come home

When You Come Home From Work

Every day when I return home from work I get out of the car and hear the same thing. My kids excitedly shout, “Daddy’s home!” Then they come running to the front door jumping up and down. One day it occurred to me how much I take that moment for granted. There will soon come a day when that wonderful greeting will go away. Ever since then I have tried to soak up every excited greeting.

Recently I began to think further about it and asked myself this question, “What kind of greeting am I giving them? Does it show the same excitement?” I wondered what my greeting communicates to them. Does it show love? Do I look as thrilled to see them as they look to see me or do I look grumpy and tired? This has changed how I come home. Those first few minutes set the tone for the entire evening. Here are 5 practical tips to make coming home an easier transition.

First, remember that you’ve really been “fathering” all day.

One of your primary responsibilities is to provide for your family’s needs. Remind yourself throughout the work day that you’re doing this for the ones you love, and the transition back home won’t be quite so jarring.

Second, try unwinding a little before you get home.

Take ten minutes in your workplace to unwind; maybe you could go for a short walk, listen to some music, or envision the best attitude to have when you walk through the door. Do what it takes to be ready to jump in when you arrive at home.

Third, commit your first few minutes to your family.

If you’re like me, you’d probably rather head straight for the couch. By spending a few minutes interacting and catching up with everyone first — including a hug for your wife — you’ll gain the freedom to relax. Greet them with excitement especially when you are tired. Get down on your kids level to give them hugs and kisses or lift them up. Find out about their day. Ask your kids the best and worst parts of it. Do what you can to communicate you have missed them while you were at work.

Fourth, it’s good to talk through these issues with your family.

Maybe you do need a few minutes to unwind, and your wife can keep the kids occupied until you have the energy to give them your full attention. Or, maybe she’ll need you to take the kids until dinner is ready. Remember, in reality, you only have a couple of hours to spend with them before bed. Make the most of it.

Finally, anticipate discipline issues.

It can be discouraging if – as you walk in – you’re bombarded with all the day’s problems. Then your first contact with your child involves punishment. Get into a mindset of expecting it to happen. Be ready for your kids to misbehave and think through how you are going to respond before you get home from work. [Tweet This] Don’t dismiss the discipline problem, but work out a routine that works best for everyone involved.

Coming home from work can be one of the most rewarding times of the day. Let’s make sure it stays that way.

Sound Off

What is the first thing you do when you get home?

  • Mike

    It depends on the day! One thing my wife and I do is communicate to each other what our “level” is. If I’m coming home from a really tough day, I will let her know I’m at a “7” and would appreciate her giving me a little more space and grace. This one simple step can set the whole night on a better course.

    • Chuck Dryer

      My wife and I have a similar strategy, where we try to talk on my commute home everyday, and get a gauge for how her day has been (she’s a stay at home to four kids) and come in having some understanding of where she is on stress level, and which kid tends to be the main cause. It helps a lot to have that little preparation so that I can come in ready to focus on them, and to handle any issues that may need handled.

  • Brian

    This article is excellent on many fronts. First, fathers everywhere do need to realize that their kids will stop coming to the door at one point and they will miss it. I am a single father of 3 with my youngest being 14, a 17 year old, and then a 19 year old. My 14 year old still looks to see when I come home and says hello, but the days of running to the door are long gone. Enjoy it while it lasts!!!!
    The second part, which applies to all dads but especially for single dads, is to WIND DOWN before opening the door. Dinner, homework, discipline, additional duties/tasks from work, housework (inside and out), thinking about getting the kids ready for the next day, etc. will all be there. Take a moment and say hello to your kids before you go into work mode at home. It’s hard, but I strongly recommend NOT taking your bad day out on the kids and be willing to listen to your kids no matter how much listening you had to do at work or how bad your mood is. Your kids will appreciate it.

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Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What was the best part of your day?”

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