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to say I'm not doing all the organisational stuff anymore?(79 Posts)
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I have posted about this before but its finally come to a head now.
Long story short - we are a normal family I think - 3 children under 8, 2 at school, 1 at nursery. I work 3 days (have our 3yr the other 2 days), H works full time. Both do the same job, stressful, deadlines etc. Family life is busy and we're strapped for cash most of the time.
DH is a brilliant father, good husband most of the time, hard working. He is great at doing what I ask, pulls his weight with childcare / household chores / DIY. Doesn't have expensive hobbies or go out with his friends all the time. He is generally great.
Except for anything to do with organisation / planning of our life as a family. He will stretch to liaising with a couple of the other dads re lifts to DS's football matches. He also arranges for the cars to be serviced. Thats it. His salary goes into the joint account and a nominal sum goes into his own personal account to do with what he likes. He has no idea re finances - he couldn't tell you to the nearest £500 what the mortgage is, I manage all the finances, pay bills, budget, search for better deals all the time for utilities / insurance renewals etc. He doesn't plan any weekend activities, holidays, help to sort out things to do with the children in school holidays. I arrange play dates / after school activities / children's parties / presents / our social lives. I feel like I am constantly "thinking" about what needs to be done, whether everything is sorted / planned - just so all of the plates keep spinning, whereas he does what hes asked and can then just get on with his working day with no other demands on his time.
I've said I'm not doing it anymore - I'll give him all the details for bank accounts / payment dates / provisional dates for holidays but he's got to manage it all now. I'll do the day to day stuff - playdates for the children, be the point of contact for childcare etc, but all the "behind the scenes" organisation, he can do if from now on.
Am i expecting too much or do most mums / wives end up doing what I do?
YANBU - it's simply not reasonable for one adult to do all the organising and the other to take a back seat to it all. Having said that I don't know much about our finances as DH deals with everything - but he as everything on direct debit and even the credit cards have minimum direct debits on to make sure we don't miss payments. I do longer term saving and planning though and most of our social life organising.
Sowornout - you should show your DH that post and ask him for his opinion - ask him if YABU to be exhausted with it all.
This was us, years ago before DS was even thought of.
I got fed up and dumped he finances on DH. The phone was cut off, and we nearly had the utilities cut off too. He was crap. Then he would get angry with the utility companies because he "meant to get round to it". Bit of an attitude issue there I think!
Anyway, I took it back but it had led to some useful stuff about his attitude to money and life. Then I handed things over gradually. He now, some time later, deals with bills and has some household tasks that are his to manage and generally is far better, but it took time.
I do think that, as he is the main worker, (I'm currently a SAHM) that it suits us best for one of us to have the overall management of the House. By that I mean just knowing in my head what is where and what work will need doing in the next year or two and how everything is going, just as that would be someones responsibility in a work environment. After that it's down to splitting the management of individual work streams.
In our house my DH takes care of the finances/cars/garden and i do the house (cleaning, cooking, shopping, washing etc), kids stuff and appointments. I work part time and he works long hours full time. His stuff can easily be done at weekends and evening and mine i can do on my days at home. It works for us.
This has made me feel quite bad, because DH does most of ours (we both work full time). We just moved to a new country that speaks his native language, so I find it very difficult to navigate through foreign websites/paperwork. Hmm better try to learn it quicker before he gets sick of it.
Do you have different expectations of what needs doing though? For e.g. would he be happy for DCs to not go to many parties? It is a hard balance to shift, you have my sympathy.
the holding everything in your head - thats what it feels like here to.
I've been away with work for a week twice since returning to work after the arrival of DS2, and think DH got a taste of what life is like.
The first time it was chaos. No food left, but he was proudly smiling that he'd changed our bed sheets. Just a shame he hadn't done any other washing during the week!
Next time was better, but he spent most of the weekend in bed recovering! Oh, and took the wednesday in the middle of the week off, while the kids still went to nursery!
Any chance of a short time away, just so he sees the day to day stuff, when there is nothing of bills etc to sort?
Can fully empathise with this: DH full-time, me part-time, 2 DCs, me currently on maternity leave. I don't mind being in charge of most admin as I'm good at it, but expect as the OP says it will be more onerous when the kids are at school.
Just a couple of things to say... Firstly in my case I know that I can underestimate my DH, plus suffer from the control freakery mentioned, and if I wasn't to do things my way, the important stuff would probably get done - just not the way I'd do it, and that's not necessarily a bad thing! Secondly, for a few years we have used Google Calendar to organise things and that has made a big difference to my feelings about the admin. Each family member has a calendar, I update the kids, we can access the calendars from anywhere, and we both take responsibility for booking in anything and resolving any clashes. Obviously this took a degree of willingness on DH's part but it only took a few pointed "is it on the calendar"'s to get it working. I think the tecchy aspect appeals to both of us which might help motivate other DH's?
Oh yy to the shared calendar. Ours is a central calendar that updates to our phones and means either of us is able to check the diary and book things in. No excuses!
YY to calendars - we do through outlook calendars at work.
Count your blessings.
1 You have a husband who is the father of your healthy children.
2 He has a job, which fills the joint account at the end of every month.
If you think things are bad remind yourself that others aren't as fortunate.
Thank you so much for posting on this. My husband is the same. I have found it helps to give him responsibility for set tasks, like dishwasher every morning, putting the kitchen to bed at night, and taking kids to activities at the weekend. Being ill myself has forced my hand.
I read Wifework.
It opened my eyes to how all of this had become my 'job' too.
How did it get that way though? I mean unless the woman owns her own house and then the man joins her from his parent's house, which does happen but rarely, then both adults have been living independently for a while before getting together, organising everything for themselves. It must happen somehow that when they move in together the woman slowly (or quickly?) takes everything over - and who instigates that?
DH and I do about 50/50 on the organisation front but that's because I just haven't taken on some of the jobs, and DH has had to do them or they just don't get done. In fact when we moved here he looked at houses, sorted the mortgage, insurance and all the financial stuff, organised the movers etc etc - we were moving for his job, and I was SAHM to a small baby while he had a quiet office where he could make phonecalls so it just made sense for him to take care of it. Once we moved I did the electricity and gas, he did the tv and internet (although he has since taken over the elec and gas as he found a better deal). He could have faffed around and not sorted out the tv, but I'm not his mother I wouldn't have stepped in and sorted it out, we just wouldn't have had tv. For anything else that's come up we just share responsibility - we chose the kitchen together, he researched the appliances, I chose the tiles, that sort of thing. And he can't back out because I expect him to do it and if he doesn't do it it doesn't get done.
I just wonder how responsible women are for this problem - do they step in all the time, take over, make the man feel he can't do it right?
I am always gobsmacked when women say they pack for their partners. There is no way on earth I would do that for DH unless he genuinely couldn't it himself for some reason. But who wouldn't sit back and be a lazy arse if someone was going to organise everything for them? Honestly? I can't remember who mentioned the bins (can't go back to previous page) but WHY do you keep reminding him? Just leave him to it, and if the bins don't get emptied it's fair to expect and demand that he brings the rubbish to the tip - a few goes of that and suddenly he will start remembering! How will he ever remember if you take over the remembering for him? It's his job - don't get involved. It's DH's jobs to do the bins here too, and I have no idea what day the bins go out, not a clue. Why would I? It's not my job.
Equally important though - if DH ever does fuck up, which happens rarely, I don't get annoyed. I am not his mother, I don't monitor his activities. I commiserate at him forgetting and help him if I can, but I don't step in, I don't criticise, I don't get annoyed. That's just as important - if you feel like someone is going to go ballistic if you don't get it 100% right then the temptation is just to give up and let the other person do it. In fact DH had a tendency to do that to me - not get annoyed, but step in and do things for me - and I had to tell him to back off. It is very demoralising to feel someone else is monitoring what you're doing just waiting to horn in as soon as you have the slightest difficulty.
Yes read wifework! This stuff is work, remembering this is another chore. I found that book extremely powerful and can't recommend it enough
Could try keeping a big list / white board in the kitchen and write everyhing on it as it comes up eg 'book dentist' 'reply party' and each of you tick things off as you do them? It might encourage sharing of tasks and it would ensure he begins To realise what these tasks are.
Just to add - I don't organise DH's life. If he needs the dentist, he can book it himself (although I will help if he asks), I don't wash his clothes, I don't keep track of his family or buy them any presents etc. I have enough to think of with myself and DS and I don't think it's fair to expect me to be DH's PA/events manager too.
We do the whiteboard thing that bigkids mentioned and it works really well.
Oh i empathise i empathise.
I do it all too (I particularly empathise with the person up thread who says the dogs would not be booked into kennels for holidays) and I am the one who works out of the home, so DH is home all the time. (He does do the grocery shopping though).
(Funny-ish story, though not funny at the time. Last time the dogs were booked into kennels, DH had to get them there. He rang me at work in the middle of a meeting asking 'where are the kennels?' He had actually packed the dogs in, and started driving the car before realising he had no idea where he was going.)
I draw the line at giving him tasks though, as he gets shirty about me 'nagging'. Although last week i told him that his only task that day was TO NOT MESS ANYTHING UP.
It pisses me off as well.
I think I will get Wifework also. I need a change for my sanity.
Egusta, he is being totally unfair to you though, isn't he? I mean his attitude is "You do it, or it won't get done" because you can't even tell him to do it. He has the perfect set-up - a person who will organise his life and is forbidden from doing anything about it.
In your situation I would be perfectly happy to book a (cheap) holiday and not book the kennels then ask DH the day before departure "so where are the dogs going then?" and be prepared to go nowhere if he hasn't sorted something out. He doesn't sort the dogs because he knows you will do it.
Hmm, good luck with that one, OP!
I think an efficient division of labour means each side doing what they're best at sometimes, and doesn't sound like your OH is so great at organising. Maybe he could pick up slack in other ways?
I found that DH is better at very routine stuff (he cooks tea most nights!) and jobs that ally with his own natural interests (he's more into finance than me, for instance).
Calin - how does it get like that (women either doing most admin/life organisation, and having the headspace full of that, always doing the thinking/planning) -
I think it's a number of factors. The first thing I would say is - how much do you live with when things aren't done? You say, it was your dp's job to sort out the telly - if he didn't, you wouldn't have a telly.
Okay! Not too traumatic. But purely on the financial front - the direct consequences for me of leaving my dp to manage money have been the threat of utilities being cut off, losing hundreds of pounds in overpayments (only sorted out when after repeated requests for him to have a check, I did it), nearly losing out a mortgage (entire day taken off work to ring round banks/hmrc) - all the basic problems you get when you don't budget and live within your means (unnecessary debt).
i don't think it's my job to be laid back about that.
As far as other things go - I'm not happy for my dc never to go to parties, never have play with friends, have days out beyond what they do all the time, fall out of contact with relatives - or always be the family who take and never give. I want them to be registered with a doctor, a dentist. Be able to get and be taken to appointments when they have them.
This is a feminist point. It is one thing for women to end up taking way more than their fair share. It is another to blame them for it - for what is essentially a failure to 'manage' our husbands.
a kinder approach is to accept that one woman in one relationship cannot overthrow centuries/decades of social conditioning with one graceful wave of her modern woman's wand. That if we live in a society where it is still women who take maternity leave when the children are small, this always makes them the main carer in a pattern that is hard to break, and not simply the woman's fault for being unable to 'let go'.
I think too that so many cohabiting couples get into the situation where the woman does not just the majority of domestic tasks, but the household organisation too. When you have kids, those burdens get a hell of a lot bigger - and so women end up with a daft and very disproportionate workload.
Having your own brainspace MATTERS. My dp used to say 'just tell me what to do and I'll do it.' Like he was doing me a favour! I had to point out, time and again, that while we were supposed to be working (main breadwinner here, btw) that HE was just thinking about work - I was organising a diary and schedule in my head, I was clock watching when he was just waiting for me to tell him about something. It simply isn't equal or fair.
I should add, for honesty's sake, that we are not a neat and well run household. We do a minimum and anything not vital is let slide. No perfect cupcakes and matching kids' outfits here. But I do like not to be overdrawn if we can help it, for clothes to be clean and somewhere we can find them, for food to be in the fridge and the car to be insured. Oh, and ds to not just be left in the living room all day with the telly on.
So much of this is cultural. DP isn't stupid - far from it. He also has political beliefs and personal values that are entirely consistent with sharing domestic work equally with me. And yet it is a constant battle, and much of his failure comes from him badly underestimating how much time, effort and skill is required to do things like budget and shop. He wasn't raised doing it, he never got into the habit of doing it living on his own (or with other women who obviously did most of it) - he accepts that science and politics are 'valid' subjects that he will require him to make an effort and give brainspace to (he is academically v successful) - but going shopping with a shopping list is something that he only does when I insist on it. He used to think that floors never needed cleaning. Never used to look at bank statements because if things were ok, he didn't need to, and if they weren't, it would just worry him and make him depressed.
I think a few of his problems (and mine) are unique - but most of them I think are very typical, from looking at my friend's experiences.
My position is 'easier' because I am the main breadwinner, and always have been. I still get resistance, sulking and arguments about the division of labour - but it is a lot more clear cut than if I was working part time, or earning less.
Anyway, my point is - yes, things SHOULD be more equitable, and women should do what they can to make that happen. But it isn't all our fault for being in this position - the same as running into sexist attitudes at work is not because we fail as employees to 'manage' our sexist colleagues. If what we are trying to change is a very deep seated cognitive problem - 'these things are not really my job' - on the part of male partners, then that's damn hard.
My DH does the cooking. People think I'm lucky, my mum is horrified (I'm part time, DH is full time so I can see why people think it should be me doing it, but I hate cooking and he doesn't). I thought it was great too, until I realised that I still do all the shopping, meal planning, checking we've got the right food in, checking use-by dates, deciding what to have, and he basically comes home, says 'what's for dinner?' and then cooks it. I do all the head space stuff.
I refuse to buy presents, cards etc for his family, I don't even know when their birthdays are. Yet if he forgets, I feel a pang of guilt! Why is that? It's not my job, but my head clearly thinks it's my job and that other people will also think it's my job and when it is not done, it will be me being judged. This is why I deliberately don't know when family birthdays are because if I did, I'd be tempted to
nag remind and take over.
This is all so familiar. Yes. Exactly the same in this house and I do find it incredibly frustrating, when did this all become my job? I am stubborn though so have never entirely given in for an easy life but this does mean that a lot of things just aren't done properly. & I don't mean 'not done to my high standards' properly - I really am NOT a control freak - I mean half done to the point that it has a negative impact on the family. Things like me driving around in an uninsured car for a week because he hadn't signed off on the renewal docs (having decided car stuff was his) or paying vast amounts of money in a European hospital for him to have emergency treatment because he hadn't got himself an EHIC card when the E111 ran out. I do all holidays, child care, parties, 'playdates', any trips out, paperwork etc. we are planning building work and i am dreading it, because it will be the same and in addition most tradespeople around here would prefer to 'deal with the man' and talk down to me ( which is a rant all of its own but dh and I are equally inept and ignorant about planning, building etc and I would rather not deal with it)
Most bills are on dd but I monitor it and remember to pay for milk, child care and any school/activity stuff.
I don't know what to do about it. I refuse to pack for him and if it's logical I expect him to pack for children too (he's off Fridays and i am not so makes sense if we are going to see someone for the weekend) but then have to bite my tongue at hopeless mismatch of tops and bottoms, no hairbrush, etc etc.
Aargh! He is a decent bloke and will DO stuff, but only if I ask, remind, remind again and then do the big taped sign as described up thread. By which time isn't it just easier to do myself? But that's enabling, I know, I know.
I think I should read Wifework, will it just make me angry though?
Great response rain, thanks. I totally get what you're saying, and I agree that it's really off to blame women entirely for this problem.
It's going to seem like I'm blaming again (sorry) but a thing that struck me is that you say "I still get resistance, sulking and arguments about the division of labour" - is that from your DH? As in, he sulks if you suggest he should take on more? Because again, that is something I absolutely would not put up with. DH did do it somewhat at the start of our relationship but something I said a few times is "Either you can be single and do without my nagging, or you can be in a relationship and pull your weight. I will not put up with sulking. We are both responsible for these things and you simply cannot refuse to get involved because as far as I'm concerned that means you don't want to be in a relationship. Is that what you want?"
I know it sounds harsh but I wouldn't stay with someone who would get me into debt and not deal with household stuff - it would make me lose respect for him entirely. Genuine mistakes I can totally understand and forgive but persistent avoidance of responsibility is real dealbreaker in my book. By staying, and by sorting it out, you are tacitly saying that it's ok for him to fuck up in such a huge way, that you'll just put up with it, and deal with it. If it's not ok then you need to make that absolutely clear.
rainrain - yes. Perfectly articulated, thank you. I may even read that to my husband.
Cailin - how do you distinguish between a genuine mistake and persistent avoidance of responsibility? My husband doesn't believe he shouldn't have to do it - he just has proven to be crap at it time and again, making mistakes that scare me but I forgive. I am not naturally organised, I think I have trained myself into it. He seems unable to do this.