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Grr - DH is not 'playing fair' on our 'working at home arrangement'.....

(19 Posts)
gameboy Tue 16-Sep-08 16:52:04


DH & I both work from home - have separate offices in a converted part of the house.

Nominally we 'share' childcare, in that we each do 2 days of the after-school care (3.45 - 6 pm in my mind) and the kids go to after-school club one day until 5.30.

In theory this should work, but in practice it's a nightmare...

When I'm doing the childcare, I bring the kids home from school, give them tea, get them to do homework/ music practice etc and generally 'oversee' them to make sure they're not making too much noise inside near DH's office.I also usually fill in any school forms, reply to any invitations and prepare dinner for DH & I.

By comparison, DH has just, yet AGAIN, done what he usually does which is:
- gives them a biscuit if they're lucky
- TELLS the kids to get on with homework/music practice, then leaves them to it
- finds an 'essential' job (usually at the bottom of the garden or in the garage hmm) which he disappears to do

Meanwhile kids end up winding each other up/ shouting/ screaming and I have to stop what I'm doing to go and intervene, or (embarrassingly) excuse myself from a phone call to find out what's happening.

OR I get the kids coming to 'find' me saying I'm hungry/ DS2 is hitting me/ when's tea/ can you put Darth Vader's helmet on etc etc...

So when DH finally finishes his 'important task' at 6 pm or something, there is NO tea/ dinner made/ no homework done/ no music practice completed...

It's just not fair, but however I try to talk to him about it he just gets angry and accuses me of nagging him. I am so fed up.

palaver Tue 16-Sep-08 16:59:54

how very frustrating for you

can you put them in afterschool for another eveinging and make him pay for it?( principally to make the point, as well as give you a chance to get your work done)

cmotdibbler Tue 16-Sep-08 17:05:40

If this is the agreement, that this time is childcare (not just knocking off early), then it is time for a task list. Sit DH down, tell him you are fed up of nagging, and ask for an agreement on what you have to accomplish on your childcare day. So, for example: feed kids, supervise homework/practice for x amount of time, prepare dinner, and those are what must be done. Sort of objectives, so that its totally clear what is expected.

Then shut your door, and ignore any shouting/screaming and repell children pointing them to the fact that daddy is in charge currently. If things aren't done when you emerge, then you can use the dreaded (in our house this is the ultimate sanction) phrase of 'you were tasked with x'

My DH likes a tick list of things to do, and initiated a plan along these lines when I went back to work so that both of us knew what we had to do, and neither got ratty because things hadn't been done.

DH has just been in (we both work from home too) and reminded me of his friend who is prefectly willing and able to cook/clean etc, but will never do it unless asked. Drives his wife nut 'but he should know that it needs doing', but yet they go on and on bickering because no one will do a simple list of tasks

gagarin Tue 16-Sep-08 17:14:14

How about just doing what he does on one of your days? Throw them a biscuit and tell them to ask daddy if they have problems and go and sit in the bath.

Or (more constructively!)

If you and he have not got an agreed list of things that are to be done between 3.45 and 6pm then it is not surprising that you interpret it one way and he interprets it another.

Try drawing up a menu for the week and asking him which meals he will cook. Leave it in the kitchen next to the cooker with your names pencilled on it and the time at which it will be ready.

If your children can read make sure they can see who's cooking that night so they ask the right person.

I agree with him on the homework & music practice thing - if they know they should do it then leave them to it. It is their homework after all.

gameboy Tue 16-Sep-08 17:20:55

We already have a timetable in the kitchen which I did showing which homework was to be done each night!

Thing is, the kids are only 8 and 6, so IMO they need overseeing & help with their homework. DS2 (6) needs to read to someone, and needs his spellings tested.
If they are left to get their own tea it will be jam on toast every night sad.

I can't believe he will respond very well to such a detailed checklist? Is it REALLY not obvious what needs doing?

gameboy Tue 16-Sep-08 17:23:52

BTW, he is currently outside staining a picnic bench... (wtf? hmm )

There was a gammon joint for tea, but it needed putting in at 4 pm, and I'm damned if I was going to remind him.

So cue a hopeless expression in about 45 mins time when he says, "we'll have to have pasta (again...) as there isn't time for anything else..."


gameboy Tue 16-Sep-08 17:42:02

OK - Gagarin - here's my 'checklist' - I think he will throw a fit at the suggestion that I 'control' him in this way... grin Any suggestions for how I introduce the idea!!

• Empty school bags (bottles, snack boxes, homework)
• Dirty sports kit/ uniform into laundry & wash (if full load)
• Clean football boots (if required) and leave out to dry

• Quick snack & drink for kids

• Check kids homework and oversee completion:
o DS1: Subject homework (each night)
o DS1: Check spellings
o DS1: Hear Speech & Drama pieces

o DS2: Do reading book
o DS2: Practice spellings
o DS2: Hear Speech & Drama piece(s)

• Music practice to be completed (minimum 3-4 times per week)
o DS1: Guitar – Grade 1 pieces; Scales; Arpeggios
o DS2: Piano – as per his book

• Leave out school forms, letters, party invitations etc for completion

• Re-pack school bags (sports kit, trainers, homework folders etc)

• 6.00 – Tea for boys

• 6.45 – Dinner for us

hatwoman Tue 16-Sep-08 17:51:49

I fully sympathise gameboy. assuming you've done the whole "Let's talk about what constitutes childcare" thing and lists and it's not working could there be a different approach that might get you somewhere? these jobs that he sees as essential - if he didn;t do them while he was on childcare duty when would he do them? and do you have equivalent jobs that balance them out? like lots of couples there's perhaps a different perception about what counts as an important job - he clearly thinks staining the picnic table is important and in fairness, although you or I might not, we can't expect our other halves to have the exact same priorities as us - however you can expect not to be disturbed when you're working - so would it work if the two of you agreed a time that was your "other job" time - alternate saturday mornings perhaps? and on this basis he agrees not to do them when he's meant to be doing childcare? I guess what I'm saying is, if the two of you look at the bigger picture - not just the 3-6 daily childcare can you see a plan that he'll agree to? good luck - you're totally in the right.

hatwoman Tue 16-Sep-08 18:13:25

wouldn't having tea all together help? we have an 8 and 6 year old and both work from home and one of the nicer bits of it is eating together as a family. apart from when it degenerates into conversations about wee and poo (and that's just dh...)

cmotdibbler Tue 16-Sep-08 19:25:54

DH just asked about you, and said that if your DH is staining a picnic bench instead of doing tea, yes, he needs a detailed agenda. The boys should also be doing the jobs such as emptying their bags, cleaning boots, putting kit in the washing machine etc, and maybe helping to cook tea.

Approach it as a business proposal - the current system isn't working for you, does he have any ideas ? Prob not, so then you can say, 'well, I thought a checklist could help us all be more organised. The boys could be helping out more, so what about a family organiser so they can get stars (or stickers or whatever), and to help them, we can work out what has to happen everyday and tick the things off with them'

And because, actually, most of those things are what the boys should be doing (with supervision), its not really nagging him, just facilitating him nagging them.

A menu plan would be a good thing too

gameboy Tue 16-Sep-08 19:51:55

Hello - Back again!

Thanks for these helpful comments.

OK, so here's what happened:

- I went downstairs at 6 p.m. and DH was cooking a 'quick meal' hmm
- I asked about homework, and he said DS1 hadn't done it 'yet' (DSs were watching TV in the other room with a sandwich)
- DS2 hadn't done reading
- someone had practised something musical, but DH wasn't sure what.....

So I said that I thought we should have a chat about priorities in the 4-6pm period, and agree what needed to be done by when....
So DH explodes and starts saying "so what are you nagging me about now??"
I tried to keep calm and kept saying that I felt we were letting the kids down by not having a more regular structure...
DH kept calling me anal, and said that there was still 'plenty of time before bedtime' to finish homework etc...
As if to prove his point he then called DS1 in to finish his homework, and DS2 to do his reading/ spelling, and (bless them!) as if to prove MY point (although they hadn't heard us) they both threw major strops about not wanting to do it/ wingeing about leaving TV etc etc. So I left DH to it, to deal with, and went to clean football boots and put washing on.

Although I will never get anything like an admission from him that I might, in fact, have a point, he HAS just come downstairs from putting DS2 to bed and said that if I make a list of what I think we need to do each night, then he will 'look at it' hmm.

Strangely grin I managed to whip one up in 5 mins, and I've now stuck it on the kicthen wall..... let's see whether he's willing to discuss it....

gameboy Tue 16-Sep-08 19:56:50

OH, BTW - regarding having tea together - yes, we DO like to eat together too, but it simply doesn't work for us during the week, as the kids have school lunches, and really don't want another 'big hot meal' in the evening.

Also DH & I like quite a lot of things which the kids still aren't fully into (Stir fries/ hot curries etc) so we prefer the kid's 'high tea'/ our evening meal split still.

cmot - I don't know how old your kids are, but there's only so much meaningful help I can get from the kids at this age (they're not doing laundry yet, for instance), but I agree, they should be taking more responsibility for their own school bags etc.
(Your DH sounds so wise - can he have a chat to mine.... grin )

cmotdibbler Tue 16-Sep-08 20:18:00

My DS is only 2 - so not a lot of help yet, but we still empty his nursery bag together, put anything dirty in the machine etc. He likes to cut up veg and wash things so he does 'help' with tea, although I usually do most of it earlier and just leave some to prepare with him at the moment

I was under no illusion that your boys would do these things on their own, but saying that it was their steps towards doing more, but needed supervising sounds better than telling your DH that he has to sort the laundry etc. They are all the sort of thing that my mum had us doing at that age though - she was a FT WOHM who also had a business at home so we had a list of jobs to do each day that our pocket money depended on (as in not doing your jobs = no pocket money)from about 5.

My DH can be a pain in the butt as he does like things to be done a certain way - but we have gone with that to make the most of it - so he cooks and plans tea as it has to be what he fancies that day, he likes to do the grocery shopping, but is pants at putting the laundry away (but admits it and is happy for me to just throw his clean stuff in a basket). We are also pretty good at talking about stuff that annoys us tbh

gagarin Tue 16-Sep-08 20:37:40

gameboy - in the interests of equality I do think you should hide your list until he has done his version. And his list should be as valid as yours.

Then you can sit down with a glass of wine and reveal them to each other and have a good laugh.

and then come to a compromise.

IMO your list is way over the top on the education front! You have forgotten to put in things like have fun with dad staining the garden bench! Or help mum cook the flapjacks we're having for tea (or vice versa if those suggestions are too gender role divided!) Your list finishes at 6.45 - when do the boys go to bed?

Grumpalina Tue 16-Sep-08 20:40:53

I feel your pain. I don't really have any advice (although the list seemed like a good idea my DP would refuse to to comply on priciple). Until recently I worked late on Weds and he was meant to do the after school routine. The amount of times I would come home at 9pm to ask 'what homework did DS1 have?' (not becuase I wanted to know but because it's less confrontational than saying have you done homework with DS1?) Invariably I'd get a blank look and i didn't know he had any, well did you ask? did you check his bag?? This happened nearly every week.

Unfortunatley his idea of childcare is to hide in the kitchen playing on his laptop,making model planes or cooking (he enjoys this but not the vast amount of clearing and cleaning up he seems to generate). The DSs are left to their own devices. If I am in they will always come to me to ask for soemthing. they have been known to come out of the living room (where DP is) to come upstairs to ask me for a drink out of the kitchen (in which DP is sat????) Why???? Because he just disenges from us to do his own thing possibly but it drives me crazy.

bozza Tue 16-Sep-08 20:48:41

I know you have explained your reasons but I still agree with whoever said that serving two meals at 6 and 6.45 was unnecessary. Surely by age 8 and 6 you should be able to eat together at least some evenings. DS has school dinners but still eats with us in the evening (unless friends are here and then DH and I steer well clear...) although I give him a smaller portion than I do at the weekend.

gameboy Tue 16-Sep-08 21:12:55

gagarin - DH isn't proposing he does a list, so I can't sit down and compare!

I know mine sounds a bit OTT on the education front, but the reality is that if we BOTH do a little bit of those things MOST days then we'll get through what needs doing in the week, and leave time for fun things together.

Having said that, DH is also really bad at involving the kids in things he's doing sad, so helping him do the picnic table would be out of the question...

In reality it can't be structured down to the Nth degree each week because DS1 has variable things like football fixtures etc.

At the moment it seems like I'm 'nasty mummy' who does all the nagging about homework/ music practice etc because Daddy just avoids it.
We ended up spending ages with DS2 on Sunday afternoon/ evening trying to help him learn 12 spellings (and DH was getting very impatient with him, which is unfair) - it could have been avoided if we'd done 2-3 a night during the week.

I guess I just think, from my own experience, it seems to work best to get the 'chores'/ homework out of the way, and then we can be off doing what we all want from about 4.30 (boys playing outside/ on the wii etc)

The meals aren't really the issue to be honest - the boys will have soemthing with us if it's spag bol or something, but they really are happier with something lighter/ sandwiches/ fruit/ yoghurt etc (which is no big deal to organise).

gagarin Tue 16-Sep-08 22:30:41

I applaud your aims gameboy - but I would guess with 3 boys in the house your wonderful plans like "I just think, from my own experience, it seems to work best to get the 'chores'/ homework out of the way" are doomed to failure.

I have never met a boy - or even a man - who subcribes to that approach.

But try asking dh what were his best memories of his childhood time with HIS dad. And then ask how he is going to replicate these experiences for his sons if he never gets them slashing the varnish about over garden furniture?

And as your list is perhaps the sign of an excessively organised mind you can give in a little with dh perhaps but still manage to triumph overall if he at least agrees to some of it! Then that's win/win.

BUT do pin it up to refer to - esp getting the boy's tea at 6pm grin.

WestMidsAccounts Thu 18-Sep-08 09:18:31

I like gargarin's idea of asking DH about his relationship with his dad, to make him think about what sort of dad he is to his sons.

Rather than making this confrontational - about your parenting style v. DH's - can you shift the emphsis onto the boys. DH must surely agree that consistent parenting for the boys is the important thing. Once you have agreed on that principle then you can decide on how to implement it.

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