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He Relaxes, You Work. WTH?

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Notes from a New Mom: I have a question for all the stay-at-home moms out there -- or should I say, all the moms who work their BUTTS off at home: Do your partners/husbands/boyfriends seem to think that while they're off working away from home, you're eating bonbons and watching soap operas, your kids are entertaining themselves, the laundry magically gets folded and put away and the house just mysteriously stays clean?

Mine does. In fact, I think my guy believes that we have our very own episode of "Bewitched" going on over here. He doesn't seem to think I'm actually really working -- folding laundry, doing dishes, cleaning the house, making bottles, blah blah blah. He also doesn't realize that, while he has the ultimate luxury of taking a no-less-than-ten-minute shower every single morning before work, I take at most a two-minute shower -- with the shower curtain open, so I can watch my baby and make sure she doesn't fall out of her highchair. (Yes, I put her in the highchair while I shower.) 

Perhaps my guy's "It's magic!" theory is also the reason why, when the weekend rolls around, he actually feels he deserves to take a two-day break while I continue my workweek (doing all of the above). Then, when I ask him to do something (like the dishes, etc.), he says, "But Baaaabe, you've been home all week." WTF, dude! 

This is how it goes down in my house on the weekends: Stay-at-home mom ... actually, let's call her Samantha, in honor of "Bewitched" ... Samantha scrubs the floor, does the dishes, does the laundry, puts the kids in a bath, puts them to bed, etc., and just generally keeps the house and the kids sparkling clean and happy. Meanwhile, works-outside-the-home partner ... um ... Derwood (another "Bewitched" tribute!) sits on the couch relaxing, playing with his new iPad, reading and watching the game (ugh, is it football season AGAIN?!). 

My question: What can I expect from my working husband? When I say, "Dude, can you help clean up a little?" he responds, "But I'm just relaxing! You've been home all week; I've been WORKING!" 

"And what I have been doing -- getting my nails done?!" I say. 

"Well, at least you got to take the baby to the gym," he says. "They have daycare there. At least you get THAT time to catch up with yourself. At least you get to be at home!" And then he asks, "Can I invite so-and-so over for some burgers tonight?" And he's surprised when I smirk and walk into the other room! Wait a minute: I think we are on two different pages here .... What the hell?!

Seriously, am I missing something? Is my job supposed to be 24/7 while his is a mere 8/5 (he works 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday)? I'm guessing your answers will be no, but I see it happen -- and not just in my house. Moms, should my husband and I divide up duties on the weekend, or is my job really 24/7 and I should just keep my mouth shut about it? I'm beat.

next: Parents Speak Out against Son's Fake Arrest
53 comments so far | Post a comment now
Leah September 27, 2010, 5:17 AM

As a former I can CONFIRM being a SAHM is not real jobs - you operate on your own schedule. And it’s not 24/7 - get over that. As for less than 10 minute showers -don’t know what you’re talkinb about but that doesn’t start until you go back to work. Want a longer shower, take one at night when the kids go to bed -then you’re up and ready first thing in the morning.

When you choose to not work and stay home the house/kids become your job - so yes, when husband gets home from working his butt off to support you it IS your job to have the house clean, kids under control. If you don’t like it, go to a real job and split the house/childcare duties. You can’t expect to choose not to work AND not be responsible for the kids/home.

Alison September 27, 2010, 6:21 AM

I have worked outside the home and have been a SAHM with my three kids. When I had my first two I stayed home full-time. It was busy, but I was there to take care of my kids and the house. That was my job. I didn’t really want my husband to help because he worked 12 hour days and was exhausted - I also wanted us to just play together as a family at night and on weekends. When my third child was born things changed a little because he had many developmental delays and I needed to ask for more help because I spent so many hours a day with only him and my other kids needed homework help in the evenings. I did work full-time some during this time ( he was in expensive therapy) it was incredibly stressful and exhausting. We eventually decided that it was better for our family for me to be home so we could have more relaxing evenings and weekends. I love my job being taking care of my family and I have learned to let some things go.

I try not to do any cleaning (except the kitchen) in the evening or on weekends. I relax with my family and get it done during the day. Sure, the house is a mess on Monday but it is worth the time with my kids and husband and I don’t feel like I am working while they get to play.

SAHMantha September 27, 2010, 7:57 AM

Yes, you work hard. And yes, this job is 24/7. That’s probably the hardest part, that we never get a break. But it is what it is.

SAHM to one  September 27, 2010, 8:33 AM

Meh. I SAH with our young baby, and I expect my husband to just pick up after himself. Meaning not leaving socks everywhere & magazines on the floor.

Beyond that it is my job. I just shower before my husband leaves for work & he enjoys 30 minutes with the baby. I even manage to put make up on & do my hair.

Then when my husband is at work I do what needs to get done. Often I put my son in a sling & do laundry or whatever.

On weekends & in the evenings we spend time together as a family. If my husband wants to relax so be it. I cant imagine the stress of supporting a family. He deserves time to himself.

I always just use one of my son’s naps each day to do what I want: read blogs, call friends, etc.

So yes my husband helps out, but I feel that he has no obligation to do housework at all. {except mow the lawn!}

Ilea September 27, 2010, 9:00 AM

As a sahm for almost 15 years I hear ya and I sympathize. Is our job hard? Not really. It just takes a little proper time management. Do I have days or weeks where that doesn’t happen? Of course. But when I manage my time the right way and can get my household “duties” finished I do have enough time to spend with my kids. And there are of course days where housework falls to the wayside and my kids come first. It’s all about balance. I don’t ask my husband (who works very long hours, is always on call, and travels extensively) to do any housework ie. laundry, dishes or toilets. If he does it’s because he wants to help out. However I do expect a level of partnership when it comes to the kids. Housework is my job but we are both parents. Give the little one a bath in the evening, help our daughter with homework, take Jr. to that college admissions meeting and so on. Because again we are both parents and his involvement with our children not only benefits them but benefits him as well. And it’s during those times that he is spending with the kids I may sneak in a little “me time” and my husband is okay with that. I’m happy, he’s happy, the kids are happy. It works out. So while some days as a sahm aren’t without it’s challenges, the benefits and joy far exceed those challenges. A spotless house dims in comparison to the happiness and well being of our children. So take heart my friend, and gently explain to your spouse/significant other the importance his role is to your child/ren. And while he’s playing peek-a-boo with your tot, head to Sbux, grab a latte and breath. ;o)

michelle September 27, 2010, 9:43 AM

Wait, so Leah thinks because a husband works outside the home he can completely check out of raising his children? Actually working outside the home is not that hard either. If it were, guys would not prefer to do it over raising their kids full time. Why should a mother work 24/7 and not a father?

Anonymous September 27, 2010, 10:15 AM

Taking care of kids is a job. If you hired a nanny/housekeeper, she would go home at the end of the day. If your kids went to a sitter, you’d have them back at the end of the day and none of the housework would be done.
So, yes, you definitely deserve time off at the end of the day and on the weekends, just as much as he does. You’re both parents and taking care of the baby is both your responsibility. Also, you will be a much better mother if you have time away from your baby.
Exactly what he does is between the two of you, but he needs to help with household chores and baby care when he’s at home. Things like doing the dishes or taking the baby for a while. If you’re overwhelmed because the baby is young, he can be in charge of laundry or pick up some groceries. On the weekends, it should absolutely be split down the middle.
New parenting is hard because it takes a while to adjust to the fact that there is so much to do and it won’t go away. Check out the book And Baby Makes Three for some tips on how to get along. Also check out Staying Home by Sanders and Bullen for some tips on the changes in your life.
You might want to talk to your husband about how tired you are and how much help you need, not make him feel criticized. He might also understand the argument about a nanny getting to leave at the end of the time. It sounds like maybe he doesn’t want you to stay home, so you might want to point out (when you’re not mad) that if you did go to work, whoever you hired wouldn’t be there 24/7 and he would have to split all the chores with you in the evenings and on the weekend and there would probably be more of them then there are now! If all else fails, point out that new moms who do too much are too tired for sex and see what he says.

Leah September 27, 2010, 10:45 AM

You’ve completely misinterpreted. I say as a SAHM it is our JOB to be fully responsible for a clean house and cared for children. I mean what else is someone staying home ALL day doing? It is not at all difficult and as someone else stated just takes very simple time management.

I never said the husband isn’t supposed to participate in the child’s life but after he has worked ALL day to support his wife (who is choosing not to work) no, he’s not obligated to do the lion’s share of housework. It’s the SAHM’s job. When I stayed home I NEVER cleaned on the weekends because I knew how to manage my time and get my JOB (Housework) done during the week.

em476 September 27, 2010, 10:50 AM

ok,I know a lot of SAHM get real defensive on this topic when you in any way deny that they have it rough, but I guess I just can’t see it. As a single mother, I just can’t see it. My daughters father tries to spend time with her, and help out with things like, watching her a while on my day off so I can get the yard mowed. Nice. I work full time at a very stressful job, with small pay for what it entails. I do this, because where I work I am lucky enough to have a wonderful babysitter who charges me at a rate I can actually pay each month. My house is clean. It sure doesn’t shine, but I feel safe having my new crawler picking at the floors. Dishes are done, laundry, I cook atleast one meal a day. I do my own yard work, quite a bit of any maintenance that arises around the house, ETC. I even get to go out 2-3 times a month usually. I sure have some days where I am just pooped out and think about how much I didn’t want to tackle the next thing, but I don’t feel sorry for myself or think about how “rough” I got it. I just don’t see how when you have all fricken day to do the dishes and get those 2 or 3 loads folded and put away is hard? Dishes are an easy chore. It just sucks. Laundry? other than putting the clothes in the machine, it involves nothing but folding, which you can do sitting in front of the T.V. and a 5min. put away. (And don’t start in on the kids make it hard to get these simple tasks done, if your job is to clean and raise kids solely, than they should each be helping fold a small portion of laundry and then helping put their share away and things like that) I’m sorry, I just don’t get it.

Annie September 27, 2010, 12:03 PM

Well said em476. Bless you and all single parents!

I think SAHMs feel the need to make it sound like it’s really difficult to stay home and like house work shouldn’t be part of their job. I was lucky enough to stay home with my first and NEVER found it difficult. Nor did I expect my husband to do house work since he was WORKING while I got to stay home! I had to go back to work with my second and if SAHMs think they have it rough, imagine having to take care of kids, a house and work full time - that’s rough!! My husband and I split the housework now that we both work, but when I was staying home of course he wasn’t expected to work AND do house work -that’s ridiculous.

Anonymous September 27, 2010, 12:36 PM

I used to tell my husband that I needed a break after staying at home with my children, and he didn’t believe me. Now, he is laid off and I am working full timeand going to school full time, and he is staying at home with the kids. Since he has been home, he has admitted that it was harder than he gave me credit for, and that sometimes he just needs a break.
That was wonderful to me that he validated that I wasn’t just lazy, but even though he is a “stay at home dad”, I still do all the shopping, all the cooking, about half of the cleaning and if it weren’t for my 13 year old, prob. all the cleaning (except laundry). So, I can kind of see both sides.
(BTW, I am terrible at time management if I don’t have a time clock, so staying at home is SOOO not for me!)

Anonymous September 27, 2010, 12:36 PM

I used to tell my husband that I needed a break after staying at home with my children, and he didn’t believe me. Now, he is laid off and I am working full timeand going to school full time, and he is staying at home with the kids. Since he has been home, he has admitted that it was harder than he gave me credit for, and that sometimes he just needs a break.
That was wonderful to me that he validated that I wasn’t just lazy, but even though he is a “stay at home dad”, I still do all the shopping, all the cooking, about half of the cleaning and if it weren’t for my 13 year old, prob. all the cleaning (except laundry). So, I can kind of see both sides.
(BTW, I am terrible at time management if I don’t have a time clock, so staying at home is SOOO not for me!)

Anonymous September 27, 2010, 12:44 PM

The reason it is hard for SAHMs to get housework done is that they have babies and small children. Babies need to be fed and changed all the time. Toddlers have to be watched so that they don’t kill themselves. Preschoolers help you do housework, but it doesn’t really help you get anything done, if you know what I mean. They add to the mess and then you have that to clean up too. On top of all that, babies and kids need to have someone talk to them, play with them, and take them out of the house. Then when the dad comes home, the babies/kids are still there. They need to be fed and played with and put to bed. If they’re small, you have to feed them again in the middle of the night.

REALMOM September 27, 2010, 1:12 PM

Leah~ your my girl, I agree. It’s your job as a SAHM to do the 24/7 work of being a mom and wife. It does not seem fair and yes your going to be tired. But that’s what it is. When you have babies you don’t really expect to get any sleep do you? i mean feedings at 2am and so on. Please i work a full time job with 3 kids, and my youngest is 4 months old. Yes i’m beat and it’s a great feeling. Find comfort in knowing that you can “do it all baby”. You should be on cloud nine. i wish i could stay at home all day with my boys, but to live the life we live i have to work. It’s not an easy choice but its the one i made, just like you. So please stop crying about being tired and treated unfairly.

Melissa September 27, 2010, 1:49 PM

Try working 50 hours a week, and being the person responsible for child care, helping with homework, and all the house work after that! Talk about a 24/7 Job! Those of us that work outside the house have two full-time jobs. We are keeping up what you stay- at-home moms do, and are responsible for paying the bills. (Plus, somehow, the teachers at school seem to call the working mothers, instead of stay at home moms, because we have “skills”, to come volunteer in their classroom on our day off, or ask us to take a vacation day to spend with her class.)

Being a mother is just a very difficult full-time job anyway. However, I say, just sit back and enjoy what you have now. Because you are only working one job, others of us are required to balance many of them at once, while finding quality time to spend with our kids. (Which means we never sleep or have personal time of our own.)

Lydia September 27, 2010, 2:27 PM

Wow. There has been a lot of negativity and “you think YOU have it bad” comments. I’m a SAHM and I have the utmost respect for working moms. You really do have 2 full time jobs, like several people have said before, but that is in fact admitting that staying at home is a full time job in and of itself. Yes you have chosen not to work outside the home and therefore the childcare and house work is your job, but you are, in fact, entitled to some time off. You aren’t lazy or an over privileged witch if you ask your husband to help you out with the house or kids and bashing the moms who do want time off as if they aren’t good enough is exactly what’s wrong with this holier-than-thou attitude of parenting today. However, this article wasn’t about which moms do more work. It was about if she has the right to ask her husband for help with the children he helped create and the answer is YES!

Babies and toddlers take 3000% of your time and energy. House work just seems to stack up. To top it all off, you feel like you haven’t had an intelligent conversation in weeks and can now quote all Dr. Suess books verbatim. Some times small children have social schedules that would rival the queen of England. You are exhausted both physically and mentally and you have every right to ask your husband to change the baby when he gets home or do the dishes after dinner while you sit down once in a while. You can both relax TOGETHER after the kids are in bed. ADULT bed time is a really good motivator especially if intimacy has gone by the wayside (as is often the case with arguing couples). Let him know that you will have more energy for him later if he helps out with the kids and house now. ;)

If he truly can’t understand why you need a break every now and again, ask him to take the kids on a Saturday while you leave the house. Get a friend or family member to invite you out for a pedicure or just convince him to try it once. If he still feels like you have it easy, then you have angels for kids, lol. I’d bet good money he asks you to come home early.

okiefenoke September 27, 2010, 7:58 PM

Leah, are you serious????? No one’s job should be 24/7! Get over your arrogance! Those kids need to see their dad actively involved in the daily life of the family! Your children and what they need are most important, not the ‘prize for being the most slavish mom’. It is especially crucial for boys to see their dads in a supportive, active role at home, because watching those interactions will shape how he develops his relationships later in life.

Working Mom & SAHD September 27, 2010, 10:52 PM

There are so many valid points here. I am a working mother while my husband is the SAHD to our toddler. I can honestly say that I used to think men had it easy while the women stayed at home & did everything…..not so. It’s more than just a 8-5 job. There really is a lot more stress involved knowing that everyone is counting on you. I do have to admit that my husband does A WHOLE LOT. He cooks, cleans,grocery shops & takes care of our child. I get home & pretty much dont do any of those things.

However, I can’t stand that my husband seems to think that because he does all of that, I have to completely take over when I get home. WTH? I could understand 50/50….but come on, you were home all day. On top of that, I take my daughter to dance classes 2 nights a week, Bible study on Wednesdays, Gymnastics on Saturdays, Church, and Musical Theatre on Sundays. My husband doesn’t do any of that bcuz he feels entitled to having some ‘me time’. Mind you, we both attend school full time. I am working on a Masters. Yes he works hard, but I freakin’ work harder. No, I don’t always pat you on the back for all you do, but you don’t pat me on my back for what I do.

Stay at home parents dare not pretend that they don’t take any time out to watch TV. I know for a fact my husband does because I Tivo my shows, and many of my shows are interrupted with channel changing & music videos. Any SAHM that says she doesn’t watch TV at all during her JOB at home is a liar. I’m a woman….I know how much we like TV. Not that it’s not okay….just don’t complain when the working parent comes home and wants to watch TV or just RELAX. We deserve it. We’ve been at work all day working with intolerable adults, bosses, employees, the public. Not time to watch TV…one hour of time to ourselves.

What would I choose? Working 9 hrs a day with people I don’t care to spend time with? or my children in the comfort of my own home? Why do you think so many working moms talk about wanting to be SAHMs….bcuz it’s easier.

The solution in my home, is to split some of the after hours duties….including weekends. He is bothered that I dont clean…..well, honestly, if you want help…be specific. My brain is fried from a tiresome job….tell me, SPECIFICALLY, what you want done, and I’ll do it, just like I do everything else.

Be fair, we both have jobs, but when the clock strikes 5pm, we’re both obligagted to our child. But I do expect you to bathe our child too. Fair is Fair!

Hirh September 28, 2010, 5:46 AM

I couldn’t stand being a Sahm. I was going nuts puttering around the house all day bored out of my mind with only toddler/infant to talk to. Sahm used to network, have play dates, help eachother out when you’re sick etc. I work full-time plus overtime and I do everything you’re saying and earn a paycheck. I care for the kids all day and then go to work and my husband feeds them the dinner I’ve cooked earlier in the day and puts them to bed and then he’s free. I think most men are scared (my husband included) at first and I don’t think we expect enough of them in the child rearing dept. He has an amazing relationship with our kids and I don’t fear leaving him alone with them and can trust he knows exactly what he’s doing. Being a mom is a 24/7 hardest job. I give you that but you signed up for it when you has kids. Asking your husband to take the kids to the playground if there’s something you need to do or schedule a moms night out monthly are important for you to keep your own self intact. I ask you… Does your husband take the garbage out, clean the gutters, mow the grass, mulch, and do other “man” jobs. Does he manage the bills and money? Do he kill bugs and lift heavy objects and care for car? If yes, then he’s already doing his part of the “housework”. I agree with above posters that it sounds like you need to manage your time better and learn to relax on the weekends.

Anonymous September 28, 2010, 8:59 AM

@Working Mom and SAHD - I never watched TV at home when I was on duty, no lying. I decided that if I started watching daytime TV, I would never stop.

I don’t know what your husband does, but he could be turning the TV on while he works and watching bits and pieces of it. It sounds like you really wish you could be the one at home and are getting resentful of him. In my experience, it’s very easy for a couple to stop appreciating each other and get too resentful. Stopping to spend time together and see each other’s point of view really helps and is good for your kids in the long run. Gottman has lots of good books on working conflict out well.

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