Finding a Balance

Updated on December 21, 2006
H.T. asks from Cape May, NJ
16 answers

I am a SAHM and married to a man I love very much. We struggle though at times but lately it seems like everything is a struggle. As he says, when when had one child we lost all our free time, and when we had our second we realized how much free time we had with one.
To add to the stress, we just moved to MD about five months ago. (Yep, popped out the kid just after I got here.) Needless to say, life is an adjustment. I realized with two kids, I really needed to get into some good habits of getting some time to myself. So I decided to join the Gym (this would help with my weight problem too.)
This has turned out to not be so grand either. The gym won't take my youngest until he's 6 months old. My oldest decided that the gym daycare is worse than pergatory and cries the entire time which means I can usually only get about 10 minutes in on a machine and 40 minutes in the daycare trying to get him comfortable.
So I tried to go at night after the kids went to bed. This seemed to be a no-go for the hubby as my little one woke up crying quite a bit. So I tried it during the day leaving the kids with Dad while I went in the morning on a Saturday. Seems my little one has a knack for crying as soon as my car hits the driveway, and my oldest somehow turns into demon spawn.

I tried to exercise at home, and that was a joke. Constantly interrupted and little one under feet. Not to mention this doesn't really give me the "me" time I am craving.

I tried to talk to my husband about this, to see if there was a better time, or something else we could do. He just says with a melencholic tone of voice, "We are miserable whenever you leave, so just do what you have to do." I don't want to make my whole family miserable, so I can work out.

Even if I gave up on the exercise, this issue still seems to rear it's ugly head over and over. To the point where it's really driving a wedge between me and my husband. We don't spend any time together without the kids. It's hard to even find time to do things like clean the house.

I hired a mothers helper one day, so we could have some hours to ourselves. She came over and was doing her best to entertain the kids, and my husband chose to sit and watch T.V. and mope while I scrubbed toilets. This was after he protested to us taking the time to play computer games or something because "it wasn't productive." It just seems that I can do no right unless I am constantly taking care of the kids and staying out of his way. But what I really want is some time to reconnect with him as husband and wife, and some time to myself as well. Is that too much to ask for?

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So What Happened?

Thanks for your advice everyone. At this time, I am going to keep going to the gym at night and just let my husband toss his little tantrum... but overall I think you are all correct. These are his children too and he can be alone with them. There is frozen breastmilk in the freezer just going to waste for my small one, and Aiden can communicate his needs effectively enough so he won't parish in three hours with Dad... especially if he's asleep.
I would love to take walks as a family, but I just can't get my husband on board with the idea. He will do it if I tell him too, but it's never enjoyable for him. He longs for his computer games and Xbox to be honest.
I do have a couple of mom's groups so the kids and I are plenty active. We also do My-gym and often go to Playwise and Xtreme bounce, finances permitting. I feel we are pretty well balanced when it comes to the kids and I. It's just including my husband in these activites is a tooth pull.
I did try to talk to my husband about spending time together, even him spending some more quality time with the kids by doing an activity or something. I told him his attitude towards me when I want to leave the kids with him doesn't fill me with confidence and makes me feel bad, only to be met with "You worry to much. Just do what you need to do." So for now, I am going to pretend he has a more positive attitude, the kind I would like to be met with and address these issues after the holidays.
My oldest boy is actually very well behaved and I don't believe I am in danger of spoiling him. My youngest is four months and is a very happy baby. I chose my battles and make them count. I just feel bad for making the entire family miserable on a battle I am not sure is worth fighting at this time. I am still going to try to keep communicating with my husband and maybe oneday he can either explain to me the rub, or one of us will see the light!
Thanks everyone!
I actually took the time to write my husband an email. He hates it when I do this, but sometimes it just needs to be done. He didn't respond to the email, but there was a definate shift in his attitude and behavior when he came home. We wrapped christmas presents together and planned to go run errands together today. At this point, I will take it!! Thanks for the encouragment!

More Answers



answers from Scranton on

hi H., it sounds like you're really struggling with all of this. perhaps you could try and reframe your thinking a bit? i'm a sahm of two kids too. it can get tiring, but i still find plenty of "me" time, it's just that that "me" time usually includes the kids now. lol sometimes it helps to think of you and the baby as a unit. you are not exactly separate yet. it takes 9 months in the womb and at least 9 months out of it for the baby to understand that he's not part of mama. so what i did, was accepted the fact that i would (almost)always have the kids with me, and reframed my mind to think of it more like me living my life, and the kids living their lives, but we were doing it together. does that make sense? baby/child care was almost a non issue. i help my children, but they are not the center of my life. (and i'm not trying to say that i don't love them more than anything!) we are always close together, but they do not prevent me from focusing my attention to other things("me" things!) as well.

a very helpfull thing to invest in(if you don't have already) is a baby sling, so you can still get things done around the house or for yourself, while still meeting the needs of the baby.

as for the exercise, i struggled with this for a while too, but i've come to accept the fact that if i want to exercise at home i'm going to have kids crawling on me(it's gotten way better as they got older!)and dogs licking my face, and i'm going to have to work on blocking out all of those things. i just did exercises with the baby in the sling when she was little too. sure there's a limit as to what you can do like that, but it's exercise none the less! and they always seem to fall asleep while i'm working out. (they can actually expend energy through you!)

if your husband is moping, ignore him. it's not your job to make him happy. his happiness should have nothing to do with your contentment. he needs to rethink his "free time" comment too. you guys aren't just you two anymore, you are a family unit, and it's very important to realise that you all can function as a unit without impeeding on anyone's independence.

i hope some of this helps, and i wish you the best of luck and happy mothering!

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answers from Washington DC on

Hi H.,

I can totally relate to everything you wrote. I have a son who just turned 2 a few weeks ago and a new baby girl that is 4 weeks old. I cant believe how busy we are now and how much I was able to do with just one child. I am starting to think about working out again and I just can't seem to find the balance either. My husband is the same way as you describe yours and it seems like the kids have a melt down everytime I try to leave- they also seem to do the same thing when I just try to sneak upstairs and put laundry away. Where do you live? I live in Olney, MD. Maybe we could help each other out once a week or something. There has to be a better way and moms do need their time.

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answers from Erie on

Leaving the children in the babysitting room at the YMCA may have to wait, but it won't be forever. But your husband should be finding ways to calm them down and spend alone time with them, they are HIS children after all, he should be the one person you can leave them with without worrying. So he needs to buck up and be a father, not a whiny fusspot who can't be creative enough to take care of his kids.

You do deserve time alone to recharge or you won't be a good mom. Your husband needs to find the time to help you do this. And you and your husband definitely need time together. My dh and I had a few years where we couldn't afford babysitters (had just opened our business) so we made a point to have date night every night, as soon as the kids were in bed. No tv, no friends over but occasionally, just the two of us talking, playing board games or *whatever* and it helped get us through a tough time-and-money-strained period in our marriage. You don't need to go out to spend time together, just stay up an hour later or take advantage of naps on the weekend.

I know it seems like forever until you will get that freedom back, but does it help if I tell you none of us have the same freedom we did before kids? You get it back in increments through the years, then come the teen years when you are waiting up late for them to come home and worry about what they are doing out of your sight lol.

btw, I wish you could meet my children who are not brats or whiny, and I attended to every cry, one way or another. Under age 1, they don't know HOW to manipulate you. They cry because they NEED something, not because they WANT something. After that, you need to learn when to let them walk on their own two feet, and when to attend to them with concern and sympathy. Sometimes it's a fine line, but giving a child unconditional love is NOT spoiling them, you can only do that with THINGS. Children who are whiny and act spoiled act that way because they are given things in place of love, not because their parents took the time to understand what their needs are and attend to them appropriately.

I love Dr. Sears. Check him out: A friend of mine had his son as her pediatrician and swears by his advice.

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answers from Portland on

H., I'm right there with you, though a little further along and am writing to share that there is some light at the end of the tunnel you're in now. I have a 3-year-old and a 10-month-old. I recall with great fondness those "super busy" days of being the mother of one...when I could actually leave the house for several hours at a time and hang out with my friends, leave our daughter in daycare while my husband and I went out for dinner and book shopping (our favorite kind of date), or even go away for a few days on a retreat. This year, though, has been hard. The last months of my pregnancy were horrible and since my son's arrival I have felt like I have had no time for myself. I couldn't leave the house without my son until the last month or so. BUT it is getting better. Now, I can leave him and her at home with Dad and they're okay. My son cries some, but my husband can put him to sleep eventually and my daughter is great entertain for her little brother when he's awake.

You're in a different spot because you probably don't have friends where you are? If you are breastfeeding, maybe you could consider going to a La Leche League meeting...or if not, another moms support group that you can attend during the day, with the kids, that will at least give you a social outlet and help you begin to build new friendships. My greatest therapy is my moms knitting group. For a while, I was bringing my son with me to our weekday evening gatherings and I didn't get to knit then, but I got time with my friends and had a place to vent about my problems. (And be gently reminded that I'm not the only one with them!)

You might want to start by looking on or for playgroups or moms groups in your new neighborhood.

Another thing, if you want to get exercise and spend more time with your husband, is trying going for walks as a family...maybe after he gets home from work or if that's too much, on the weekends. If it's too cold, go to a mall and walk. Personally, I have given up on the idea of getting time alone to exercise 'til my son is one. I'm just too tired to get up super early to get to the gym and that's about the only time I could do it. Instead, I try to get out with them several times a week for walks in the woods or running around the playground (especially good while my little one sleeps in his stroller, but I also just carry him while chasing my daughter around).

Anyway, know that it will get better! Enjoy this time as much as you can with your little ones...they will only be small for a very short time. Tell your husband (maybe late at night, when you have some time alone together) how much you miss him...even if it doesn't change anything, at least he'll know how you feel and maybe he'll be able to suggest some changes you could both make.


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answers from York on

I just wanted to respond to your "This is What Happened". I would say to you you are being a strong mother and woman.

In regards to your husband not wanting to participate in "family" activities, let him be a bum...I say just make sure you share with him all the great things that the kids did, some dads need to realize that they are missing out and they kinda get jealous and want to get out there and participate.

Well, just stay strong and make sure you are as happy as possible in the situation you are in.

Good Luck and stay strong!!

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answers from Philadelphia on

I can relate--I am a SAHM to a two year old and six month old. My husband works and travels a lot, and the only help I have is my mom, who I rarely ask to babysit because she already does so much for my children. My husband and I have been alone twice in the past year, and we are dealing with the same issue. Fortunately, he helps out so much when he is home so that I can have a bit of a break however small. You really need to maintain the connection so you don't wake up in 18 years when the kids are in college and have nothing left between the two of you.

I think you really need to continue talking to your husband about this and make sure he understands that this is a deep concern for you and is about more than just working out. It is good for him to have that time alone with the kids. Maybe if they stick it out and make this their special Daddy time, they will stop giving you such a hard time when you leave the house. Little ones have a way of getting what they want. They don't want you to leave, so they make Dad miserable! Remember, you and your husband are a team. When he gets home from work, does your job stop? No. So, his job as a parent starts when he enters the door. You have to work together to take care of the children and give each other breaks (this includes you!). Good luck to you.

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answers from State College on

H., first let me say that I totally understand where you're coming from! The guilt of trying to find "Me" time can be overwhelming, especially when your DH is telling you how miserable everyone is without you. That being said, though, it is soooo important for you!

Here's what I suggest you do - exercise at the gym without the kids three nights/week while your DH watches the boys. Ask your DH to NOT tell you how miserable everyone was but to lie and tell you it was super duper great. Once everyone realizes that mommy time is mommy time no matter how much they cry or pout, etc., the sooner they'll realize that they're fine for that one or two hours without you. Sometimes you've just got to do what you've got to do.

That's my suggestion anyway :-)

Good luck!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi H.,
you need time for you. You sound like me, taking care of everyone else. The whole excerise thing...I couldn't find time to do it until my husband made it a priority for himself ( he get's up super early and works out) When I would complain that i don't get to do it, He says make time... same stuff as you have ( he get's home at 7 we eat and the kids go to bed) anyway I found time- even if i have to get up at five and excerise down stairs I am a better mommy. Get involved with Moms groups- there are 2 nationally I know of MOPS and the Moms club. You can look them up on-line and they will give you locations. Also once you start making friends inthe area- kid swap. We just moved here last month and the girls here do it. Now it will take some time for me to get to know them enough to do it but I plan to. It is so hard- we all understand. But if your oldest whines just tell him mommy needs to stay healthy so I can run after you and play more with you. if you husband complains show him how much of a better mommy and wife you will be once you are happy with yourself. I didn't believe this until I took someone else's advise and started working out. Now I don't yell as much and I am not resentful. Best of luck

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answers from Pittsburgh on

If you are willing to meet your husband in the middle, then he's got to do it too. you can only reconnect with him if you can first reconnect with yourself. One thing that works with us is to do things with our daughter that we used to do before we got married, like go to the zoo. We get to reminise and create new memories.
As far as the gym, what else can you do to make the time your husband would have the kids easier. So what if the four month old wakes up crying. The baby took two to make. Do what you can to have bottles ready, blankets ready, even his remote ready. If you nurse, nurse him right before you leave. Then go. don't dilly dally. Have your gym bag ready, kiss everyone, and go. The kids need a chance to understand that they can trust daddy too, and that is sometimes achieved by alone time with him. Maybe limit your workout, and wait to get home to shower. Once the boys are asleep, ask your hubby to shower with you, or ask him to help you in the shower, or ask if you can help him in the shower.
I know that sometimes it's not that easy, and it is much easier said than done. The best of luck to you.



answers from Dover on

It is definatly hard to find a balence. one way you can get your baby used to you leaving is transitioning it...leave for a short time for a bit and than extend the time. eventually the crying will stop and the baby will get used to it. That is how I had to do it with my son. I would go out for like a half hour just even for a drive and than extend it to 45 min and than a hour and just take it from there. And the best advice I can give you about your husband from experiance is dont lose communication. Try to find time every day or set up time to spend with him just to talk atleast because one thing i have learned is communication is the key.



answers from Philadelphia on

sounds like u really have ur hands full there. but everyone says it is very important to makesure to get some time alone by urself.u need to take care of u as well and they say do not feel selfish in anyway.its selfish of ur husband i believe to not allow u any alone time also. what about daycares? do ur kids have nap time..u cud try to get some workouts in there. or maybe as soon as u get the kids in bed u can take a hot bath read a book or something just to relax. as far as u and ur husband gettin time to urselves...i dont kno what to tell ya cuz im dealing with the same issue! sorry hope i cud help in some way!another way that u cud get some exercise...take the kids in a couch and take walks!



answers from Scranton on

Hi H..
I hear you on finding "me" time and not getting much help from the other half.
As for the gym, I'm going to start that myself after the holidays and hopefully it works out, if not, I'll be thinking of you.
But I would try just leaving them for short periods of time, even if you just go for a ride around the block and build up the time that you're gone and maybe that will work with leaving them.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi, my hub and i had something of the same issue, but with only one baby--

my gym opens at 6 Am and my son typically gets up at 6:30--now, 6:30-8:15 is daddy and son time--and I go work out--AND THEY LOVE IT!!!! My hub shows him how to shave and tie ties etc.

My hub is sooooo happy now to have our son in the morning when he is most alert and fun and I get to work out and i have so much energy--and we have couple time in the evenings--i don't know how much harder 2 would make this routine--but it works great for us with one--

good luck.



answers from Washington DC on


Definately not too much to ask for. What part of Maryland and what gym? I joined the YMCA in Westminster, MD and they accept children as young as 4 weeks old. They will watch your child for 1.5 hours while you are either working out on the machines or taking a class. There are normally several women in the room with the kids and I have seen them in action if one child needs to be held they will hold them to help soothe their time. My daughter is 3 months old and normally sits in their bouncy chairs until I am done working out. As for you and your husband you definately need to try to arrange some alone time. My husband and I finally went out on a "date" this past Friday to see Happy Feet but we had a great time reconnecting again. My husband works Monday through Thursday and is gone most the day those 4 days but when he is home I make him have baby time where he has several hours to play with our daughter or take a nap with her if he likes while I get to do something I want to do. Most recently it is just getting my laundry done and wrapping christmas gifts.



answers from Washington DC on

Hi H.,
Having little kids is probably the most stressful time in a marriage. Your doing the right thing by trying to reconnect but your husband has to want it also. Maybe try talking to him and asking him what he wants from your marriage right now. That way maybe you can come up with something he will be interested in with you. Good Luck



answers from Lancaster on

It sounds like we have the same husband. Do you live close by your family. Mine can help out sometimes. You NEED to find someone your kids are comfortable with. They act up when you aren't there because that is all they are used to. Things are a little better when they get a little older and easier to deal with. If you need someone to talk to write me back and we can talk.

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