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Sharing domestic and family duties

(37 Posts)
ElPasoDoble Fri 30-Sep-16 14:09:40


Can I ask how you share out domestic and family things? DH is a senior teacher at a big secondary school. The workload is immense and getting worse. I work part-time, and I've had a couple of periods of maternity leave in the last three years, so there's been a large amount of time where I've been at home and therefore able to cover appointments, childminder holidays, keep on top of domestic things. We have three children, including twins.

I've recently gone back to work, and I've realised that it may not be possible for me to cover all these things using leave and my employer's good will. Management has changed where I work, things seem a lot stricter. Is it fair to ask DH to find out if he can take any time off for the occasional thing? One of our children is under a paediatrician for an ongoing health problem which is unlikely to be resolved soon. One of the specialists he sees is only available on a day that I work. It's been intimated to me at work that it's unfair to my employer for me to have to do it all when I've got a partner. I can see their point. DH refuses to ask as his work is busy. So is mine. My job is lower paid and part-time, but it's no less important. I do all night wakings as well. Which really annoys me because surely I have the right to go to work fully awake sometimes. But he's on the verge of a nervous breakdown with his job so I feel obliged to do everything. But I can't piss off my employers.

Anybody else in a similar position? I feel like his job is taking over our lives. Everything is dictated by how busy he is. In terms of time, the job comes first, the children second and me third. Any teachers out there - are you able to take time off sometimes? I sometimes try and arrange things for the school holidays and my days off, but it's not always possible. What if we were both teachers, what would we do then?

I've tried to make home life as easy as possible for him. I do all cooking, shopping and keep on top of the house. We have a cleaner because I insisted if his work was going to take up so much time.

I'm just getting a bit fed up. But he's on the verge of a nervous breakdown because of the job sometimes so I don't want to moan at home. He used to love his job, but changes to everything are really causing problems. But he wouldn't be as highly paid anywhere else so a change of career at the moment isnt possible.

Any words of wisdom?

Topseyt Fri 30-Sep-16 14:31:48

I am not a teacher but my parents both were. Admittedly they are both long retired now.

My Dad was a primary school headmaster. He always said that in urgent situations family must come first. I don't think that allowing a staff member to take their own child to a medical appointment once every few weeks would have been a problem to him. Nor to my Mum either.

Neither my sister nor I had any ongoing medical issues, but on the very odd occasion when something did happen one of them was always able to be there, take us to the GP etc.

Your DH does need to ask where he would stand on this. My experience was only my own parents, but surely most schools or even any other employer will try to be accommodating to staff members needing time off occasionally to take their own children to hospital appointments?

He is still their other parent even when he is at school.

RealityCheque Fri 30-Sep-16 14:46:57

Sorry but your job IS less important. At least in terms of family income. Is sucks but that's the reality.

This won't be a popular view on here however but out in the real world this is how things work.

RiverTam Fri 30-Sep-16 14:51:58

No, in the real world every employee is important to their employer, regardless of their income or hours. At DH's workplace they have hugely cut back on the number of people they allow to go part-time following maternity precisely because of this - the families regard the part-timer as less important, which of course fucks things up for their colleagues and employer.

OP, it is not your job (at least not without a proper discussion beforehand) to facilitate your DH's career as the expense of your own job. He chose to have children, therefore he chose to be a parent, therefore he parents. If his job doesn't allow him to parent properly he needs to change roles to own that does. Brutal, but if he wants to be Dad he needs to step up.

ElPasoDoble Fri 30-Sep-16 15:11:02

Reality - yes, my job is lower paid. But no, that doesn't make it less important. You don't know what I do. And to my employer I'm just as important as he is to his employer. It's none of their business whether I'm the lower earner in my family or the higher. They can't take that into account, and rightly, they want the time off that I sometimes request at very short notice to be shared. To them it's unfair that it's always me.

Topseyt - thanks for your thoughts on growing up in a teacher household. DH did too. Everyone in his family are teachers - sister, brother, parents, a couple of cousins. I have thought how would I feel if my child's teacher had half a day off for their child's medical appointments once in a while. I don't think I'd mind.

River - yes, I agree, he chose to be a parent so he should parent. To be fair to him, he doesn't like the way things are, and he does get all his school holidays with them, which I admit is a massive positive. But for the other 39 weeks I can't always come second.

TheNaze73 Fri 30-Sep-16 15:25:15

Sorry but, I agree with reality

WordGetsAround Fri 30-Sep-16 15:33:36

I think you need to make some hard choices. Something has to give. Does one of you need to give up work for a period of time? Who's would this be? Would you go back full time to support the family and he can avoid a breakdown? You might need to downsize to reduce your monthly outgoings? If your setup at the moment is not sustainable, then something has to change.

ElPasoDoble Fri 30-Sep-16 15:38:08

Again, to my employers, my job is not less important. If I continue to do all child-related things that happen during the working day, i will lose my job. Or, at the very least, be passed over for more responsibility and promotion. Some might say that the best thing would be for me to give up my job. But I need my job. I need my pension. And my best friend was left up shit creek after giving up work to bring up my family and her husband leaving her. I'm just wondering what others who may be in a similar position do. And having a bit of a rant.

Also, who's to say what makes a job more important than another one? Is the brain surgeon more important than the nurse? OK, one has skills and qualifications that are found in fewer people, and the other may be easier to replace in terms of finding somebody with suitable skills and experience, but both are necessary and important,

ElPasoDoble Fri 30-Sep-16 15:40:31

I could go full time, but if DH went part-time we wouldn't be able to afford the house. And with (unexpectedly) three children, it's difficult to downsize from what we have.

It's a difficult one. My immediate solution is for him to find out if he can ever have half a day off for the very occasional appointment and go from there. But he's unwilling to do this because he assumes that I'll sort everything.

Alwayschanging1 Fri 30-Sep-16 15:56:10

So the lower earner should pick up all the jobs parenting jobs that happen during work hours?!
Shit - I wish somebody had told me that years ago!
I've always earned more than DH but also had to my fair share of this sort of thing.
I should have just waved a wad of cash in his face and told him to do get on with it - and then flounced off to admire myself for being so much more important than him.

corythatwas Fri 30-Sep-16 16:09:01

Reality, that is

a) a very short-term view; we are not taking into account the OP's need to build up a pension etc.

b) dependent on whether the family actually have to have an income as high as they do through the dh's job

When I was a SAHM, dh (who was in a far less well paid job than the OPs dh) went down in hours so that I could develop my career. It was about playing the long game, we both knew we could survive on lower income for a shorter time with a little economy, but wanted to avoid a situation where the family would be destitute if anything happened to dh. It was also about avoiding a situation where I had a breakdown because my life was so unrewarding. It was recognising that we were both equally important, our wellbeing was equally important, and we both needed to be in a situation where we could support ourselves. We did have to be very careful about money, but it's paying off now- when the dc are old enough to be really expensive (HE looming).

It also means dh has a very close relationship to his grown-up children, because he was there when it mattered: there in A & E, there to fight their corner over SN provision, there in the middle of the night when they were ill or unhappy.

rookiemere Fri 30-Sep-16 16:52:27

How many days a week are you working OP?

I totally hear what you're saying, but I know when teachers post, there's a bit of a quid pro quo where - in return for the long holidays - teachers are not expected to take any time off in the term. Therefore I do think that for term time appointments the buck unfortunately does stop with you.

How often does your DC need to see the specialist? Could you swap your days at work for this - paying for extra childcare if needed. Can you get back up childcare for when your Childminder is on holiday - I arranged cover through her with a friend of hers who was also a CM and that worked out well.

In return I'd outsource or make a fairer split of some of the other responsibilities. No - it's not fair that you are expected to do all of the night wakings, your DH should be doing a share as well. Tell him that he will need to do at least a couple of nights a week, or both nights at the weekend.

Any more of the housework you can outsource? Send out any ironing. Get your DH to be responsible for one of the domestic chores - say the laundry.

As your DH does get a fair whack of holidays, perhaps you could take the majority of your time off at a different time - thus leaving more room for appointments and things as he can cover the holiday ones. Could you also put as many appointments as possible into the school holidays to try to create some space?

I do feel for you, I was and am in a similar situation. DH is a contractor so if he doesn't go in, he doesn't get paid. Luckily (fingers crossed) DS is generally a healthy child who slept well , but it's not always easy to juggle it all. I remember confessing to another DM that my first thought when DS tells me he feels sick isn't "poor thing" instead it's "OMG is he going to need to be off school. What meetings have I got tomorrow? Can I do them from home? Do I have time to go in and pick up the laptop?" Them's the breaks unfortunately.

gildedcage Fri 30-Sep-16 17:03:02

I was in exactly this position. I also have three children in very close proximity age wise.

I have a professional job but I also work part-time. Inevitably if the children required appointments or were ill it would be me picking it up. I also did all the dropping off and picking up for nursery, school, swimming etc...

I did this for years. Until one of my children was off school for a week, work was jumping up and down. In the end my dh had no choice but to pull his weight cos I either went to work or I lost my job. To put it into perspective my dh has to get someone from another part of the business to cover him, who may have to travel a great distance to do so. However it was my dh who said if he was ill they would have to find cover so it can be done. Now we share's not 50/50 but he does a great deal more with regards appointments etc.

Could you afford not to work? Not suggesting that you don't work but rather put in those terms to him. Either he helps or you'll lose your job. Would he care?

WordGetsAround Fri 30-Sep-16 17:03:39

When I was a teacher, no way would we have been allowed to have regular monthly time off for personal reasons. And we had a really considerate head. The cost of cover and disruption to pupil learning would make it prohibitive. I'm not surprised your DH doesn't want to ask about time off - it's really not what happens in schools. You get 13 weeks off a year, but the pay off is almost no flexibility. You can see that on here all the time, when teachers end up missing really important family occasions because of their job.

Naicehamshop Fri 30-Sep-16 17:14:13

Word - who said anything about regular monthly time off? My understanding is that the op was asking about occasional time off in emergencies.

I work in a school and the head (male) does have the occasional morning or couple of hours off for family emergencies.

ElPasoDoble Fri 30-Sep-16 17:24:40

I work three days. I try and fit as much in to my two days off as I can, but some things are impossible to do with all three children.

I might try and find some potential back up childcare to try and get more into my days off. Our regular childminder is full, but she may know somebody. Money could probably stretch to that occasionally.

I totally respect his job as a teacher and the limits on him (which is how we've made it three years into parenthood without this coming up) but with an unexpected third child, and one who has some medical issues, I have to think about it more. It's just the complete dismissal of how difficult im finding things. If I'm busy at work, he's busier. If my boss is putting the pressure on, his boss is worse. He assumes that all the domestic stuff will be done, and it is. I do all cooking, all cleaning, all shopping so that he can get his work done in the evenings and hopefully have some time with his children at weekends.

It's difficult. I have a feeling he'll quite teaching one day. Hopefully that'll be before the stress makes him ill.

ElPasoDoble Fri 30-Sep-16 17:27:13

And yes, the medical appointments are occasional, not monthly. Hopefully as DS gets older, appointments will become less frequent, but the hospital is difficult to get to and DH is the one who has the car, which means I have to take longer off because of the journey there and back. So what could be leaving at 2 for him to make a 3pm appointment and be home about 4, it's leaving at 12.30 for me and not being home until after 5. So a half day rather than a couple of hours.

juliej00ls Fri 30-Sep-16 17:31:23

Having worked in lots of schools at all levels there is no school that would not allow staff off for a child's appointment at hospital. How pleasant they are about it is another matter! Same as most jobs I guess. This is part of a bigger picture about what your husband sees as a fair split. You both have very different views. That's the sticking point. Your husband would be wise to consider that having 2 careers on the go in a household gives it greater long term financial security. You should not be forced to leave work. What would he do if you decided to go full time?

Topseyt Fri 30-Sep-16 17:35:39

I am with you OP.

I do think you need to lean on your DH to find out what his options are. Teachers are parents too. Teachers do have to ensure that their own children's medical needs are met. That might on occasion mean that Dad is required to attend the appointment too. Headteachers know this too.

If your DH explains his circumstances to the headteacher (assuming that he isn't the headteachergrin) then he will very likely find that they have heard it all before and he isn't the first).

I suppose in teaching the problem can be having cover for classes, but with these appointments you often have several weeks notice so things can be juggled.

Your job is not less important at all. It is additional money and a safety net for your family. If for instance DH was unable to work for a time then you would be the main breadwinner. Perhaps you are only lower paid because you have gone part time and he hasn't?

I spent years as a SAHM. I also spent years looking for suitable work once my youngest was old enough and I could go back. That means I spent those years on the bones of my arse, with a DH who has never been out of work in 30 years and who was incapable of understanding why I couldn't just wave a magic wand and pluck income out of thin air. I did find work eventually, but wouldn't wish that time I had on my worst enemy. I wouldn't advise anyone to risk putting themselves in the position I ended up in.

Protect your job. DH has to step up occasionally, or at least find out what options he has so that he can see how he can be of support.

There have been times in my children's lives when I flung the comment "they are your children too" at my DH. Usually when he expected me to do all of the taxiing around for all three of them at once.

NataliaOsipova Fri 30-Sep-16 17:38:22

It's really difficult, isn't it? I think teachers do have it hard on that score for, although they do get the long school holidays, they don't get any choice over their time off. And s lot of schools seem to be very strict about it. One of my friends is married to a teacher; she's a SAHM but it's exactly this point that puts her off going back. Same for me to some extent- DH and I both worked in an area that requires long hours and travel at the drop of a hat. Two of you in that situation is almost impossible when you have children to consider.

I agree with Reality too, I think - you have to be quite calculating about whose job brings in the bulk of the finances. Funnily enough, a friend of mine has had to have serious words with a chap who works for her for exactly the same reason. She said she felt bad and understood that he had kids who needed his time- but the problem was she was paying him to do a job that he just wasn't doing because he was picking up his kids etc etc. So it's not always something that falls to the woman and hinders her career.

gildedcage Fri 30-Sep-16 17:39:27

I'm sorry but I don't think teachers are under more commercial pressure than any other industry.

I cannot say the type of industry that I work in for fear of outing myself ( woman +3 children +working part time = gold dust). There is certainly no flexibility, time is money after all, however your child being ill is not an option. I'm sure there are plenty of teachers who are single parents etc who don't always have someone who can pick up the slack, but there are always ways and means.

Becomming parents is a decision you both made.

ElPasoDoble Fri 30-Sep-16 17:41:18

No, he's not the head. I've never met his head, but he sounds like a nice guy. I just want him to ask. One of my managers is understanding to a point, but while he's not asked for the time off ever, it makes me asking more difficult. If I could explain and say he's asked, it's a no, at least we've explored all the options.

And yes, potentially, if I'd stayed full time, my salary would be almost as high as his by now. I took a step back because there's more potential for him to earn more.

NataliaOsipova Fri 30-Sep-16 17:42:02

They aren't under commercial pressure - but you don't have the option of asking to take a day of leave for a child's appointment in the way you would in many office jobs.

Topseyt Fri 30-Sep-16 17:46:48

Just read one of your updates.

I know he is stressed. It is a major reason many teachers are leaving the profession in droves.

If he dreams of leaving and retraining for something else then tell him that this will be possible, but only if he enables you to protect and keep your job going in the meantime.

That may entail him taking his child to the occasional medical appointment, which may fall during school hours.

rookiemere Fri 30-Sep-16 17:48:21

Can't you just lie and said he asked if it makes things easier?

I can understand why you're a bit stuck by this but other teachers on the thread have said that it's a big no-no to ask for time off during term.

I really think you should focus on the other stuff - getting him to do some night wakings/more domestic chores, and see if its possible to swap days off to support specialist visits - even if it costs the family an extra day of childcare, then that's perhaps what is needed now and then.

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