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SAHM feeling a bit useless/belittled

(87 Posts)
caramelgirl Fri 22-Nov-13 10:13:03

Apologies for length.
Hi, am looking for advice about things I can do to resolve/improve our situation. I will pre emptively say that I know we are materially v v lucky and I appreciate this. I just would like to make the relationship side better.
Been with DH 10 years, married 5, 2 DC, 4yDD & 7moDS. Rented house in London.
We both went to Cambridge, he came out with a 1st in maths, me with a 2.1 in history When we met, post Uni, we were both jobless but I'd had, and left, a fairly well paid consulting job whereas he was looking to enter banking.
10 years on he is on a v v good wage. I have has a fairly chequered career having had several different jobs which I've not stuck out. Retrained as a therapist, then had DC1 as planned, and then, after 18 months of trying DC2. DH works fairly long hours and is away anroad fairly often. I am in charge of house stuff, making him packed lunch, dinner and children. DD attends nursery 3 short days a week. I am meant to be in charge of savings too.
I'd always wanted to be a mum. Pretty much sum total of my ambitions, both of us had SAHMs but mine is now breadwinner and my dad retired. His Ma never went back and has probably suffered a bit for that (in terms of esteem and stimulation I would guess).
DH has always planned to leave after 10-12 years. He'd never had the Dream of banking, tho' has enjoyed the intellectual challenge etc.. He is a keen tax payer(!), mentors kids etc., we tithe his base salary. In short he is, honestly, not a tosser in an environment where most of his colleagues are to some degree.
He is frustrated that I am not working, and especially that I did not work when we were trying for DC2 (I kept thinking that the next cycle would be The One, etc.).
We are saving money so that he can leave his job, we can buy a house without a mortgage and he can go back to Uni. Again, I know this is exceptionally lucky. Plan is that then we will both work, I think I'll try to do therapy stuff in evenings but maybe look to be a teaching assistant or something. If we have DC3 then I'll probably stay at home until they are 3 or 4. Unless DH can fit it around his work/study.
I have not been good at managing savings. In fact I don't think I've been v good value as a SAHM. Children happy and fed, washing (so much washing, done) but house chaotic (and this is with cleaner), helper twice a week for 3 hours to help with bedtime, but our paperwork etc. us still disorganised. Lots of his colleagues have v v glam wives and I am not..
He is a brilliant dad, really involved and imaginative. Other people's kids look him out at parties and in the park. He'd be a brilliant nursery worker if we could afford for him to do that! So he is good at his job and good with the kids.
All came to a head last night when I made a comment about a friend whose child had starred school and before I could even finish the sentence he snapped "you'd just get a job if that were you", obviously this is something that he is v stressed about. But it feels every time I say anything he is looking to score a point or criticise me (eg if I say how proud I am of thr DC or something, so I end up hedging my comments or self censoring). We dont get much time together anyway, our sex life is dead after TTC misery and the incredible never sleeping baby. He comes home and often still works over dinner time. Or watches sport on the iPad, I'll mumsnet or grocery order etc. next to him

So...and if you have managed to read this far thank you, what can I do?
We used to be v good at talking through everything and being kind to each other. I feel belittled and I think he feels unsupported. We both believe in marriage being forever and getting through stuff but would prefer not to be looking at 60 years of misery ahead of us.
T I A!

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 22-Nov-13 11:49:50

You'll figure it out smile

tweetytwat Fri 22-Nov-13 11:50:42

YY pootle. The job I am going to pays about a third less ph than my last one sad Deskilled. No longer flexible. <sobs> I would be flexible except I'm pretty sure I can't leave the children on their own for about the next 10 yearsgrin

ProfPlumSpeaking Fri 22-Nov-13 11:53:59

If your DH continues in his current job (I realise this is not the plan) then give up any idea of going back to work as your job will always be a poor second and you won't be able to have any kind of interesting senior position. Instead, ditch the guilt and enjoy what you have - time at home with DC, money for a cleaner (increase her hours) and some free time in the future. Forge your own interests but don't worry about them earning money (if your salary is likely to be 1/20 of your DH's then there is no point). Make yourself project manager of holidays, schools, renovation projects, start a sport or join a choir, volunteer for a charity, write a book, try cordon bleu cookery. But you need to get DH on board ie it's no good you doing that if he doesn't respect you for it. I know many Oxbridge couples like you but 15 years down the line. In one, the DH says daily to his DW how lucky he is to have her at home caring for their DC (who are now large semi adult men) and taking care of everything at home, and she is very happy, and I know others where the woman is miserable because she has no respect from her DH. It is a fact that women in Oxbridge couples are more likely to be not working than other groups as their DH's, like yours, are often in highly paid uber jobs. 2 parents in uber jobs doesn't work, and there is little point in one parent having a play job. Not sure of the complete solution tbh but I do know you need to get DH to respect that you "as a team" have made whatever decision you have. How willing would he have been for you to continue consulting while he gave up his banking job to look after toddlers? Thought not. Don't beat yourself up for not being a good housekeeper. You don't need to be and you never applied for that job. Employ one.

Xenadog Fri 22-Nov-13 12:00:17

OP you have mentioned having another child but it seems like that would be going against all the other plans you and DH have. I'm not saying don't have another child but I do wonder if this is the wisest course to follow when you already have 2 children and both of you seem intent on changing/developing new careers.

Why don't you sit down one evening with your husband, open a bottle of wine and just talk about YOU TWO as people. Not as parents, not as spouses and not as employees but as people. You need to reconnect and this will only happen over time - after all you didn't disconnect (sorry if the word isn't right but it's the best I could think of!) overnight so it will take some time to rebuild things.

What is it that DH really wants for him? What is it you really want for you? How can those two things be reconciled together whilst maintaining a marriage and family? What do you both need as well as want?

I don't think anyone can tell you what you MUST do to get back on track but hopefully there's some questions here which you can both address and then get talking from here.

BTW don't worry about having a "plan" as such. Part of the beauty of life is not knowing what will happen next - enjoy the journey don't just focus on the destination (the view always ends up being a bit crappy anyway!). Good luck.

dozeydoris Fri 22-Nov-13 12:01:25

I am very very good at networking people and hooking people up and setting up social groups and making nights out/kids events/clubs happen

I agree with JOinyourplayfellows - 'Those are very, very valuable (and pretty rare) abilities.'

So when exactly is he planning on going back to uni - in 2years time?

I wouldn't say that going back to work is the best plan when you have a 7 month old. But you shouldn't be living in chaos if you have help in the house. I found a great book - feng shui guide to decluttering, sadly I don't know the full details but this one looks similar book . And clearing out was like a huge weight off my shoulders, so really worth trying.

Does he realize that your childcare costs will eat up most of your much-lower-than-his salary? So some of the savings will be needed to live on I should think.

Bigfingers Fri 22-Nov-13 12:01:39

Hi OP you sound very similar to me and my situation, in a lot of ways. I was very academic, and went to a top university, but lacked direction and fell into a career in London, which didn't really suit me, but by the time I realised that it didn't seem worth making the change at 25, since I knew we would TTC before I was 30, and I always knew I wanted to be SAHM for a few years, and with the naivety of youth, thought it would be very straightforward to get back to work when my youngest was 'old enough' (whatever that meant smile ) My DCs are 6, 3, and 20m. DP and I have relationship 'issues' at the moment. Our 20mo has also been the incredible never-sleeping baby since birth, coupled with some overlap with the 3yo where both were waking us all through the night, every night. Tiredness leads to irritation about everything. He may not really feel how it seems, just lashing out on the only person he can lash out at. Life with v young children is very hard, especially with bad sleeper/s, don't underestimate the effect that will be having on you both.

Luckily for me, though, DP is always supportive of the job that I do with the children ... he realises that we would have to pay someone else a lot of money to enable me to work, and we both feel the same about not wanting them in childcare when they're very young. If you do go back to work, would your potential earnings be so high that you would actually be in net credit to a worthwhile amount? As a teaching assistant I wouldn't have thought so...

So presumably it's about something other than money for your DP. Does he think that you would be more attractive (in all ways) generally as a 'worker' rather than a mum - having to make more effort to look glam, made-up, non-sick-stained ? Is conversation mostly restricted to parenting-type subjects? Does he think your life is easier than his? Has he walked in your shoes for a week - that worked wonders when DP had a little phase of thinking he had drawn the short straw as the breadwinner - he now realises being at work is a much quieter life smile

You're very vague in the OP about what you want. You CAN do anything, if you REALLY want to. Nothing will be easy, but you have the abilities, it's just about getting the motivation, and a clear idea of what you want from your career, life, etc. If what you want is to be a really lovely mum, be an interesting person who doesn't have a 'kudos' career, but has enough money to spend a lot of time accumulating new and exciting knowledge/skills etc, then do that, I think that would be a worthwhile life, if you've got the luxury to afford it. Or re-train, if money and status is what will do it for you. Doing neither will never satisfy you. GL

whatdoesittake48 Fri 22-Nov-13 12:13:05

I think you are just looking for respect either for yourself or from your husband and if you keep doing what makes you unhappy - you will never have it.

it is incredibly important to be good at something in our lives - either paid or unpaid.

I was a SAHM too for several years after a good career and a degree. I found myself floundering and wasn't a good house keeper. I feel i did a good job with the kids - but most of the time i wasn't all that bothered with the rest of it.

I fond myself in unfulfilling part time jobs when they started school and eventually had to admit i needed to work out what i could do well and discover a way to do it.

I am now a freelance writer and work full time from home. it uses my brain and has been a huge success. I can't earn what my husband does, but I have a flexible life which makes me happy. he doesn't complain (much) about the money - but every now and then i have to pull my finger out and improve things.

Work is important and unless you do it yourself, no one will do it for you. Discover your talent and way to make it work for you. Get some self respect back and you will feel better about your relationship too.

HappyGirlNow Fri 22-Nov-13 12:30:23

Sorry but I'm not surprised your husband feels put out. You're a SAHM to only 2 children, one of whom is at nursery some the time and you still need a cleaner and a bedtime helper [sceptical]

And why wouldn't you get a job while ttc?

MILLYMOLLYMANDYMAX Fri 22-Nov-13 12:45:04

Can I ask why you didn't buy? Renting in London as opposed to buying is going to cost you an awful lot more. Not really getting as to why you are saving money to buy a house outright. Or why your dh is planning on leaving his well paying job so he can go to uni.
I would think you are feeling rudderless as you not only do not own your own home but this 10 year plan does not make for a settled family life.

Definitely get your finances in control. I have a large file and a ledger which I put down what we owe in total, what we owe on a monthly basis what has been paid that month and a carry forward figure.

At the moment with 2 little ones you cannot possibly work full time or even part time away from the home especially if dp isn't in the country,(my dp works similar job in London and flies off every few weeks to some weird and wonderful destination.) Presumably if you did get a job you would have no back up if say one child was to go down sick. At such a young age if they go to nursery or school, they come down with every bug going. Even when they start school you have to consider illness x 2 or 3. And believe me they don't coincide their colds, chicken pox outbreaks and every other illness going to suit your full time job. And the cost of childcare especially for one under 1 year is astronomical.

If you are looking to start your own therapy business then why not try to start small and do little bits here and there to get it going.

I think your dp is giving mixed messages and not thinking of the consequences. That is also feeding into your general unhappiness.
1. Get a job. What job? If the plan is to move any time soon out of London there doesn't seem much point and who is going to look after the little ones whilst your at work and he is out of the country when they get sick.

2. You want to do your therapy business but fully appreciate there is no business out of London. But dp has obviously set his heart on moving to a place where your therapy business will struggle.

3. He wants to go back to uni and give up his job. Sorry but this seems strange for a married guy in his 30's with kids.

I think you both need to sit down and talk.
Why can't dh do an open university course and keep his job until he is qualified.
Why don't you buy a place in London and settle here. I wasn't brought up in London but came down 30 years ago. We did move for quite a while to the countryside but decided it was no place to bring up children so moved back 16 years ago. In the meantime get your therapy business or what ever you want to do off the ground.

I can fully understand about the washing. It is never ending, if my machine does not go off at least once to twice per day then the laundry mountain needs crampons to negotiate.

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 22-Nov-13 12:55:00

"it is incredibly important to be good at something in our lives - either paid or unpaid."

Yes, I really, really agree with this from whatdoes.

kitsmummy Fri 22-Nov-13 13:03:16

Look, this may not be a popular opinion, but you have 2 children, nursery, a cleaner and a helper and your house and lifestyle is still chaotic?

Get organised, that will probably cheer your DH up a bit. In his position I'd be less than impressed. Perhaps if home life is easier and less chaotic he will let up on the job talk a bit.

I don't mean to be nasty but with all due respect you sound a bit flaky. Pull yourself together and do something well (eg the house). If you want a job, go get one, but I think you need to decide what it is you want to do and then go do it. You have all the means to do this well, I'm sure there aren't many SAHMs out there with money, cleaners and home helps.

kitsmummy Fri 22-Nov-13 13:05:36

I also think your DH may be keeping on about you getting a job as he wants to feel that he is getting some sort of equal contribution from you. If the home set up was up to scratch, he may not have so many issues around the job situation.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Fri 22-Nov-13 13:10:19

Warning: I am c. 10 yrs older than you, married to a banker and cynical.

Is your Dh really going to leave banking? Really? really really really? Because this is how I've seen it happen

Banker does 10-15 years of banking
Banker forgets what it's like to live on under half a mill a year
Banker decides to leave rat race
Banker retrains to worthy career - usually teacher
Banker starts new job
Banker realises that new job is as long hours, just as much crap and politics, less respect, and critically, 95% less money than banking
Banker begs former employer for job back
Banker gets mercilessly ribbed by trading floor and employer never quite forgets that he once quit to run a vineyard/ knit own yoghurt etc.

What I'm slightly struggling with is whether your DH wants you to work because he thinks that when he quits the rat race you'll need two incomes, or whether he wants a wife that works. How do you see it?

tweetytwat Fri 22-Nov-13 13:13:36

So clearly, OP, your problem is that you are an inadequate wife hmm

FGS people doesn't what she wants matter just a little bit? Play job? Not worth bothering for pin money? I feel like I fell asleep and woke up in the 1950s.

Going back to work isn't just about the money - it's also about your identity, being seen in society, self worth, feeling you are doing something useful and interesting at least some of the time, pension contributions, maintaining a career, feeling fulfilled.

There may be a little bit of self sabotage going on. And certainly a bit of sabotage/general undermining from the DH here (Well I might retrain, we might move, what's the point?)

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 22-Nov-13 13:14:32

Well said, tweety

caramelgirl Fri 22-Nov-13 13:24:08

Thank you all. Yes, I can see he is unimpressed by me, I am too if that helps.
I have started logging spending and we have tackled the historic financial paperwork.
I think I will start trying to declutter in a more consistent way. Hopefully having our shiny new filing system should help.
Bedtime helper will go soon, she was a stopgap so that DC1 could have some attention with all the cluster feeding etc. as I felt she was getting a bit of a raw deal fun wise with her new sibling.
And I have started on my annual CPD so am listening to lectures (online) and feeling a bit more enthused. At least it is another intellectual dimension, even if it is not long term career sustainable.
Thanks all, still mulling. I do like the being good at something comment. I always think professional competence is an appealing trait, but you are right, it doesn't even need to be professional.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Fri 22-Nov-13 13:32:19

Yes, I can see he is unimpressed by me, I am too if that helps.

Don't say that and don't apologise for having help. There are no prizes for enduring crappy bedtime dramas on a daily basis. I remember when DD was born and I spent the first day thinking "yeah, I'm so on it with this 2 child thing" and then bedtime came and it all went tits up.

Anyway, enough about me grin. Whilst tackling the clutter is always good (you're never going to regret it at least) I think you're in danger of skirting the central issue.

You need to sit down with your DH and have a "what's the plan?" talk in terms of jobs, moving, buying a house, are you having another child because these things may not be mutually compatible. In particular, his expectations that you work right now might not be realistic if he wants you to actually make money. If it's not about money, what is it about?

Hermione123 Fri 22-Nov-13 13:42:20

I'm surprised by some of the more negative comments, having two small dc is hard. Just sit down and keep talking until you get to the bottom of it. Good luck op!

celestialsquirrels Fri 22-Nov-13 13:47:39

Listen caramel. There are two issues here.
1. You are clearly clever and articulate. You are also well educated. You seem to me to be saying that you need to do something outside the home in order to be fulfilled in the longer term. There is nothing wrong with that. It becomes especially important as the kids get older and eventually - too soon - leave home. You are having a bit of a crisis of confidence by not having found the one job you love and would enjoy.
2. Your relationship is at a bit of a low ebb. This is almost certainly partly normal and to do with babies and lack of sleep and feeling slightly out of control domestically. On top of that you had a stressful time getting dc2 which probably made sex seem like a bit of a chore. Your DH has clearly picked up on your dissatisfaction with your working/not working and that is also becoming an issue. The two things feed into each other I expect, because you feel he isn't supporting you in your efforts to work out whether you want to work and if so doing what, and he probably thinks all this is more stressful than he thought it would be.

So. My advice.
You don't sound passionate about therapy. You also don't seem to need a job that brings in 6 figures. Nor, probably, can you commit to a job which is super full on as you have a baby and may want another soon. Also that won't help your stress levels. I suspect you are too bright to do a pointless mcJob a la sainsburys and why would you? So you need to think about either a) studying something you love for the sake of it or vocationally. This can be done flexibly, will increase your self worth, give you an outlet and my lead to a job. Also you can afford to do it. Do a masters in something and see where it leads; or b) do some worthwhile voluntary work. Become a Samaritan. Become a magistrate. Something like that. Both of those will complement your interest in therapy. Worthwhile, can be done flexibly, gets you into the community and looking out, will give you skills you can convert into the workplace later if necessary, intellectually stimulating.
Alternatively if you are passionate about therapy, set up your own practice and run it flexibly with a few clients.

Now your relationship. I think you should book two flights to a city you haven't been to together and a good hotel room with a big bed. Get granny to hold the fort for a few days. Take him away, for at least three nights. Walk, go to museums, drink cocktails, eat well, talk talk talk talk. Talk about the future, talk about your wishes and dreams, reconnect. Also have sex. Focus on the two of you for a few days. Because if you lose that connection you lose a bit of your way and it sounds like you might have done that a bit.

I hope that's helpful.

JoinYourPlayfellows Fri 22-Nov-13 13:49:05

"Yes, I can see he is unimpressed by me, I am too if that helps."

Well, it shines out of your posts that you are unimpressed with yourself. sad

And I don't think your assessment of yourself is fair.

We're not all good at the same stuff.

I have very little patience for the view that if you are a woman you must automatically be brilliant at housework and super organised and if you have other strengths you are some kind of failure.

The crap women give each other (and themselves) about not being good at this stuff does my head in. (Particularly when plenty of men pride themselves on being shit at it.)

It's OK to be a good mother and a shit housekeeper. One of those things is important and the other thing you can afford to pay for, so it doesn't matter if you are rubbish at it.

The only place I think it matters to get on top of stuff is where it negatively affects you - when you feel rubbish because you are letting things slide and it makes you feel crap about yourself.

You have a BABY. So it's OK if life is a bit chaotic for now.

I don't know, as I said I grew up in a house with a good mother who was a terrible housekeeper. So I just don't get the horror of a bit of chaos. It doesn't kill you. (It makes you stronger grin)

Hogwash Fri 22-Nov-13 13:50:03

Bloody hell Kitsmummy don't sit on the fence, will you!

OP I suspect the state of your house reflects the state of your mind at the moment - get that sorted and I think the organisation will follow. It's so easy to get lost in the baby days, and then to feel you are guilty that you are not making the most of them, and then to feel guilty that you are making the most of them ... In my experience things begin to change when the youngest goes off to nursery and school - to begin the 'oh actually ...' thought processes and to think deeply about how you want your future to look. I'm not sure it is something you can rush (though everyone else seemed to! I'm glad I didn't though). TTC miseries become a distant memory too and the rest will follow.

(And don't feel bad about the bedtime help - when DH was away I used toprocess our big 2 at bathtime sitting on the floor feeding the baby, they didn't get quality time and I deeply regret not forking out for some help)

caramelgirl Fri 22-Nov-13 14:00:27

Was going to say richmanpoorman, I'm not sure re: his motivation re: my job. I think both, but he is definitely having financial fears atm, bank will prob let people go next year and his area being reshuffled. So he may not have a choice but to leave, which would solve some problems but cause others.
I think I'll aim to tackle clutter as it does make me feel sad, physical manifestation of disorganisation etc.. But am definitely sold on the Big Talk once I've had a bit of a think around stuff and how to express it in a positive way. Grandparents down in mid Dec for a weekend so can aim to chat then or at Christmas as a mental deadline.
And I'll try to find out his feelings, other than "I want out now, but we can't afford it, the way we planned at least, yet". Amazing how quickly our communication broke down, am baffled that I didn't notice sooner (too busy wiping up sick etc. obvs not wasting time mumsnetting )

i started off Reading here thinking thinking good that we can Accept being good mums and crap housewives. Then on page 2 the 1950's came crashing back in. Your children are small, very little sleep is such a wreck for concentration and general organisation. that you feel a bit lost in the Ocean is not unusual either. take Your time, look for jobs you are interested in/studies that may be feasable and give a reliable job (essential when the kids are little-ish) and see how you go. to be a therapist full time require good networking and business skills, and takes a good few years to set up comfortably, so perhaps start bit by bit now. it's also pretty unreliable as a main Income, and in my case drove me demented With worry.

No worries if you're not a domestic goddess. gives Your children a cracking immune system, you know ;)

ProfPlumSpeaking Fri 22-Nov-13 14:04:26

richmanpoorman spot on. The other alternative is the DH who says (always) "just 2 or 3 more years then we will have enough money to retire". It never happens.

tweetytwat I agree about self esteem and jobs. I suppose I meant that the OP is not in a position to take a high status job as she is the back up parent and DH's job will always take precedence, and is lucky enough not to need to take a low status job just for the money and so she should put aside money as her prime consideration and do what she is passionate about and not worry about whether it pays highly or even at all.

OP Your DH could not do his job without you. His earnings are, in a very real sense, joint, especially taking into account the opportunity cost you have paid. Don't accept him putting you down.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Fri 22-Nov-13 14:31:31

Also, caramelgirl, please understand that maintaining Western Civilization by raising the next generation is not a waste of time, talent, or effort. Being a sahm is largely an invisible and thankless job...but it is very important.

However, if you just are not feeling that and need a paycheck to feel fullfilled or empowered, then there is your clue what to do. I certainly do not mean to offend anyone who needs the pay to survive, but that is not the issue here.

Sahm since 1992, I have made caculations to return to work in the past. I would have been paying to work after all the expenses were accounted for. Now, dh has another pay increase that makes any pittance I could earn seemingly irrelevant. But with that said, I am looking into going back to school to learn computer skills so I can perhaps find a desk job. But then again, my youngest just started school and finding a position compatible with the school schedule may not happen. Even so, I feel I will be better for the knowledge and will be better able to guide my youngest in the cyber world.

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