When you’re at home looking after little ones, the days can feel like an endless stream of snacks, day sleeps, laundry and craft. Often with no adult conversation, unless you count a chat to someone in a call centre.
It’s so exciting when you hear the key in the door and your partner finally gets home. But if you’re anything like me, you’re so caught up with cranky kids, running the bath, getting dinner on the table and clearing the lounge room floor that all you do is raise your head and ask the obligatory, “How was your day?” To which your partner might say, “Good” (“Or bad”). End of conversation.
While life is hectic and every day feels the same, the right question to your partner as they walk through the door might just lead to more interesting communication.
Here are nine questions that will inspire a bit more chit chat and also gain some insight into the day your partner has had, and how they’re actually feeling.
1. What did you have for lunch today?
Sometimes it’s good to steer clear of work questions and lunchtime is definitely the best part of the day, so why not start here? Unless I’ve packed up something for my husband’s lunch, I always like to know what he had. Was it delicious? Did it hit the spot? And this, inevitably leads to a conversation about how he spent his lunch break, did he go for a walk, chat to a colleague, or visit a new café.
2. Did you see anyone on the train?
Did your partner see anyone they know on their travels to and from work? Often my husband will bump into friends or ours or parents from school but might forget to tell me. What did they talk about together? What’s happening in their lives? Not only do you find out about your partner’s trip to work, but what your friends are up to as well.
3. What was the highlight of your day?
This is a good way to cut to the chase and find out what was the best moment of your partner’s day. They might be dying to tell you about something that happened, but with the chaos of kids, it goes by the wayside. It also allows for recognising those simple unexpected moments they might tell you if you were there – but by the end of the day, they’ve forgotten. And if there were no highlights, you can quickly fill the gap and move to question number four.
4. What was the lowlight of your day?
This is a handy question to allow your partner to unload if their day hasn’t gone so well. Sometimes they might not want to burden you with the boring details but by asking them this question, they can let it all out before moving on to enjoy the evening.
5. What was the funniest thing that happened today?
It’s good to come in with a specific question and one that might actually lead to sharing a joke or a laugh. And we could all do with that.
6. What inspired you the most today?
This could be something that happened at work, something they heard, read or was told. And being a positive and open-ended question, there’s little chance of a one-word response but rather a more lengthy and upbeat discussion.
7. Did you hear any great songs?
With music now so readily available, people love to listen to tunes on their trip to work, whether they’re in the car, bus, on foot or in the train. Maybe they stumbled upon a new song and now that you have brought it up, your partner might want to play for you. Which sets a far better tone to the evening than, “How was your day?”
8. What podcast did you listen to?
Again, if your partner has to travel to a workplace, they might listen to podcasts and have heard something really interesting that they want to share with you. This question has a far greater chance of spilling into an interesting discussion that has nothing to do with who slept for how long and who had a tantrum.
9. Are you going to ask me about my day?
If all else fails, this will surely get the conversation started. Let’s face it, for the parent at home with kids, you don’t need much to let loose on the all the details of your day. It may not be as exciting as going out into the world, catching public transport or eating in a café but there is still a lot to share. And perhaps try to apply the questions to yourself and talk about the highlights, the lowlights, what was the most inspiring thing and what was the funniest. With kids underfoot, none of that should be very hard to come up with.