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Dividing chores when you have a toddler. Or maybe a relationship + PND thread, I dunno

(87 Posts)
DaddyDumkins Mon 10-Nov-14 15:25:07

Hi, I'm a long-time lurker, could do with advice and sense of perspective. DD is coming up to 18 months old. I work f/t, DP is SAHM. Things seem to be going downhill.

I do pretty much all the cooking and washing up, and all laundry, bins, tidying, hoovering etc, and sorting out the bills, rent, etc. We did (at my insistence) split things, e,g. I'll be responsible for arranging electric, phone/internet and rent; you do council tax and water bill. But after those didn't get paid for a while I ended up doing them. I don't think I have high standards - I did try relaxing and ignoring the washing up (like DP said to) for two weeks, but at the end of the two weeks there was a big pile of washing up and some meat sitting on chopping boards, so me and her mum spent an evening cleaning it.

I have a flexible job which means that I can stay at home to help, but then I'm storing up trouble for later (e.g. I can do no work now, and it won't show up until my contract doesn't get renewed because I haven't got enough done). Plus, if I stay at home and look after DD so that DP can get some housework done, or look for a job, or something else she wants to do, then she spends the time either in bed or watching things on Youtube or Buzzfeed etc. So it's bad for my job and doesn't achieve anything anyway.

So instead I've tried to concentrate on work and leave the housework till the evenings, which just leaves DP to do the childcare and fixing meals for her and DD while I'm out. But that's not working either. E.g. as I left for work this morning (late!), DD was up and running around the bedroom, while DP was on her iPad. So they didn't get to playgroup until 20 mins before the end. Now it's 2pm and they haven't had lunch yet. DP hasn't made anything, and is talking about going to the cafe downstairs, which we can't afford every day. And anyway now there's no chance she'll have lunch, then a nap, then get out of the flat before it gets dark. This isn't a bad day - it's normal or even a comparatively good day. Quite a lot of days they don't get out of the flat at all, and still haven't thought about cooking tea when I get home at 7 or later. So then I end up cooking, and still have to do the washing up and the rest afterwards.

Now DD is going to a nursery 1 day a week (which we can't afford on my pay, so using up savings) so that DP can do other things, start looking for a job, etc. But so far she hasn't done anything with those days, just had a long lie in and played on the iPad and things.

We can't seem to talk about it. If I say anything too early it's "I'm doing it, stop hassling me". If I say anything late in the day then it's "Sorry, yes I know. Next time it'll be better." But it never is. FWIW it's not just me that's worried - her mum wanted her to go to the docs too. So she went to the GP about PND, and did the (Edinburgh?) questionnaire. She came out borderline, just under the score for cause for concern. She went to another docs (we moved in the meantime) and it was pretty much the same. So it doesn't seem to be a PND thing exactly.

Please can someone tell me IABU, or that I'm being controlling about things (e.g. I'm worried about DD not getting attention, or proper food, but maybe that's being obsessive), or that this is all normal, or something? And if it's not, is there anything I can do? Getting worked up about it clearly isn't working, but I feel like things are getting a bit desperate now. I alternate between feeling worried about DP, and feeling like she's just being lazy and leaving me to do most of the work.

DD breastfeeds a bit still, especially to sleep most nights. That was probably a pretty important detail to leave out! So maybe I'm really misrepresenting how much work DP does. But anyway, I guess that's one of the things I'm asking. There's probably more relevant info/backstory about how things got to this point, but it's already long and rambling!

APlaceInTheWinter Mon 10-Nov-14 15:54:09

It's difficult to judge 'normal' as parenting and being a SAHP are so different for everyone. Breastfeeding can be tiring. I found it stole time and energy in a way that I didn't really understand until I was in the midst of it.

When I was breastfeeding and at home with an 18 month old, we went to a class most days because (for me) if I didn't have that to aim for then I could have easily passed the day at home without noticing it. I also made a point of going to a shop or a cafe just to get to talk to another adult. It can feel very isolating to be at home.

You've said you're concerned about your DP and her mum is concerned about her. Is your DP concerned about herself? Did she want to ask the doctor about PND? I think that's very relevant. If she doesn't feel herself and wants help then she should go back to the GP because regardless of the scale, she knows herself best. Does she have friends? Do they share your concerns?

I know I haven't focused on the housework issue but I think it's a symptom rather than a cause.

muddylettuce Mon 10-Nov-14 16:16:43

It is worrying that your 18 month old isn't getting fed at mealtimes (my 18 month old needs feeding 6 times a day! Varying amounts obviously). Although my parenting style is hugely based on routines, your dp just might not function that way. Having said that, I think there is something else going on here, she sounds depressed pnd or not. I also scored borderline on the pnd questionnaire but am pretty sure I was just a regular anxious first time mum so I am not sure how much sway should be given to it. The above poster hit the nail on the head really, does she feel her usual self, how does she feel she is coping? You need to talk to her, not about housework, about how she feels. I work part time, dp full time and usually the housework is perfectly manageable on my own, cleaning while dd naps etc. Dp does of course do some. I think the housework issue will resolve itself if and when you get to the bottom of what is really going on. X

DaddyDumkins Mon 10-Nov-14 16:19:29

Thanks APlace,

>> Is your DP concerned about herself?

Sometimes she'll say yes, if pushed, but sometimes she says she can't see what the problem is.

>> Does she have friends? Do they share your concerns?

Not locally, no. We've neither of us ever had loads anyway, and we moved to a new area in the summer. Kind of hard to meet other mums when you don't get to the groups or the playground though. And if I try to shove them out the door to get to things then it's yet another thing I'm nagging about…

DaddyDumkins Mon 10-Nov-14 16:29:25

Thanks Muddy, yes I'm worried about that. Otherwise I'd just do the leftover housework no problem, things would just be messy which is fine. HV came for first visit (new area) last week, but didn't have scales so no weigh-in, but DD is quite slight (though we are/were(!) too) though also tall and strong so not particularly worried atm.

APlaceInTheWinter Mon 10-Nov-14 20:47:28

I think muddy's idea to talk to her about how she feels is a good one or to create the opportunity where she can talk to a friend that she trusts. She's had a lot of adjustments with a move on top of having a baby. I know you've had to make them too but you are going to work so have a ready-made network in a way your DP doesn't. I could see how she could be feeling a bit lost.

If you're genuinely worried that your DD isn't eating enough then can you leave some finger foods out where she can reach? I wouldn't be worrying about the lack of routine. Some mums swear by everything happening at a set time and some don't. DCs usually ensure they don't starve smile

Maybe a visit to her friends back home would help to re-energise her? It's a bit of a double-edged sword that she has no friends yet as lots of people rush round tidying like mad for visitors but she doesn't have that impetus and if she's embarrassed about the house then she'll be reluctant to make friends and bring them back.

The HV could help massively tbh. If she is any good at all then she'll pick up on how your DP is feeling and be able to reassure you about whether it's normal or a cause for concern. My HV was also absolutely brilliant at keeping me informed about all the different groups in the area and that might spur your DP on to try some of them. If the HV doesn't offer that advice automatically then do ask her for it. There might be a special interest group that will appeal to your DP eg baby yoga; buggy-fit; breastfeeding network.

Try not to fall into the trap of acting like her DDad or her boss. If she's struggling then the best help you can give her is to just help with no fuss and fanfare. (I'm assuming too that the housework, etc, wasn't an issue before your DD came along and hence this is a marked change and not that you've all just suddenly became more bothered about the house being tidy because she's at home all day).

TheLittleOneSaidRollOver Mon 10-Nov-14 21:16:27

Even if she doesn't have PND, she is clearly suffering from some kind of mental ill health if she is not able to take care of her child properly.

Instead of talking about what she is doing / not doing maybe you could talk about whether she is happy or not. Clearly she is not happy.

Counselling for her?

Quitelikely Mon 10-Nov-14 21:23:31

Sorry to say but if she doesn't have depression then she is just being bone idle. Look for a job? Hmmm how is she going to do that if she can't be bothered to serve up lunch!

You aren't being controlling. I mean yes the childcare aspect can be draining and I understand that but IMO you need to have a serious chat.........

Longtalljosie Mon 10-Nov-14 21:28:47

Oh blimey. Poor you, that sounds incredibly stressful. What was she like before you had your baby? What work did she do, what did she like to do, was she pulling her weight with the housework?

DaddyDumkins Mon 10-Nov-14 23:32:30

Thanks for the replies! It's nice to get things in perspective.

>> If you're genuinely worried that your DD isn't eating enough then can you leave some finger foods out where she can reach? I wouldn't be worrying about the lack of routine.

Thanks, I'll try and relax about any routine. I genuinely don't know if I'm being melodramatic about the food thing or not. As you say, I'm sure she'll ensure she won't starve. But put it Muddy's way and it looks more worrying, and I think it's nearer that end of things. She'll eat loads if it's something she likes, but it often takes a bit of effort.

And thanks for the other suggestions APlace. I've suggested fixing up a visit to an old friend not to far away with similar aged little ones.

>> Instead of talking about what she is doing / not doing maybe you could talk about whether she is happy or not. Clearly she is not happy.

Well, we've tried talking about that, but she says things are okay, actually.

>> What was she like before you had your baby? What work did she do, what did she like to do, was she pulling her weight with the housework?

We were both in a field and job type that is hard to get ahead in, involves taking work home all the time, and mainly offers only (at our career stage) short-term contracts of a year or maybe three if you're lucky. (But it also, especially in my particular area, offers great flexibility, perfect for childcare arrangements etc (though only if things are going right...)). Anyway, about three years ago she decided she'd had enough of that and went for a lower grade job, where work can be left at work, as her heart wasn't really in it. And she quit that when we moved here, after going back from maternity leave for a couple of months (had to as the commute would be too far, and anyway didn't enjoy it that much). She used to say she'd rather be a SAHM anyway. That's fine, I guess, but if things don't work out with my career, which they won't if I can't put in more time at work, we're going to be fucked when my current contract ends in a couple of years. Housework-wise, things used to be fine. Especially now it's all come to a head, she'll say I used to be more of a slob (though I was never that bad, and I've always done the cooking).

And thanks Quitelikely for channelling the voice in my other ear. I'm afraid I may have said something to that effect after a particularly bad day, which obviously didn't help, and which I now regret.

>> I understand that but IMO you need to have a serious chat.

Yes, I'm trying to understand exactly how! I don't have any experience with depression. I do know about getting stuck in a rut, and being disorganised and unfocussed. But I just don't understand how someone can acknowledge that some things are important now we have a little one, but still not bother to do anything about it. That's what makes me doubt whether they really are important. Does it really matter if she gets proper meals, or gets out in the daylight, or has clean plates to eat off, or clean clothes to wear, etc etc? Maybe it's all in MY head?! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!

JackieOLantern Tue 11-Nov-14 00:06:37

YANBU to expect more for your DD than being stuck in the house most days, not getting fed well and being ignored while your DP is on her iPad. As a SAHM myself I think that is pretty shabby. She is really just not even trying by the sounds of it.

18 month olds are hard going too though as they are all action but need a lot of supervision still so she may just be finding it very hard right now. From what you say though it doesn't sound like that. You're not coming home every day to find her in floods of tears with chaos all round, it would seem.

So I think, yes, your DD deserves more from a full-time at-home parent than what she is currently getting but it's not clear why your DP is finding it so hard to do what should be done.

Is she bored? SAHM life can be quite isolating and dull unless you have a strong social network. Maybe you need to sit down with her and try to talk in a non-blaming way about why she is so disinterested in her daughter, in working or in anything it seems. Try to approach it in a way that shows you're worried about her, rather than that you're blaming her.

APlaceInTheWinter Tue 11-Nov-14 09:42:51

Clean clothes, clean plates, fresh air and daylight are all pretty essential for a DC imo. (It's ok if clothes end up dirty - in fact that can be a good sign of a busy, fun day - but they should start clean).

The lack of interest in your DD is harder to call. Perhaps she does entertain and educate your DD when you're not there but as soon as you come home, your DP feels her slot is over iyswim? Maybe she is struggling because she always thought she wanted to be a SAHM and now realises that actually it doesn't fulfil her. She wouldn't be the first person to have come to that conclusion but tbf most people who come to that realisation don't just opt out of everyday life in the meantime.

I wonder if we're approaching all of this from the wrong perspective. Are you having relationship problems (other than the obvious disagreeing about how she spends her days and looks after your DD)? She could just be incredibly unhappy with her life. Did she not want to move? Either way, even if your relationship is otherwise happy and secure I'd still be encouraging her (possibly via the HV) to go back to the GP. Something seems to be sucking the life out of her and that isn't fair on anyone. It's also not really sustainable when she's your DD's primary carer.

I'm guessing you'd have noticed if she was lazy or idle prior to this point so that's not the automatic conclusion I'd reach. It's lovely that you've encouraged her to meet up with an old friend but could she possibly do it without your DD? She probably won't offload with the DCs there.

I have friends and family with depression. What they need if they're feeling low is to know that someone cares about that. That they are valued. They have different strategies to address the medical implications eg one takes medication and will be admitted to hospital. Another is quite quick to identify signs and opts for exercise, healthy diet, etc. The MH boards on here could help with suggestions on how to offer support, get help and whether or not they would consider your DP depressed. (Disclaimer - diagnosing over the internet isn't effective but their strategies might be).

DaddyDumkins Tue 11-Nov-14 19:59:38

Thanks folks, So after another day of the same, I came home all intending to get DP to talk about how she's feeling, but she still says no, she doesn't feel down, just tired maybe. I got frustrated and started going on about it again, and for better or worse ended up showing her the thread in an effort to get through. She agreed the description was about right; maybe I was a bit unfair as she did empty the bins, but broadly accurate. But she thought things were getting better; I'm not so sure. But on the plus side it's more out in the open, and DP has gone to a zumba class for the second week running.

Tallypet Tue 11-Nov-14 20:16:52

I don't think she's depressed. She's lazy mentioning emptying the bins is just to get you on side.
She'll continue to be defensive because IMO she knows she's in the wrong.
By now she should have some sort of routine with your DD. Feeding your child is basic parenting. I don't understand why you should have to "lay out finger food".
TBH I think your DP is getting it easy here. If you were female posting about a male DP there would be a lot more comments that don't revolve around pussy-footing to this behaviour.

You work FT, she doesn't. She has enough hours in the day to feed your child and do some basic housework. There are no excuses. She is stuck in a rut. But you keep bailing her out. As does her mom.

If situations were reversed I'd be telling her to grow up, look after DD or seek medical help (if she actually needs it).

DaddyDumkins Tue 11-Nov-14 20:59:15

Sure, the comments in the reverse situation would be no nonsense. But it's not the same, right? An outside job is freer and less isolating, and that's without the effects of pregnancy and breastfeeding. You may well be right, but either way I have to convince her things need to change. They didn't leave the house today, DD waited 7 hours between breakfast and lunch (though BF in between), no plans for tea when I got home so I made it. I've just given her a bath and she had a very full nappy and a nasty nappy rash. I'm flipping between anger, despair, and still thinking perhaps I'm making a mountain out of a molehill.

Tallypet Wed 12-Nov-14 07:32:29

You need to get a health visitor in as soon as possible. I might sound dramatic, but your daughter is being neglected and DP needs some educating.

DaddyDumkins Wed 12-Nov-14 10:29:51

Thanks for the push, I will phone the hv at lunchtime

APlaceInTheWinter Wed 12-Nov-14 10:55:58

tbh Tally the OP's DP could be someone who posts here. If she was, and if she said a few months ago that she felt she was doing too much, she could easily have been advised to go on strike which, a few months later, would have led to exactly the housework situation they're currently experiencing.

As for the finger food suggestion that I made, that was to try to allay the OP's fears when he is at work. It wasn't a solution. The solutions I proposed were involving the HV; going back to the GP; giving the OP's DP the opportunity to offload on to friends, and visiting the MH boards on MN.

I hope the chat with the HV goes well. If your DD wasn't fed for seven hours and was left sitting in a soiled nappy then you definitely need help to put working strategies in place.

Quitelikely Wed 12-Nov-14 11:14:37

Is this for real? This is neglect! I certainly wouldn't leave my child in that house every day with someone who CBA to feed her or Chang her nappy!

DaddyDumkins Wed 12-Nov-14 11:20:57

I'm sure DP is not on here, and we haven't had anything like the strike situation. I've been doing the bulk of things since DD was born. That was absolutely fine at the start as DP found breastfeeding a real struggle and put a lot into keeping it going. It would be okay now too if I was doing everything morning and evenings so that DP and DD could make the most of the daytimes. APlace is quite right that I have been as bad as DP is now, and worse, in the past (with the exception that I've always done most of the cooking), e.g. when I was a student.

DaddyDumkins Wed 12-Nov-14 11:27:11

She does feed her, and she does change her nappy. That 7 hours included a breastfeed. I think she needs changing more regularly, and I think she needs feeding better timed and proper meals, and snacks, and fruit, and I think she needs to get out and do nice things. But "neglect" is going too far.

APlaceInTheWinter Wed 12-Nov-14 19:43:42

Did you speak to the HV? I must admit I've been worrying about your DD today. The thought of her going seven hours with only a breastfeed and having nappy rash because her bottom hadn't been changed made me quite concerned. and I know I've been trying very hard to give your DP the benefit of the doubt on this thread

DaddyDumkins Wed 12-Nov-14 20:44:13

(Prev reply got eaten ehen i posted i think...)

I could only leave a message for HV, waiting for call back. DD's day at nursery today. Thank you so much for checking in, but not much else to tell atm. I'm on way home from work so will see how things are shortly.

Happymum1985 Wed 12-Nov-14 21:59:32

Just to clarify you are NOT being unreasonable. Just reading your post stressed me out- I feel really sorry for you. What is she actually contributing?? I breastfed and that didnt mean that I was then incapable of doing anything else... The fact you have tried on numerous occassions to talk to her about it and she has done nothing is worrying too... How is your relationship suffering?

furcoatbigknickers Wed 12-Nov-14 22:16:57

Its very hard to make a judgement on this. Perhaps dp is lazy or just worn out or depressed or has lower standards than you... Although some things have got my eyebrow raised.

On the bf thing, is it that dd is filling up on this and prefers it to food? If so I wouldnt worry.

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