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DP struggling to adapt to life with baby - any advice?

(23 Posts)
dustbuster Wed 17-Sep-08 17:19:20

DD is six months old - absolutely gorgeous and has been a pretty easy baby up until now. DP and I are going through a really rocky patch though, and it would be good to get perspective from those who've been there.

On the whole I've really enjoyed becoming a parent, and am happy to adjust my life around DD. I've been on ML up until now, but will be going back PT next month. DP has got used to me being around all the time to take responsibility for childcare and chores, I am trying to ease him back into domestic life, but it's a bit of a struggle so far.

He does a lot of voluntary work, and that always comes first. I think he has the sense that this is more important/worthwhile than domestic stuff, and this is leading to loads of rows. I agree that it's important to have a life outside of work/children, but think that home life needs to be top priority, at least while DD is so little.

Feel a bit like we have lost our connection and are pulling in different directions at the moment.

Do I just need to chill out and let him come round in his own time? Or should I be cracking the whip a bit?

kama Wed 17-Sep-08 17:24:37

Message withdrawn

dustbuster Wed 17-Sep-08 17:28:35

We have always struggled a bit with chores - doesn't everyone?!

Although we are very much on the same wavelength in some ways, we are very different in others. Pre-baby we got round this by giving each other lots of space and independence, obviously this is a bit harder now. I think it's about finding ways to negotiate chores/childcare, and making time to do our own thing BUT hopefully have a bit of family time too. Impossible?

Umlellala Wed 17-Sep-08 17:37:26

Get a cleaner once a week?

dustbuster Wed 17-Sep-08 17:42:20

Excellent suggestion re cleaner but he is vehemently opposed - that would be a relationship breaker!

alarkaspree Wed 17-Sep-08 17:54:05

I think in the division of house-type chores it really helps for each of you to have responsibility for specific things, and to play to your own strengths/priorities. So if possible, try to agree with him that he does tasks that are important to him, then he's more likely to do them. And DO NOT criticise how he does them, especially when it comes to childcare, or he will become less and less motivated.

It's quite common for men to find it hard to connect with very young babies, and once your dd gets a bit older he will probably find spending time with her easier and more fun.

SmugColditz Wed 17-Sep-08 18:05:27

So ... by refusing to clean, and refusing to have a cleaner, what is he saying about your relationship? "I have thought about what you are worth, dear, and I have decided that you are going to do all the cleaning. End of discussion."

he won't ever say it, be sure of that. But that's the way he is living!

SoupDragon Wed 17-Sep-08 18:06:34

My gut response to the thread title was "tell him to f-ing well grow up"

which isn't really very helpful I'm afraid.

georgimama Wed 17-Sep-08 18:08:40

So, he is opposed to a cleaner ("a relationship breaker") but thinks it is reasonable for you to do housework, childcare and domestic chores as well? No wonder he doesn't want a cleaner, he's already got one - you!

You could go on domestic strike until he realises that you cannot do everything.

Why all the voluntary work - is it partly to make him look good? And would he look so good if his associates at voluntary work knew he kept a domestic slave at home?


dustbuster Wed 17-Sep-08 18:18:27

Thank you for all your messages. I suppose part of the problem is that he doesn't really think that housework is that important - he would happily let it pile up and just do what is absolutely necessary. I am not exactly houseproud, but I suppose my standards are slightly higher (e.g. I would aim to hoover once a week).

I honestly don't think he would mind if the bathroom wasn't cleaned for six months!

Likewise with cooking - he would happily eat chips or ready meal every night.
So he can and does turn around and say that I am creating the work - and in a sense that is true.

Good advice alarkaspree - this is what we are trying to do. You are dead right about not criticising too - this is a tough one, but I must bite my tongue!

Cathpot Wed 17-Sep-08 18:36:13

My husband was and is similiarly rubbish around the house, for the same reason - he really really doesnt care about it, while being in a dirty messy house winds me up. When I was working we had a cleaner and that sidelined the issue. Now I am not working and am full time childcare for our two DDs it does at times get me down. Its not that he wont do it, its that I have to ask and I hate being cast as a nag.I know it is easy to just pile into the DP here and say he is being rubbish (and my DH), but the whole baby thing is a huge adjustment for everyone.

Essentially you've a brought another person into the relationship, another person who comes first, is very demanding and as others have said, do not at this age always seem this rewarding to men. Those early months are very hard, tiring and relentless and neither of you will have as much time to be caring , forgiving, loving or understanding as you might have been in pre children days. My DH really didnt cope well with the initial year of our first DD but was hugely better with the second as he knew the baby bit does end. The key is to convince him it gets easier and easier - have him talk to a primed male friend of older kids perhaps??

I remember at the time feeling hugely cross with him for not realising how hard it was for me and piling in to help without having to be nagged, but I am with a bit of distance from the hectic early days, more forgiving. He lost me in those first few months and it was hard for him; he wasnt at his best and I wasnt ready to hear about his needs as I was only just coping with the baby's and my own.

Not sure if this rant says more about my state of mind than your cleaning issues but just wanted to say I expect he is a good man being a bit of a pain rather than a horrible man being true to type.

2point4kids Wed 17-Sep-08 18:58:19

My DH is very similar in that he doesnt care or notice if the house is a tip!
He wouldnt notice if I never cleaned the bathroom and the hoovering could be left a long long time before he'd notice etc too.

I am a SAHM at the moment with 2 boys 2 and under so I'm pretty busy during the day and dont have a lot of time for all the cleaning myself!

What has worked well for us is me asking DH to do the odd jobs that he does place a value on around the house, for example loading the dishwsher at night. He cant argue that the dishes need cleaning! Or washing and sterilising the bottles or even putting on dinner as we need to eat! I do the grocery shopping and meal plan, so can just say to him 'Do you mind sticking the dinner on while I get the baby settled? Theres pasta in the cupboard and sausages and sauce in the fridge'

Does he get home before your baby goes to bed at night? If so, would he be better at bathing and putting the baby to bed while you do dinner?

Another thing that helps us is to let things go a bit during the week and both of us just relax after the boys are in bed. Then on a weekend I'll ask DH to take them to the park for a couple of hours (you could ask your DH to take the baby for a long walk?) and I blitz the house - clean bathrooms and hoover etc so I feel better that its all sparkling.
Then when he gets back we all have a family day going somewhere or doing something.
Sometimes though, he takes them out for a couple of hours and I have a quick half hour clean then sit on Mumsnet with a cuppa till they get back grin

Fizzylemonade Wed 17-Sep-08 19:21:22

I agree about the blitzing, I am a sahm with 2 boys 5 and 2. When Ds2 was born I just didn't seem to have time for housework and it was awful to be exhausted and sat in a tip.

It is amazing what you can get done when you are not having to deal with a baby, so my suggestion is like 2point4kids is to either get DP to take your wee one out on a weekend or take over when he gets home so you can have an hour to do stuff.

I think it is important to make your DP understand that while housework is not important to him it is to you, maybe try to find something that he finds important (like the volunteering) that you don't find very important so he can see it from your side.

Plus when your little one starts crawling and shoving everything they find on the floor in their mouths he may take a different view hmm

BornToRun Wed 17-Sep-08 19:44:49

Sorry but am with Soupy on this one he is struggling to adapt, jeez, you've had a baby, your body, hormones, mind etc have been through a blender and he's struggling! He is very, very lucky that you are so concerned about his welfare!

Cathpot Wed 17-Sep-08 20:06:51

That is absolutely how I felt about my DH borntorun, I had no sympathy at all with him at the start, but I also fell in love with my baby day one and ran on loved up baby hormones through the next few months of tedium and broken nights . He didnt have those hormones, he fell in love with our baby over the probably the first year. At the start he just had tedium, broken nights and a milky smelling dishevelled stary eyed exhausted wife. Yes I would have loved it if he could have tended to my every need but he did his best and at times it wasnt good enough. Not everyone marries men who are great domestically and usually this is not an issue until children arrive and throw every thing into sharp relief. We then have to deal with the hand we chose so to speak.

I am not saying incidently that dustbuster's DP is being reasonable, I am saying that I dont think what she is having to deal with is unusual. It would have been more useful if I had stuck to the point and offered good practical suggestions like 2.4kids about getting the time to do the chores. Also remember generally it does get easier as the kids get older.

cmotdibbler Wed 17-Sep-08 20:17:56

This is my usual advice on this: sit down, agree the list of jobs that need to be done each day, and then decide who they belong to. Then you don't have to nag about it, if he doesn't do his agreed jobs its clear, and you can just ask when he's going to do whatever. Men seem to like this approach (its what my Dh came up with when I went back to work)as they don't have the same 'floor needs hoovering' radar, but will look on their list and think 'ah, hoovering today'
and get on with it. A menu plan can work really well with this too.

dustbuster Wed 17-Sep-08 20:19:31

Thanks for the practical tips 2.4 and fizzylemonade - this is just the kind of thing I had in mind.

Cathpot, your posts are actually really helpful and perceptive. I think this is my DP to a T - he is a good, very principled man, and he loves me and DD, but he is struggling to adapt and I think feels a bit at sea. It is spot on to say that I am focused on DD's needs and my own. He does feel neglected and like he has lost me. I have tried to reassure him that things will change and get better, but I guess this is hard for him to believe at the moment.

It's so helpful to hear that other people have been through something similar and come out the other side.

dustbuster Wed 17-Sep-08 20:22:09

Ah, good plan cmot!

I am trying to allocate him tasks that need doing regularly (DD's bath, washing up) so that he doesn't have to think about whether it needs doing or not. I have "reclaimed" lawnmowing for this very reason - he won't accept it needs doing until it's kneehigh!

expatinscotland Wed 17-Sep-08 20:22:26

I'm no help at all, because I'm with Soup and colditz on this one.

dustbuster Wed 17-Sep-08 20:36:51

Don't get me wrong, I have said "grow up or f-off" in the course of several arguments. But it doesn't get me anywhere, because of course he doesn't turn around and say "oh yes, good point, I will".

I could say, bugger off I'm going it alone, but if this IS just a phase that some men go through, isn't it better to stick at it and hope things improve?

Cathpot Thu 18-Sep-08 10:33:03

Oh yes stick with it, and yes things improve. I am typing this because DH has a day off and has just dropped DD1 at preschool and taken DD2 to the beach and said to me as he left 'dont do any cleaning, take a book and a picnic and go out somewhere'. There are still things we clash about but he now expects to have the kids while when i want to clear up. He doesnt do jigsaws or playdough type activties but he does do bike rides and trips to the swings. I have had to think about this a lot recently because I know at the end of the day he doesnt feel about the kids I way I do, but he does love them, he does love me and I didnt marry him for his domestic skills.

I really think if you can acknowledge how he is feeling (in a calm moment!)reasonably explain about how you are feeling and do all the practical stuff people are suggesting that things will settle down. It is of course hugely irritating to have to 'manage' your man like this on top of everything else, but as you say shouting at him that he needs to get how you are feeling, isnt going to do the trick. 6 months is a real turning point as well in terms of babies starting to do more and more interesting stuff.

My DH is much better now the girls are older, he enjoys them much more and I dont think he is that unusual. As things have got easier we have got back our old relationship in at least similar form. Hope things go well for you.

dustbuster Thu 18-Sep-08 11:15:00

Thanks so much for taking the time to post, Cathpot - this is very reassuring!

ConstanceWearing Thu 18-Sep-08 11:23:11

Yes, we do all need a life outside the home - that includes you as much as him. We also need a life inside the home, that includes him as much as you.

Personally, I would sit down and tell him that altruism begins at home. I would put up with about ten minutes of his attitude, sorry.

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