July 02, 2010,
K.M. asks from Los Gatos, CA on June 29, 2010
How to Handle Husband Working from Home? It Is Driving Me Insane
Let me start by saying that he came home early yesterday and when questioned why he was here so early he said he took a job where he can work from home. Also, let me say that we have been here before and he knows exactly how I feel about having him laying around pretending he is working from home. Yes, I know it works for people who are self directed and can control themselves of lingering around all day and making maybe 1 phone call.
The first thing that upsets me is the fact that he just made this decision without even considering our finances, our current situation and my opinion. Are you kidding me? This is his "3rd great idea of job" within the last 2 years that we end up not having a stable income because it starts like this "this is going to be awesome, I am going to make a lot of money..." and then some months later "oh yeah, this is not working so I want to switch to something else"
I am going insane, I don't know what to make of it? He stayed home today and instead of helping out he lingers and keeps my toddler up until hours passed her bedtime, never mind I have to do all the cleaning, grocery shopping with kids screaming in the car, cooking, paying bills on top of working 15hours a week outside the home.
I am asking for ideas how to deal with him being home and/ or what to say to him since I told him I need time to digesthis decision.
Thanks for any advice you can send my way.
So What Happened?™
Thank you for all the responses I received.I am very touched to see the support and all the great advice I have received. I feel empowered as to what to say to my husband. I guess I just got used to having to worry all the time about stable money for the month but I don'twant that anymore,I am tired of just working on "this month" instead of our future.
Thank you truly for the support and ideas and mainly for opening my eyes to a couple of issues that were brought up. We are having a talk tonight.
B.C. answers from Norfolk on June 30, 2010
When you work from home, you need a home office set up where you have a desk, a computer, a printer, a phone and a door you can close. Sure it's easy to get up to use the bathroom, get a cup of coffee, make a sandwich for lunch, but when you're working - you are at your desk getting the work done from your start time of the day to your end time of the day - just like you would if you had to drive to an office building. Anyone who does not have the self discipline to maintain their work hours in their home office is not going to last long.
3 moms found this helpful
C.N. answers from Minneapolis on June 29, 2010
I am kinda confused about what is going on here- your husband has taken a job working from home- what is he supposed to be doing? work, obviously. It sounds like he is not. My statement to my husband would be "if you would like me to get a full time job to pay the bills and support our family, I would love for you to stay home and take care of the kids. Your employer is paying you for a service, not to sit around the house."
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M.P. answers from Portland on June 30, 2010
I also suggest that you google Non-violent Communication. There is also a book by that name. When we are able to word what we say in such a manner that the other person can hear it rather than become defensive we communicate much better.
Are you saying that although your husband says he has a job that allows him to work from home he is not responsible to anyone? He has no work goals to meet that are monitored by a supervisor? Is he essentially self-employed; perhaps a contractor?
Would it be possible to help him or encourage him to develop goals and strategize ways of meeting them? If he is actually working for someone, could he bring home information that you could go over together? Be a cheerleader sort of person instead of an unhappy wife. It's so easy to be discouraged by your husband's past failures and for him to respond by proving you right
I've seen books written about ways to work from home or how to run your own business. Would he read something like that?
I also suggest that it's extremely important for him to have a space dedicated as an office so that he's not distracted by the tv or children or anything else going on around him. And it's important to have a specific schedule of work times. One can be flexible with them but have to have a basic work schedule and plans for what they will do during that time.
It will take him time to develop a plan and it is important for you to be encouraging and not a nag. I know that a positive atmosphere is very difficult to provide and maintain especially when he's tried and failed before. I can hear your frustration.
The two of you need to talk with each other and decide together on some boundaries for ways that will make this more likely to work for you. The first rule that I'd insist on is that you will continue with the household routine that you've set up and that works for you. This means that the kids bedtimes are the same. Meals are the same unless you agree to a different arrangement. Taking care of your home is your job and you also need to have goals and plans for reaching them. I would include in my list of needs that if he's going to be in the main part of the house he's to help rather than be a distraction.
Perhaps you could make some compromises such as he agrees to watch the kids while you go shopping. The two of you make a schedule for getting household chores accomplished.
Perhaps it's time for some couples counseling. Definitely time to work together on finding ways to communicate with each other. Time to find ways to destress and manage feelings without blaming or being cranky with the other one. Physical exercise does help us destress. Getting away from the house and doing something in which you have fun. Perhaps the two of you could each designate one specific period of time to be only each one's period of time to do what you want.
I know how very difficult it is to be calm, non-judgmental, and supportive. My mother was always critical of my father's plans but her comments and attitude did not change his mind about doing them and made being at home unpleasant much of the time. Some husbands blame their spouse for their failure saying if you had been more supportive, etc. I could've done this. My father never blamed my mother. However, I could see that he might have been more successful if she'd been more supportive. We would have definitely had a happier family even if my father was not a greater success.
Did he change jobs so that he could work at home? Or was he unemployed? There are so many variables that would change the way I'd approach him after "digesting" the decision. The one constant for me is to find a way to be positive in what I said and to not express criticism. One technique for helping with this is to always use "I" statements. You've stated one example. "I'm going insane." Ask him for his help with the way things are so that you can feel sane again.
3 moms found this helpful
R.M. answers from Topeka on June 30, 2010
It sounds to me like there are a LOT more issues that just a work at home job for your husband. In fact it sounds like no job at all to me and you are rightfully frustrated and upset. BUT...you need to address the underlying issues both with your husband and with your marriage. I would say it is time for some professional help of some sort for the two of you so you can learn to communicate and have a successful relationship.
2 moms found this helpful
P.M. answers from Portland on June 29, 2010
You might want to google Non-Violent Communication and learn the basic process. It can really facilitate a heart-to-heart talk about needs – his and yours. This sounds tough, and I wish you well.
2 moms found this helpful
K.M. answers from San Francisco on June 30, 2010
First off, sorry. Stinky situation. But, what your husband says and/or does is not up to you. It's not your decision, and you cannot change him. All you have control over is yourself. How will you deal with it? How will you feel? How will you spend your time and your life? Will you waste time and energy being upset and unhappy? Decide how you feel about this situation and act on that. If he keeps her up till all hours, and she gets cranky and tired, be out of the house during this time and make him deal with the consequences. When he moans and cries about it, point out that it is his fault. Are you genuinely unhappy about doing all the cooking, cleaning, and money making? (I personally wouldn't want my DH doing 2 of those things as he sucks at it) Then stop doing it. Lifes too short to have one that you dont like...
1 mom found this helpful
J.M. answers from San Francisco on June 30, 2010
I am not sure that the problem is him working from home here. I think the problem is that he makes/continues to make major decisions that affect your family without consulting you or even talking to you about it. It's irresponsible of him to just switch jobs one day without telling you. So I think that is something you will need to address for the long term health of your marriage.
BUT if this is what he's going to do... then you will need to set up some boundaries about his work from home. Speaking from personal experience here... He should have a desk or designated area where he works. He should also establish regular working hours, so that you know when he's "on" and "off" and might be available to help you. When he's "on the clock" he should be in his working area and you should leave him alone. The kids should be clear that dad is not available when he's working and HE should enforce that by working and not interacting with them over much.
But honestly? He's the one who should be setting these boundaries for himself. You should not have to do this for him. That's why I think you guys have some bigger issues to deal with. I wish you a lot of luck and lots of patience.
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J.M. answers from Fresno on June 30, 2010
The instability would drive me nuts. I know that for me a steady income is very important and I could not handle my partner putting us in financial risk, So if I were in your position I would get a very good full time job. That may mean going back to school and getting a degree in a field that you are not in now. there are great jobs that are very secure in the medical field. LPNs and 2 year RN degrees as well as radioloy degrees, the techs who run the various x-ray machines are good jobs anyway, I would look into a stable career and then I would train for it. Your husband can take care of the kids while you are in school. From what you have said this is a pattern and is not going to get better. You have to be the one the family can depend on because you cannot change another person. I would stay in the marriage at least until you have a good stable job. then you are going to have to make a decision where your husband fits in, if he refuses to provide for his family.
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D.S. answers from San Francisco on June 30, 2010
K., I want you to know that in these already rough times how sorry I am that your husband has made unwise decisions and hasn't learned from the old ones not to keep making them over again. Did you find out if he was fired from his old job and that's why this "miracle situation" came up? Maybe that is why he didn't bother to discuss such a family important decision with you?
I know many that work from home(my own children being 2 and I often go to watch the children while theyare on conferance calls or at the computer) but they are actually working 8 hour days or longer. They also only work from home 2-3 days a week depending on the situation. If this is one of those commisson jobs then he'd better hussle or he'll miss the boat. The biggest problem beside lack of respect for you and his child/children( you mention screaming kids) is that he is acting like a child himself and only thinking of his own needs. I hope he grows up before you loose entire respect since you are working and carrig the household load.
Try and give him a list of things that he can get done while he is between phone calls-- heck he can do alot of laundry and putting it away between calls! and since he is staying home let him have the responsibility of fatherhoood to help withthe children while you run errands-- you will get them done in 1/2 the time.
I have a friend whose husband did this to the point of divorce, the councilor gave them this advice to try she said to pass it to you. 1. have him tested for ADD, so that you know if its a real problem that he can be taught how to deal with to keep a job.(it turned out he did and that was a major part of the problems-- by the way he was 40) 2. have set work time and hours and make sure all the extra stimulation is off in the area he is to work in and that he stays in that area-- it's sort of like putting a child into his playpen she calls it.3. her husband signed a contract of expectations and when he broke it he was given the choice to find a real job and make a real and steady income or leave. THAT is drastic but it worked for them becasue she found her sanity was more important than the stress he caused. 4. she told him exactly how much income he had to make each month for him to work from home & she padded it becasue if she said 800.00 then he stopped so she'd say 1500.00 now it would have to be higher everymonth or he had to give it up and they h had a set in stone date of how long to test if this was going to work or destroy the family. They learned that becasue of his ADD he thought of it as a form of gambling -- could he/or not would he win the big time or not each month. Eventually they got it worked out but the hard part of it was keeping him focused. The smart thing was her keeping every penny that was extra w/o his knowledge so she had a back up for when he screwed it up.
I can only wish you well and hope that you find a way to get out ofthe position of the Boss. Good Luck
1 mom found this helpful
W.H. answers from Stockton on June 30, 2010
You need to tell him straight up "if you're going to work from home, then you need to WORK from home! You chose to do this without discussin it with me. I'm expecting it is not going to hinder our finances, correct? If you are not busy at times, then I expect your help with OUR family! Our daughter is on a specific schedule; she goes to bed at 0:00 and do not keep her up late." Some men just need it put to them plain and simple in order to "get it!" I had to tell my husband something similar and he got it! We decided I would be a stay-at-home mom and that we would work outside the home to support our family. Period. If something changes, both of us will decide that not just one!! Good luck!
1 mom found this helpful
J.C. answers from Sacramento on June 30, 2010
Mom I would be pretty concerned too if my husband did not discuss his plans to change to wrkg in an office to working out of the home prior to making this life changing decision. Have you sat down and told him of your concern abnd explained in the future you expect him to talk to you B4 making such an important family decision. Also let him know that although you enjoy him being at home more this new arrangement may not be the best choice for the family since there are so many distractions for him to work. I would bring this up to him in a calm, collected way and give you both a week to think about what you discussed and his reaction. If you can see that he is not truly working after a full work week, I would tell him that you and he need to re-evaluate the working at home situation asap.because you are concerned that he will not be able to financially support the family if he is not able to buckle down and get his office work done. It has to be hard to do unless he is a very focused and dedicated person;having his wife, kids and all of the distractions of being at home must be a challenge for him to find enough time to devote to his job. I am curious, how old is your husband? It sounds like he may be younger and a little impulsive. Also if you can see he is not getting a lot of "real work" for his job I would not hesitate to deligate some of your Mom chores and responsibilities to him. I would wait a week so he sees how much you do at home in a week then after talking to him about this you and he can sit dwon break down by making a list what you will continue to do around the house and what he can do now to help going forward. This may get him bk to the office sooner than you imagine :D Finally, as for disrupting the toddler's sleep schedule and bed time, I would not let this happen. Dad needs to stick to the schedule that the toddler had b4 and tell him this is something you feel strongly about, babies and young, expaling nicely that children need routine and so dones Mom. As you know Mom there are few things harder to deal with than a cranky, sleepy on top of all of your other responsibilities Mom.
Hang in there and good luck Mom
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M.E. answers from San Francisco on June 29, 2010
You've got a couple of issues going on and I can't address them all. My husband was laid off in March and, fortunately, got some contract work, some of which is working from home. I, personally, hate when he works from home. Our house is so small that it seems as if we have to adjust our behavior for him. Not be too noisy, etc. What I really hate is when he offers suggestions about how I can be more efficient. It's also hard for me to accept that he's working and completely unavailable to us while he's there. I understand how you feel but can't offer any help.
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D.C. answers from Philadelphia on July 02, 2010
I would try to go to park or friends houses to get out. My husband still does NOT get the bedtime thing. My oldest is 10 1/2 yrs. I try to be consistent with bedtime especially when school is in session. Most men don't get the work involved in staying home keeping the house clean and entertaining the kids.
This might not help but I wish my husband was home more often. I feel like we rarely see him. When he makes an appearance for dinner the kids and I are so excited he is joining us to eat. My husband works long hours many nights he doesn't get home until 11 pm. We have three kids.
G.T. answers from San Francisco on July 01, 2010
I am not sure what frustrates you more: that he works from home, that he didn't consult you before, the lack of steady income...?
As for the work at home, have been working from home for the last 4-5 years, and my husband (in and out) for even longer. During the 2ne year of our son, I worked only part time because I had to take care of him, of the house... at the same time.
Now, I am back to work full time from home. This means I am at my desk from 8 to 5, in an office with a closed door (used to be a closet!) I go out to go to the bathroom, for 2 snacks/teas breaks and lunch time.
I am full time busy working. And when my husband works from home, he is also full time busy working. None of us can "Fold the laundry between phone calls". Both our jobs are behind a desk but not really at the phone. You have to agree with your husband if he is serious about working from home that he should not be disturbed and should not disturb you and your existing routines. He should be working in his own room, not with a desk in the middle of the family room with the toys and TV.
Make clear what your expectations/fears are, with logical arguments. Working from home is hard as opportunities for procrastination and distraction are all around. It doesn't seem that his first day has been very productive, as he was playing with your son.
Share your concerns with him.
All the best,
C.C. answers from Sacramento on June 30, 2010
Sounds like you need to sit down and have a serious conversation about the situation of things... maybe with a counselor who can give you an unbiased opinion if you can't work it out between you. I keep wondering where the breakdown in communication in marriages has gone. My husband and I talk about everything.
If your husband is going to be home and not working constantly for 8 hours, then he needs to chip in during the day with the housework, kids and cooking. I think a lot of men still think that the woman is suppose to do everything and not them. Everyone who lives in a house should be helping out.
C.B. answers from San Francisco on June 30, 2010
this is what I do when my hubby starts talking about a career change that I don't think will be financially advantageous - I hand him the checkbook and all the bills and tell him until he has a job where we have a steady, reliable income it is his responsibility to pay the bills (or, I should say, try to pay the bills because they can't all get paid without the steady, reliable salary.) So far he has said oh no way and stuck with his job that provides reliable, steady income. So, just make your problem his. he may not really understand how difficult it is to juggle bills and make things work because he's not having to do it. When someone else tackles the hard jobs without complaint, people don't know how truly difficult it is! Let him see the light!
I.S. answers from San Francisco on June 30, 2010
Does he have a separate room he can shut himself in for working? It's not like any employer would have a roam-as-you-please environment. My hubby knows better than to disrupt sleep schedules - even to the point of taking conference calls in the car in the garage. The WiFi works in the backyard too (you get the idea). If he's having trouble keeping quiet during naptime you put the kids down for their naps and then take a few hours for yourself away from the house... he'll learn the importance of naptime right quick then. How about serving everyone breakfast and then heading out by yourself while they're eating to get yourself coffee and grocery shop? Since he's saving commute time in the morning he can add that savings back to FamilyTime. Lunchtime needs to be taken as a family. One preptime, one servetime and one cleanup time with no short order cooking. No fair having him saunter out to finally get himself lunch while you're trying to settle down the nappers. If he's too busy to join you for lunch then he can eat at his desk - just like in the workplace. If he doesn't have something to rush back to his desk to do when he's finished eating with you he can load the dishwasher and even help with the naptime routine. If he's on the only family computer be sure to stack the receipts up on the desk for him to enter into Quicken in this "saved time" between work activities now that you have less access to it. Take the opportunity to take Just One of your children to an activity/playdate/park/class while the others nap if appropriate. Handoff some of the pickup/dropoff duties if your kids are in camp or daycare. Have him housesit for tradespeople to do work on the house while you're out with the kids (or keep the HoneyDo list coming and expect progress). He'll soon figure out that a Mother's watchful eye holds everyone to a higher standard than any boss would. Summer Vacations are a thing of the past... he has a family now and Summer means MORE work not Less. Do you have any vacation time earned? Maybe it's time to take a "ladies only" couple of days off :P
A.A. answers from San Francisco on June 30, 2010
WOW!!!STOP now, I have not reivewed the previous posts.
I have been married to my work from home husband for almost 30 years. He made his decision based on his one needs, I have a job in health care that is flexible and pays well. 30 years ao he did have a regular job, and we never thought he would be a stay at home dad. Life is in flux and after many days of discussion we kinda agreed to have him stay at home. Don't get me wrong, I was sooooooooooooo angry, but after looking at our adult children, it worked!
Bedtimes were what fit his schedule, not mine, and same with meals.
I am really glad I learned to be flexible and forgiving....
R.Y. answers from New York on June 29, 2010
I know exactly what you mean! My husband works freelance as a writer and editor. It is really hard when he works from home because the computer is right in the living room and the kids are too little to understand he is busy and can't play. It is so hard for our 4 year old that my husband goes to the library to work if we are all home (the 4 year old is in preschool half days). We have a friend who actually pretends to leave the house and then hides in the attic/study to work from home (his son is only 2.5)!
The part with the lack of steady income is a whole other set of problems. I have lived with it for what seems like forever. My dad has a consulting business that sometimes does very well and sometimes is quite slow (or at least clients are slow to pay). I grew up with this and am less than thrilled to be dealing with it again as an adult. It is very hard to make things work without one steady income (preferably with benefits). I have a toddler and a preschooler so in a few years they will be in school we can do things differently.
If your husband is not the type to make things work doing sales or that kind of business he needs to admit it isn't his think and find something else (I know I'd never be good at it either). I know it is hard in this economy...but sometimes a smaller paycheck is better than a promise of $ that never arrives.
D.C. answers from San Francisco on June 30, 2010
There appears to be a lot going on here besides your husband working from home. If the communication has broken down (sounds like it has), I can personally recommend a life coach like Liat Zohar (look up ode2life.com) to first of all, help you sort out all the issues. She can give you suggestions to maintain your sanity and then get you and your husband back on track so you are pulling together. He may need some career counseling, as well. Rough economic times are not making it easy for anyone, and he could benefit from some guidance.
S.S. answers from San Francisco on June 30, 2010
My husband did it for several years, and it drove me crazy. And, I had a satellite office that I often worked from. We are now getting divorced for a multitude of reasons, but one of the main reasons is my husbands lack of work ethic and lack of contribution. This is not to say that this situation should impact your marriage, because we had many other issues that we never addressed. On the one hand, I want to tell you to be supportive of him... but, on the other hand, I think you need to set strong boundaries and tell him that he must contribute financially, and that he must not get distracted while he is "working" from home... To me, it sounds like something I could never deal with - - especially when he is saying he is going to "make a lot of money" and never following through with that. Does he get benefits and salary and a 401K? Is he planning for your future? Or, is he just slacking off and taking the easy way out?