you and I had talked about wanting to do an episode on co-parenting, and I think we had a very different idea, but I feel like obviously, co-parenting in a pandemic is a very relevant topic right now.

Lynn Lyons  1:41 

Co-parenting is always a tricky thing. I mean, there’s certainly tons to talk about it, but certainly with what’s going on now, and I think there are so much conversation right now about what’s going to happen in the fall going back to school, that I think that’s bringing up a lot of issues in terms of what it’s going to look like with work and school.

I think I think we were a little we were sort of hit over the head with it the first time and it was such a scramble, and I think now that we all sort of know what this is kind of going to look like in the fall we’re seeing a lot more about.

Robin Hutson 2:11

Do we really know what it’s going to look like in the fall because I don’t know I’m not I’m not convinced yet that we do you know, I think it’s still all of the different school districts have these proposals and within each of them it still says but we don’t know and so like we’re still juggling a lot of uncertainty it’s going to make it really challenging for working families to figure out.

Lynn Lyons 2:31

Let me rephrase. What we know about the fall, we know it’s going to be a shit show. We…

Robin Hutson 2:36

Absolutely.

Lynn Lyons 2:37

Right? We didn’t know that in March and in April, but now we know that so you’re right. We don’t know this specific but we do know that it’s, it’s going to be a shit show.

Robin Hutson  2:45 

Yes. Yeah, we can count on that.

Lynn Lyons  2:47 

Okay.

Robin Hutson  2:48 

Awesome.

Lynn Lyons  2:48 

Going. Going forward with that. So well, and as I think about this, and we know like all of these all of this information about school and work and all this Things that are beyond our control. It just feels so overwhelming. I think what we should really talk about and what I try and stress consistently is that you have a huge role to play in your home, and that for the sake of our kids, for our relationships, for our own sanity, let’s really focus on sort of the power of your family culture, the agency that you have in your family, because we can keep talking about how crazy this is going to be.

And we can certainly keep acknowledging how tired and exhausting we’re all going to be as we do this, particularly if you are working from home if you have younger children. If you’re trying to keep your job and figuring out how to educate your kids. It’s going to be exhausting. I think we need to really focus on what are the patterns we want to pay attention to because preserving our relationships as parents in this is so critical to our children’s emotional health.

You cannot have a thriving children, if you yourself are tapped out, if your relationship is in disarray, I have never seen a family where the parents are struggling with something significant where the marriage is on the brink, the relationship is on the brink, where there’s a single parent who’s trying to figure out how to juggle his or her life and manage conflict with an ex-spouse. I’ve never seen a family where the adults are struggling significantly in their relationships, and the children are thriving. It just doesn’t happen.

Robin Hutson  4:34 

I think that when I have read a number of these types of articles that have said similar things, and pointed out how working families are really being left behind here, I do remember that I have the opportunity to focus on my own family and how we can get through the day put food on the table and do it together. It is helpful to remember that under the data points are individual families and in those individual families, our emotional dynamics and communications that can shift and that can change, right,

Lynn Lyons  5:09 

I wouldn’t be able to do my job, I wouldn’t be able to continue to see the families that I see to have the conversations that I have, if I didn’t truly believe in the power of these family and individual relationships. So, let’s talk a little bit about some of the common patterns that I see that are certainly in existence all the time, but are, as we know, amplified by what’s going on. Now, how many times if we said that, that what this pandemic has done is it sort of, sort of let us see what’s really going on sometimes in not such a great way and sometimes in good ways, too, but there are really some patterns that I think that as we’re paying attention to our co-parenting as we’re going through this really can make a difference if you can really just acknowledge and do some do some self-observing some self-awareness.

One of the first ones is the my way or the highway pattern. And that comes back to that rigidity that I’ve talked about that perfectionism. And what happens oftentimes is somebody is in charge, right? Somebody is good at doing certain things, they have certain roles, and they demand that things be done the way they do them. And then the other partner, if you are in a relationship, the other partner tries to help, wants to help wants to do things, but you don’t accept the help because it doesn’t live up to your standards.

So, the other partner just sort of says, forget it, I’m out. The other person says, I’m not even going to bother. Which then you get angry because the person isn’t helping. But you’ve been giving the message consistently that you do to your partner, you don’t do it the way it needs to be done. I need to take over

Robin Hutson  6:53 

if you if you have a perfectionist personality and you want things done a certain way, it’s very hard to relinquish that control of a father or another partner just messing it up.

Lynn Lyons  7:05 

Yeah, I can’t tell you how many people that I talked to how many families that I talked to have huge issues about the way you load the dishwasher. It’s just sort of this you know, this like little window into perfectionism, but you know, a partner in a relationship. So, somebody tries to help out and they load the dishwasher and then the other person comes by and unloads the dishwasher and reloads it.

Now if you just if you just spent time trying to help out and load the dishwasher, and then somebody else comes behind you and unloads, it really does it, you’re not going to do it again. You just wasted your time and in the person redoing it, even though the even though the words may not be spoken, the cloud of disapproval that hangs over that kitchen is enormous, because you’re saying to that person, you didn’t do it right. And so, we really want to pay attention.

You want to pay attention to that pattern and also somebody They’ll say, Well, I can’t let anybody care for my children, because they won’t do it the way I do it. And sometimes moms won’t even let the dads care for the children or they won’t let the mother in law, take the kids or they won’t let anybody else care for the children because it won’t be done the way they want it to be done. And there they are shooting themselves in the foot because they are not able to let their children have another experience with somebody else who might do things differently, which is actually really good for kids. Or then you become resentful because you’re the one carrying the child burden, because you won’t let anybody step in and do it differently

Robin Hutson  8:33 

In one of my favorite pregnancy books— and I’m trying to remember which of the few that I really loved back when I was reading about becoming a parent— this was actually one of the articles. And it said: you can’t do all of this alone.

And if you want to encourage help you have to from the beginning, allow for everyone to do it in the way that they want to do it, and that there’s no one way.

Lynn Lyons

So true.

Robin Hutson

I mean, I get so much parenting advice from you, but that was this was one I got from a book.

Lynn Lyons  9:02 

Hey, there are some pregnancy books that I read that were so awful.

Robin Hutson  9:07 

What to Expect When You’re Expecting is the prelude to Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents.

Lynn Lyons  9:13 

Okay, except there was another one called… I don’t even know if it’s out anymore. Every week they were like “This could happen!”  “What happens if?!” I mean, it was terrible. Like, “What happens if you have a blood clot during week 13?” I mean, it was awful. It was so bad. Alright, well, we’ll have to do that. we can talk about that later.

Lynn Lyons

Here’s another pattern that’s really not so great, which I think a lot of women in particular fall into is the “I’m not even going to bother to ask any more” pattern. So, I might as well do it myself. It’s easier to do it myself than to have the fight with you. So rather than me ask you and ask you and ask you and then it turned into an argument or turn into a fight. I’m just going to do it myself. If you’re, you’re not going to clean the kitchen or you’re not going to take the trash out or you’re not going to etc. I’ll just do it myself.

And then you take on almost this martyr role. And so, you start feeling angry and resentful because people aren’t helping you. And then they’ll say, Well, you didn’t ask just that is a really common pattern that I see also. And as I’m thinking of it, they sort of tie together because then somebody will say, they’ll say, I asked you to empty the dishwasher, and they say, Well, I was going to do it. Well, I needed you. I wanted you to do it. Now. You can let somebody wait 20 minutes to empty the dishwasher unless there’s some sort of time limit on it. But yeah, all of that rigidity and the sort of things need to be done my way it really makes it hard to co parent.

The other thing that I see as a pattern that’s really tricky, is and we all come in and we talked about this in a previous episode in terms of the emotional baggage we bring in, but we also bring in the who does what in a family baggage. So, what modeling did you have from your family of origin of how you co-parent?

And we’d like to think that we’re so advanced that things have changed so much. But the research doesn’t show that in terms of who does what in a family. So, paying attention to where you learned whose job it is to do what and how you ask for help, and what the expectations are. A lot of that if you can have a if you can have a conversation with your partner about that it can be very enlightening.

The one thing in my family, my husband’s family that I’m grateful for is that my father-in-law did all the cooking, and he was a great cook. He that was his that was his love language. So, my husband never had any issue about cooking, and does the cooking, but that’s something I’m grateful for. Because in my family, my dad knows how to make a bologna sandwich.

Robin Hutson  11:52 

And a hot dog. He makes hotdogs all the time for my kids.

Lynn Lyons  11:56 

Which is just another version of a bologna sandwich.

Robin Hutson  12:00 

The elongated version. Yeah.

Lynn Lyons  12:02 

There’s a flat hot dog and a rolled up hot dog. Yeah, that’s about it. He is really good at making hot dogs.

Robin Hutson  12:10 

My husband doesn’t cook, but he does all the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen after. So, it works really well.

Lynn Lyons  12:18 

Yeah, you can divide it up however you want. Yeah. But I think you know, pay attention to that. Pay attention to what was modeled in your family of origin.

Yeah. So, as you as we know, the fall is going to be tricky. And so right now, you should you should be thinking about how do you want to make some shifts and some changes in your family? I think one thing you should know— and I’m sure Robin, you will you will attest to this as well, is that when you’re dealing with these issues, and when you’re trying to figure out how to co-parent, that the balance that I have in my family (and my kids are older now though, again, they’re living in my house again, which is fine), but the balance that I figured out in my family… that that didn’t come easy.

And the pattern, the shift didn’t happen when we were sitting down having a cup of coffee on Sunday morning. It was.. it happened because things weren’t working. And because we had to make shifts because certain circumstances were foisted upon us. And so, I think that this is a circumstance that has been foisted upon us.

This is something that we’re not choosing— to live in this pandemic. But I want you to know, I want you to hear, that this is this is hard work. And it doesn’t… it doesn’t come easily, and we’re often forced into it. You, we, are being forced into it. Now. The benefits can be fantastic, but we’re still we’re still being pushed a little bit to address this because we need to not because we want to

Robin Hutson  13:55 

Necessity is the mother of invention. And I think that my husband and I figured out our co-parent balance when outside factors forced us to figure it out.

Lynn Lyons  14:04 

Yep. Same with me. Same with my family, outside forces factored in. And it was really, we had to adjust; we had to adapt. And I think that that as this gets trickier, and I think it will get trickier, it’s so important to address the co-parenting.

If you can drop the defensiveness and the resentment, I think that being able to go into it, the goal you have is the same. The goal is to create as much balance in your family as possible for the sake of your relationship and for the sake of your kids.

And if you can do it without the defensiveness as if you’re working on the same team because you are on the same team. It definitely makes things easier. That the challenge of this the challenges of figuring all this stuff out as the as did Perlman said so eloquently in her Op Ed article, the challenges are going to get bigger. This is not going to get this is going to get harder before it gets easier. We all know that based on what we’re what we’re looking at in the fall, so dropping that defensiveness

Robin Hutson  15:13 

Yeah, I think resentment is even bigger for what I have observed, personally and among other friends, and they share their parenting experiences. I think that typically, especially if it’s the mom who births the baby, who has that, initially, when you have a newborn, you know, for a lot of reasons, the work is skewed more to the mother, the mother takes on this burden.

And even if you have a husband or a partner who says I will do anything I can to help you and support you, but I can’t, I can’t do some of the things you’re doing like if you’re breastfeeding, for example, I can’t take away the breastfeeding I because even if I fed a bottle, I still you still have to pump that milk for me to feed the baby. So, I just remember thinking to my husband when he offered, “What is it that I need to do?” I remember saying like “There’s nothing do that’s enough right now,” in my newborn exhaustion, “that’s going to make up for what I have to do.”

But the thing is, biology sort of dictates that in many families upfront, and then how do you move out of that dynamic, though, right? And if you don’t, I think that there are a lot of couples, I’m willing to bet, but you’re going to know firsthand, they never sort of got out of that initially necessitated dynamic of putting it all on the mother, and they just have 10, 15, 20 years of resentment just lingering in that level of marriage or partnership that is really, really toxic. And, to move through it and to get rid of that resentment is a really liberating thing.

Lynn Lyons  16:52 

It is really liberating. One of the ways you can sort of measure your resentment a little bit if you’re wondering whether or not you’re carrying this resentment around is to think about how if somebody asked you the question about in your partner, if somebody asked you the question, “What does your partner do to support you when you’re overwhelmed?” How does your… How does your partner step in when there’s a lot going on for you?”

And think about how you would answer that question. I think that one of the things I’ve noticed when I’m talking to when I’m talking to my friends, and also when I’m in my office, is how quickly or how automatically we hear the language of denigration of that they’re not doing it good enough, or there’s nothing they can do, or I’ve tried it this is this hopelessness but also this real resentment in this real denigration. It doesn’t sound like a partnership. When they talk about it. It doesn’t sound like they have you even had conversations about it. So just think about that. Think about how you would answer that question. If somebody to you, and then what you might do in order to shift it a little bit yet, it creates a lot of space between couples.

Robin Hutson  18:07 

So, this is going to sound crazy, but I saw one episode of Celebrity Wife Swap, and I don’t even remember when that show was on.

Lynn Lyons  18:17 

And you only…s you only you only watched one episode, right?

Robin Hutson  18:22 

I knew you were going to say that! In all honesty, that is the truth. I don’t recall seeing another episode of the show, but the one that I saw was really profound. And so, I should have watched more even though I don’t know that they all would be.

Lynn Lyons  18:38 

I think you luckily just watched the one profound episode.

Robin Hutson  18:41 

That’s probably true. And so, it was like not even B-list celebrities. I’m so sorry for it was like C-list celebrities. So, okay, so he and his wife had children, and I don’t remember the name of the other celebrity couple. And it was really interesting because, in terms of co-parenting, the guy and his wife, were really dedicated parents, they both put a lot into sharing the home life together, sharing the parenting, and she was really organized and did a lot.

The other couple lived not in suburban LA, but like more in Beverly Hills, and they had a lot of hired help. So, the dad might have been like a kind of a semi-famous musician at one point or something, or the…I don’t remember. But the point is, they had someone who came in and was kind of the nanny, they had someone else who came in and sort of helped to prepare food and things, and the family spent the day apart.

The mom and the kids all did their own things. I think the dad was a musician because he was hiding in his music studio most of the time in the house. But the point is when the couples reunited with their proper spouses at the end, when the guy and his wife who they were a team— truly accomplishing things every day together— they wept and embraced. And they’ve put so much into their partnership, they really did not enjoy being apart. And it showed that shared labor also fosters real connection in a way that it made the other couple feel very self-conscious that they clearly did not have that connection.

And so, it was very powerful to see that taking on the work that we often feel so overwhelmed by, when we take it on together, it’s actually a beautiful foundation for a family because then the kids are obviously benefiting from it, the couples benefiting from it.

And I just thought it’s so sad that that’s not how we frame the work of parenting and home life, but it is the way we should be.

Lynn Lyons  20:47 

That’s such a great story because I think what you’re saying is that the fact that these two people were working together and there was a level of respect and a level of connection and a level of intimacy and a level of partnership versus saying, “Okay, so this is your job, and this is my job.” But what you saw was that extra level of this is the this is the connection that we feel because we’re truly stepping in to help each other and to figure out how we can support each other.

Robin Hutson  21:15 

Well, you could also say that the couple in the relationship that we’re so connected if you were to ask them, probably I mean, I’m just guessing like, well, what is it that you do and what is it that your partner does? They would both describe it without resentment, they would both describe it with commitment and with positivity, right? This is what I do. And then this is what he does. And it’s really essential that we do this together.

Lynn Lyons  21:39 

Right. So, commitment, and support rather than resentment and obligation. Yes, yeah. Or it not only that, I mean, sadly, how many parents and often fathers, not all of course, yeah. But how easy is it to include evasion, right. Like just disappearing at the office disappearing behind work so that they don’t show up to.

Yeah. Well, and that’s what I think it’s been so interesting about this is that, you know, we were talking about how things are foisted upon us that I’ve been reading articles also that that there are families where a father has lost his job.

And again, I’m talking about that stereotypical sort of family where the mom and again the research bears this out. So if you’re thinking like that’s not true, the research bears that out is that the mom was doing the majority of the child care in the home care in addition to her work, and then when dad was furloughed, he stepped in and took over and what an interesting shift happened in the family during that.

I’ve got I’ve got a few families that I work with where that has happened during the pandemic where dad has been laid off or has lost his job. Mom has continued to work and is now as the primary breadwinner and it is very interesting to hear them talk about how the dynamics in the family have changed because dad has stepped in roles that he didn’t have before. And a lot of it actually in a very positive way, I must say, Yeah, sometimes it can be positive.

Robin Hutson  23:07 

Absolutely. You can’t have a conversation about this without being open to the fact that economics plays hugely, I happen to have a lot of friends where the wife is the primary breadwinner and makes more than her husband. And then, of course, I have a lot of friends who it’s two moms and you know, so there’s an economic decision that’s driving how they’re going to determine who has more parenting responsibilities and who has more work responsibilities. So, I mean, economics and now more than ever, unfortunately, when we’re facing all sorts of economic uncertainties, it still has to drive a conversation, but there are so many micro moments that can be determined together.

Lynn Lyons  23:47 

I think that’s so important to just pay attention to those micro moments. It really is these conversations that we have in the emotional tone of these conversations. Just think for a moment as you As you’re listening to this, Think for a moment, what it’s like, you know, I was telling that story before, about watching my dad vacuum while he was dancing to the 50s music and how that as it as a grown up person still made me feel so good to know that my dad was happy in that moment.

Think of what it’s like when kids watch their parents support each other. Think about what it’s like when kids watch their parents show such gratitude or support or commitment to each other, even over small things like, oh, let me let me do that for you. Or you know what, that was a fantastic meal. I’m going to load this dishwasher because you cook that great meal. And then the other person says, and I’m going to let you load the dishwasher just the way you want to all of those little moments add up to our kids seeing, seeing that connection, seeing that intimacy, seeing that support, all of that stuff matters. It all matters so much.

Robin Hutson  24:59 

Let me ask you this. For listeners who know that their marriage isn’t the strongest Foundation, or Hmm, I would assume, because I know, parents, we tend to put resources towards our children, but long before we would have for ourselves, maybe couples aren’t willing to do couples therapy, but through family therapy, they can work on their dynamics here, what would you recommend and how can they make positive steps?

Lynn Lyons  25:30 

Well, one of the things and this is my, this comes from my mentor, Michael Jaco has said this to me and it really stuck as a life changing differentiation is that how do you differentiate between something that impacts you personally, and something that you are to take personally,

Right now, with all of the stuff that’s going on with the pandemic and all the changes that are being thrust upon us, they are going to impact us personally.

But being able to step back and recognize that what your partner is doing is not generally on purpose to impact you in a way that you need to take personally.

If they don’t make the meal the way you want it, if they don’t match the socks that you the way you think that they should be matched, if they don’t put the dishes away the way that you think they should be put away, it is not because they are plotting against you to try and raise your level of irritation. You have to own your own level of irritation.

So, differentiating between what impacts you personally and what you need to take personally, is enormously helpful in a relationship. And I speak from personal experience, because I’ve been married for 30 years just had my 30th wedding anniversary. I know that that makes a huge difference. The other thing that I would say is that if you are thinking about flexibility and accepting that what people do will not be equal in the micro so it’s Not a token economy, it’s not what well, I spent this much time with the kids.

So now you have to spend this much time in the kids, you’ve got to look at it at in the big picture. You cannot equal it out. And parent couples get in a lot of fights in terms of CO parenting, well, you got you went and golf all day, that time that I had to take the kids and blah, blah, blah. If you’re keeping track, if you’re keeping a ledger of the amount of time you spend with your kids, and you’re using that as a weapon against your partner, things are going to go poorly. So step back and look at the big picture of how you support each other and recognize that there are going to be times when it’s really unequal, just as you were saying, Robin, if you are breastfeeding a baby, it’s going to be unequal during that time. It’s just the way that it is. And then I think if you can get away from needing to defend yourself when you’re having these discussions, and this is something that we’ve been talking about this in so many different contexts.

But if you can stay away from defending yourself, so when somebody asks you to do something, or when they say, you know, I really need you to help me more with this, rather than taking it as a personal attack that then you have to have an argument again. “Why don’t you just say yes?”

In fact, I have one family where they are working on saying, truly the homework assignment is, is that when somebody else asks them to do something, they say yes instead of no.

That’s what they’re working on. It’s made a huge difference in the dynamics of the family. So, if somebody says, can you get me a glass of water? They say, yes. If somebody says, Can you go upstairs and make sure that you’re, you know, that you put your laundry away? They say, yes, it is amazing how the tension in that family has decreased. Based on that one small shift.

I love getting away from defensiveness, getting away from treating it like the competition, getting away from thinking that people are doing things to irritate you on purpose. Maybe they’re irritating you but that’s not their goal, all of those things. Take down that level of resentment and allow you to have different types of conversations in your family about helping each other out.

Robin Hutson  29:10 

It’s interesting when you talk about that when in fact, a couple’s communicating well, the children are watching what’s being modeled, they then have a model to then behave well with each other. Then back with the parents, it’s really like nothing happens in a vacuum like a family is its own organic system.

Lynn Lyons  29:29 

That’s right.

Robin Hutson  29:30 

And, and the ecosystem constantly needs pruning and weeding and, and hard work.

Lynn Lyons  29:36 

Yep. And, and being able to accept, and this is something that is so interesting to me, over and over and over again and will probably continue to be interesting to me is how defensive parents get when I talk to them about the impact of their modeling on their children. And they you know, of course, the immediate risks. sponsors that they’re there. They think they’re being blamed. They think that I’m criticizing them, they, they think that they’re not doing a good enough job,

I really want them to look at it, it from the perspective of course, your children are learning from you. Of course, what you model has an impact on how then they will see relationships and how then they will be agreeable with their siblings and that kind of stuff. So again, if we can lose that defensiveness and just really accept that social family culture is incredibly powerful and can be incredibly powerful in a positive way that you’re

I love what you’re saying Robin is that it always needs to be pruned and weed and adjusted. And sometimes we need to transplant this and move this over here. It just is the way that family culture is. And it’s so powerful and we can use it in such a positive way.

Robin Hutson  30:51 

I keep thinking of the movie, This Is 40. Did you see that movie? So long time ago, now I’m going to bring up Celebrity Wife Swap again. But it’s interesting to think of like, one of the messages was that the couple were sort of always at each other’s throats. They go away for some hotel weekend, I think they actually get really stoned and they have this great time, and then they drive up to their home feeling connected again, and then like, I think, maybe their daughter like pukes on them,  the second they go home, something like that. I haven’t seen it in a long time either.

But again, I think that coming back to that point about I hadn’t really made this connection of how deep Celebrity Wife Swap really was. But that shows that couples don’t really tend to connect and know how to have fun or joy again, in the presence of their domestic and parenting responsibilities. And I think that’s a really big issue for a lot of us, right? Like our home is where it brings us joy, but it’s also the dishes, the laundry, the work all of those shoulds that we know we have to do. And it’s in really lucky for families to learn how to create a question culture of fun in the home where there’s something to counterbalance all of the work that is required.

Like if you’re going to put all this work into running a home, what are the what are the emotional benefits of doing that?

Lynn Lyons  32:11 

Right.

Robin Hutson  32:12 

I think that’s actually one of the things that as a travel writer, we were traveling all the time for several years. And you know, so many people love being on vacation, and who doesn’t, right? You love being on vacation, even when you’re traveling, you are away from your home and you had that sort of liberation. So, it just felt free and easy. But after a while, I started really thinking about how do I create a sense of joy and connection that we definitely could get to really easily when we were away, like life is short. How do I bring that into our home in a way that I did not feel like it was? I felt like we could really connect quickly the second we got out, and then when we would come back I would step into our home with our suitcases, and I would just feel that sense of pressure of how clean we have to keep the home, and where does all the stuff coming come from? All the time, right? It was just a burden.

Lynn Lyons  33:02 

That is that is such a good point because one of the things that this pandemic has forced us to do, as we know, is to be in our homes. And I was listening, Judd Apatow was just on a podcast that I listened to. And he was talking about that very scene between Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, who is his wife in real life. And he was talking about how when they got out of the context of their home, they rediscovered their what why they fell in love in the first place. And I was listening to that and I was like, Oh, yeah, that’s so true. You need to go away and have breaks.

But then I’m listening to what you’re saying right now. Why are we just focusing on connecting when we get out of the home?

Robin Hutson  33:40 

 I heard this woman speak, and she said if you have the ability, and you know some people do, and was like if you want to connect with your partner try and get out of your home every six weeks. She had a term she said the home is the sexual evaporator.

Lynn Lyons  33:53 

Oh.

Robin Hutson  33:53 

Because you can’t ever be really present in your home because you’re constantly thinking of your checklist of everything you have to do. So, I thought that made a lot of sense. And so, I always loved travel because it was just fun and easy. But eventually you say to yourself, even though we were traveling all the time, this is how I want to be all the time. I don’t want to just feel good and happy when we’re away.

I want to feel good and happy. I want to create a life I don’t want to take a vacation from.

Lynn Lyons  34:20 

Right.

Robin Hutson  34:21 

So that was a very powerful shift that I have been working on for the last few years of, I’ve gained all this insight of all of those ways that being away from the home feels good. How do I bring that home in, in this place of joy in the stress of the pandemic, especially those first months when we were adapting to these new truths about things?

My friend said  this is so stressful, and all I want to do (because I’m stressed) is book a trip. And I said, I know what you’re feeling. But what are we trying when we travel, what are we really ultimately trying to escape from now we’re stuck at home? I think  I enjoyed escaping my home. And now I’m here. So, what do I do about it? Right? And it’s just a lot of spiritual lessons.

Lynn Lyons  35:07 

Well, it’s making me think about when my husband and I used to go to Montana, before we had kids, we went once when we had my older son, when he was a little tiny baby. But one of the things that was so amazing about that trip is that we were absolutely cut off from media. And this was even before. So, this is a 1995. Like this was, you know, in another world. And so, as you’re thinking about that, I’m thinking, I can do that in my home. I think that’s the that’s what we’re saying is that why are we saving all the good stuff for when we’re on vacation? Because if you’re coming back from a vacation, and as soon as you walk through the door, you’re like, “Oh, crap, I’m back in my life” that says something, doesn’t it? What do you take? What do you take from the time on vacation that you can then incorporate into the time with your family, which is sort of, you know, we’re all in one big staycation here, whether we like it or not? I think that’s such an I think that’s such an interesting thing to think about.

Robin Hutson  36:04 

Well, I think a lot of us depending on how we grew up, you and I’ve talked about this. I grew up with my mother was a really… she kept her home very clean. And she loved having people over. So, she modeled for me that you should have a home ready for company every day. And she literally did, she could turn she could be ready to throw a party almost 360 days of the year. Her home was clean enough to throw a party that night. Hmm. So, I grew up seeing that, and that was just what she did. She didn’t do other things, but like she and so I as her daughter, I have this burden of like, I’m supposed to have a house that clean. And truthfully, it’s like I love to entertain, but not I don’t keep my house like hers. And when I simply made the mental shift that I don’t have to keep my house that clean all the time. Think of how liberating that was. Yeah.

The other thing I was thinking of when you were talking You had this great story that I still get goosebumps when I was listening to the last podcast episode of how powerful a shift can be for when parents take away the phones with some of their teens or tweens, and how they say they got their kid back. And you describe that. And I’m just curious if there’s something that has happened, where imagine if there were certain parents who liked to really not be in the moment and hide behind their own screens and their phones, you know, if they could also have their phones taken away at home and what that would look like, too.

Lynn Lyons  37:38 

Yeah, I have had families where we sort of will say, like kids need to get off the screens. I’ve had families where I’ve had to tell the parents not to bring their iPads and their phones to the dinner table. Because the parents are sitting there, literally with their phone or even their laptop open  doing work during a family dinner. So that’s something that that’s something that that we, again, think of think of the kids that are 15 now are going to be parents when, you know, in 10 or 20 years. And they’ve had these habits of having their devices with them at all times. So, we can see now with young parents, it’s already it’s already sort of coming to coming to roost a little bit.

I think that what you’re saying about travel and coming in your home and what are the elements of travel and being away from your home that you want to incorporate into your own family life? I think that may even be more profound than your story about celebrity wives.

Robin Hutson  38:39 

Well, it’s not travel, it’s vacation just to clarify, right. It’s bringing, it’s bringing that vacation element because what do we what do we define as vacation to bring into the home?

Lynn Lyons  38:50 

You’re right, because when I think of work, travel, I don’t really think about how much fun that is.

Robin Hutson  38:55 

I’m still going with my Celebrity Wife Swap story, but I’m glad that you like the other, too.

Lynn Lyons  39:00 

Well, maybe they were maybe I can’t choose. Maybe the profundity is just so all-encompassing that I won’t even need to sort of sort it out. I’ll just let it all be there.

Robin Hutson  39:10 

But you know, here’s what it ultimately is.  We can’t escape the work of being parents, and we might as well make it as fun as we can.

Lynn Lyons  39:18 

Yes, yes. I think that’s, I think that’s a wonderful takeaway. I think that’s a great place to stop. I’m going to go watch Celebrity Wife Swap. I’m going to, I’m going to watch it. I’m going to watch the episode with Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin. Oh, wait, they weren’t on Celebrity Wife Swap.

All right,

Well, off we go back to parenting and co-parenting and figuring out how to make our families as joyful and as connected as possible.

Robin Hutson  39:48 

Yeah, so I guess our takeaway message is: there’s a shit show coming, so let’s make some fun now. And if you need some inspiration, we have that summer episode guide from last week with all sorts of ways to create some family fun. I think family fun is our tonic that we really have to be intentional about right now.

Lynn Lyons  40:08 

Yeah, it’s tough. It’s a lifeline. I mean, it is. We need a break. We need to fill up our buckets. Our kids need to see us present and engaged. And yeah, fun, fun. Because, man, it’s a coming, I’m afraid. On that happy note! We were going to end so positively, and then I went back down and did that. Waaaah. All right. Woohoo! Family fun!

Robin, I’ll talk to you soon!

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