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What should I expect my husband to help with?

(24 Posts)
mostlyconfused Sat 15-Feb-14 23:20:36

I am currently 35 weeks pregnant with my second child, my DD1 is nearly 3.
My husband works 6 days a week and isn't home till 7:30/8 during the week and 6 at the weekends.

What should I reasonably expect him to help with when the little one is born?
As I am on Mat leave, should I pretty much do it all due to the long hours he works?

Before my Mat leave started, I worked part time, 3 days a week. I done all the cooking. Cleaning, washing. All my husband does is breakfast once a week and the bedtime story maybe 4 times a week.

I'm getting really stressed out about being left with the new baby and my little girl all day, nearly everyday on my own and don't know how I'm going to cope.

puntasticusername Sat 15-Feb-14 23:45:04

There's no single, definitive answer to this unfortunately. The bottom line is that you both pitch in and do whatever you can, whenever you can and hopefully you all make it through with sanity something like intact! grin

For me, ground rules are: when you are both home, you are both equally On Duty. Parenting is a 24/7 thing. Your DH doesn't get to opt out just because he happens to be the one who works outside the home. Having said that, it sounds as if he works very long hours, so you'll need to take account of that, especially if his job is one in which extreme tiredness could be dangerous eg if he's a doctor, or does a lot of driving. As a SAHM you arguably have more opportunity than him to rest ad hoc - though if you have an older DC, in practice this is going to be fairly limited!

You should both have equal, or at least comparable, leisure time. This means having time TO YOURSELF to do something that is purely for yourself.

Cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, DIY or similar is NOT personal leisure time.

Some things depend on how you are feeding your baby - if you're fully breast feeding, obviously there's a limit to how much your DH can help out at night - but if you're bottle feeding, you could aim for DH to do the night feeds sometimes (maybe once every other week?) so you get a full night's sleep and a lie in every so often, and he gets a lie in sometimes on his one day off a week from his paid job.

Have you spoken to your DH about this yet? The tone of your post suggests to me that you may be a little concerned about how to express your needs and reach an appropriate division of effort with him...?

duskymoon Sun 16-Feb-14 00:10:09

My Dh was similar but not the sat. He had a fairly lengthy busy motorway commute often in the dark and rain. As such I did all the night waking amazingly DH seemed to sleep through - he sometimes slept in the spare room if he was very tired. It was hard and I was very tired but he needed to sleep more than me due to having a full day at work and having to be on the ball(we relied on his salary) and a stressful drive (we needed him alive).

AnythingNotEverything Sun 16-Feb-14 00:29:12

It's not really about "help" is it? What you need to work about with your husband is a) what things are important to do for the family, and b) how do you practically and fairly split those tasks.

As you'll be at home more and potentially breastfeeding, certain thing will naturally fall to you - breastfeeding, going to play groups/classes etc. lots of other stuff - cooking, cleaning, food shopping, can be shared.

How about you think of your day job as about growing your children, from all aspects: physically, socially and emotionally. Anything on top of that (ie chores) is a bonus.

Practically, you need to face this as a team. Could he cut down his hours for a few months or could you get some help to reduce the overall load? A cleaner might be a good idea, but remember that would be of Benedict to both of you, not just you at home. M is for Mother, not for Maid.

lotsofcheese Sun 16-Feb-14 07:44:34

My DP works similar hours & I had DD almost a year ago when DS was 4. There were no options for him to work more flexibly, and we had no family support nearby, plus I ended up having an EMCS. It was tough.

It was just a case of muddling through (still is!). The main thing is to amuse DS & the baby fits in, so he does lots of classes. He's also in morning school nursery for 2.5 hrs - is that an option for you?

I do have a cleaner, and we try to give eachother a lie-in at the weekends. I do most of the night stuff - not all though. And that will change in a couple of months when I go back to work.

Morgause Sun 16-Feb-14 07:53:52

If you can afford it get a cleaner and maybe ask him to pitch in on Sundays, maybe make the dinner.

He's not going to come home as late as he does and feel able to pitch in with childcare until he's had some down time.

LauraBridges Sun 16-Feb-14 08:00:25

He did all the night waking for 2 or 3 years after they'd stopped feeding (as I earned 10x more than he did and I'd done the breastfeeding part and I worked full time)

We both worked full time so when we got home even if it were 9pm we both were doing things like emptying dishwashers, putting the washing on etc. but that was a normal feminist marriage with two full time workers. It sounds like yours is different. Sometimes the solution is you go back to full time work and he takes on more at home and supports your career more. In some couples that can make everyone happier and takes the financial pressure off the husband too. It can work very well.

winterlace Sun 16-Feb-14 09:50:03

I can only speak for us/me but in terms of household chores, when I'm on maternity leave, I do the lot and I also do the night feeds as I don't have to get up the best day even of I wasn't planning to breast feed again.

Your husband sounds like he works really hard and I think that could do with a bit of respect. Gender is irrespective here; I would say the same to a husband who had a wide working really long hours like that.

LittleBearPad Sun 16-Feb-14 10:01:29

Winterlace the fifties called. They want you back.

OP he is t going to be there physically a lot of the time but there's no reason that he can't do dinner some nights or load dishwashers, wash up, empty washing machines, tidy round, whatever needs doing for you both to be able to sit down together.

Some time out the house on Sundays with the kids either with or without you might be helpful too. You could do the same.

Nightwakings are up to you. Depending on driving, need to concentrate on dangerous stuff. DH did three nights a week. But he isn't a doctor and caught the tube!

winterlace Sun 16-Feb-14 10:04:07

I work more hours than DH when not on ML. He does more at home as a result. If he was the SAHP, he would do the lot. I am the SAHP when on ML, so I do the lot.

I have never and will never understand the attitude that someone works all day and comes home and starts work again. If marriage is a partnership that seems spectacularly unfair from where I'm standing.

thegreatgatsby101 Sun 16-Feb-14 10:16:10

I think there is no right answer. it's what works for you as a family. as a pp has said, our rule is that when both are at home, both pitch in with whatever needs doing and we each have a lie in each once a week (me saturday, him sunday) and on a saturday we both chip in with a bit of a whip round tidy.
My DH works and I do not, currently, so the household is my duty. I do not feel it's fair, as the pp has said, that he works all day then comes home and 'works again'. Gender is irrelevant. He's out at work all day so I do the dinner, washing up, tidy up afterwards whilst he has wind down time. I can, if I really want to, slob infront of the tv for an hour or so during the day whilst DC sleeps and he doesn't have that luxury.
I know this isn't true for everyone's situation but it's what works for us.

I think that if you're at home, the lions share of chores should fall to you, but also, my DH understands that if the washing or cleaning doesn't get done one day it's because I've been busy doing something with the DC and he never, ever gets stressy if that's been the case. Both jobs inside and outside the home are important and it's give & take that's needed.

weeblueberry Sun 16-Feb-14 11:12:02

Winterlace but then if you do it all day then all night, aren't you effectively working all the time? When's your time off?

winterlace Sun 16-Feb-14 11:29:46

No, I'm at home - neither I nor DH view it as work.

All I have to do is play with my children, put something in the oven for DH when he does get in and stick a wash load in every now and again. It isn't remotely comparable to the stress of my job when I'm at work and it isn't comparable to DHs work either.

He works shifts and we have a small apartment so I sometimes will try to go out for a few hours to let him sleep.

Eletheomel Sun 16-Feb-14 19:19:26

There's no formula for this, you and your DH have to work out what you're both happy with. My DH works normal hours (mon-fri, 8am to 4:30) and we have a 4 yr old and 8 month old and I'm on maternity leave until July.

I do all the cooking (he would, but I think he's too slow at chopping/prepping (we used to share cooking before the kids, but he's really out of practice now) and if I cook, he does dishes. We both do laundry (I do most of it as I'm home most of the time, so easier for me to do it). I bfeed so do all nightfeeds, however, both DS1 and 2 were windy babies (hours walking the floor with him in the first few months) and DH always helped me with this (quick feed and sleeps I do myself).

Housework - to be honest, it's left a lot of the time, the house is just generally messy, the bathroom gets pretty manky and we're lucky if we clean it once a month. We have two cats so need to hoover everyday (but we manage it about once a week).

My priority is keeping my kids happy, so spare time during the day is usually spent playing lego, DH totally agrees with this, so we just accept the house is pretty manky a lot of the time and we're discussed hiring a cleaner when I go back to work (although to be honest, it's a tidier we both need!)

I don't iron anything. DH irons his own workshirts (always has). Emptying bins etc are joint tasks (as are making cups of tea :-)

All families are different as to what each partner contributes, main thing is to keep communication channels open, keep the subject of 'helping' calm and non-controntational, and revisit as and when required (e.g. some days you just really can't be ar**d doing the normal chores (sometimes I can't face cooking) and your DH may need to step up the support for that day/week, etc).

As for being scared of coping - I was terrified when paternity leave was going to end, but you get into a rhythm with your kids quite quickly - honest :-D

HelenHen Sun 16-Feb-14 20:40:36

I'm in a similar situation. Dh is in a high stress job, working long hours, a lot of driving and weekends here and there. So I do pretty much everything as yep we need the money and we need him alive. He usually does one diy job a weekend and gives me some me time each day at weekend. If I'm struggling though there are son ed days when he takes over when he comes in. I ask for help when I need it. This works well for us at the mo. I'm 7 months pregnant so will be needing more help soon but, til I need it I'll go on doing as much as I can cos he does the same and we're a team smile

AskBasil Sun 16-Feb-14 20:51:51

I don't think he should "help" with anything.

I think he should do his fair share of childcare and domestic work.

The fairest way is to work out roughly how much leisure time each of you have after all the work is done - that is paid work, housework and childcare. Taking the kids to the park is not leisure time, it's childcare. Playing with the kids is not leisure time, it's childcare. Getting the kids bathed, story and into bed, is not leisure time, it's childcare. Etc.

Without being anal about it, you should have roughly the same amount of left over time for you to do whatever you want without kids - read, watch TV, drink, shag, yoga, exercise etc. If one of you has much more than the other, then that person is taking the piss.

That seems to me to be the fairest way of organising the distribution of labour and leisure.

AskBasil Sun 16-Feb-14 20:54:36

"I have never and will never understand the attitude that someone works all day and comes home and starts work again. If marriage is a partnership that seems spectacularly unfair from where I'm standing."

Er, if you're a parent, that's exactly what you do. Nearly all mothers in paid employment do this every day and a good percentage of decent fathers do this as well. If you don't want to work when you come home from your paid work, don't have kids.

HelenHen Sun 16-Feb-14 21:03:34

Well if that's the case I have much more leisure time than dp. I get a two hour break a day when ds has nap... And I do take a break... No housework or nothing! So perhaps I should give up some of my me time at the weekend?

I'm a feminist but this is not about gender. My husband and I are very much a team and we support eachother whatever way we can. There are no rules. We both do very separate jobs but, if he's having a terrible week and I'm flying it, I'll even get his lunches ready for him. We help eachother when we can and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that!

AskBasil Sun 16-Feb-14 21:12:41

Who mentioned gender Helen?

Actually during those 2 hours your DC naps, you're on call. So yes it's a break, but it's not exactly leisure because you can't leave the child to go swimming or the gym or whatever. It's the easy pleasant bit of the job (like playing with lego), but it's still the job IYSWIM.

I'm not sure why you're assuring me there's nothing wrong with partners helping each other out, I agree with you. confused

littleballerina Sun 16-Feb-14 21:15:19

Thread title sounds very 50's.

They are his children too.

HelenHen Sun 16-Feb-14 21:25:58

Good point about being on call. I still feel like I have it much easier on a general basis though! I think people are getting hung up on how things are worded a bit! There are no general rules though!

LittleBipper Sun 16-Feb-14 21:42:40

Half each when he's at home with the understanding that his sleep gets maximised when it would be dangerous otherwise?

Or you could look at it as you look after the DCs and he looks after you?

I agree that you can't have a formula but I think a guiding philosophy would be helpful.

My DH works 6 days too, much of that is work where he needs to be all there, but particularly when DS was tiny it was also dangerous when I was delirious from lack of sleep and most of the time I was on maternity leave he only napped 20 minutes. We did have to have strong words a few times. I'm back at work three days now, we only rarely have a day off together so it's easier to know who should be doing what. The day DH isn't working he looks after DS and DS goes to a childminder two days.

MaryMotherOfCheeses Sun 16-Feb-14 21:44:37

You should both have the same amount of time to do nothing.

It's as simple as that.

JustBreath Mon 17-Feb-14 15:09:04

Being pregnant and looking after children is a full time job, just like his is, if not 24/7. I understand your husband works long hours, but while you're pregnant your body is still working through the night while DH sleeps blissfully. So, yes, he should offer to do more so that you are both doing equal amount of work so you both have equal down time. Now that my youngest DD2 is 2yo, and my DS1 is 6 (and I am a SAHM) I can fit all my chores in, look after the kids and get some me time in the evenings. The only thing I ask of my DH is that he helps with the bath and bedtime story, I find this is an important bonding time between him and the kids otherwise they would never see him. Plus if his job ends at 6 when he gets home, why should mine have to go on till 7.30pm when the kids finally get to bed? Right?

DH is home on the weekends so he helps a little more then, with breakfast, lunch, nappy change etc, but I do the cooking. I make sure I have no chores left to do on the weekends like laundry, cleaning etc….wkends are purely family time.

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