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Division of labour with a SAHP

(80 Posts)
BeakyAndBun Fri 22-Jan-16 16:53:24

This isn't so much an AIBU as a "what is reasonable?" I can reframe it as "AIBU to want to divide chores?" I guess!

DP works in an office and has a 35 minute commute each way. Hates his job but because it is unfulfilling, rather than because it is demanding. He is lovely and says he doesn't mind if I don't manage to do anything at home as I am looking after DS who is 4mo. I do always try to do chores at any opportunity though, and DS and I rarely actually leave the house as I feel bad going to a mother and baby group or for coffee if DP is at work. He doesn't feel like this and wants me to be happy. I just don't want to feel like I'm taking the piss and having an easy ride whilst he is in an office earning money, and he does joke about it being his money even though he knows it is a sore spot. In the evenings he cooks more often than I do (I do cook if DS isn't feeding) but I am often breastfeeding for most of the evening and at the moment I am up most of the night breastfeeding. I feel exhausted and have had no time to just have a relaxing bath or watch TV alone as my DP gets frustrated quickly if DS cries and therefore he comes to me. My DP does get some leisure time but not loads, whereas I am almost always caring for DS in some capacity or doing chores. Even if we are watching TV I am usually feeding.

I don't want to sound like DS is a chore, but I told DP I would like to have a bit of structure where we both agree chores and a fair way to split them. I breastfeed a lot and obviously he can't do that, which makes it difficult! I feel like I am on duty 24/7 and I self-flagellate so much. I want to agree a reasonable amount of housework, baby care and leisure time for us both so that I can switch off sometimes. What do other people do? Or think is a fair division of time and chores? And if I went to playgroup is that me having a jolly or is that part of caring for my DS? DP is happy for me to do whatever so I don't know why I have so much guilt about not being Mary Poppins!

BeakyAndBun Fri 22-Jan-16 17:00:57

Also, it might be pedantic but what about if I lie down with DS after a night of feeding. Is that leisure time? I just have a huge complex about wanting to pull my weight and I think I have been overdoing it so that my DP thinks I'm not taking advantage of him going to work, but now I'm so knackered I just want to agree something so I can justify to myself that I am being a good mum and partner and not doing myself in!

AutumnLeavesArePretty Fri 22-Jan-16 17:01:37

If I was in this situation, I'd expect my partner to do the stuff during the day and the I'd be more than happy to do bath time, play time etc whilst they had some time. At weekend, cooking etc should be split and one night duty/early morning each.

If kept on top of in the week, there's not much to do at the weekend.

I wouldn't expect to come home and cook or clean if they had been home all day except for illness.

Zinni Fri 22-Jan-16 17:15:56

I have a 4-month-old too and DH has a 45-min commute (office job).
I think of running the household as my 'job' while on Mat-leave, I wouldn't expect DH to do household chores or cook on weekdays. However, I do expect him to take baby for an hour each eve so I can shower and finish off jobs.

Having said that, I have a very clingy baby who dislikes bouncer or jumparoo so I don't get much done! On an average day I load/unload dishwasher, do some laundry, quick tidy-up, clean kitchen, prepare eve meal (something easy like stirfry using pre-prepared veg or a casserole. Once a week I hoover, change bed linen and towels, clean surfaces. DH does his own ironing. At weekends we share chores.

I go out every day for coffee with other mums, walks in park, baby groups and classes, friends houses etc. DH is very supportive of this. Before, when I was staying in a lot, he worried about us as I was getting isolated and down. I find it hard to cope with a crying velcro baby at home so feel getting out is essential for my happiness. And if I'm happy and refreshed, baby is happier too and we're in a better mood when DH gets home!

DH accepts that our home is going to be a bit messy while DS is small, that meals will be thrown together in a hurry, that some days I may not manage even basic chores if DS is having a bad day. That's part of having a young baby! I probably spend less than 2hours a day on chores as most of my energy is focused on DS.

Why is your baby BF so often at 4months? You must be shattered! Have you spoken to HV about this, it's not the norm.
Mine BFs every 3hours for 10mins and has 1 night-feed at 3am (sometimes 2feeds when has growth spurts).

Zinni Fri 22-Jan-16 17:19:49

Oh and it's important for babies to get fresh air, stimulation, social contact as well as this being important for mums wellbeing. So no I don't think of excursions or baby groups as leisure time, but as something beneficial for DS. He gets bored if we stay in.

BeakyAndBun Fri 22-Jan-16 17:23:59

Thanks Autumn - I guess my question is more about what is reasonable taking into account the amount of time I spend feeding. He isn't lazy at all but as it stands only he gets non-baby non-chore time, plus he doesn't do nights and if he takes DS and he cries too much I end up with DS again. I can't change the feeding and I'm so tired all the time! If I didn't breastfeed we would take it in turns with DS a lot more. I'm just curious as to how others do this, particularly if one partner breastfeeds.

BillBrysonsBeard Fri 22-Jan-16 17:24:01

Please don't overthink this, you are working hard caring for your baby. You are both working hard. You are providing childcare for his child. Mother and baby groups are not leisure time! They involve: getting you and baby ready, packing bag, getting out of the house, supervising baby during group, feeding, getting home.. It's effort! You need to rest when you are able to. A rested mum is a happier mum. You are not taking the piss! Taking the piss would be staying at home while partner works and you didn't have a child or illness.

theycallmemellojello Fri 22-Jan-16 17:30:40

I am also confused about the volume of breastfeeding.

Also it's not clear to me what the actual problem is (not saying that in a mean way!) - is it that you feel you don't have enough leisure time, or that you feel you're not doing enough? It seems to be both?

I don't think you should feel bad about going to a mother and baby group, certainly. Your DH needs to get over feeling frustrated by DS - or rather he needs to get used to it! Don't rush in if DS frets when he's with your DH - he's baby, of course he frets.

What chores are there to do in the daytime? Washing, cleaning, shopping, cooking? Washing, if possible I'd say try to do more a few loads a week so that you keep on top of it.

Cleaning - I do get that that's a bit hard with a baby (even if it shouldn't be in practice) - so maybe leave that to the weekend and split it with your DH?

Shopping - hopefully that's not too painful and gets you out of the house? If it is a pain, is online shopping a possibility?

Cooking - I'd say that if your DH is happy with it then that's fine, but it also shouldn't be impossible to give him DS to look after and you take care of it (even if tired - do an early supper and don't attempt anything fancy). And cooking supper might be a break from DS?

Beyond that - shouldn't the day be free for just looking after DS?

I have to admit to being a major slob, but 2 hours of chores every day sounds like masses! Is relaxing expectations possible? I'm also confused about what you're not getting done - sounds like you've got things covered? If so, then why worry about going to mother and baby meetings etc?

Leisure time - I think breastfeeding in front of the tv probably counts, but you need baby-free leisure time too.

dustarr73 Fri 22-Jan-16 17:31:56

I think with a 4 month old you need to get yourself and baby out for an hour.Housework should beon the backburner.Do teh minimum but dont kill yourself.

Go for that coffee/baby group,i bet you will feel refreshed.Plus i bf all mine so its only fair for the time being he picks up the slack.It wont be forever.

petalsandstars Fri 22-Jan-16 17:38:20

Yes ok he can't feed. But he can wind, change nappies, cuddle, soothe to sleep, take for a walk, play on the floor, wash the laundry for baby.

Baby groups are not leisure time - nor is laying down with baby to rest.

Leisure time is child free and uninterrupted.

tinyterrors Fri 22-Jan-16 17:38:58

I'm a sahp and I do 99% of the housework/cooking and always did night feeds with our dcs. I didn't have a choice past the initial two weeks paternity as dh often works away mon-fri so wasn't here to help. If I haven't got round to something during the week when he's away he'll do it at the weekend. He's never done a night feed as he has a very physical job and would be downright dangerous if he went to work after being up in the night with the baby.

When he's here he's always taken the baby/toddler/kids for an hour when he gets home. When we had a baby he always got a lie in one weekend day and I got one the other, apart from feeding. He'd also occupy the kids and look after the baby while I had a sleep during the day at the weekend if I'd been up most of the night.

Unfortunately if you ebf then there's not much your partner can do if the baby feeds a lot but he should be able to look after the baby for an hour or so when he's home to give you a break.

arethereanyleftatall Fri 22-Jan-16 17:41:10

There is no definite answer to this as it depends entirely on your baby.

Your baby (for whatever reason) is taking far longer to breast feed than most. This, presumably is something that will get better.

Ordinarily, yes I do think the sahp should be doing all the chores mon - fri. I don't think there should be any chores left for the weekend. But, childcare on a weekend should be split 50/50 - one lie in each, a good few hours out me time each.

I also think you should be getting out with your little one every day. I used to spend my mornings doing chores, putting our dinner in the slow cooker; and then go for a lovely guilt free long walk and hot chocolate with friends and baby in a sling.

I think you should enjoy mat leave with just one baby, it's a travesty not to!

littlewoollypervert Fri 22-Jan-16 17:41:57

He gets lunchtime to himself, a child free commute where he can read (if on public transport), listen to the radio - why shouldn't you get to go to baby groups?

Taking care of yourself is good for your physical and mental health - make sure to factor that in. Meeting other mothers, getting fresh air, are all benefits for you that you should NOT feel guilty about.

Littlef00t Fri 22-Jan-16 17:43:41

My DH was doing loads when Dd was 4 mo as I was up most of the night and needed to rest if Dd was asleep during the day.

By the time I'd got us out for a walk or a group, I might have done the dishes or a load of washing but not much. The housework suffered a bit and DH stepped up a bit.

I don't get this being a housewife malarkey, when you're on call nearly 24/7.

BeakyAndBun Fri 22-Jan-16 17:43:49

Thanks guys, I don't even know what I think anymore tbh! I want to be able to get a decent enough sleep (one or two wakings), play with DS, get chores done, go out occasionally, get dinner cooked, breastfeed and still have time to myself. And I beat myself up when I can't do all of that. If I got more sleep I could do it but I don't feel like I can do all of that. DP doesn't expect it but I don't want him to ever think that I have an easy life when actually I find my life right now really hard! But I'm not even managing to do a lot! Today I did go out, but I also lay down for a bit because I am so sleep deprived. So I haven't done anything to clear up. But if I did I worry I would burn out and not be able to get up in the night to feed DS night after night! Sorry, I'm just whinging!

Owllady Fri 22-Jan-16 17:43:55

I'm a sahp atm. I do housework and kids stuff in his work hours
He'll do whatever needs doing when he comes home/on a weekend etc
We always worked when the kids were young though, do I'm not sure if that makes a difference

It annoys me he doesn't cook tbh but I'll have to live with that I suppose

witsender Fri 22-Jan-16 17:53:03

Tbh I did most/all day to day housework when kids were little as I was there most, and then his time off could be spent together. Going to a group isn't a jolly, but neither is it a chore. Likewise lying down with a baby. Tbh at 4 months you will be tired, and you will be up at nights. That's ok, and normal, it will pass. The house doesn't need to be immaculate, just habitable to your standards and hygienic! Share cooking, and don't think of household money as his. This is an adjustment phase, but communication and flexibility is key. If you start getting into comparisons, rotas, counting hours off, comparing sleep and tiredness etc you (generic, both of you) will drive yourselves mad. Just do what you have to do!

And get a good sling. Woven wrap or wide based, ergonomic carrier. This will change your life! Baby happy on back while you carry on about your day.

BeakyAndBun Fri 22-Jan-16 17:53:55

Tbh I thought maybe other people would get less done than they do! I'm impressed! And clearly I should be doing that. I can skip the baby groups but I just need some goddamn sleep and a break. I feel so pathetic that I'm not coping better. I thought by now I'd be Nigella Lawson. ;)

arethereanyleftatall Fri 22-Jan-16 18:07:14

How long is each breast feed taking?

hefzi Fri 22-Jan-16 18:13:26

OP, there's no should here: you should be doing what you can do - and if some days (or most days) that's feed your baby and nap, then that's what you need to be doing. Don't forget, it's still very early days, and you are bound to be in total exhaustion at the moment - please try not to be so hard on yourself: you might not believe it, but it will get easier as your baby gets older. flowers

SpaghettiMeatballs Fri 22-Jan-16 18:13:50

It would never, ever occurred to me that going to baby groups or for coffee was a jolly. Taking your baby out is a good way to stimulate him and start to teach him about our world. I would definitely start getting out somewhere nice each day.

I tried to do a lot when I was on mat leave. We just left it that I'd try my best. Some weeks I got everything done. Other weeks nothing. It depended entirely on the babies. They were my no 1 priority job. If I didn't get anything done DH would happily pitch in and sometimes did far more than his share.

For me time away / leisure balanced out as this DCs got older. I couldn't really leave them before 6 months so DH had more 'time off' but now they are 4 and 2 I get as much as DH. In fact, the first time I had a proper day out was when my eldest was 8 months and I went to a colleague's leaving lunch. DH took her to her baby music class for me that day..... That isn't far from where you are now so maybe think of something nice to do in the Spring when your baby will feed less?

Lindorballs Fri 22-Jan-16 18:22:24

When my DD was this age I was on Maternity leave and broadly took charge of household things (food shopping, laundry etc). Stuff I struggled to do we shared at the weekend and I tried to do stuff when she was napping unless I'd had a bad night in which case I had a nap. My DD was in bed at 7 by that age but that was a recent development and before that she would cluster feed all evening. My DH made dinner or we had easy things eg pizza. I didn't have much baby free time to be honest (I think I had two evenings out between her being born and 6 months) and I was too tired to do much in the evenings but it rapidly improved especially once she was weaned and sleeping better.
Your baby is still so little. They are hard work at this age. I think you are over analysing things a bit! Groups and coffees are great for your mental health and exciting outings for your baby.

Zinni Fri 22-Jan-16 18:42:42

Meant to say, I really identify with the feeling on-duty 24/7.

My advice is:

Let the housework slide. Only do essential jobs during day. Save big jobs for weekend and share them with DH. Getting out is more important than having a spotless house!

Get out of house daily. It's good for baby to get out and see things, watch you socialise etc. They get bored being indoors all day. Baby classes aren't leisure time, they provide stimulation and entertainment for baby. Try sensory classes, swimming, music, storytime, buggy-fit etc. Go for coffee/lunch with the mums afterwards and don't feel guilty- you need a social network (and they may become playmates for baby later!)

Build up a network of mum friends and meet regularly. I often go to friends houses and we take turns to watch babies while others take a break, make coffee, bake, get hair done etc (mobile hairdresser).
That allows me to build 'me' time into the day rather than waiting for DH to come home. Also I take advantage of DS's naps to take some leisure time- if he naps on me I read my kindle or MN or play games on my phone.

Re breastfeeding, it's not normal for a 4-month baby to feed this much. Get help urgently (lactation advisor/GP/BF group/HV). He is probably comfort sucking. Or you may have low supply and he is feeding excessively to try and increase it.

Also try expressing milk and let DH feed him on eve so you can take some time off. This will also help if he has a poor latch or struggles feeding from breast.

Try going out for a few hours on a weekend so DH has to cope without you. He'll figure out how to soothe baby better than if you keep coming to help him! And you get a proper head-break!

Also try to divide up evenings and weekends so you both have leisure time. So if he gets home at 6pm, you could have a meal ready then hand over baby so you get some time off to have a bath, read a book, ring a friend etc. Then you could take baby back for bedtime routine around 9pm so your DH can take a couple of hours to himself too. This is what we do.

I find caring for a baby the hardest 'job' I've ever had. It's physically and mentally draining, my head is foggy with sleep deprivation, my back and knees ache so much I often can't sleep. I'm frequently in tears by time DH gets home after hours of rocking a crying refluxy baby. But it's also the best thing I've ever done. I get all the best bits, the little special moments DH misses when he's at work. Sometimes he tunes in on the baby monitor just to watch his son sleeping. He feels he misses out when he's at work so I try to make him feel included and central when he's home.

It's importabt to keep communicating with your DH. If he's keen for you to do less housework and get out to baby groups, try it! He will feel happier just knowing you are happy and enjoying your day.

Zinni Fri 22-Jan-16 18:56:34

BTW I had to laugh at the Nigella comment grin I too thought I would be a domestic goddess on Mat leave grin Instead I've mastered the art of cooking meals in under 10mins (usually while DS is in jumparoo!) Try using pre-chopped or frozen veg, noodles you heat up in wok, ready-cooked chicken, prawns, and things you can shove in oven with no prep. Pre-prepared salad (and online shopping) saves time too!

Oh and be kind to yourself. The night wakings sound awful and you must be exhausted. Does he feed properly each time he wakes? Have you tried a dummy? I used to feed DS 4x night until I realised he just wanted something to suck- now I give him a dummy when he wakes in night, apart from a feed at 3am he is satisfied with dummy.

hlr1987 Fri 22-Jan-16 18:58:49

I'm at 6 weeks with DD and I could have written your post! As regards the feeding, some babies just take a lot longer to feed than others, I've been told by our gp (after the health visitor referred us) that it looks like she has a slow suck and will just take longer to feed but hopefully with practice will get better. It takes an hour on average to feed her (including a nappy in the middle) on a good day, so with a 2-3 hour schedule, it can be difficult to do more than nap with her in-between feeds when your looking at her crying if she's put down at all. I'm still struggling not to feel like a failure if I ask DH to give her a bottle so I can have an extra nap in the evening on the difficult days.
I think its reasonable to expect some alone time, and help with the house, if you were paying a full time nanny, they wouldn't expect to to do housework as well and would be legally entitled to an hour lunch break at the minimum. Its insulting to undervalue the work you do to look after a baby.
Saying that I'm struggling to get my husband to realise that when its his turn to do the laundry then it does need to make its way from the dryer at the end so the clothes are in the cupboard. Having trouble not sounding like a nagging crazy person when I need help.

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