Husbands - Demanding Careers & Sahm's

Updated on May 02, 2012
J.S. asks from Saint Paul, MN
17 answers

Hi ladies.

Let me start this by saying my husband is wonderful. He's a fantastic father, and really appreciates me and the roll I play at the at home parent. He appreciates it so much in fact, that he always cringes when I talk about "when I go back to work" or "when I get a part time job". He doesn't usually work weekends (only evenings if he does) so he's pretty much a full time Daddy on Saturday and Sunday so those days I do get a break. But...

My kids are 3, 5 and 7. My 5 yo will start Kindergarten in the fall, and then 2 years later the other one will be off - so I've been thinking about what I'll "do all day" once they are all in school. I had a girls night with some old co-workers last weekend. We all worked together 10 years ago - and none of us are in the same field now. Some of us stay home, and some work. One of my friends has gotten certified as a yoga instructor and is a doula. I told my husband I was envious of her ability to pull that off (with a 2 year old and 4 year old at home).

This sparked an honest conversation about how my schedule and his schedule jive and he admitted to me that whenever I put something on the calendar that requires him to be home early or a need for him to keep tabs on it on his work calendar it totally stresses him out. He admitted that he was glad the school commitments were ending for the school year. Granted, right now he's SUPER busy at work, traveling every week, and working 60 hrs a week... so I get it, but I'm not sure how I am supposed to deal with this information.

Do I stop adding things to the calendar (stop volunteering for things after school, or signing up to be on committees) at least for the short term? Part of me feels like I NEED to do something because just doing laundry and running kids around makes me lonely - when I join in I feel better. But I don't want to add stress to his life. He's stressed out enough.

Have any of you been in this situation? What did you do? We are trying to be in "extreme saving mode" because my husband is trying to max out our 401k and other retirement investments this year so he can retire at some point and "not have to work so hard"... I'm considering hiring our neighbor girl to be my babysitter 1 day a week this summer (it looks like he'll be super busy through fall) - would you do this? Without her help, over the summer I don't think I'll get many breaks. My kids don't like summer camps much, so we only have signed up for swimming. My SIL is going to take the kids for a whole week in July - and I find myself looking forward to that a little too much :) Hehehe.

Anyway - I'm just trying to figure out balance in it all...

Thanks for your thoughts to my long winded request.

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answers from Boca Raton on

I absolutely would hire help . . . he needs to understand that that's the price of him being almost completely unavailable for his children. And in the big scheme of things it is well worth it. He won't be too happy alone in retirement when his wife is long gone from exhaustion and stress.

Does he have an assistant or support staff at work? If so, that means he doesn't manage everything himself either.

If you can afford a little bit of support then I would absolutely do it.


6 moms found this helpful

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answers from Houston on

I think you should go back to your husband and talk to him. Let him know you don't want his stress level rising but what does he need from you? What exactly did he want accomplished by his comment - sympathy (he just needed you to listen to his vent and he's happy the way things are with activities being added to the calender despite the stress) OR action (he needs you to stop volunteering or you two need to discuss activities before agreeing to them, or...)? Sometimes we just need our loved ones to listen to the rants and other times we need action. Only he knows the intent of his comments. Good luck.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

aren't you a sweetheart?
love how understanding you are of your husband's demands and stresses. i think some people just don't get how not everyone can achieve the 'right' balance all the time. it sounds as if you are both pulling in the same harness, and appreciative of what the other brings to the table.
absolutely hire the neighborhood girl. you need a break, and it doesn't sound as if your husband CAN do it (which doesn't mean he's not a great father or doesn't love his kids.) in fact, i'd bump her up to a couple of days a week. even if you're home, having a mother's helper around to keep the kids busy can be a huge mental stress reliever for you, whether you use the time to get caught up on tasks or bask in a lounge chair with your kindle.
:) khairete

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

It sounds as if he might be so overly focused on his retirement that he is missing what's under his nose right now -- his own kids, growing up. The time will go very quickly and by the time he's ready to retire, they will be long past needing -- or wanting-- him to be at school functions or take them places. He may be buying his retirement at the cost of not really knowing his own kids during the years they most need him around.

You do need to keep doing whatever volunteering or committees you want to do, within reason. He needs to understand that doing those things, especially at schools or preschools, means you are much more plugged in to the school as a whole. In fact, I would urge you to be sure you DO volunteer at your children's schools as they move on into K and elementary.

I would get him to go into more detail here: Is the issue with feeling "stressed" by the need to be home early etc. because he gets flak from someone at work who doesn't like his leaving early? Does he have a boss who rides him hard about any requests to leave etc.? Or is the pressure and stress only from within himself -- is it a matter of his feeling that he MUST be at the office every minute to get certain tasks done? Does his job allow him to do any work at home, so he can put in an hour or two while at home with the kids when you're somewhere? Does he manage other people, and if so, could the problem really be that he is not delegating enough work to them, and feels he must take on everything himself "or it won't be done right"? You and he should explore the nature of his job, where and when he can do it, the other people involved and whether they are the reason for the stress, and whether he has perfectionist tendencies that may make him feel he is responsible for everything, all the time, at work.

He also needs to hear exactly what you said here: "Part of me feels like I NEED to do something because just doing laundry and running kids around makes me lonely - when I join in I feel better." You should not have to risk feeling down, even becoming depressed, because you feel he wants you to drop the things you are doing.

Evaluate how many hours a week you need him home at certain times, and whether it's enough for you and/or too much for him. Really look at where his stress over this originates. Do not deny yourself the opportunity to get out. Impress on him that as the kids enter school you will want to be more, not less, involved. And yes, get a helper, and keep that helper into the school year if you can.

My husband is a project manager and has five people whom he manages but he is very quick to come home early or take time off to do things with our daughter or allow me to do things (usually...things with our daughter!). But his position and the kind of work they do means he can often do a few hours of work at home here and there. And there is no one over him who would get on his case about moving his schedule around --his company, and the client for whom he works, are pretty family-friendly and he's been there a long time and is valued. But a lot may depend on the type of work your husband does -- and on his own feelings about it.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You need to do something that fulfills you. You deserve to nurture your own creativity and nourish your soul. If you don't fill yourself up now and then, you don't have anything left to give. That being said, it would be nice if you could schedule things insuch a way that don't stress your husband out. I would choose hobbies that can be pursued while he's at work. Maybe take some classes at the community college, so that when the kids go to school, you will have a headstart on your next vocation.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Nashville on

If you can get help one or two days out of the week to give you a break, then you could get plugged in with adults doing something you want to do without stressing yourself or your husband. Asking the neighbors kid might be an option.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Bloomington on

Hi J.,

You are not alone. Finding that balance is soooo hard. My hubby works in IT, and can work from home a lot. The problem. A LOT. He puts in his 40 hours at the office, and then another 20-25 hours from home. I took on a part-time job where I work only 3 evenings a week for 2-3 hours each night. I can also do some prep from home for more hours. I also volunteer, and write the school district's newsletter every other month. We have a 4 1/2 y.o. and a 2 y.o.

The weeks where it all comes together at once is sooo hard. His extra hours, my extra hours, the newsletter, preschool activities, and then LIFE.

My advice is that you DO need to have something for yourself, and your balance may be more or less than what I can do. I would have that conversation with hubs again about what it is that stresses him out (like the other person on here posted). I WOULD hire the neighborhood girl as a mother's helper. I had a young girl (17) who had her own baby, and the 5 of us had a great summer together. Between two moms, one toddler and two babies in strollers, we had a blast! She also came over during the days, and was the extra hands when I just needed to take a shower, help the toddler with potty training, etc. I know yours are older, so maybe you could look at getting some projects done that you ENJOY??? Extra hands to go on some mini-trips to special places?

Will you need to take any training to get back into the work force, even if it is part time? Could you look at taking a class for that when the school year resumes? Maybe put the 3 y.o. in a part time preschool?

I hope you find your balance....for now. It will always change as life does.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I'd hire the neighbor girl. Your husband sounds amazing. I work full time and am the primary breadwinner but my husband is a workaholic and always has a super demanding job so I can almost never rely on him to get home early once in awhile etc. If I was a SAHM, I bet I could NEVER expect him home early or something. My sister has 3 kids and her husband works a lot and also travels so she expects very very little from him and she's always been that way. I don't know how your husband doesn't lose it... He gives you a break on Sat and Sun but when does he get a break? It sounds like he's fairly or very successful so you can probably afford to hire a little help. So I'd hire someone vs ask him for much of anything and I'd try to give him some time off too. Spending time with the kids is of course different than his workweek but as you know, it's not personal time. I'd worry he's going to have a heart attack.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think that as great as he is and as much as he does for your family, you deserve some sanity too. I work anywhere from 50-70 hours a week and still manage to be the primary caregiver to my kids as well as the "breadwinner." Granted I don't have to travel for my job right now, but I do teach at night so there are many days when I leave my house at 9 AM and get home at 10 PM. My husband works FT as well and manages to shoulder his part of the load.

He is very lucky that you are able to be at home and take care of as much as you do, but that doesn't exempt him from having to maintain his own work-life balance so that he can be there at home some nights and you can do things that enrich your life. A little stress never killed anyone.

It's OK and good that he shared with you that he is stressed, but that doesn't mean that it's your problem to solve. Really, he's lucky that you're at home right now and can take on as much as you do, but the reality is that parenting is stressful and life is stressful and work is stressful. He'll just need to continue to put on his big boy pants and deal with things. Please don't give up your own sanity and your own interests.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

HI - I'm a military wife with a husband who is gone 7 mos, home 7 mos. And when he's home he works 14 hour days minimum and does weeks away in the field if not months. He is like your husband - a great Dad when he's here and he puts a lot of effort into the family when here. But with that said I cannot count on him to be here or show up for something specific. He usually can't. I'm also a SAHM and on a small budget. Very small. What I do is schedule my life the way I want to schedule it. If he is here it's a bonus, but dinner time is when I want the kids and I to eat. We do the activities I want to do but I rely on friends, babysitters, mommy co-ops, gyms with drop in care to get some time and things done. I like to be social and join things too but I tend to do things that have free daycare or kids activities built in and if I do something that requires someone watching the kids I hire a sitter. It leads to less stress for him and frustration for me (when he can't make it). I would say you need to reach out to some other Mommy friends and start a little co-op or find yourself a mom's day out program (lots of churches run these) or hire a regular sitter. Budget in whatever you can. I made it a priority this year for the first time and I'm so much happier. Before that it was me all day every day and no break ever. I loved it but needed a break!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Good morning! Unfortunately I don't have any experience with a husband with a demanding career as I am the primary breadwinner of the family. I do however know that it is important for you to have some 'outside the home and/or me time'. I think you need to stress to your husband that while you absolutely love your life/life with the kids/etc. you need to have some time as you. He may not understand as he is outside of the home regularly and has time to speak to adults, etc. So, maybe if you have a nice conversation about that - explain you appreciate the role he's taken on providing for the family, etc. but you could use a little time as well.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

I understand what you're saying. My husband's career was extremely time-consuming when my children were growing up, and it still keeps him pretty busy. One of my sons is career military, so his wife must plan home life around what (and where) he's assigned. The other has an often overwhelming amount of traveling in connection with his work, which makes his wife (often) like a single parent; they're happy he has the job, but they have to have an amazing amount of support for one another to make it all work out.

Hire the girl for the summer work if she's reliable. There's a time-honored rule when you have responsibilities: either you do the work yourself, or you hire someone to do it for you. Either is fine, as long as the work is done well. If you can get a trustworthy sitter, you'll still be taking care of your children, you'll still fulfill your responsibilities, and your husband won't have to put that need on his list of worries.

Husbands and wife can sometimes forget that they're really a team. It's great for you to be able to handle your needs while you're supporting him in his aims. He will support you (I hope) by saying, "What a great idea! I'm for it."

Mamas do have to take care of themselves. It's NOT selfish. You know very well that getting the balance you need makes you a better SAHM. If you can get the balance without involving your husband in the way it works, then perhaps he will be better able to handle the things he must be involved in with the family. See if you can schedule a laid-back date night with him, too, around the other things on his calendar. Sounds as if he could use one.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I know it's hard. My husband works a lot too and I stay home but do photography maybe once or twice a month on the weekend when he is home. Like your husband when he is home (he is off 1 day a week), he spends all his time with the kids and gives me a break. He loves it when he can just play with the kids. He even requested a day off so we can go on an all day long date :) Super excited about that!! I have a 7 year old and a 4 year old. My son will start K this fall. I have thought about getting a part time job when they are in school (coffee shop type job) but I'm not sure how flexable they will be when school is on breaks and summers.
I know how it can be hard to ask your husband to re arrange his work to help you out. I think asking a neighbor girl is a great idea once a week! It would help you out a lot and make your husband less stressed.
For me right now though, I have not volunteered in my daughters class or school at all because I have my son with me and I can't take him with me into her class. I am just waiting until next fall when I can take turns in their classrooms.
Good luck! Maybe you shouldn't cut out everything, but maybe cut back just a little and totally hire the neighbor to help out this summer :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Hi J., I have the same kind of husband, he's in sales, 100% commission and works VERY hard. He also comes home, does ALL of our laundry and anything else that needs to be done and he also does chores at the house. My kids are at school during the day and I work from home. I do have the opportunity to do things at night to "get away" but I don't because that is when hubs is home for "family time". I don't want to just take off and leave him with the kids, although he would happily do that for me. I do think you need to stop adding SO MUCH to your calendar, only do what is really necessary. Also, I would hire the neighbor girl, maybe even twice a week, on Tues and Thurs. It would be a good break for both you and the kids. Even tho I am home all summer with my kids, we are sending my son to the boys/girls club all week. He is WAY too active and needs to be entertained every minute. He drives his older sister crazy so it will be a good break for her and give me and her some mother/daughter bonding time. So you just do what you need to do. I hope you figure something out. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I say you still do what you need to do for yourself, but hire someone to stay with the kids so your hubby doesn't get stressed. Put it on the calendar so he'll know where you are, but assure him that it's only "for his information" and that you have made other arrangements for the kids.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I was in a very similar situation. My husband is a trial attorney, working long hours and traveling all over the country. I quit full time work when our youngest was born. I am also an attorney and was working as a legal editor, but it was just too much. Our kids are now 12 and 15 and things are still crazy! I think you will find that your days are still very full once the kids are in school. I do go to the YMCA and exercise regularly which takes up a lot of my time. I was fortunate in that my parents and in-laws are nearby and were able to help and give me periodic breaks (although it was sometimes bittersweet, but that's another story).

I always said no to all evening commitments and I still do for the most part. I belong to a book club that meets once a month and I have season tickets to a local theater with a former work colleague. We get tickets to 4-6 plays per year. At one point it became so difficult to attend book club and the plays that I almost gave them up, but they were important to me so I worked it out. I couldn't attend every one, but I went when I could even if it sometimes meant getting a sitter or having my in-laws come over. It actually hasn't gotten much easier in that respect since the boys have gotten older because now they are in a ton of activities and need a constant driver. My kids would not be able to participate in as many activities as they do if I worked full time.

I now work two part time jobs, providing childcare in our church nursery and doing contract legal editor work from home for my former full time employer. I have also volunteered A LOT over the years for our schools, which I can do during the day. It's a great way to get to know teachers and administrators and get inside scoop on what's going on at school. I say yes to commitments I can handle while the kids are at school and still turn down evening obligations. I also volunteer through our church for the Confirmation program and am actually leaving in just a couple of hours to deliver Meals on Wheels.

A long winded request gets a long winded response? (-: Basically, I focused full time on the kids until they were in school (taking my breaks at the Y or when they were in preschool or with grandparents) and then started volunteering and doing things during the day after they started school. It's gotten a little better, but whenever I have/had evening commitments it stresses out my husband too. He is happy to be here when he can and is also a great father, but he generally has little or no control over his work or travel schedule.

Feel free to PM me if you have any additional questions. I guess I never answered the original question! Yes, I would consider hiring the neighbor girl periodically if you can trust her. She could maybe start as a "mother's helper" when you are home until she gets more experience with the kids. I'm not sure I would do it one day per week, but as a periodic option it sounds like a great idea. My kids did like summer programs (and one of them still does) so I did sign them up for about one activity per month during the summer.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Your husband may be wonderful human being. But I am hard pressed to see how he is a wonderful father if he is not actually there for the kids. Being a father means being there day to day, feeding, bathing, teaching, playing. Just like being a mother. Being a husband means being a partner. That means seeing what my partner needs - intellectual stimulation, work, interaction with other human beings - and helping him or her to accomplish those things. Wouldn't you be able to save more money if you were both working? And it sounds like you need to do this for your sanity. You are just as valuable a person as he is - and you need to tell him that.

2 moms found this helpful
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