"Few mothers drop out. They tend to drop from good jobs into bad ones."

(57 Posts)
curryeater Mon 16-Sep-13 11:07:00

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/15/how-to-cure-sexist-boss

I find that quote terrifying, because that is exactly what I am seriously considering at the moment. DESPITE the fact that I know from PERSONAL experience that the best-paid jobs are actually the easiest!

Yet somehow - because my life isn't working, because I am exhausted, because I am not coping, because I desperately want to sort out the dcs socks and tights and never ever ever have time - I have found myself considering applying for a local school-hours admin position.

This is bonkers. I will never be able to afford child care again. I will be stuck. I will be bored out of my mind and insulted and demeaned while people swan about saying "get one of the girls to do it", throwing crap at me. what was I thinking?

but what can I do instead?

What are your thoughts, please, clever women of mumsnet?

EmmelineGoulden Mon 16-Sep-13 12:27:59

Curry, it's a horrible culture we live in that makes it so hard for people to combine family and career. The article pushes the fact that to have equal standing in the work place you need equal standing at home - do you have a partner who can pick up a fair share of the wifework that is driving you out of a good job? Failing that can you outsource some of it or just not do it - do socks and tights really need sorting?

Can you afford domestic help?

MadameLeBean Mon 16-Sep-13 12:50:16

Ahh curry I am in the same position I have the option of changing jobs to 4 days a week position that pays enough but no future earnings potential or further career progression. However I do know if I stick my current job / similar out for 3-5 more years it will be easier and better paid (but my dd is at primary school and I feel I can't give her enough attention and organise all the school things etc etc)

And this is with a DP who does all the food shopping meal planning cooking and most of the cleaning.

BelleCurve Mon 16-Sep-13 12:50:33

still assumes a very heteronormative setup at home. what about lone parents, how do we get and keep good jobs?

BelleCurve Mon 16-Sep-13 12:52:31

What is your dp doing about this issue? can they change hours/work flexibly?

sounds like you need a break. Do socks even need to be sorted anyway?

MadameLeBean Mon 16-Sep-13 12:56:40

Good point BelleCurve (love the name)

I guess you have to "invest" in a cleaner/nanny/both in the early stages of your career even if it means you are skint (but I realise many LPs might not be able to afford to survive doing that). I def think childcare should be fully tax deductible.

DP and I are at the point now where we are fortunate enough to be able to afford domestic help (just) but we have held off.. However we are realising that spending that cleaning time at work, or even resting / exercising / seeing friends , is likely to be worth more to our career progression than it costs to pay a cleaner in the short term.

curryeater Mon 16-Sep-13 13:27:43

I think the messages I am getting are the same as in my gut which basically say: hang on. Tough it out.

But I feel like I can't ask for help because there are changes I could make which I am not willing to make.

I am not very well and this situation is not sustainable long term and I would rather change parts of it voluntarily than collapse or get sacked or something. but I don't want to lose my autonomy and I will if I change just about anything I can see

I do have a cleaner (half the house weekly) and dp does a lot. (works more locally and does breakfasts and post-childminder every day)

but I am even feeling harassed by the cleaner! Snippy notes about stuff I haven't bought. It is even a job looking after that.

I want a housekeeper, not a cleaner. ha ha ha ha ha as if.

Really pissed off with dp at the moment, not sure if fairly or not.

I really sympathise, Curry. I got very very stressed out towards the end of last year and considered a similar move.

I ended up discussing with my manager and working out a way to delegate some of my job so that my hours were reasonably under control. I also worked on my time management (hence the daytime mn-ing! ha!) and that helped reduce stress.

I do constantly feel like I'm letting the kids down though. Huge backlog of clothes to be sorted, not enough time to sort their social lives properly etc etc.

A housekeeper would be fantastic - that's exactly what I need. Ho-hum.

If it helps, I feel very similarly to the way you describe. I work 4 days a week, at home a lot of the time, in a good job with prospects yada yada. I am writing up a PhD thesis in my "spare" time. DH works 5 days a week out of the home because that's the standard in his industry.

We earn the same.

I am the one that does most of the family organisation and housework. He thinks he does his fair share because he will cook if asked (though he won't have thought about it before everyone is starving) and put washing in the machine maybe twice a week. He's also untidy and has many many possessions.

He just doesn't see the sheer amount of organisation that goes into even our relatively out of control (at the moment, what with building works) life. He doesn't get the almost constant pottering, thinking and planning that happens so that there are clean clothes when needed, dishwasher on and emptied, meals planned etc.

It infuriates me that he can't (won't?) see it. I feel as though I am stumbling through life in an exhausted haze keeping everything hanging together by the skin of my teeth.

I don't know if that helps at all, to know that someone else is in the same boat?

turkeyboots Mon 16-Sep-13 13:57:48

Ooh I feel your pain. I largely work from home which helps enormously. I can sort socks on a conference call!

I too want a housekeeper. DH is useless at the wifework of life and prior to me lived in a horrid pit. I blame his mother who worked full time in her own business, raised 3 children and did all the housework. I haven't a fraction of her energy.

curryeater Mon 16-Sep-13 13:59:51

Thanks, Buffy. It's the "constant tinkering" that isn't getting done.

- forms for school
- name tapes
- school dinner admin
- sorting out stuff with dc2's CM and pre-school: millions of arrangements
- dc1's activities
- clothes: all messy, all need sorting and storing properly. dc2 is exactly 2 years younger than dc1 but not growing at the same rate so all the winter clothes I should be getting out for her are drowning her. I need to go through them all, see how many wearable outfits can be cobbled together and fill the gaps. dc1 on the other hand has grown a foot over night and has no clothes full stop.
- food. the buying, the cooking, the storing, the washing up. fuck I hate food. dcs have many meals at the CM which is a relief but somehow food still takes so much dicking about

I spent all day yesterday "constantly tinkering" and am still totally at sea. With a lost travel card, for extra fun.

dp does a lot but he doesn't take control, manage, or set up systems. And also moves things around for no reason without telling me. Often when I am in the middle of setting up systems (we moved house twice this year and need systems), everything gets swept away and randomised. He also puts things in the garage a lot which gives me the absolute fucking rage. He also puts dcs in weird clothes given half a chance which is why we need the systems, because I need to physically suppress things they shouldn't be in, or they look like total embarrassments. One of the things that gives me the hugest headache about life in general is that nothing stays in the same place when you turn your back. I spend half my life looking for things I had half a day ago. Right there. I had it. Now it is gone. Like the travel card. It was zipped in the pocket of my bag. Now, because dd2 was free range for like half an hour, who knows where the fuck it is. I am not allowed to mind things being moved about because I am supposed to be endlessly grateful that a man does anything at all in the house.

The thing that is really bothering me is dd2. She needs more attentino in a million ways. I have gone into it on other threads. She is ready to be potty trained and I have no idea when I am going to be able to do this. It feels to me like serious neglect that a child is in a nappy and ready to come out of it (I think). But I know it has to be me who does it. I trained dd1 when on mat leave with dd2. Now I have no time off owing. Might not even be able to take off all of Christmas time. No extended breaks on the horizon. And no idea how to get dd2 out of nappies. I don't know what other people do. Have no idea. dp wouldn't bother ever, as far as I can tell, left to his own devices. I can't ask the CM and I can't reasonably send her to pre-school, in pants and "unstable". I can't work out how to solve this. What do other people do?

curryeater Mon 16-Sep-13 14:13:19

It is the me / dp dynamic that causes so many of the problems, or at least problems for me, in my head.
I think he needs to be treated terribly gently and not criticised, and he has awarded himself some sort of senior position, so instead of saying "why did you move that" I have to sort it all out without drawing attention to it.
Things would work better if we acknowledged that I am the boss, and I am allowed to delegate. Instead we have this stupid system where I am trying to do the thinking AND most of the doing AND without drawing attention to the fact that I am doing some re-doing because he has moved things around without understanding them.
It is a communication problem. I have no way of delegating because our relationship is such that it cannot withstand the language required for me to do so, whcih would imply that I am senior, which can't be suggested.
I am though. I have learnt housekeeping my while life. Like so many girls. I learnt it hard and I got shouted out for being stupid or lazy and getting it wrong.

He has said a million times "don't stress! Just ask me! Just ask me to do things!" but whenever I do, it comes back to bite me on the arse. He doesn't really accept, subconsciously, a world order in whcih I can ask him to do things. there is always a "joke" or a dig. I can't be arsed to ask him to do anything. And it is never done in time anyway. what happens is he sees me stressing, asks why, says "but I can do that!" and then he doesn't (or not by the day it is needed) and we get a snippy note from the school or the cleaner or the CM. AND I will get a dig about it at some point in the future as well.

You've moved twice in a year? Fucking hell. The fact that you didn't misplace your kids during the course of the year deserves a medal. I'm terrified of moving and the disruption to the fragile set up we've got working...

The wifework/tinkering is such a problem. I work mostly from home too and that is probably the main thing that stops the wheels coming off completely. I can't do much during the day, but getting the laundry in the washing machine/loading the breakfast things into the dishwasher/putting some clothes away all helps keep evening chaos at bay.

My dh has worked away during the week for the last 5 years (god, I can't believe how long it's gone on for!). It's a nightmare in many ways, but at least means that I'm not resentful during the week that he isn't pulling his weight. He's chaging jobs soon and will be back here. I predict a riot. WHY SHOULD IT ALL BY MY RESPONSIBILITY?

Just read your last post. That sounds really difficult. Are you able to talk about it with him?

My DH does accept that I'm the person who knows what needs doing etc, but he still doesn't like me asking him to do anything. In theory he agrees that we should make an equal contribution, but in his heart of hearts he clearly doesn't believe it.

I actually would consider LTB over it, because it's a fundamental issue of fairness and equality and it's also the lesson we're teaching our dds.

He's been working away during the week for the last 5 year, but will be back soon and we're going to need a major renegotiation. I'm quite nervous about it, but I really want to stand my ground.

curryeater Mon 16-Sep-13 14:29:41

strongandlong, I totally feel you.
In a word, no, I am not able to talk about it. I am not sure how much if it is about how he is and how much is about how I am. I know I have inherited a lot of crap from my mother and I am not sure how much of this dynamic is really his fault. how much of it, is also about me, not daring to put myself equal to the man in a relationship. but it is true that any attempts of mine to discuss issues like this have, to date, gone very very very badly. He will find an excuse to kick off, and then say I am kicking off. Eventually I will, in fact, kick off.

"In theory he agrees that we should make an equal contribution, but in his heart of hearts he clearly doesn't believe it."

This cognitive dissonance is at the heart of it all. It makes him so angry (he never admits to being angry though - just "upset") when he is in danger of having the disconnect exposed.

There is an added complication though which is that his mother is a shocking-bad housekeeper and I don't think her house is actually fit to live in. Therefore, even if he was a girl, I don't think he would have been trained to keep things as ship-shape as I like them. I don't think he has grown up with seeing the tea towels or the hand towels washed, for instance. They just hang there, all grey, for ever. [shudder]

I think we should have counselling and fix it but I think it will take about 16 hours at least with a very good counsellor (preferably a feminist one) before I dare get all my side of this out into the open. Then it may turn out to be make or break

It may help you (a bit) to hear that it does get a bit easier as dc get older. Mine are 7 and 10 and have little jobs. For example, ds is tasked with emptying the dishwasher in the morning, so that I "have time" to make his packed lunch (actually, I want him to have a reason for contributing other than "helping" with "mummy's jobs").

And they can be happy without constant supervision. I realise it's not much, but a toddler would just break me, you are obviously a Woman of Iron grin

Ironically, what I find difficult is being the senior one. I want DH to actually take on half the responsibility for this stuff, not just expect to be told what little package he can do for 20 minutes so he "helps". The kids, yes. DH is an adult fgs. angry

Sorry, don't mean to hijack.

Have you come across blogs like fly lady (terribly sexist, but useful ideas) or zen habits? Essentially they're about simplifying everything so the work is less, you are calmer and have more time. This relates to my other issue with otherwise delightful DH, which is the sheer amount of "sentimental" stuff he has, which I am getting very close to throwing out. I actually don't think he'd even notice that most of it had gone.

I actually said to him this weekend that while his words say he cares more about my health than his piles of stuff, his actions tell a different story as he's so worried about his boxes of crap essential things getting damp in the loft that he's storing them in the bedroom and landing at the moment. Covered in dust from the build and their time in the loft earlier this year, of course. This is a health issue for me because I am asthmatic and very allergic to dust.

Sorry, that was a hijack again blush

LadyInDisguise Mon 16-Sep-13 14:49:06

A summary would be that you are exhausted because even though you don't DO everything, you are still the one who is supervising and being in charge.
And that is exhausting, prob even more when someone else is supposed to do x or y.

Your DH needs to get the responsibility for some things. Let say, he is in charge of the meals so dies the shipping and cooking. Whether he wants to do some meal planning it not us his choice but he has to get on with it iyswim. No input from you.
And you, let's say, you do all the clothes stuff. Sorting out what can be worn, buying stuff, ironing etc...

Would that work?

LadyInDisguise Mon 16-Sep-13 14:53:33

The cognitive dissonance is a hard one to tackle. Both for you and him.

I found it easier to start with myself and start acting as if I felt I was equal and things should be shared. Also as if I really trusted him to do things right.
It seemed that just by pretending that he would take the responsibility, do things the right way, this gas been enough to make him to do it that way. Hope it makes sense!

minipie Mon 16-Sep-13 15:09:40

A short term suggestion : can you take some parental leave from your job? the up to 13 weeks every parent has the right to take before their child is 5.

It is unpaid so depends on whether you can afford it, but could give you a little bit of breathing space to get things in shape, potty train etc. Your employer can ask you to postpone to a different time, but can't say no, I believe.

Totally hear you on the wifework/getting DP to truly believe he has equal responsibility for home stuff. Don't have any magic solution as I have the same issue (I blame maternity leave/lack of compulsory paternity leave). I think Lady's suggestion of having him entirely responsible for some areas is a good one. Preferably ones where he will be embarrassed if he gets it wrong rather than ones he clearly just doesn't care about.

ZutAlorsDidier Mon 16-Sep-13 15:30:44

Thanks minipie for suggesting that - I had it at the back of my mind - was put off taking it further by: a. cost. b. you need to give a month's notice, so it is not something to be done in an immediate crisis, and if not an immediate crisis then what justification do I have for this upheaval? c. what upheaval? Well, the cost to my family in £; and at work, no one does what I do and it is often time sensitive. Taking a fortnight would be a right headache.

but by suggesting it independently you are reinforcing my sense that there are things to done and I need to be there to do them (true)

whatdoesittake48 Mon 16-Sep-13 15:52:28

The problem with feeling you need to change jobs is the fact the YOU have considered it and your husband probably never has. he doesn't feel the weight of the home/work balance because his work is all he really worries about. he has you for all the rest.

You need to insist on something more fair. Write down a huge list of everything which needs doing and when and divide it equally.

Then stop worrying about his list. if he forgets, it is his fault.

maybe you could also BOTH take one week off work while the kids are at school and sort out everything in the house so it is a fresh start.

My stab at advice (ha! I do not have this solved!)

Potty training. Talk to your cm. How ready does she think dd2 is? Wait until she's really really ready, take a friday off work and start then. She'll probably have the hang of it by Monday. In my (limited, n=2) experience, CMs are very willing to support potty training.

Practical stuff. Unfuck your habitat. A bit like fly lady but a million times less annoying (and more sweary). The main recommendation is to to 20mins of un-fucking at a time (set a timer) and then have a break. I've made enormous progress doing this just once or twice a day.

You are not responsible for managing your dh's cognitive dissonance. We have made progress with this, but it's included DH reading 'why does he do that' and recognising that he was using some of the techniques of emotional abusers to control the extent to which I challenge him about this (and other stuff). This is big shit, tbh and will not be resolved overnight. DH has had some counselling which has helped.

I have also really worked on myself (a bit like Lady mentions) to challenge some of my own thinking and learn to assert myself a bit more effectively. This has excellent cross over at work too.

Do you work long hours? Is there anything you could do to reduce that without impacting your career? Are you stressed by work or is it just(!) household/family stuff?

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 16-Sep-13 16:08:52

OP, there is a huge amount happening in your life and in your head.sad It sounds to me as though you could use the services of a counsellor. With them you can say what you want without it coming back to bite you in the arse and sort out what is important, what is rubbish, what are solely your issues, what are family issues and what can be done to make things better.

With so much going on, is it any wonder you feel overwhelmed and under pressure. Get a counsellor and get it all out before making any big decisions.smile

MadameLeBean Mon 16-Sep-13 16:23:51

Another voice here advocating splitting responsibilities (so you dont have to tell you DP to do things thereby avoiding the "boss" problem)

For example

My DP does all the shopping and cooking and I do not lift a finger or worry a single tiny thought about what we are eating. Yes it means I have to eat what he cooks but it's a fair trade. He cleans the kitchen and does washing up/dishwasher.

I do all the bills car insurance mortgage etc. he does not have to worry about these things. I also do laundry and clean bathroom. I do dd's school admin too.

We used to "share" responsibility for everything which caused massive resentment on both sides and arguments (because I'd "delegate" a piece of admin and he'd forget, or lose it, so I would have to nag until it was done, therefore never being able to truly delegate, and on the other side he would get pissy that I had not given any thought to what we would be eating that night).

Now we don't expect the other to help with the other's areas of responsibility at all, it's really harmonious. But if your partner secretly believes he shouldn't have to do an equal share, then that's a different problem I'm afraid. Although I would recommend you try the above anyway. If he doesn't do his bits, they don't get done. smile

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