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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
Anonymous September 28, 2010, 9:06 AM

Why does everyone seem to want everyone else to be as miserable as they are? I admire every Mom who works her tail off because she’s single or she has to do a night shift at work and be a SAHM. Still, when a woman works all day at home with small kids, her husband should help her so that they can have some time together. The best help I had was often just to play with the kid so that I could get away from them, so it’s not like it was a hardship for him. Women married to at-home dads usually do a lot after work, why not men married to at-home moms?

ag September 28, 2010, 11:11 AM

Hang in there New Mom! It can take awhile to find your groove as a new mommy. It does sound like you and your hubby need to have a talk about expectations on both sides. When it gets tough just think about all the awesome moments YOU get to experience with you child. The cuddles,hugs, laughs and kisses. See if one of you local churches has MOPS. It’s an awesome resource. I don’t really understand all the bashing comments. Being a mom, any mom is tough. Why do some of us feel the need to tear each other down? Sometimes we just need to vent and be HEARD. Let’s have some compassion for each other.

Anonymous September 28, 2010, 8:10 PM

My husband and I had twins and no family and friends that could or were willing to help. I came home from hospital after having a section and my husband had to go back to work 3 days later. I was totally exhausted all the time. With the expensive cost of childcare we discussed me being a SAHM and I was really hoping I could be one but I decided against it when during our conversation my husband stated he would be too tired to help out with the babies once he got home from work since he was the only one working. Granted he worked twelve hr shifts but I was already so exhausted. I had to do 24hr care alone- night feedings, house work, nurturing etc. I ripped my stitches trying to do laundry and other housework. I was burnt out. My kids were not on the same schedule no matter how hard I tried. I only slept about 3 hours per night. I made the decision to return to work after being home 12 weeks maternity leave. My out of home job was way less stressful and it was my break from the chaos at home. I don’t even remember much from my kids first 3 months of life b/c I was always so tired and stressed. Now that my kids are 3 I so could be a SAHM because I am able to cope and manage my time better and the kids so needy. Whether you are a SAHM or a working mom if you have a spouse that helps out any at all around the house be happy. Regardless you will still be primarily responsible for maintaining HH. My spouse still comes home from work and needs “me time” immediately however I come home from work and its “kid time” and never “me time”. My spouse has improved a TON but it was a real challenge for us and caused much stress on our marriage. The debate will go on but both jobs are hard however i do believe that job of SAHM is a bit easier once kids are 2+ years.

Leah September 29, 2010, 7:06 AM

okiefenoke - cealry you were unable to undertand what I wrote - no where did I state that the father does not need to participate in his childrens’ lives BUT when dad goes to work and mom chooses to stay home it is her JOB to take care of the house and not whine about it.

busymommybum September 30, 2010, 7:24 PM

I can’t believe the level of negativity from most of these comments! Whether you are a SAHM or a full-time employee for someone else, being a mom and taking care of everything else is incredibly difficult and exhausting. And yes, we all signed up for it by becoming parents. And few if any of us would trade it for anything. But this is a fellow mom who is saying she is beat, done, fed up, overwhelmed, etc. and she is asking permission to tell her lazy hubby to get off his butt and support her not just financially but EMOTIONALLY. And I suspect she expected emotional support from the readers of this post as well. Every one of us have been overwhelmed, exhausted to tears, frustrated, etc. and every one of us who is married should have permission to ask for help without being made to feel incompetent or selfish. Personally, I think your experience is NORMAL…your feelings are NORMAL…and your expectations of your hubby are reasonable. Fortunately, with a little explanation (and occasional verbal knock upside the head) most guys are also logical and reasonable and want to do the right thing. So, I say, YES…ask for what you need and get it!

Anonymous October 1, 2010, 5:09 AM

She wasn’t asking for emotional support -she was whining that he didn’t want to clean on the weekends after he WORKED all week. And he shouldn’t have to. She needs to perform her job better (I suspect time management would help her). Cleaning the house is part of the SAHM job - otherwise you’re just babysitting.

Patty October 1, 2010, 2:41 PM

That sucks! My husband comes home at night and plays with his daughter. While I cook us dinner etc…On weekends I still play Mommy while he mows the lawn, cleans the leaves, feeds the birds, cleans out the ponds, poop scoops an acre of lawn, cleans the gutters or whatever new task has arrived.
Once in awhile he will ask me to watch my daughter at night during the week if I am not working that night, as he is physically tired from all his labour. Of course I say yes…
So I am very sorry to hear that true partnership is not universal. We all need our time. He has soccertwice a week, I have Book Club and we together have a dinner club once a month , no kids just 4 sets of parents, relaxing… It is so important to stay healthy and yourself for your children.
Good luck people, and I cross my fingers my life stays this way

KS October 3, 2010, 10:05 AM

I would be frustrated to and I would not tolerate that sort of dismissive behavior from my husband. Whether you have been home all week or not has nothing to do with your husband ignoring your requests. It sounds like there is a simple disconnect between you two.

If I were in your position. Wait I was and what I did was take a vacation. That’s right all you judgy Internet people. I took my lazy Stay At Home butt on a vaca. It was the single best thing I have ever did for my family.

My husband took a few days off work and took care of the kids and the house. He thought it was going to be all easy. two days into it he was calling me begging me to come home. And he was thanking me for everything I did on top of the bare minimum he could hardly seem to do.

You should keep in mind though that he is doing this whole thing for the first time too and marriage is a work in progress. You should not tolerate him sitting on his duff if you can’t tolerate it and he should respect your requests.

As any working parent knows life doesn’t end when you get off work. Have a discussion with lots of I statements such as “when I ask you to take out the trash and you say why you’ve been here all week it makes me feel like the house maid and not the wife that you love”. If that doesn’t work go to a friends house for a few days and challenge your husband. Evey guy loves a challenge.

Anonymous October 4, 2010, 5:20 AM

I have a very simple solution if you don’t want to be responsible for all the housework then don’t become a SAHM. Then you can both rightfully split the housework.

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Nikki October 19, 2010, 11:55 AM

I totally understand where you’re coming from. But, ironically from the “other side if the fence”. I’m a working Mom with a SAHD. However, getting my husband to do the dishes, clean the house, or bath the kid is like pulling teeth from an angry elephant. And cooking is out of the question, he cooks one thing, ramen noodles, so if I want my child to eat health I have to prepare her meals the night before.

And personal time? What counts as personally time for me? When I’m asleep? I’m lucky IF I get the 2 minute shower.

Some say my personal time is driving home, because I get to listen to the radio and relax….. well maybe, if I wasn’t driving in rush hour traffic…. in LOS ANGELES!!!!!!

But through all of this I just try to make do. I’ve tried different methods of trying to motivate my husband to do the house work but nothing has worked so far. I’ve tried “not do the dishes” but all I get is a sink piled up so much I can’t wash the veges for dinner. :p

I guess the only thing I can suggest to you is this….. If your hubby just can’t “believe” how hard you work at home “SHOW” him. Men are visual creatures. You can talk to them till your blue in the face but they’ll never get it until it’s right infront of them. Nanny Cam yourself on a busy day and then sit down and watch the recording with him. Show him how you’re constantly moving around and working just as hard as he is.

I wish my SAHD had you’re drive to work. He’s an awesome dad and loving hubby, but a cruddy cleaner. :p

You’re husband doesn’t realize how good he has it!!!

Nikki October 19, 2010, 12:56 PM

Just wanted to add one more thing.

You will drive yourself batty thinking about all the issues that you want to change with your hubby….. The best thing you can do is… don’t keep score on who works harder, choose your battles and keep possitive about the future.

Yes, starting off as a SAHM is tough, but I agree with what some others said. As the child gets older it will get easier. And just remember that when the time comes for you child to start school you’ll have more of the “mommy time” you need.

Instead of focusing on what your hubby doesn’t do or doesn’t provide. Focus on what he does. With me, my hubby is horrible at keeping the house clean when I’m at work…. but he does do the laundry. I’ve always HATED doing laundry and this is atleast ONE thing I DON’T have to worry about.

Try to be grateful for him making the money, keeping you and your child sheltered and fed, medical coverage, etc. And making enough for you to be able to be a SAHM. Many women don’t have the choice to stay at home and raise their children, both parents have to work to make ends meat. I miss 10 hours a day out of my childs life. At least you are there to see the first smile, the first stand and crawl, hear the first word, and all the wonderful things that CAN happen when your at home.

I’m not saying you DON’T have a right to complain of vent when you feel taken for granted or simply “burnt out”. I just want you to take a deep breath and stop stessing over something that may or may not get resolved. Your husband may start helping out around the house, or never lift a finger. But you have the power to be happy no matter what the situation may be.

Good luck!!!

Amy October 24, 2010, 10:33 AM

It seems to me that the people who are saying that SAHM have it easy are moms who work outside the home. They take their kids to daycare during the day, so they really do not know what it is like to stay at home ALL day during the week watching same children and getting household chores done.

I can totally sympathize this the author of this article. I too have a hard time getting my husband to help me with things. I have a 6 month old and work out of the home 2 days a week, the other 3 days I freelance from home. So I work from home, take care of my child and have to get household chores done. I do not have ANY time to myself. My husband comes home from work and sits his butt on the couch to watch TV and unwind. When do I get to unwind??

He too thinks I must be eating bon bons and watching TV all day. He complains that things are dirty or that I have half completed projects all over the house. But never does he say to me “Can I help with something”

I am not a 50s housewife. Before we had a child he helped with the housework, but now that we have a child he suddenly stops. WTF?

When we have family over he gets to visit while I take care of the baby. Last night I ate after everyone else, not a big deal, but after I fed the baby I said to my husband if she cries you take her because I haven’t eaten yet. He says to me “You didn’t eat?” Like it was some surprise! What the hell did he think I was doing? It was his birthday and they decided to eat cake when I was putting the baby down for bed. I totally missed my husband blowing out the candles and no one even noticed or cared that I did. They couldn’t wait 10 minutes for me to put her down.

On the morning when I work outside of the home I get up early to get myself and the baby ready. My husband has changed no part of his routine. He doesn’t even try to help. But he does burst in while I am feeding her which then distracts the baby and causes us to be late.

I understand the author’s frustration. I feel it too. I have had conversations with my husband on how I could use his help, but I still end up begging him to help me sometimes.

I read the posts that seem to judge SAHM’s. Some who feel it is only our job to raise the children and clean the house. To be honest you really ticked me off. We are not living in the 50s anymore. Why is it a STAHM’s job to work 24/7 but dad’s only have to work 40 hours a week. Doesn’t seem fair.

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sahmoffourkids November 6, 2010, 7:50 PM

I’m a sahm of four kids, aged fourteen, eight, three, and nine months. I feel your pain, and the only thing you can do is to tell your husband you work all day, and you deserve time to yourself sometimes! NOBODY can be “on” 24/7, and your parenting suffers when you don’t get any me time.

I don’t do all the things I should all day. No. I do the bare minimum-I have a list of things I do every day, and I try to deal with the kids and keeping toys off the floor. I do a hundred percent of all housecleaning and work, I also do a hundred percent of the childcare. I bathe, feed, and shuttle them around all the time. He never helps. I don’t mind!

However, if he complains the house is messy-I tell him, he can do it himself if he wants it done better. We have four kids and I can’t get it all done. Once upon a time, I went on strike! I did NOTHING-no cooking, no cleaning, no sex even. And boy did things change. He doesn’t complain about those things anymore. My house might be a bit messy (no dishes in the sink, but maybe cluttered a bit) but the big things get done. And its ok. WHen they are older, I’ll be happy I was able to be there for the reason I am at home-MY KIDS!!!!!! I’m not home to clean the house, people. I’m not home to make my husband happy. I’m home to care for my kids. Some of us forget that.

So, tomorrow, I might do laundry, dishes, baths and care for all kids, and vaccume, sweep, and just a bit of cleanup-but the biggest job I have is TAKING GOOD CARE OF OUR KIDS. Yep. They are all that matters. The house can wait. The kids can’t.

NavyWife/Mom of 2 :) November 30, 2010, 11:37 AM

My husband is active duty….. I put my self thru school while he was deployed with a 2 yr old and worked full time guess what my house was a MESS…. that 2 yr old is now almost 6 aand we have a 15 month old… i am a sahm but not by choice.. the job market where he got stationed sucks. He works long hours some days and some days he’s home by lunch but we have split duties in the house…. when I was breastfeeding, my daughter would only take my milk from a bottle so i had to pump every 4 hours round the clock, even though my hubby had to work the next morn. he would get up feed our daughter while i pumped so i could get back to bed asap and get some sleep…he does all the laundry and i put it away, we share cooking, and cleaning of the general house and i do cleaning of the bathrooms. He also does the yard work. I think even if you are a sahm things should not change cause of it, a marriage is 50/50 and so is raising kids especially if you have morethen 1…. and never does he complain about “helping” do the house work… its his house too. Just like your husband can’t “watch” HIS kids… so does that mean we as moms watch our kids while hubby is at work ??? NO we take care of them. Bottom line is if we are “expected” to do all of this if we work outside the home then so should the guys… this is not aboout who has it worse or who’s job is harder, its about a partnership that both parties entered into willingly… so yes you can expect him to help.

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