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What is a fair distribution of tasks?

(10 Posts)
workslikeadog Thu 21-Apr-16 12:51:05

So I am a full time working mum of 2 kids age 8 & 11(almost double time as I work in the consulting industry with projects involving demanding clients so external facing). Often working on projects 50 - 60 hours a week at times.

The upside is that I work at home and so does my husband (similar line of work and even more hours but internal facing). He also works at home. We both try to share my daughter's school journey 20- 25 mins each way - sometimes gets a school bus - she is 8 so doesn't like too much of this.

My husband feels he contributes enough in the house - he does the ironing (on a sun night in front of TV), he potters in the garden,mows lawns and generally hacks everything back, books and usually chooses the tesco food shop and sometimes loads and unloads the machine and tumble dryer. Occasionally will complete a specific task such as search for and renew car insurance if asked. Apart from this if he does have to go into office for a day - he will just get up and dressed and take himself there. I have never known him to get out food in prepararyion for the evening - if left to it - he would probably do bolognaise or buy fish and chips as a "treat".

On top of my v demanding job, I buy all of the kids clothes, military plan all of the activities of which they are many (as kids v sporty), socials with other parents, plan meals, load washing machine numerous times, check uniforms, shoes and bags and supervise homework for next day, attend all school meetings/sports days/school events, research and book all holidays, also sort finances as he hasn't a clue about this (despite being the maths brain) - ok so you get the idea.

Today I completely lost it when my husband walked into my room as I was working and moaned again for the umpteenth time that he can never find the calendar because its always in my room (as I am the one always updating it as I attend to the plethora of email from schools/sports etc). I know I know - it sounds so petty but I completely lost it. Not one word on appreciating how much I do, (as he believes he does just as much and more than most blokes), but just complains that I don't put things back or in a sensible place.

We do get a bit of after school help for the cleaning and ferrying to clubs but restricted really.

If you work full time alongside husband, do you have a fair balance of tasks? how do you achieve this? is your husband amenable and proactive in what needs to be done or are assumptions that its "your job" just made?

And of course - am I being unreasonable? Right now I could pack my bags and walk off into the hills and never come back.

Uncoping Thu 21-Apr-16 13:20:15

He does more than my ex ever did!

What I'd give for someone to cut my grass!

He probably doesn't do the things you do because, well, you do them.
Have you told him you think there's an unfair balance and tasks need to be more evenly distributed?

Joysmum Thu 21-Apr-16 13:39:41

Fair division of labour is not about what you do, it's when both has equal leisure time.

workslikeadog Thu 21-Apr-16 16:04:00

Uncoping - thanks for your reply - I guess thats why he is your ex hey?! i don't think I could be married to someone as lazy as that either. I have told him how I feel but often he is often very busy with work so its difficult to get any kind of agreement out of him. He assumes I will sort all of the babysitting requirements, kids activities because "you have the networks and connections to do so". But thats because he doesn't involve himself to start with and remains focussed on just his stuff at work. I have the same workload and my job is as important but if I don't do these extra bits, then no-one will and the children will suffer for it.

JoysMum that is a very good question about leisure time and admit has made me think a lot thanks. I would say that some nights we are both working very late into the evening after kids in bed, some nights he will stop and do his thing regardless of whether I have household /admin stuff to do - his view is - we have to stop at some point. So whereas he uses his work time as as his excuse not to get involved in as much as I do - I have to relinquish my free time when work is busy. He has been told by his superiors during appraisals that he needs to find a better work/life balance. He needs to invest more time at home and less at work. He is able to go away for a week on his own with friends this year leaving me to it - in fact it included 2 weekends and despite my protests has booked another 8 days next year because he "needs it". I could equally do the same but I know that the kids wouldn't get the same level of care so I restricted mine to a long weekend only. Why can it not just be equal?

Joysmum Thu 21-Apr-16 16:14:02

Ah, I feel your pain. I used to have a workaholic hubby who did nothing at home. The housework, not so bothered, but it was everything else stressy that I could have done with him thinking about too to take the pressure off.

It was only the death of his dad (having already lost his mum) that made him reduce his hours. I'd told him he didn't need to work that much, he said he was doing it for us. I called bullshit because we are comfortably off and just wanted time with him so he was doing it because HE wanted to and not to pretend otherwise. He now only works occasional weekends and delegates trips abroad. We are much happier as a result.

Disappointednomore Thu 21-Apr-16 17:31:01

Yeah we both worked full time. He would come home and throw himself on the sofa and turn on the TV. I was a boiling mass of resentment. He left me and now I do everything.
It's easier now as I don't have to clear up after him and there's nobody lying on the sofa to make me feel resentful.

DoughNut12345 Thu 21-Apr-16 17:53:21

Works- you are very lucky, both me and stbxh work full time. He does nothing! Hence one of the reasons we're getting divorced. He doesn't even do 'man jobs' like diy, decorating and gardening. Drives me completely insane. He's very good at watching telly, scratching his balls and looking at porn though! Bless him......

AmyAmoeba Sat 23-Apr-16 08:02:00

Excellent point Joysmum! I suspect OP that you and your DH are working off different definitions of what's fair and figuring out what those definitions are is half your battle.
The downside of Joysmum's position is that the more efficient partner gets more done in the time given. That can breed resentment too.
Without articulating the principal so clearly I adopted it as a sahm and started sitting down at the tv in the evenings. I couldn't "make" him do more but I could take a share of downtime. But the downside is that a lot of stuff doesn't get done so it's not a perfect solution.

I wonder if it would help to write down what you are both doing and look at it in black and white and just sit down and negotiate for fair conditions
But before that, have a good think about the underlying issues too. I mean stuff like the expectations of each other's roles that you both bring as baggage to the marriage, what money means and represents to you both in terms of power or contribution (is one of you earning more?), how you both view the value of paid versus unpaid working hours in terms of family contribution. The more thought you give to these subtle differences in your thinking the more effective you'll be at both figuring out a fair solution and crucially recruiting him onboard your solution willingly!
It's very powerful in negotiation to be able to listen and reflect back what is being said e.g. " what I'm hearing is that you feel xxxxx , is that right?" because being heard and understood is far more important at a basic psychological level than getting what we think we want!
This isn't something to have a full blown angry, dig your heels in fight about or you'll be struggling with these issues for the rest of your marriage. Be smart in how you approach this and make him part of finding the solution instead of making him the problem iyswim

And take all the above with a huge pinch of salt as its a lot of hot air from someone who still hasn't sorted out these issues in her own marriage! blush

curren Sat 23-Apr-16 08:11:04

There is no definite answer to this.

I don't even think leisure time is an indication of it.

I also think it's fluid and changes.

It also depends on the two people involved. I am the one that organises DC hobbies. Because I do it too. I am heavily involved in the club. So tell dh what's going on.

Some parents don't feel every activity needs planned to the last detail. Or that lots of activities are needed.

If you as a parent want lots of activities and the other doesn't, then I think it's down to the one that's wants them to plan it.

Same as I don't iron. So dh irons the bits he insists do need ironing. I actually pick clothes based on wether they need ironing or not.

I hate having pots in the sink, dh would rather do them all at once after dinner. So I do bits during the day. I don't expect him to do things how I want to.

I feel we have a good division of labour. But I think it's more down to being considerate of each other.

By the way we don't have a perfect marriage, it's been a long bumpy road but feel we have been in a good place for the last few years (after almost divorcing).

It also much easier to be fair with it when both people are on board and thinking in the same way.

Ragwort Sat 23-Apr-16 08:25:15

I don't expect him to do things how I want to.

I think curren makes a really good point; sometimes it seems that women (mostly) expect their DH/DP to conform to their standard of household maintenance/bringing up the children etc etc.

No relationship is perfect, and yes, clearly some men are very lazy but I do think there can be an element of martyrdom in the way some women expect their domestic lives to run ........ everything has to be done their way and then men tend to abdicate ........ women get angry and it becomes a viscious circle.

In our marriage DH is far more the 'hands on parent' then I am, for example today he will spend all day and evening with our DS doing sporty things, I am off to the gym and meeting a friend for lunch smile - I have been up early, put the washing out, will do some cooking later tonight etc but I don't go round counting up each minute of housework/childcare that we each do as if it is some sort of competition. confused

I have a friend who counts up the items in the pile of ironing, divides it in half and insists that DH does half and she does half - regardless of what else is going on in their lives hmm.

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