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How to cope with DH working very long hours

(37 Posts)
pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 15:27:41

I am after some words of wisdom and advice please smile

DH is self employed and works in a physical job for very long hours. He leaves the house at 5.30am to get to the yard and does not get home until late (average 8.30pm). I know some of you will say 'Is he working?', yes he is and he comes home very tired and dirty sad.
My head is telling me that he is working hard and providing for his family but my heart is resentful. We have no time together at all. I feel like a single parent and take on full responsibility of the children and the home. DH is physically tired at the weekend and needs rest time, he is great at playing with the children in short bursts though.

I just wondered how others coped? How can I address these feelings of anger and resentment at the situation? Am I being selfish?

Ladyflip Sat 13-Apr-13 07:50:10

OP, I know exactly how you feel. My DH is a farmer so the very long working days are 7 days a week. I had 2 DCs under 2 and very nearly went under trying to cope. I don't know if its any help, but this is what helped me.

Going to work. Your 2 day a week job will give you something else to think about, rather than focus on how unfair it all is. Of course, it is unfair, but dwelling on it just makes you angry and resentful.
Do things that are fun with the DCs during the week, don't save it all for weekends. I have a lovely friend with young DC too and we met in the park about twice a week with a flask of tea and a snack for some mutual moaning.
I promise it will get better as the children get older. Mine are 4 and 6 and its sooo much better now. I know how hard it can be, I am still certain that 8am on a Sunday morning when you've been up for hours on your own with kids is the loneliest place in the world.

unebagpipe Sat 13-Apr-13 07:43:36

Hey OP. sounds hard for you, and I empathise. I only have one dc and sometimes it feels very lonely!

Make sure you try and focus on together time.

Once a month try and get a babysitter and have 'date night'-
Cinema together, meal out, M&s meal deal!

Do you go on family holidays. I'd try and get one booked - even if it is a long weekend camping over a bank holiday weekend.

Try and plan the weekends so that you do something together- national trust, nature walk, swimming etc.

It's really tough, he is doing it for you and your dc- and I have to focus on this when I'm doing bath time solo all week. I think maternity leave is lonely as it is- so sure going back to work will help. Your relationship may benefit though if you can make more time for each other.

Lavenderhoney Sat 13-Apr-13 07:07:37

It's very hard. How old are your dc? My dh works very long hours and some weekends, but its easier now the dc aren't babies.

You need to have a long talk, have wine at the end and stress its not a competition as to who is more tired.
If he likes the job and doesn't want to change then you start from there. Bear in mind if its physical as he gets older or gets an injury it has to stop.
Can his skills be transferred to another part of the job?

Weekends - he can lie in but then after lunch he gets to amuse the dc- though we do it together so they see us as a family. We go to parks for picnics and nothing stressful. Sunday he gets up at 9 and we arrange our day- he might take them swimming and I stay home. He takes ds to football and dd and ds for walks to feed ducks and tea and cake at the end.

Could you manage a cleaner? Because if he keeps the job because its what he likes then you have to look for alternative solutions for you to make you happier. My situation won't change so we ensure we have one evening a month with a babysitter and go out for a couple of hours, see above about weekends, I have an occasional cleaner and both dc will be at as school in Sept.

Try to build a nice circle of friends, invite someone and their dc for tea or someone round for a drink, do an ou course, keep an eye out for jobs for your dh on linked in- make yourself his personal recruiter ( not to pressure him) . He should get involved with bedtime and bath time.

It's a long post, sorry, but it takes some solution finding if you both want it to work. We have a weekly " meeting" and catch up with each other, discuss stuff, make decisions etc.

Piemother Fri 12-Apr-13 20:45:24

He can't chill out all weekend when you never get any time off. That is v unfair.
This job may have been a shock and fair play to him for working hard but he should have adjusted now and he needs to help out at home.

pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 20:42:55

Our third was not planned grin I love having three children and would not change it for the world but I just hate the situation we are in as I am exhausted with no emotional support. DH is tired but sees it as work, so a good thing. He has been doing it for over a year after having been unemployed for nearly a year previously

LadyLapsang Fri 12-Apr-13 20:35:34

Must be exhausting for both of you. Sounds like he is doing his best. My DH worked similar hours and abroad at times but we only had one DC. Sounds like he lost his previous job a while ago, having a third DC must make a lot more work - how did you think it would pan out with a third?

WorrySighWorrySigh Fri 12-Apr-13 20:30:08

It sounds to me like your DH has got his head down in a rut. Does he feel trapped on a treadmill?

If it is so very hard work then your DH is unlikely to be able to keep this level of work up indefinitely. Your DH should be intelligent enough to understand this though you may need to point it out to him first. Is that a way of getting him to lift his head and see that he cannot keep on the way he is going?

rollmeover Fri 12-Apr-13 19:52:58

You are certainly not being weak.
But I think badguider is right, this is not a situation that is sustainable in the longer term. When your youngest is at nursery/preschool you will get a couple of extra mornings in the week to get yourself organised, but can you seriously ride it out till then? Its still a long way off?
Sorry, Im not giving much practical help but really do understand how hard it is for you. Perhaps a chat with gp/health visitor or get a babysitter once a month and go out and talk to each other might help?

pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 19:43:02

That must be really difficult MrsPeeWee sad

My DH actually turned down the chance of earning a FORTUNE abroad as it meant working away 6 months of the year. Sometimes I think that would have been a better situation!

badguider Fri 12-Apr-13 19:42:23

hmm that setup of being self-employed but at a company sounds like the worst of both worlds sad

is it worth talking to him about how long he thinks he'll do it for? have a 1,3,5 year plan? sometimes situations are easier if there's an end in sight.

MrsPeeWee Fri 12-Apr-13 19:37:50

Yup, sounds just like my husband.
Early mornings, late nights.
Sometimes I don't see him for days/weeks/months.
Meh.. that's because I am a Armywife

sigh Hopefully, your DHs hours can be altered some way.
I'll keep my fingers crossed.

pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 19:32:48

Badguider, I don't want to out myself by saying what DH does but he is self employed but is based at a company. They get sent out to jobs covering a huge area. If their team of two turn down jobs or say they can't take them/ say it's too far to travel then another team gets the work and my DH would be told where to go. Simple. Dog eat dog sad

pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 19:25:42

Yes, self employed means taking every job he can to make ends meet. There is no way he can reduce hours or days, he works alongside another man, and apparently would be 'laughed out the yard' if he turns work down etc. It's a very tough macho environment.

Thank you all for the suggestions. I already make his packed lunch everyday etc. I just need to get him to see that he can do little things to help me too when he is home. No, we cannot afford a cleaner, money is tight. When I go back to work, after paying for childcare, I will have little money in my pocket but we figured that I should hang into my job as in the long run when DC3 turns three and starts preschool, we will reap the financial benefits again.

It has been really helpful writing this all down and people reinforcing that our situation is a hard one. I half thought that i was being weak and pathetic struggling!

badguider Fri 12-Apr-13 19:15:45

I don't understand why he can't 'drop hours' - builders, drivers, joiners, they can all work 8am to 5pm. If the job takes more hours because of that then they quote for more days.

Does he want to work the hours he does (he's out the house 15hrs a day so must be working at least 12/13hrs a day!)?

I am self-employed and often end up overworked but I would not get myself in the situation your DH is in.

rollmeover Fri 12-Apr-13 19:11:20

Oh dear, it sounds like its really tough for all of you.
I think you need to explain to your dh that you have a hard physical job in the week too with no time off! Could one of you do a lie in on a Sat and the other on the Sun. Mcould he be responsible for tea one of the weekend nights?

My dh works very long hours also, but as he is in an office job he tries to make it back for bedtime stories and then works after the kids are in bed. Could he make it home early even one mid week night and work later to make up the time? (is there something that you could do in return eg make his lunch?)

It sounds like he is working hard to take care of his family, but as another poster says he cant "check out". Do you really need the money that he is bringing in (not wanting to be flippant, but could he turn down a job pr two) Or when you go back to work will you be able to afford a cleaner?

It does sound like you have a strong relationship that neither have given up on in the past. Hopefully he will listen to you and you he can help more.

Highlander Fri 12-Apr-13 18:50:11

I would normally say that childcare is always shared 50:50, even if that means the father going to go p/t to do that. I detest the assumption that it is unacceptable for men to do their share.

however, self-employed is a whole different ball game that I know nithing about.

I do think that, if you can afford it, you should both be p/t after mat leave. It will give your DH a bit if breathing space to plan his next (family-friendly) move.

pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 17:13:03

I also have no help at all. My mum is of the 'i got in with it, so you should' camp and i have no in laws

Thank you all so much for your kind words. I half expected a flaming and you all to tell me to get on with it and don't complain!

pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 16:38:57

I keep saying to him to try and be proactive looking for work but he seems happy doing what he is doing....

womenswork Fri 12-Apr-13 16:38:32

What a difficult situation. You both sound very stressed. It sounds like you have all the responsibility for childcare and he feels like he has all responsibility for providing for you financially. Either of those things is almost too much to bear, and normally you'd expect your other half to support you, but it sounds like you're both completely flat out doing everything you need to do, and are not able to support each other.

Did you ever agree that this was how the responsibilities would be parcelled out? It sounds a bit like he is trying to be a hero, but unfortunately getting it a bit wrong. Sometimes it's easier to keep doing what you're doing than to sit back and assess the situation and change. You know the adage, 'work smart, not hard'? Well it sounds like he's doing the opposite - working so hard, he doesn't have the time or space to think.

I know that you need him to spend more time with the family, but instead of asking him to do that on top of everything he's already doing, is there a way you could relieve some of the pressure he might be feeling? Even just talking about it and acknowledging it might help. Does he have anyone to talk to about work, or his feelings about his own career? It sounds counter-intuttive, but maybe spending an evening where you have a few drinks and let him talk about everything he's going through at work might make it easier for you to work out what you can do together, as a family, to make everyone happier.

pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 16:33:38

DH can't 'drop hours', he goes to jobs and has to do them and has to work 5 or 6 whole days a week too.

I dread weekends as I deliberately don't make plans as DH is home but then we end up doing nothing as DH is in 'winding down and chilling' mode.

The chores are not shared at all. I do everything. There is simply no time for DH to do anything during the week

DialsMavis Fri 12-Apr-13 16:30:44

I doubt he has time to look for jobs! But as you say the longer he leaves it, the harder it will be. Are you OK for £? I can cope with the stress & tiredness, but not the fact we are still broke! Could he combine his design skills & the skills from current job to do something else?

FairyPenguin Fri 12-Apr-13 16:29:13

My situation is a bit like yours as in my DH works very similar hours and is physically and mentally exhausted (office job, but multiple locations, lots of travelling, and high pressure). In the week, the DC don't see him at all as he leaves before they're up and gets home after they've gone to bed.

I can only tell you what works for us. Firstly, it felt a lot better once I was back at work so I wasn't with the DC all day every day. Secondly, we share the chores at the weekends and both get a break too. For example, DH has a lie-in on Saturdays and I have a lie-in on Sundays. We might all go and have breakfast together but then the other one gets to go back to bed for a bit whilst the other one clears up and gets the DC dressed. Just being able to go back to bed with a cup of tea, a bit of time online or reading, then showering and getting dressed in peace can really set me up for the day.

He will do the meal plan for the week, then he will take the children out to park or somewhere for some quality time while I go to the supermarket and buy all the food. I get time to myself, but he's actually done the hard work planning it all out.

He cleans the kitchen and I'll do the washing, etc, etc. You get the picture.

Oh, and we'll both start bedtime together but then one will do the stories and the other goes downstairs to crack open the wine and watch a bit of TV. So we've both shared the shitty bit of bedtime (negotiating with DC about going upstairs, getting changed and washed) but one person does the stories which is still a lovely time and the other has a quiet drink.

Hope some of this will help, and I hope it will all feel a bit better when you go back to work. smile

pizzaqueen Fri 12-Apr-13 16:28:26

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh but is there a chance he is choosing to work so many hours to avoid the 'work' that family life involves?

What are your weekends like? Do you spend any family time? What other support do you have?

Do you need the money from him working or could he drop some hours but still survive, even if it meant cutting back a bit?

I really feel for you, I only have one DC and my DP helps out so much, we're equals I couldn't imagine doing it 'alone'

pinkpiggy Fri 12-Apr-13 16:26:01

That's just it oldwomaninashoe, we are not 'happy'. He is tired and grumpy. I am tired and grumpy! And starting to get my depression back too, which does not help. I know it will pass and having babies is very hard work. I think it's the lack of forward planning and looking to the future thing that is difficult as DH is not actively looking for jobs in design. His confidence has been crushed and he thinks he is too old for design.

DialsMavis Fri 12-Apr-13 16:22:36

Does he want to go back to his previous career or is he happy? It sounds v hard on you. My DP works v long hours and it does make me resentful sometimes. I just cut myself some slack on the house work, make sure me and the DC are happy and try and support DP as best I can (whilst reminding myself that he chose his career and loves it) smile

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