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How should I go about a housework strike?

(37 Posts)
pallymama Sat 13-Aug-11 19:06:13

Might sound like a bit of a daft question, but I'm struggling a bit with the specifics.

Posted this back in January. Thanks to the insight and advice offered, we had a long talk, and things have been a good bit better since. Up until a month or so ago. I've ill for about 2 weeks, and he hasn't lifted a finger to help, he's even stopped doing the bits that are his "usual jobs". I pulled him up on it this morning, causing some grand gestures on his part, but I know it won't last, it never does.

I figure if i go on strike, it might start getting through to him, and if not, at least I've reduced my work load! grin So how do I manage a housework strike without letting the house get so filthy it's not safe for DD? Obviously I won't be doing any laundry for him, and I'm going to start eating tea with DD before he gets home. What else should I do, or not do? Any tips from anyone who's tried this before?

FabbyChic Sat 13-Aug-11 19:09:05

Give him dinner on a paper plate with plastic knives and forks.

ameliagrey Sat 13-Aug-11 19:09:42

Are you happy to live in a mess?

What do you see as "your" jobs?

pallymama Sat 13-Aug-11 19:16:19

Fabby- chance are that just means I will have to collect them after to bin them! hmm

ameliagrey- No I'm not happy to live in a mess. Do you mean which jobs do I do currently? Or which jobs do I think I should do?

pallymama Sat 13-Aug-11 19:16:41

*chances are

pallymama Sat 13-Aug-11 19:43:21

Shameless bump, does no one have any advice? blush

Fluffycloudland77 Sat 13-Aug-11 19:49:47

I did it once but my DH was bought up with a very house proud mother so it really winds him up if things are dirty.

I didnt do it because he wasnt helping we had a row and I thought sod you do your own washing.

Is there a job he doesnt mind doing? Mine does the bedrooms and will hoover but wont wash clothes or dishes.

I do most of it but he will help if asked, I find little and often the way to go with housework.

Carrotsandcelery Sat 13-Aug-11 19:56:51

I wouldn't do it silently iykwim.

I would calmly and peacefully tell him that I loved him but that it was really getting me down that he didn't do his fair share.

Then I would say that I was going to take a "holiday" and that I expected him to look after himself from now on.

I would try to do it at a time when it wouldn't just blow up into a row because then it would just become a battle of wills (which might be more fun but is less likely to resolve the problem quickly.)

FWIW my dh hates to be asked to do something but if I make a list of the jobs which need to be done he will happily choose what he wants to do from the list and tick it off once it is done. We can keep going like this until the jobs are done, whereas if I asked he would procrastinate.

fgaaagh Sat 13-Aug-11 19:57:58

"So how do I manage a housework strike without letting the house get so filthy it's not safe for DD?"

Only do things that are of direct and immediate benefit to you or DD.

Ironing should be split up into two piles - yours and DD, then his.

Food you sound like you've sorted due to timing.

Anything that needs sorting which is looking dangerous e.g. clothes on the floor or items not put away, place in plastic bags and label with the date. But don't pick these things up every day, just when you think it's getting dangerous.

Don't do anything which could harm you/the house in the long run e.g. if he's left the taps running or the heating on.

Whether you consider dealing with admin part of your normal chores or not, split up the ones that need to be done (paying a gas bill, checking a direct debit payment to the council) vs. the ones that "should" be done (birthday cards to any side of his family, MOT'ing his car, or anything of that nature).

There is plenty of work around a house which doesn't fall into any of the categories above on a day to day basis - plenty.

fgaaagh Sat 13-Aug-11 20:00:23

p.s. I also agree with the "don't do it silently, but don't make it a battle of wills" comments.

The former may just mean that you DH doesn't even notice the place is getting into a state of disarray until it's so far gone it needs a day's worth of tidying - the latter may mean that he sees it as a challenge and, if you "lose" (in his eyes) that may make his longterm attitude even worse.

CaptainBarnacles Sat 13-Aug-11 20:00:44

Good advice from carrotsandcelery. It seems odd that he stopped doing his bit while you were ill. Do you think there may be bigger emotional issues there? IME some men can't stand their wives/girlfriends being ill or vulnerable, because they want them to be there for THEM. (I guess this ties in with SGB's points on your other thread.)

pallymama Sat 13-Aug-11 20:02:21

In January he agreed to do the hoovering, and empty the bins once a week, as well as trying to be a bit tidier/picking up after himself. He didn't seem to mind doing any of that. Little by little that increased to include some work in the garden, and putting away his own clean laundry. To be honest, him being more careful about the amount of mess he made, made the biggest difference, and I was feeling more respected. Now he's back to doing none of it.

fgaaagh Sat 13-Aug-11 20:10:08

It doesn't sound like you've really engaged him in much that doesn't directly benefit him, from that list. Is that a fair statement?

For example, how many hours per week should he (as he agreed to) be doing tasks for your DCs that aren't related to him? Does he wash their clothes, and so on? Personally I'd be tempted to switch some of those things around and make a greater proportion of the stuff he has to do not all about him.

Example: "being tider and picking up after himself." Is he the type to get stuff out and leave it around for you to tidy up..? I wouldn't put up with that from my children, nevermind a husband who's supposed to take on a fairer share of the family chores.

I honestly don't think I'm being harsh by saying that.

"I figure if i go on strike, it might start getting through to him, and if not, at least I've reduced my work load!"

I think you'll find that waking up for work without any clean shirts is a very very good motivator, if you've been enabling him to be so unhelpful (disagreeing in theory with his effort, but when he doesn't do it, stepping in to fill the gap anyway).

Carrotsandcelery Sat 13-Aug-11 20:10:36

It is possible that, unconsciously, when you were ill he saw that you weren't doing anything and thought he didn't need to either. I doubt it was malicious but just a sort of winding down. It maybe feels fair to him if he thinks you are doing stuff too.

I know that doesn't make sense logically. I know that if you can't do stuff then he needs to do more but not all brains seem to work this way. Sometimes you need to be gentle but very clear and direct.

pallymama Sat 13-Aug-11 20:16:55

Wow, lots of cross posts there, sorry!
He stopped a couple of weeks before I got ill, so it's not that that's prompted it, I should have made that clearer, sorry. It has, however prompted him to start complaining of how tired he is. (Not too tired to stop him partying for 6 hours at a collegues leaving do though. hmm )

He does no tasks for me or DD that don't benefit him in some way, unless you count those that are spending time with her, such as getting her ready for bed.

I will definately talk to him calmly about it before hand, keeping it short, and just tell him that I will not be doing his laundry, cooking, or tidying anymore. Then carry through with it. Time for the big-box-collect-his-stuff-dump-it-in-the-garage-technique again I think.

fgaaagh Sat 13-Aug-11 20:20:35

Actually OP you've reminded me of something I've posted about on here before, it was in a very VERY good self help book (Harriet Lerner, The Dance of Anger, I believe - I've lent my copy to my sister but I'm sure that's the author/book it's in), when you said "I figure if i go on strike, it might start getting through to him".

The case study being spoken about involves a lesbian couple who've just had a baby. The birth mother was at the end of her tether being the "adult" in the relationship (as in, organiser, all the mental energy of remembering vaccinations, appointments, household bills, was left to her). Her partner agreed that it shouldn't be all down to her, but especially when it came to the baby, it usually was. The woman ended up in therapy because she said she needed to learn how to handle things better.

Obviously I'd write the extract of the book if I had my copy available, since I'm doing a terrible job of summing it up! But basically the case study ended up where the birth mother got up the guts to take a back seat and force her partner to step up by showing a few fuck ups don't mean the end of the world.

One incident she relates is a baby appointment (something important? a vaccination, maybe) where the non-birth mother was taking the baby. Rather than do her usual thing of fret about documentation, remembering the baby bag, calling the day before to confirm the appointment time, she left it to the non-birth mother.... which resulted in a veyr flustered non-birth mother leaving with bubs without any of the documentation she was meant to take, and the baby pack with formula/etc. 30mins after they left for the appointment, the non-birth mother was back, frustrated, missing the appointment. She ended up having to reschedule it, do all the organisation to "make up" for her lack of being reliable/putting in her share of the organisation work beforehand.

But the fact was that after a few times of these rather serious fuck ups happening, eventually the non-birth mother realised that she'd been shirking stuff before - and that if the therapy patient was no longer going to "fill" that organisation gap in the relationship, she could either live with constantly being late for stuff, having bills forgetting to be paid.. and the faff that comes with it... or she could step up and do her fair share.

Just a little story that I thought you might like! It was kind of my point when i posted earlier about "I think you'll find that waking up for work without any clean shirts is a very very good motivator" but i was trying to find the book to write a few paragraphs from. until i remembered i've lent it out. !

fgaaagh Sat 13-Aug-11 20:22:09

oh dear, i'd forgot to post: the birth mother watched the other lady get the baby ready for the appointment, biting her tongue that had she left enough time to get there, did she remember the medical notes, etc - and she watched as she left without them. i forgot that bit of the book's case study. smile

Fluffycloudland77 Sat 13-Aug-11 20:24:24

One of my patients said "no one knows what I do until I stop doing it".

So true.

ameliagrey Sat 13-Aug-11 20:30:57

ameliagrey- No I'm not happy to live in a mess. Do you mean which jobs do I do currently? Or which jobs do I think I should do?


pallymama Sat 13-Aug-11 20:50:01

Amelia, the first list is easy, I do everything! meal planning, food shopping, cooking, cleaning, hoovering, dusting, laundry, filing paper work, sorting birthdays cards, arranging social things/dentists appts etc, the gardening (although we pay someone to trim hedges and lawn), any diy/decorating, and all the work our DD creates. I could get very mundane and start listing it right down to changing the toilet rolls!

As for what i think I should do, I would say 2/3 of that. I'm happy to do more than him, as I only work 2/3 of the hours he does, but doing it all, and taking all the responsibilty for planning and remembering things, is just too much. I don't mind which jobs I do, just so long as it's a fairer split.

fgaaagh - that books sounds interesting, I think I'll have a look for it, thank you.

And thanks to everyone for their advice so far. I have told DH that I'm going on strike and what that means (no laundry, cooking, tidying after him), why I was doing it, and why I was telling him. here's hoping it has some effect, if not, our garage is going to get pretty full!

xmyboys Sat 13-Aug-11 20:58:39

I agree OP.
I have done the same, DP often has to do his own laundry and now cooking. He cones home late, but why should I cook got him? He doesn't do it for me. I work too and look after the children.
To be honest it had not changed things on his part but at least my message is loud and clear!

ballstoit Sat 13-Aug-11 21:08:04

What was his response to you, when you told him?

pallymama Sat 13-Aug-11 21:13:30

To be honest, he looked a bit baffled, just said ok, waited to see if there was anything else, then wandered back to his movie!

ballstoit Sat 13-Aug-11 21:24:08

Hmmm...methinks you need to make a looooong term plan grin

pallymama Sat 13-Aug-11 21:31:04

Any and all suggestions gratefully received ballstoit! grin

Heading to bed in a bit, but I'll check back tomorrow, and update in a week or so if there's been any progress. Thanks all.

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