Working parents splitting the load(43 Posts)
I'm coming to the end of my second maternity leave and returning 5 days a week in an intense finance job where I work from 7-4.30 then rush back to see the kids then bath then put them to bed and my husband strolls Kn 6.45 on a very good day, 7-7.15 normally and is out 1-2 times a week with clients late
Before this second baby I found this really tough when working like this with my first. We even had Aupair a to help with bed and bath but I always rushed back to see the baby and let the aupir off when I was home as I wanted our son to see a parent every day wherever possible. But this also was an exhausting situation for me as my husband would never step up for that responsibility so it was always me racing back, starting at 7 (2 hours before my contracted time) to get out on time to see our son before bed. Then most nights I would work after our son was asleep and then race to bed ASAP before waking at 5 again.
It was the toughest time of my life as I found myself managing the aupir, responsible for washing , cleaning , organising, tidying, meal planning, bill paying, class booking, food shopping for us and Aupair and also ensuring my husband had food.
I'm now so stressed about what I am returning to. We have decided to get a nanny full time with our eldest st playgroup a few mornings a week. Im trying to get my husband to start eg by getting him to get the amazon account on his phone or help by taking the washing up or not stepping over toys but putting them back in the cupboard but every time I have to remind him and then he hates me for nagging all day
What is the answer? On bad days I find it really so exhausting the endless tasks and management and thinking of everything all the time. Then I need to focus on trying to keep my husband happy and seeing friends on a weekend night and making sure we create happy memories for our kids
But when do I get to breathe ?
Does anyone have any answers ?
A chore list?
I tried mindful chef on a trial offer to get OH to cook and it didn't work it just sat in the fridge and he ate a sandwich from the mini mart next door
I'm exhausted just reading your post, and I really think you put too much pressure on yourself.
1) hire a weekly cleaner
2) start as you mean to go on with the nanny - picking up toys, and tell her which classes you'd like her to book... she's going to them so let her plan her week?
3) chill out a bit with 'food for husband'. If he's happy with a sandwich from next door - let him have it!
4) I assume you already have shopping delivered rather than go to supermarket? Get that delivery between 8pm and 10pm when husband is home so he's also putting stuff away.
5) have you ever considered using a service like Gousto to deliver ingredients and recipes weekly for you and DH? Most of the Gousto ones are about half an hour to cook. I believe COOK do this too.
Speaking from experience you get to breathe when you’re so run down you catch every illness going so you get decently Ill enough to spend a good week in hospital, happened to me 3 times ridiculously I look back at these spells fondly, I read loads!!!
How did you get into this situation in the first place? How did you share housework etc before kids because sounds to me like you’ve never shared the load equally but the load has just got bigger? Why have you not challenged it before? I don’t have all the answers because DH doesn’t do as much as I would like but he does plenty - I reckon it’s probably 60/40 split (well actually 80/20 but I’m ignoring the extra I do on my days off as I chose to work 3dpw, initially to see more of the DC when they were young but once they started school I realised it would keep our lives more in control!
So how do you change things? You tell him how you feel. You may need to list all the things you do - seeing it in black and white can be the shock that’s needed. Personally I would work out your priorities and focus on those. Don’t initially try for 50/50 split as probably too much of a change. Guilt trip him if you have to - does he not want to spend time with his kids in the evening? - they are his kids too!
So get him to agree to do pick up 1 (or 2) dpw. DH and I have set days (eg he does Tues and Fri) - we are flexible if needed for eg meetings but only by swapping days not just handing them over.
Then either agree which jobs he will be responsible for (cooking on Wed, emptying bins, ironing, holiday booking, whatever) or have a spreadsheet and agree you will each do at least X jobs each week.
I would also say that, if you can afford it, reducing your days at work would work wonders. Or even better both of you reducing to 4dpw.
I’m so sorry that this is so often the reality of womens lives post children. . The honest truth is that society and men mostly just don’t think they need to think or do all this stuff. While women continue to carry the burden of care for others as well as working. I struggle d to escape the the dynamic myself until the dc were older. My advice would be dont do lists or rotas and refuse to enter the nagging trap. Just say things like when you are doing half the cooking when i am back at work, which three nights will you do. Then when he doesnkt cook, just say you didnyt cook. Dont remind or meal plan" likewise he cleans half the house, which half. He does admin around the nursery' school or ballet class, you do nanny and cars. This makes his failures more obvious. To him i mean. And hopefully he will step up. Start as you mean to go on dont fill his deficits while huffing and stressing yourself outit doesnt work, ive been there" . But usually i passively agressively ask who is going to do it and he assumes i mean the children and because they are girls they do too and so it also ends up that i am thei ly one asking the children to do chores and therefore yet agsin the female is responsible for organising chores.
Presumably he is taking the DC to nursery in the morning so you can start at 7am, so he starts work later?
Two things that you could do differently. One, have certain days when you start work early and he does the drop off, and others when he starts early and you drop off. There is nothing like walking in each other's shoes to get you to respect each other's contribution. Secondly he should make a commitment to being home for bedtime a minimum number of nights a week, and stick to it. Sometimes work might have to flex round that, just to enable him to do his 2 nights a week or whatever you agree is reasonable. There would be a real dividend in his relationship with the children too, if they see him committing to seeing them certain nights. Bedtime might be tricky with him leading at first if they are used to it always being you, but it will get easier. People think blokes have it easy leaving all the childcare to their wives, but there's a price for that. I know my dad really regretted working late so often and missing out on seeing us 5 days a week.
Thank you everyone for your suggestions. Sorry for delay I had account issues!
Anyway, so he absolutely will not commit to pick up. Before we had a nanny or aupir do drop off at nursery bc I left so early and he left at 7 am. But then he would just up and leave on a work trip at 6 am in a cab and not tell me / aupir or nanny and night before I would realise we had no cover unless I missed work or came up with an excuse
It's not just the pick up / drop off. I do feel that even if we get s nanny that isn't parenting and I rushed hole to do bsthtime every day because otherwise our child was with Aupair and I got back once they were asleep and it's just not ok with me that they don't see a parent at least one every day. But my husband would never commit to it and because I was always home (because I got up so early so I could leave work early) it just meant he never thought to do t. But I'd love to be able to eg go for a workout or just not be putting myself to bed at 8 so I can get up early to get out of work early.
My husband says he needs lists and it's possible with big ticket things eg
Liaising with nursery
But the day to day tasks that crop up eg kids broken their scooter or shoes suddenly not fitting or stain on carpet or dishwasher broken etc that I have to sort which I find so hard.
Are there any chore lists around which divide the minutiae is daily life with kids ? I feel drowned in it so no chance of headspace and the resentment I feel that my husbands job and working hours has not changed one dot and st home he only will do things when asked which means I have to manage it all in my head and my job is demanding enough without managing him and kids and nanny at home
We both work full time. We have a shared daily to-do list on iPhone notes, as DH is willing to do his fair share but genuinely doesn't see stuff that needs doing. So we both work from home one day a week which saves a 2 hour commute each...our to/do list has stuff like, stick a load of washing in, hand washing in airer, open bedroom windows to air rooms, out recycling out, empty kitchen bin if needed, check if we need milk or anything and pick up from shops on way to collect children.
We also have a bigger jobs list, which is things like clean car, touch up paintwork in stairs, fix bathroom blind, and we try to do one or two of these jobs a week.
I do an online food shop weekly. DH will pack it away as it arrives late Friday evening. He also does all the household ironing on a weekend evening, and washes any dinner pots every night that can't go in the dishwasher. He also makes our packed lunches for the following day. He prefers having set jobs rather than things he has to think about for himself.
We have a cleaner. 3 hours once a week. I do the gardening on a weekend, cooking, change beds etc.
We share childcare drop offs and pick ups, but both usually home for bathtime at 7:00, although whoever hasn't picked the kids up will literally be walking in the door at that time.
How did you get like this in your relationship? What was he like before children? Did you do everything then?
We split things the best we can but there is no way everything is down to me. You need to sit down with him and tell him everything that needs to be done and decide how you split things. If he refused I wouldn't stay in the relationship because he's clearly an arsehole.
I'm sorry. The problem is not lack of organisation. It's that your husband is a prat who is unwilling to step up. Honestly, you should be thinking about whether parenting and living with this man is worth it in the current scenario. It wouldn't be for me.
Then I need to focus on trying to keep my husband happy
How much time does he spend focusing on keeping you happy?
Keeping your husband happy would not even be on the radar for me! He's purposely going out of his way to be difficult, with these work trips he "forgets" to tell you about. I'd be telling him to step up or fuck off. Your post has made me rage on your behalf, how dare he!?
I couldn't live like this.
You don't need a to do list. Do you seriously think he's going to stick to it? He won't. The point is he sees housework and kids as your job.
Do you honestly think he just magically doesn't know what needs to be done? How is it that you know and he doesn't?
I'd be going to therapy. This is not a healthy dynamic for either of you.
I am sorry but I think you have to decide if you can live like this because I don't think it is going to change.
Dont do something (not with earth shattering consequences but some small consequence).
Make a big deal of it.
Blame your husband.
Rinse and repeat until he gets it.
That's what I'd do. You gotta play hardball and stop giving in.
In the nicest possible way OP he is not picking up the slack because you are letting him get away with it. You are being too nice, and it is not serving you.
You need to think about how you can stop letting him get away with things. This may involve you letting some things slide.. temporarily. So you can point out to him that if he doesn't do it and you don't do it, it won't get done. And you've got enough to do so either he does it, or it doesn't get done.
A few real life examples of these will help you. But you need to be prepared to let some things slide, temporarily. for the greater good. Don't worry, the sky won't fall in. But it's the best way for you to make your point to him, IMHO.
We do shared lists (thanks Alexa) so if I want him to do something I ask Alexa to add it to his list, or to remind him. Then I leave it, no longer my responsibility, if it doesn’t get done it’s not catastrophic but it’s clear it’s his fault so I’m ok to be annoyed. stops the nagging which was basically me reminding him stuff he should just be able to remember
Thank you so much for responses.
Truth be told
I think you're right and it won't change. Well, as ugly said above he will do it if Kn the list but will not if t is not on the list. I have thought about splitting up. I still love this man and most importantly he is my children's father and it would break their hearts to not have him in their life even on a weekend or the odd occasion he is there at 7 pm and handed a child (that I have fed dressed washed etc!) to cuddle before bed. I am just so desperate to put in place some sort of structure /rule book / boundaries so I can build some self care into my life on s regular basis not some knee jerk night off where I'm either too shattered of stressing about how to make the most of the experience! But I hear what you say.pergaps I've not made the most sensible life choice in partner given our financial and life positions but I now have to make the. Best of what there is for my family ...
Does your DH need a list of task at work to be able to function? Does he go to his boss everyday and say "can you tell me what to do today?" I didn't think so.
If he can do it at work he can do it at home he's just choosing not to. I wouldn't do anything for him, no cooking, no laundry, no admin.
Assuming he'd have some contact time if you split up and he'd have to pay maintenance you might be better off all round without him.
I would write down every single job that ever comes up, down to buying birthday presents for kids’ parties etc. Then sit with him and tell him the list needs to be divided up and these jobs must get done by the person they are allocated to.
Then it’s his job to sort his List.
If also tell him that you are having serious thoughts about the relationship because of his failure to step up.
We both work FT and things that help are:
Cleaner 4/5 hours a week (also puts away laundry and changes beds)
Online shopping for everything
Bags and clothes out night before
Also, look into taking unpaid parental leave on he odd week just to give yourself some extra breathing space if you can afford it
Good point about work ! When I stress out about it he just says well I don't notice / care about eg toys all over the room/no nappies/food in fridge/ having a sandwich for dinner (when I personally would like to sit together and have a hot meal like adults) and He says if eg I ran out of nappies I would run to the shop or I ran out of food, I'd just have to get takeaway or run up to the shop again. And toys being out isn't a big deal at least the kids are happy... I find it really hard to argue against this way of thinking
I agree I need a list ... I just can't seem to write down the minutiae ...the small things that crop up eg spillage or something breaks or like today we had infestation of flipping weevils in a bag of rice so I spent the entire day taking everything out to the tip bleaching cupboards etc while children were with me and now my husband hasn't even called to tell me hw won't be back until 8 tonight and I just feel in my knees because he has been away the past 10 days anyway with work and I wonder how I will ever get this done when I'm working full time 12 hour days myself!
We have tried downloading to do lists etc and I think half my problem is it stays in my head or I think of something and don't have my phone on me etc
Maybe I should look for a great app or how on earth alexa works it's just another thing isn't it to manage....then what happens when Alexa breaks ?!????
We've started using Todoist app for this reason OP. You type in what needs doing, date to be completed by and can assign it to a particular person. I've got 'projects' set up, namely household, kids admin, personal, DIY etc. So I just add something as soon as I think of it. Whatever is allocated to DH I don't worry about. If something gets missed and he's apologetic about it, I help out if I can. Otherwise, I've learnt to step back and let him deal with the fallout.
Are you able to leave him with the kids for a weekend so he has to be in charge of everything? I think he needs to experience what you you are going through daily.
Suggest couple’s counselling asap - to seek to address the fact that your H is unwilling to do his fair share of domestic work and parenting, including the “mental load”.
He puts his needs and wishes about yours and his DC’s.
He could change that anytime he wants.
It’d be a deal breaker for me. And I have an easier job than you.
In short run would stop cooking - anything - and doing laundry and other domestic work for him. He isn’t willing to do stuff for you and you have insufficient time for self care, so make some time by doing less for him.
Would de-clutter. Get the nanny to do stuff.
@user1494360838 I'm on maternity leave right now, and my husband works in finance for a megabank. I'm going to second every one who says don't do things for him. Back when DH was in consulting I got sick of him just expecting stuff to "happen" around the house and went on strike. He soon stopped being helpless when he ran out of clean socks and underwear
Also, two finance salaries? Outsource that shit. Get a cleaner, get a mother's helper for a few hours a week to sort your life out, send out your ironing, buy pre-packaged everything from Ocado. We're on one finance salary and one charity exec salary and we outsource everything - it's the only way we stay sane and married.
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