There is a very predictable pattern that my husband has when he has time off. The first few days, he does nothing, absolutely NOTHING. You will be lucky if he changes his sweatpants. He will develop a mean stubble that will irritate everyone's face and he will eat any crud you put in front of him. After a day of stomach aches, he begins to cook for us, but claims there's nothing in the house to cook. Keep in mind this is after you observe a pantry closet that is half full and you restrain yourself from saying, "Figure it out!" The most unbearable question you will hear, after you've worked a full day and STILL have to pick up the children, "What do you want for dinner?" To which, I will head scream "YOU'RE THE CHEF!!!"
The second phase is cleaning. What do chefs do when they don't have a kitchen to clean? They clean the house. PLEASE, learn to capitalize on this phase especially in regards to bathrooms. They will most likely rearrange the living room (twice), kitchen and possibly the basement. In the beginning of our marraige, chef wanted my help (labor) to move things. After the fifth rearrangement I said, "This is your OCD thing not mine, if you want to rearrange three times in one month, you do it!" Listen to that piece of advice, you will save yourself from an unnecessary trip to the doctor's with a pulled back muscle. Prepare to see a trash bag full of expired spices, various specimens from the fridge and that funky no name chocolate that everyone gets at Easter but no one eats, unless it's your time of the month and the only chocolate left. Once, I had a very entertaining afternoon tipping over the decorative pillows on our couch for a total of yes, 13 times before he realized I was doing it on purpose. I really had a good laugh from that one. Thankfully, he laughed too. Unfortunately this will be short lived because in their mind they've done it perfectly and you can't top that. You will also take many trips to the volunteer bin with clothing that chef has expunged from his side of the closet which is frankly suffocating yours. All chef pants will either be too stained, too short, too long, too thin or just old. We have one rule in my house, the bedroom is sacred. I don't care how much of a sh hole it may look, don't touch my space! The next phase is rather difficult to weather.
The third phase is cleaning anger. This is when chef starts accusing everyone in the household of never putting anything away where it belongs, undoing all of his/her hard work. This is particularly aggravating because even if you leave one dirty knife in the sink, it's like you've left a sink full of dishes complete with molding food on it. You may also observe that the minute you or your children try to do something relaxing, chef has something for you to put away. I'm not joking about this! Test this theory, you'll kick yourself for having never noticed. It all has to do with that mantra, "You have time to lean, you have time to clean." Tell your children to go outside and hide! This is when the criticisms start about your laundry routine, or lack there of. At this point, the best thing to do is to suggest to chef, that he calls his buddies that he hasn't seen in six months as they are most likely torturing their spouses too. It will give you atleast two nights of rest.
The fourth phase is probably THE most difficult to survive. After your chef has been home for about two weeks, they start to have all of the answers to run a perfect household. They think they are helping make YOU more efficient and have solved all of your child rearing issues. You will most likely get visions of giving your chef a swirly in the toilet or putting salt in their coffee or at the very least tossing eggshells in their omelet. I truly think this is the hardest phase to keep yourself level headed. You start to feel insulted, incompetent, walked on... Remember most likely YOU are the one picking up the kids, attending PTA meetings, receiving the phone calls from school, sending the notes, cooking and shopping for the family, keeping the bills, appointments and play dates straight. I really think this whole phase comes from the guilt that chefs feel from not being at home to help because of the shifts that they work. I have to keep telling myself, it makes him feel like he's contributing and that he can help improve our daily life. Stock up on the wine, this phase is a long one and will most likely involve a "talk". It is very important that chef feels that he/she is taken seriously. If you don't take that advice to heart, I can't be held responsible for the argument that ensues later.
The fifth phase is chef's longing to get back to work. They start talking about new food trends or recipes they've discovered. By all mean, jump on this bandwagon!!! Chef becomes happier, making everyone happier and the last week to two weeks of chef's time off is very positive for the family.
As strange as this post may sound, I have observed these phases time and time again over a 10 year marraige, so far. :)