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How can we fix this? Should I stop working?(78 Posts)
Sorry if this is long...
I guess our story may be familiar to many. DH works in a stressful, long hours job. He travels quite a bit too. During the week, he isn't really available to help with any aspect of DC or housework. During the weekend, he is tired and also has 'projects' around the house which he would like to get done so even then doesn't really help or engage very well (in my view).
My job is senior level and stressful too but I work part time (three days). On top of my job I do all the DC and housework related stuff. So I get them up, ready and fed in the morning, prepare school bags and packed lunches, get to work, rush to fit my work into an eight hour day, rush home in time for nanny finishing time, do homework with them and bedtime.
On top of this, one of our DC is quite challenging and doesn't sleep well. She struggles to get to sleep at night and I will often still be trying to settle her at 9/10pm (she is 5). She usually doesn't sleep through the night and comes to us - DH and I take turns sleeping in the spare room to accommodate this. All of this means I don't get much time for "chores" (never mind dinner or relaxing) in the evenings and I do things like laundry and other housework on my two days off while youngest is at pre-school for three hours.
So I suppose there are a multitude of issues here, but the upshot of it is that DH and I don't spend much time together, DH doesn't spend much time with the DC, and we are all very tired (except the youngest DC who sleeps beautifully). I also end up feeling resentful as although I work part time, I think shouldering the burden (mental as well as practical) of everything DC related is something DH underestimates hugely.
So where do we even start to fix this? I have suggested I stop working as it will reduce stress, give me more downtime and at least make me feel less resentful about picking up all the home stuff. It's completely feasible financially but DH is strongly opposed as he believes me working adds to the family financial stability (he is very risk averse), he thinks it is good for me mentally to work, and he doesn't want me to waste my degree... I have also suggested he change jobs but he likes his work and is paid very well so he's not keen on that either.
Are we missing a trick? What else can we do? How do others who struggle with similar scenarios solve this? Getting DC sleep sorted would lessen the burden significantly but we have really tried most things on that front and there is certainly no easy solution.
Any thoughts gratefully received.
Do you like your job? When I was a full time sahm I didn’t like it, even though I had more time to get stuff done. I’m not sure giving up your job would help the mental stress. It sounds like your DH needs to become more involved - especially at the weekend. Why don’t you develop some ‘projects’ you need to do? Sleep deprivation is a definite killer though and if you could get that properly sorted you would feel much better. I’m sure you have already tried but would a sleep fairy type reward system help? It did with my son when he was younger. I would maybe take one of the sessions your youngest is in nursery and do something just for you and then housework when else you can. Your husband needs to pull his weight at home if he wants you to work.
Don't give up work. This is a short/medium term problem that you will solve bit by bit, with practical solutions and your dcs just developing and getting more independent. When that has happened you will be glad to have your senior role, part time job, your independence and a source for your own sense self worth. You just have to work out a way through this difficult patch to the other side.
Don't stop working!
You have a senior level (presumably well paid) job on part time hours.
You'd be crazy to give that up!
Money isn't a major issue if you can give up work.
- tell him to stop with his "projects" at the weekend. 1/2 day of hobby time if he wants to put his projects in that. If they're more DIY stuff not for fun - outsource.
- outsource more of your housework
- does your 5yo actually need much sleep? Mine had a bedtime of 21:00 at that age, she's never needed much sleep. If I'd tried to settle her before I'd have been up and down for ages too! It's a massive long reply to talk about sleep and you say you've tried things - so I won't go into that here. But you need to look at it - you've said yourself that it would make a major difference. I cosleep with my 8yo, we both like it - though she sleeps alone at her dad's and happily goes on sleepovers, and goes to another room when we're on holiday or staying with my fiancé. I firmly believe that one married partner should not move out for a child. It's bad for your marriage. Get a super king size bed, stop the midnight visits, put a single in your room too...
- extend your nanny's hours so that she does the homework and you are not rushing to get home. Just an hour extra on those three days means you don't feel stressed about the time, and can even grab a coffee on the way home for 30 mins of quiet time
Don't give up work.
You reduced your work hours so that your DH could play with his projects instead of doing housework or childcare. More fool you.
If he wants to do his special projects he can reduce his hours to accommodate them.
Now is the time to point out how fucked up it is. He has to do his share at the weekend. Projects come second.
My immediate reaction is don't give up work too.
Could you pay to have these projects of his done? I expect you could but it wounds like he does them as an excuse to avoid his family
The truth of the matter is the young child years are a bit of a struggle. And that's with two fully engaged parents
Put your foot down with your DH. Right now he gets the advantage of your additional income along with you doing all the childcare and housework. I had a DH like that. I was working PT too....
His job is so stressful and he travels. Well your job sounds far more stressful and if he wants to keep that second income he needs to pull his weight more because it's a matter of time until your employer says something.
What would happen if you were working FT? It sounds like you are in a role which has good hours if you are working 8 hours a day.
The 5 year old is going through a normal phase. We have a king sized bed that easily fits DH and I, the 3DC and the dog.
That's a resounding vote for don't give up work. It is in fact a really good job - I like my boss and my team, it's not the career I dreamed of but it is interesting enough, and well paid.
To be fair the "projects" are not a hobby but things which DH would argue are important house stuff that needs to get sorted. There's always something, ranging from trips to the recycling centre to putting up pictures or fox-proofing the garden. And I am not arguing that they are not useful things to get done, but it just takes away from family time on weekends.
Every couple of months I lose it and tell him he has to help more, he is contrite and promises to do whatever job I assign to him (which annoys me in itself because half the burden is 'owning' the whole schedule). He will then, e.g. promise to take on the laundry from now on, which lasts a few weeks until he starts forgetting and I start doing it and it unravels again.
Thanks for those with sleep suggestions. Generally with everything we've tried (e.g. a reward chart, a reading light, audio books) it works for a bit until it wears off (kind of like my 'deals' with DH...). Plus she's genuinely scared when she is alone in her room which is very difficult to address. I'm toying with the idea of giving up on everything else and just co-sleeping but I do have to consider the younger one who is very good at bedtime but would I am sure also like to sleep in our bed if his older sister is allowed to do that.
I expect there's probably a big part of "just having to get through" this phase, although I must admit I wasn't expecting to still be dealing with sleep issues five years on.
You giving up work will not solve the problem of your DH rarely being "available" to participate in family life. That's a problem that only he can fix, and it appears that he's not willing to.
Have the nanny do one of your days off, so she is responsible for the pick up from nursery and does the whole afternoon. This gives you a full day to get 'jobs' done. The second day you are off, you then have those three hours when your dc is at nursery to yourself. This will make your weekends more relaxing as you will be ahead of yourself and will have had time to yourself.
Do not give up your job, this period of time is short and when both are at school you will suddenly have two full days free for you
The issue is not your work, don't quit! You are lucky to be able to work part time and have 6 hours a week child free time- this in theory is more than manageable to get everything done and enjoy some time out.
The issue here is your DH- your workload will seem a thousand times more exhausting when your living with someone that could help you out but chooses not to. Of course you should do most the household/childcare as you have more time but it sounds like he doesn't do anything?? Sit down and have a talk with him and tell him you're feeling burnt out. Is there 1 day a week he would be able to take over doing tea and putting DCs to bed? Or give you a lie in at the weekend?
I’d buy in everything. You’ve got the wage between you to do it. Start by listing everything that needs to be done house/child wise
Odd job person to do skip runs or hang shelves. All of DHs projects.
Cleaner who might iron
Eat out once or twice a week or get someone to cook for the family a couple of days a week.
Allocate a family day. Sunday’s?
Allocate a date night and buy in experienced baby sitter who can deal well with difficult sleeper.
You’ve just reminded me - my eldest was a terrible sleeper and hated being alone in his bedroom so we put him in a shared room with the youngest who was a great sleeper. It really made him relax having someone else in the room and he slept much better.
If you can afford to give up 3 days senior level salary you can afford help around the house. Simples!
We've talked about putting the DC in together to sleep. In fact we might trial it during half term. Risk is eldest bad sleeping habits will rub off on youngest though!
Agree we could do with buying in more help. I don't want to buy in any more help with DC as I already suffer from terrible working mum guilt feelings but we could increase cleaner's hours and find someone for DH's projects.
Looking at it from DH perspective, I do think maybe he finds it quite hard to 'blend back in' to family life after a week at work and maybe the projects are a way of dealing with that. Our eldest daytime behaviour can also be tricky at the moment (related to lack of sleep I think) and he does find that harder than I do. But if he wants to do projects I feel he could at least direct his energy at things that are actually essential to keeping the home running (such as laundry) rather than clearing old paint tins out of the shed.
Lots of stuff to think about.
Just think about why you have working mum guilt. Is it because you feel the burden of doing all the housework while working or is it that you want to be spending more time with the DC?
There is a lot of sexism in the U.K. when it comes to motherhood compared to where I am in living in America. Nearly all mothers are working here with a minority who stay home. It's not seen as a status symbol to have a SAHM like it is in the UK. It's seen for what it is, a personal choice.
I fear your DH is being passive aggressive about forcing you into a housewife role. Mine was doing the same until I stood up for myself and put a stop to it. How hard is it for your DH to fit back into family life?!? Really it's not hard. You grab a laundry basket and crack on. He could also do the dishes, clean the floors or just take the DC for a walk.
sevendays listen, this is how it is. This is life with small children. It’s a bit shit quite a lot of the time. Accept it, lower your expectations. It’s about getting through the day. And it will change.
You and your DH work hard, you are setting a really good example to your children. You can afford help. Get more help. Lighten the load of domestic drudgery.
Whatever you do you will be plagued by guilt. You can’t win. You need to learn to live alongside it. Give up work and chances are you’ll breed a festering resentment.
Can your nanny do the occasional overnight? And you get away to a local hotel? Sounds like you need a bit of emotional recharging.
Get a super king bed. If DC ends up in there but you all sleep, then great. Not sleeping is a massive issue.
Honestly, it will be fine but you do have to sit it out. Take the positives. You have many.
As someone out the otherside, it just gets better.
Do not feel guilty about paying for more help.
Increase the nanny's hours. Get her to do packed lunches and drop offs. Offload as many domestic chores onto her as you can, i.e. Children's laundry, buying supplies for lunches, changing kids beds and prepping their evening meal.
Get a sleep consultant in to help you sort out your 5 year olds sleep. They work.
I would sort the sleep, that would be having a huge affect on your abilitlity to cope.
Outsource household chores, if your DH cant contribute physically and earns well, you could get a cleaner who also does your ironing. Can your nanny stick a load of washing on? Get your shopping delivered .
Your DH also needs to step up at the weekends, can you have one day for chores/projects and one day just for fun?
Giving up your job will impact your relationship more since he will expect you to do everything and then might resent you being at home..especially if he is status orientated.
Has the 5 year old just started school? It could be an adjustment to new routines which will get slightly easier...although I would say easy!
p.s agree that life with young kids is just hard whether you work or not!
Last year after a weekend of chores I upped our cleaners hours, she now does some housekeeping type chores like cleaning the cupboards out, the fridge, puts all clean clothes away.
We also got a new nanny who mucks in and takes so much of the burden from me (kids clothes are perfectly organised!), this should be standard but our old nanny got really lazy after 4 years and whilst she left of her own accord, it was actually a relief. New nanny is also an excellent cook and a couple of times of week cooks a big stew or lasagne which we have for dinner too. One less job!
Life is transformed with a bit more help (and the kids are 2 and 5 now so getting easier)
It will get better but the mental load that women have will take generations to change I fear. Despite working full time and being hte main breadwinner I still somehow end up organising most of the domestic arrangements.
I bet he changes his tune if you start doing the runs to the tip/DIY at the weekend.... Seroiusly, he needs a kick up the arse, and a forceful reminder that this is, too, his problem to solve.
Thanks Foxy, you make good points and I know we kind of just need to get through it. Just hoping to get through it with my marriage intact which seems to be the challenge at the moment.
We've tried a sleep consultant Nat, that was two years ago though so maybe we need another 'intervention'. At the time it moved us on a bit (DD no longer coming out of bed) but not enough (still shouts for us, scared, doesn't go to sleep).
Our nanny is really brilliant and does quite a lot of the stuff mentioned above already (children's beds and meals etc), not quite sure how there is still so much left to do all the time but it feels like there is. I accept I have relatively high standards in terms of clean/tidy house, clothes folded, toys sorted
although it's nothing compared to my DM and the immaculate house I grew up in. Lowering standards would be obvious except I find mess really stressful.
But I guess our major issue here is zero downtime in the evening because we are so consumed by bedtime antics.
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