June 30, 2009,
N.Z. asks from Frankfort, IL on June 24, 2009
Good morning Moms...I'm sure you have heard this a million times, but I need some advice. My husband and I used to work as a pretty good team. We have a six year old and a newborn. My husband got laid off in September, at first he was a "stay at home dad" he would take care of our son, clean, cook, etc. He has recently went back to work (Thank God), however I am back to work as well. He has been horrible with doing things around the house or caring for our children. I have tried the typical talks and getting mad, but it hasn't worked yet. I am a neat freak so there is no way I would let the things go so he'll realize...I tried it once and the bathroom didn't get cleaned in over two weeks!!!! I realize that he is tired, but I am exhausted, I am gone about 12 hours a day (he's usually gone about 9), when I get home I have to make dinner, get both kids ready for bed, get them to sleep, and then do whatever I need to do around the house. I feel like I am going to have a nervous breakdown. Our 17 week old is still not sleeping through the night and he never "hears" her. Even when I wake him up cause I'm tired, he usually gives me attitude and tells me something like "I work hard all day, you just sit in an office"...I don't know what else to do. I've talked to his mom thinking she might know something and the only advice she gave me was to not yell back at him when he yells, and to kick him out...two things which are not going to happen. Any advice is greatly appreciated!!!
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So What Happened?™
Hi ladies...thanks again for all the advice. I started using the chore chart from Cindy H!!!! It has worked really good so far. My husband has been in a better mood but it hasn't been great. We still have a lot to go. Sunday was a rough day for us, I think we both hit rock bottom, I asked him for a separation, I think that was what made him realize I had had enough. Like I said we have been trying to get things worked out and things are going better now, we'll see if it continues. Keep your fingers crossed for us.
M.W. answers from Chicago on June 25, 2009
Hire a cleaning lady, he'll either be happy because you are, or decide to help because he doesn't want to spend the money. In my case, my husband was happy and I were both happy with a cleaning lady. Gave both of us more time with the kids and he helps with cooking which he truly enjoys. It ended up being a win win for both of us. Good luck!
T.S. answers from Chicago on June 24, 2009
I can tell you what works best with my husband. We have two sons (4 and almost 2) and before I share, I want to say that Rich (DH) is very helpful and supportive. So, I don't want to come off the wrong way. That being said, he slips sometimes. There are a couple of things that I've found that work for me.
1) If I don't feel he's pulling his weight, I stop doing the household things for him. For example, I still do laundry (I do a load every day), but his laundry doesn't get thrown in. I still make dinner, but I stop making his favorites. I go to the grocery store, but I don't get some of the things I know he likes. Eventually, he'll say something and then it opens the door to some conversation. Of course, this is after I've hinted, asked, even gotten angry. It usually gets the point across.
2) When I need something done, I'll approach him and say, "Hon, we need the laundry folded from the dryer and the boys sheets changed - which one do you want to do?" I let him pick. I don't care because if I didn't ask - I'd be doing both. I do the same thing with the boys. "Rich, can you get Jacob in the bath and I'll get Ryan's diaper changed?" This way, it's not me barking orders at him, but just working together to get the things done that need to get done.
3) When if comes to the baby getting up, we established turns. It sounds so silly, I know, but we traded every other night. When it's his night, wake him up. Tell him he has to get the baby. This was hard for me, because it was instinct to just get up when they would cry. And then even when Rich would go in for them, I'd be wide awake listening to them crying and would feel the urge to just go in and take care of it. It's a Mom-thing, maybe a control thing...who knows? What I had to do was go and sleep in the basement on my nights "off". Lol. That was still hard as I would STILL wake up, but it was easier and I'd put a pillow on my head.
And, the last thing...the whole "you sit behind a desk all day" comment. That's disrespectful and wrong. I have a couple of responses to that, but I'm finding it hard to word them without coming off like a b*tch. Maybe the next time he says that you can wait a bit for the air to clear and say something like, "You mentioned that my job is so much easier since I 'just sit' all day. I was thinking. If you really feel that way, maybe we can try to work it out so that I stay home with the kids and you can get a second job to make up my income? That way, I'll take on all of the things that it seems you don't want to do anymore (list them) and then you can work." Not sure.
Good luck to you.
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E.J. answers from Chicago on June 24, 2009
How frustrating! I hear ya! He's probably just adjusting.
I go through this periodically with my husband and two things usually work.............
1) Being direct (like a seargent). Give a command,"The kids need a bath now. I will help you after I do the dishes............" and walk away or turn away and start them. My husband has a hard time saying no when I phrase it like I mean business. If he hedges I usually say "OK, then do you want to start the dishes while I start their baths?" Giving a choice, especially one he doesn't like helps.
2) Playing the hero. If I acknowleged the tough day he had and let him know how much he can help me by doing this and then compliment him, he usually does it.
Watch how men talk to each other. I think men put their 'man ears' on and think women are just requesting help, and they think they have a choice to say no. Men delegate jobs to each other.
I hope things change soon for you!
Oh, you know what else? I tell my hubby that maybe we should get a cleaning lady..............mine will jump through hoops to stop money going out the door! Especially if I pair it with what we will have to sacrifice (out to eat, movies, etc). We couldn't afford to get one, but if he thinks I will be bugging him about it...........lesser of two evils again.
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C.P. answers from Chicago on June 24, 2009
I've read through the other responses. Let me ask you a question: if your husband barked commands at you and complained about the house or whatever to you constantly, would you really respond favorably to that and would that really bring you more close together as a family? Just something to think about...
That said, my advice is that you'll never change a man. If he's not going to help out, then insist on hiring someone to help you. You can't do it all by yourself, especially with a newborn in the house and your long hours at work.
Try to focus on the things that he does help to provide for your family and remind him that you appreciate him! That goes a long way. Also, with a newborn and other child, you might actually have to let a few things slide in the house for a while! I know you said you're a neat freak. I understand... My husband is actually a neat freak... he's totally crazy... but if you talk to any mother with a baby in the house, especially one who works full time, you'll realize that the only way your house is going to be perfect is if you hire help. Otherwise you need to focus on enjoying the new baby, giving attention to your other child and your husband, and get a few things done each night.
At our house (also two small children ages 1 and 4) while I put the kids to bed, my husband takes out the trash, sweeps the dining room and kitchen floors and changes the cat's litter box. After the kids are in bed, I finish up dinner dishes, do laundry and pick up toys in the living room. The big jobs get put off until the weekend because we both work full time...
As for your husband... sounds like he's trying to adjust to all the changes in your house, too... new baby, new job... and a 6 year old who probably wants tons of attention too. I would ease up a bit. You'll catch more flies with honey. Go on a date with your husband and reconnect! I think that approach will serve your family much better than focusing on household chores and getting angry all the time. What are your priorities? I'm sure your family's happiness is higher on the list than chores...
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S.S. answers from Chicago on June 25, 2009
N., I've had two sons, a husband, a couple of dogs, cats, guinea pigs and I raised them all in a house that fell below standards because I decided that being a neat freak isn't that important. Our health is and unless you want to develop some severe health issues, let it go. Get a crockpot and toss some meat into it on low for the day (and don't worry about your house issues) or prepare meals on the weekends. Use paper plates. And forgive yourselves for being exhausted. This too shall pass. But do urge hubby to go to the doctor or start sneaking vitamins into his food. I also became very exhausted and tired and discovered I was anemic. It was very difficult.
Then I was given iron pills and I'm much better.
N., the time flies. My son is in the service and I don't know where he is and if he is safe. I would gladly have a messy house just to spend it with him in it. My older son is out and about. The house is clean but there aren't people in it. My husband and I miss that stuff. It is not worth it to freak out about your house. You enjoy your husband and family. When you are alone someday you can clean, clean all you want. Now is the time to love them. If you are too exhausted and can't care for baby in the middle of the night get the baby and hand her over to hubby once in awhile.Violate all those rules and snuggle her into the night. None of this is worth your health. Good luck. You will do fine.
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J.B. answers from Chicago on June 25, 2009
It's times like this that I hate men... lol. Well we (I) hired Molly Maid to come in a few times and once he saw what that was costing us, hubby was like "how about you just pay me and I'll do it." I told him why would I do that when I could pay someone else who would do it when I asked without complaint. Then I pointed out that it would be cheaper (because it took less time for the cleaning people) if some basic stuff was done, like dishes and tidying up. I told him they charge by the hour so if they have to clean a sink full of dishes and put away all of the toys before vacuuming, it's going to cost us an extra hour's worth of work. He started doing pretty well about cleaning up after himself, and even made the comment that 'it's easier to clean up if we don't let it get messy to begin with...' like it had been me all along. Absolutely assinine. Actually, I may suggest hiring someone again because it's been about 6 months and things are getting bad again... And some battles I just don't think I can win. Like the fact that he leaves his dirty clothes on the floor, next to a pile of clean clothes. I stuck him on the side of the bed furthest from the bedroom door and kick all of his clothes next to the bed so nobody that walks by can see them, including me. I hate clutter. I stopped cooking dinner too for a while, since he wasn't helping with the dishes (or anything else for that matter). I fed my son healthy snack-like food (fruit, cheese and crackers, yogurt, etc.) and had a lean cuisine and let my husband fend for himself.
Good luck! I agree that we have to pick our battles, but you also don't have to settle into a lifestyle that makes you crazy. Your best bet may just be to hire a cleaning service to help out.
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N.W. answers from Chicago on June 24, 2009
Wow, I've been there and done that!
Letting things go never works. It just doesn't get done forever. Nagging and conversations...never helped me either. I had to use ACTION.
Here's what worked for me:
I'm a FlyBaby (www.flylady.net) so the first thing I have to say is to let go of your perfectionism. Your husband may not do things because he's afraid of not doing it up to your satisfaction. Also, with your hectic schedules, your house may not look so perfect. That being said, I'm sure at this point you just want a clean bathroom!
What has helped me with my hectic schedule and my housekeeping is to first get the house in shape so it can be maintained with minimal effort. I've noticed that an area that is clean tends to stay clean and others do their part to keep it clean. An area that is messy tends to stay messy and others don't care about cleaning it up. So by first getting your house decluttered and everything organized in an easy-to-see system will invite your hubby to help.
I do the swish-and-swipe method from flylady.net so we never have a messy bathroom. Our bathroom is always company-ready and my hubby has started keeping it very clean himself without me asking!
I just organized our kitchen so everything has a place. It stays cleaner now too. Again, clean areas tend to stay clean. I had to declutter my counters in the kitchen and I can't believe how that helped! Having less on the counter made it look cleaner, so if there were a few things on it, it wasn't so bad.
I also agree with giving your husband orders in a loving way. He may not know what to do, or think you have it all planned. That's usually the case with my hubby when he doesn't help. He doesn't know what needs to be done and figures I have it all under control. I know you want to yell "DUH, clean SOMETHING! LOOK AROUND!" but realize he's a MAN and doesn't think like we do. Every house needs a leader, and I usually give my hubby directions. In a nice way of course.
One last thing, I always catch my hubby BEFORE he settles down for the night in the TV chair. It seems as soon as he sits to relax, it's all over and he's done for the night and I need a crowbar to get him up! Once you're moving you'll keep moving, so catch him before he turns off his brain! I let mine change his clothes, then I give him one suggestion at a time. Like one person said, I'll say "can you get her in the bath while I make dinner?" and then "will you do the dishes while I do such and such?" He'll see you working and now he knows what to do to pitch in.
JUST DON'T LET HIM SIT DOWN OR YOU'LL LOSE HIM! LOL!
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M.J. answers from Chicago on June 24, 2009
Maybe you've already tried this, so I'm sorry if this is redundant. What about sitting down and listing all the chores and splitting them up? Maybe he hates doing dishes, but is ok with the bathroom, etc.
As far as getting up at night, we had our nights. So if the baby woke up on Monday and it was my night, I got up. That way at least one person can get a good night's sleep (of course all bets are off if you are nursing).
I also second the mom who told you to use flylady. 10 minutes of picking up an area is pretty painless and is actually a pretty long time. You'll be surprised at what you can get done!
Another thing is to try to simplify. I got 2 colors of clothes baskets so I knew that one color was clean clothes that I hadn't folded and the other color was dirty. That way even if you don't have time to fold, you know where to grab. Also go through the mail right away and sort it into piles - bills, forms to fill out, junk, etc. Get the junk mail out of the house in recycling asap so you don't have to deal with it.
Something else. You need to let go. You are not going to have a spotless house. You have 2 kids and 2 working parents. It is not going to look like a magazine unless you stay up all night cleaning. Figure out what is good enough and go from there.
I'm sorry I don't have any magic remedy. Your problem is exactly why I don't want to go back to work. I do everything (except yardwork) around here and if I go back to work, hubby is going to have to pitch in and I see it as a very painful experience.
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J.L. answers from Chicago on June 24, 2009
I think Elaine is spot on. It is best to be direct with him, just tell him-if I cook dinner I am not cleaning up so you'll need to do it. But have a serious talk with him and if he is indifferent ask for counseling, a maid, or explain that you can't take care of your work requirements, the needs of the kids, the house and him, something has to give if you can't get some help.
If he is really unwilling and talking doesn't work get sick. Make him do everything for one evening while you sleep off your stomach ache =). Don't get me wrong I am not advocating being deviant or dishonest, but I know that sometimes guys just don't "get it" until they are there.
If that doesn't work stop doing things for him-make dinner for you and the kids, separate yours and the kids clothing, separate some dishes for you and the kids and take care of only them, NOT to be cruel or disrespectful, but simply to make a point. But these suggestions may do more damage unless your husband has a good sense of humor.
OR write out your daily schedule/responsibility show him what you do
OR divide up the daily chores and ask him what he is willing to pick up or hire out
Best of all is the approach of I have a problem that I just can't figure out and show him your daily responsibilities and ask him how to fix it, allow him to try to fix it for you so he becomes the one who makes it all better-but be aware it might take a little while before he figures out you don't want him to work out time conflicts, you want him to take ownership of some chores.
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