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End of my tether with juggling family life

(19 Posts)
OvertiredandConfused Tue 23-Jul-13 09:50:10

Semi-regular but name-changed for this. Sorry it's long - don't want to drip feed.

Not sure where to start really. Married to DH for 14 years. DD12 and DS10. I recently returned to full-time work, in quite a senior role, after taking 2 years out. Time out was to put family first as we both had full-on jobs with a good hour's commute each way. Financially, we can't afford for me to stay at home any longer - have built up debt as well - and I do enjoy my job. We have an au pair to help with the children and housework.

Generally, DH is pretty good at home. He shares childcare out of working hours almost equally, clears up after our evening meal, empties bins etc, etc. Aside from the clearing up and dishwasher, I do have to do all the thinking, despite my efforts over the years.

When I was at home I was very happy to do all the arranging of DC's activities, lifts, medical appts, liaison with school as well as meal planning, ordering groceries etc, etc. However, I'd really like him to share some of that now, especially as I have no spare leave, flex-time or work at home opportunities until at least October. He gets 5 days more leave than me anyway, plus has 10 years service and therefore goodwill. His standard excuse is that he's busy - like I'm not, obviously. If I do leave things to him, they don't happen. For example, DD has been waiting 3 months for an appt to be made with a consultant. She asks him almost every day but he's always been very busy.

DCs are struggling to adjust to me working again and their behaviour is awful. They've never got on especially well (which really upsets me) but the last few months it's escalated to regular outright physical fights. They ignore almost everything I or DH ask them to do and are shockingly rude and disrespectful - way beyond what I expect as DD becomes a teenager.

They don't like our current au pair (and nor do I). This definitely doesn't help. She's leaving soon (and early). I have the school holiday covered - annual family holiday, my parents and his mum for a couple of days - but nothing from the start of September. This is causing me huge stress - DH just says something will turn up an there's nothing he can do that I'm not doing - and therefore does nothing.

I am constantly tired, stressed and walking on eggshells around DC and DH. DH is permanently grumpy and flies off the handle really easily. This is NOT normal for him and I don't think its EA. However, DC have commented in the last few weeks that daddy has started to be angry all the time and they don't like it. I have tried to talk to him but got absolutely nowhere - "don't pin their shit behaviour on me". In the context for 15 plus years, very out of character but becoming normal in the last few months.

Things reached a head last night. DCs behaviour was just ridiculous. DS climbed out of a window at one point, DD hit me. DH lost his temper and told them that they're fucking awful children and that they should go and live with their GPs (his ILs) for a while. We did calm it all down but I'm sure in a few days it'll happen again.

Not sure what I'm looking for really - advice, insight, suggestions, hand-holding......

Thanks for getting this far.

soundevenfruity Tue 23-Jul-13 10:01:39

Did you have a sit down with the whole family where everybody could talk about their frustrations? Something along the lubes that it was great where you were at home but for all sort of reasons you can't do it any mire so there must be a solution which would cover what you used to do. I think your DCs are old enough to understand and help out. It would also give them some control over what's happening. The au pair situation is tricky though. I would've hated to be dependent on somebody I don't get along with.

soundevenfruity Tue 23-Jul-13 10:02:20

Lubesangry lines

bestsonever Tue 23-Jul-13 10:16:24

A family meeting where you all lay your cards on the table is a good idea. Your unhappy, your DH is and so are the DC's, so you need to all work on it and understand each others point of view together. If you can't discuss without things getting too heated, you could all try writing your grievances down before you meet to aid understanding.

IloveJudgeJudy Tue 23-Jul-13 10:41:34

I also agree a family meeting. I'm going to have to do the same as I've just started a new job with much longer hours out of the house than I used to be. DC are not doing much atm, but when we come back from time away things are going to have to change.

Your DC are old enough now to understand what's going on and what is required. Your DH is also old enough to understand that things have to be shared now.

cestlavielife Tue 23-Jul-13 10:47:01

the thing that has changed is you working - which is not a bad thing for your ownn well being as well as finance. kids will grow up and wont need you at home all day so much.
you ened our own independence as this happens and money .

so you need to all sit down and lay it on the line how everyone needs to muck in including h and dc. they old enough.

point out benefits of you working eg financial. espec over longer term.

then ask everyone to point out cons but to then decide together on solutions.

and decide on tasks for each person over next week eg h to make the appointment to suit his time to take dd because he can take the time off and you cannot etc.

AnotherStitchInTime Tue 23-Jul-13 11:33:17

Take into account that yesterday was a full moon (known to increase crazy behaviour) and also 34 degrees where we were, it was hot and everyone would have been tired and irritable.

You need to sit down as a family and talk about acceptable and non-acceptable behaviour and what the consequences will be if the kids do not stick within your boundaries. Then follow through on consequences every time. Keep calm, firm instructions, repeat instructions and what consequences will be if they do not listen. It will take time.

Also talk to them about the au pair issue, allow them to express what they don't like and explain it will be over soon. I had some awful au pairs as a child, one locked us out, another threw my brother across the room. It made me very resentful and uncooperative at home for a while.

Another thing to consider is one to one adult and child time and family time. It sounds like they are struggling a little with the transition, more time with them might help, they might be missing contact with you.

With regard to your DH, sit down on a Sundays for 10 minutes to discuss diary dates and a list of things that need to be done that week. Split the list as evenly as possible, stick on a whiteboard and calendar if necessary.. Remind him you work the same hours as him now and you are both equally responsible for the kids and the running of the household. I know you shouldn't have to, but if everyone has been used to it being another way for a long time, it is natural to have a period of adjustment.

OvertiredandConfused Tue 23-Jul-13 12:43:28

Thanks ladies. I will try and arrange a family meeting this weekend. Hopefully DC will respond to that.

I think DH resents the negative effect it's having on his life and knows that's unreasonable and that's what's making him so tetchy IYSWIM. Although last night was horrible, in isolation I can accept it and move on. However, I'm not prepared to accept that type of language to and about DC's on a regular basis.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 23-Jul-13 13:04:48

I think you stop the activities and lifts for your DCs until they start behaving. Also they should start doing more around the house. Why run yourself ragged when there is no reciprocation? The main reason they are kicking off is because they see you as their servant, not their parent. They're way too old to need a full-time SAHM....

pollycazalet Tue 23-Jul-13 13:10:40

We both work full time and it can be hard. My kids are a bit older than yours. A few observations:

I think your kids may be struggling to adapt to you not being at home but full-on physical fights and hitting you is utterly unacceptable. Have you dealt with this actively and assertively - my experience is that if you're feeling guilty (and your post does seem to imply this with talk of 'walking on eggshells') you might not have and it also seems as though you and DH don't present them with a united front. You and DH should get your boundaries and consequences straight between you before speaking to your kids otherwise your family meeting risks being undermined. You need to get on top of this asap and I would prioritise this over getting help from kids with chores etc.

After years of trying to get DH to do the 'thinking and planning' side of parenting I have given up. My approach is a meeting every Sunday where we go through the calendar and what needs doing and I delegate stuff to him. It's boring but it's the only way it works. I have delegated some activies to him too - eg sports stuff. All the emails go to him and I don't see them so he's the one who gets chased for money/ decisions etc.

On your childcare issues - the lack of clarity over what's happening longer term will be unsettling your kids, if your au pair is leaving. I suggest this is a good area for a family discussion - what do they want to happen longer term. There is something particularly awful for kids about being at home with someone they don't like (I have had experience of this) so either a wish list for the new au pair or a fresh look at alternatives.

Finally - going back to work is a decision you took for the benefit of all of you. Find ways to make it a positive and improve your family time and relationships. For eg we have weekend meals out and takeaways and family films on Friday nights, which we wouldn't be able to do if we didn't both work.

OvertiredandConfused Tue 23-Jul-13 17:03:58


Cognito I agree they don't need me to be a SAHM. Not signing up for activities next term is a real threat if their behaviour doesn't improve.

pollycazalet We do always back each other up - that's why I found it so hard last night because I think DH's language crossed a boundary where I felt caught between a rock and a hard place. My walking on eggshells comment is more about how rapidly things seem to escalate atm. I love the idea of a joint weekly meeting where tasks are allocated. Now, I have a marathon session where I try and plan for DH, au pair and DC then nag them all week. Not good for anyone.

DC are involved as much as is practical in childcare decisions. Having an au pair is their choice as it's the only way they can do after school activities. I hate leaving them in the care of someone they dislike and who is sloppy, forgetful and untidy - they are entirely safe etc, etc - and I'm sure my lack of options and guilt around that is causing a lot of my personal stress.

Twinklestein Tue 23-Jul-13 18:00:58

Ime threats have to be immediate to have effect OP. Don't get drawn into 'if you do x then y will happen next term' because it doesn't mean that much to them - and they take a risk hoping you'll forget about it when the time comes.

Like PollyCazalet - my h & I have weekly 'board' meetings we call them.
We look at running a family like running a small business & therefore everyone has to have clearly defined roles/ tasks, including the children.
We are not above spreadsheets. And we have a list of tariffs for misdeeds on the fridge.

If you both work full time, then your husband has to do half of the operational duties - which is more than just bins & clearing up: it's the planning & the responsibility that are important.

I work full time too although I get home relatively early (I'm currently off, just having just had an operation), my husband works quite late.

I gave up on au pairs, if you get a good one all is great until she leaves & then you get a crap one & have added stress of trying to find a replacement. I got fed up of having to nanny the ones who had never left home before. I found a local English girl to come & help daily & who can drive.

Twinklestein Tue 23-Jul-13 18:04:26

I should say it was on the fridge, but I put it away in a file as I found it rather oppressive...

scottishmummy Tue 23-Jul-13 18:20:57

You and dh sit down with to do list eg outstanding appt,and diaries you thrash out resolution
You book new au-pair can you get a recommendation?i see dh does some stuff around home
He factors in his 5day extra to you AL to accomodate family demands.get a spreadsheet of tasks

Twinklestein Tue 23-Jul-13 18:45:00

The other thing is you need to write down lists of the tasks involved in running the house, because some guys don't have a clear idea of how much that adds up to, because their mothers did it & then their wives did it. As long as you're doing it, he can reassure himself that you're not doing much more than him.

If it's all written out - he can see from himself.

scottishmummy Tue 23-Jul-13 18:54:02

We do planner all appts etc covered by one of us.we discuss if either has big project/big week
If there is a big thing on the other person will accomodate have to act like cohesive team
Re: behaviour,plan nice family time.friday no cook,trips away.reward the good try ignore bad

Rolfey1978 Tue 23-Jul-13 19:02:15

Hi all, new here, am lost lol...what's all these abbreviations mean plz? Dh and ds and dd etc?! Help?

scottishmummy Tue 23-Jul-13 19:11:23

Well you've mastered lol,stay clear of Hun,bubba,lil man and you'll no go far wrong
mn acronyms
Dh/dp=dear partner/husband
Ds-dear son, dd -dear daughter

Rolfey1978 Tue 23-Jul-13 21:21:07

thank you for letting me know smile

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