Settle an argument between me and my friend!
He thinks I’m doing too much at home, that my wife expects too much of me, and is worried I’ll burn out – I just think I’m doing my best to support my wife while we both do equally demanding jobs.
I work full-time, my wife is a SAHP to our 18mo DS, mostly through circumstance (she lost her job, our childminder quit) but she was happy for the chance to spend more time with our DS and knows she can go back to work any time. I was a SAHP for a few months when DS was a baby but am now back at work and we’re just about surviving on my salary.
Being a SAHP is completely draining, and my partner – while loving the time with our son – is understandably exhausted most days, and often reduced to tears by the unrelenting nature of full-time childcare. I’m out of the house from 7.30-6.30 but around that I:
- do bedtime every night
- do all night wakes
- do all early starts until I need to get ready for work and my wife takes over
- do the majority of childcare every weekend so she can have a break (we try to have at least a few hours’ family time together though)
- do the big weekly shop
- change the beds every fortnight week
- do what housework I can when I’m home, including a big clean at weekends, plus cook the following day’s dinner the night before when possible
My wife goes out at least a couple of times per month with friends and I keep encouraging her to plan more things in the evenings so she can get a bit more adult company and not feel like all she does is childcare! I probably go out either with work or socially one evening every 4-6 weeks, but am always home to put DS to bed and am aware that it’s a long day for my partner otherwise. I’ve been taking my annual leave as the odd day here and there so me and DS go out somewhere and she gets a whole day off, which she appreciates although these days are obviously few and far between. One weekend I took DS away overnight so she had the whole weekend to herself.
Most of my dad friends say their stay at home partners did or do all the night wakes so they would be better prepared for their work day. One friend in particular is worried that I’m often tired and thinks it’s unfair that I do so much when my wife ‘doesn’t work’. But the way I see it, my wife’s work day is from 7.30 until 6.30 with no breaks (except the hour or two when DS sleeps), whereas I get an hour commute each way, only work from 9-5.30 and usually get a lunch break! Yes, I’m tired, but I’m still able to function at work and I know my wife is doing the harder job so I’d rather she was as rested as possible – I know she often feels very frustrated at home, or doing the same things day in day out, and obviously an 18 month old isn’t always the easiest company.
My wife has dinner on the table when I get home every day, whether she’s had to cook it or is just heating something I’ve cooked the night before. She does lots of laundry and keeps the house as clean as she can with a toddler around. When I’m home, I see it as my responsibility to do everything else she’s not had time to do, and to give her a break! Admittedly I don’t feel like I get much of a break myself but I want to support my wife, love spending time with my DS and miss the days when I saw him all day every day, so think it’s worth the sacrifice. Surely this is just what it’s like when you have children? But from what I hear, the majority of working men seem to expect their stay at home partners to do the lion’s share of house-related tasks as well (not to mention all the childcare, even after doing that for 5 days a week)? I can’t compare anecdotally with working women with stay at home partners as I don’t know any socially or at work.
So who is BU? Me for thinking this is normal and should be expected, or my friend for thinking this isn’t normal or the sign of a healthy partnership?