Work/Life Balance

Updated on January 26, 2009
D.F. asks from Syracuse, NY
11 answers

Currently I am struggling a little creating a good work/life balance. I enjoy my job and I love my daughter and husband. There are times when I feel that I am the one who holds it all together. We try to take turns caring for our daughter. We have a few things working well so far. One of us takes her to day care and the other one picks up. We take turns caring for her if she wakes up at night. I feel that some of the other things all fall to me. If she is sick - I get her from day care and leave work. It is hard to take turns on this since I am closer to her day care by 20 minutes. She also might need her momma when sick. Ok I get that. I can take more on with that. I also make most of the money and head up most of the chores. So lately I feel like I am shouldering the family burden. When I brought some of this up to my husband he was thinking that everything was going fine. Sometimes he is too laid back. How do I discuss this with my husband without going off on him? He is trying and I want to negotiate a better way to deal with this so I can focus on me as well as the family and my career. What brought this issue into focus for me recently was when I set aside time for myself and was planning a massage and haircut at the salon but could not go last minute since our daughter got a fever at daycare. We plan to talk more about this soon. We agreed to think about what is really important to us for family and career and to think about this separately so when we have the discussion we can better negotiate what we want and come up with a cooperative solution. If anyone has other ideas of ways they worked with thier spouse to create a good work/life balance I am all ears!

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answers from Bangor on

I can relate to your troubles. My husband is very defensive if I even lightly touch the subject of needing more from him, or feeling that I do more than my share without appreciation. The fact is he does do a lot and he too feels much of this hard work goes unappreciated.

I think one good thing is to, by yourself, go about lightening the burdens on you. You don't have to tell him "because of you and the way our household is running, I need this change," you just do it. (After reading the other responses, I want to clarify: It is great that you are communicating with your husband about this. But instead of asking more from him, you could just say "I need some help and I thought of a way we could both be unburdened." Anyway, don't be secretive, just don't be confrontational and remember that he may feel the same way.)

I suggest getting a housekeeper/cleaning lady if you don't already have one. Having these chores taken care of, and living in a neat and clean house, will probably really help your state of mind and other things will feel like they're falling into place, and that you have some control.

Outside of a housekeeper, I'd just try to delegate as much as possible in your life so you can free up some "you time." If you have family nearby, let them do some shopping for you or host you for meals. If anyone offers any kind of help, take it.

And at work, try to delegate. It will force you to be organized and to trust people, and will thus be good in the long run anyway. I certainly can't say I take all my advice, but maybe writing this to you will remind me to do so. Good luck.

(P.S. It's great that you enjoy your job! So many people don't seem to. I'm a research scientist and I love that, and I often feel like all the other Moms on Mamasource are coming from a different place on the balancing-work-and-family issue.)



answers from Boston on

It sounds like you have a good handle on the situation and are proactive in your communicating with your husband when you feel things are falling unfairly on your side.

One thing I do to ease my burden is to have a cleaner come in 2x/mo to throughly clean the house. This is the one extravagance I allow myself, but it cuts my cleaning down considerably since I just have to keep up w/ light vacuuming and tiding between cleanings...possibly if you and your husband could find one major chore to farm out you would have more time and feel less of a burden with all the other things you are responsible for.

Surely when you have something special planned it should be communicated that if your child gets sick or needs a parent during that time frame your husband should be available!



answers from Boston on

I was recently in your situation and decided to leave my well-paying, really cushy job for full-time motherhood(and to start my own health counseling practice). It certainly was not the best option financially, but we are making it work. My husband had no choice but to make more money, we decided that our baby was the most important priority right now. This is such a tough dilemma for us women! I don't think men give us enough credit, they just don't see it from our perspective. I read a couple of books that helped me out: Surrendering to motherhood By Iris Kraskow (a wonderful story about a high powered washington journalist who had four boys in four years, a really great story!) and Mothering and Fathering by Tine Thevenin, also the Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloft is a must read for any mom(and dad). All of these books helped bring motherhood into perspective for me. Like I said, I left my job, which was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made. But it was right for me and my daughter, you never get those precious moments of infancy back once they're gone. I'm not telling you to leave YOUR job, this is obviously a personal decision with many variables involved. It is not easy to juggle and balance everything else in your life, believe me I know. Something usually has to give. if your husband can help out more then it will certainly help the situation, also if you have any other close relatives that can help this also makes a difference. Also talk to your job about you situation, I know lots of employers sympathize with moms, their could be options for work-at-home a couple of days a week scenarios. Also if you can, get a housekeeper, even if it is once or twice a month, it will make a difference. I sympathize with you, this is not an easy task! Remember that we are mothers first, the hardest job you'll ever have! Good Luck and pick up those books, they really helped me.



answers from Boston on

Hi D.,

Congratulations to you and your husband on having a dear daughter.
You have some great advice in the postings, but I thought I would add one more thing. For years I did what I felt was "more than I could handle". My husband did anything I asked, but I had to keep asking. I honestly think it was 10 years into our marriage before I fully appreciated that he didn't perceive the need for chores to be done as I did, and that he probably would never change his perceptions, and this had nothing to do with how much he loved me. So from that point on, with his agreement, I took the responsibility of writing up a chores list regularly, and things were instantly better. If I found a chore not done completely, I looked back at what I wrote, and discovered that I thought general, and he thought specifically. For example, if I wrote "do the wash" to him it meant wash, not dry the clothes. So I simply adapted the list to be more specific. I cannot tell you how much this helped, and we're past 35 years of wedded bliss!

Take care!



answers from Boston on

Hi D.,
You are not alone! Regardless of whether most moms/wives work outside the home, women in general take on over 70% of all household duties; isn't that incredible?! It sounds like you are doing the right thing in talking with your husband, and while some men may seem "laid back" it may be that they just don't let their emotions show as much as women do. You seem to be shouldering so much, especially because you are bringing more money into the household --- that's a lot of pressure on you and may make your husband feel a little insecure. Being the major breadwinner, keeping the home together, and feeling like you are sacrificing everything can cause great stress both physically and mentally. Some things that have worked in our home -- assign tasks to each other like paying the bills, laundry, making dinner, grocery shopping, cleaning the bathroom,yard work.... highlight the most important things and learn to let some of the little things go. If you can afford it, hire someone to help. Utilize services like online grocery shopping and meal assembly stores, to take some pressure off. And, continue to make regular appointments for yourself doing something you enjoy like massage, going to the salon, taking a yoga class, etc. While you won't make every single appointment all the time, just knowing that it's on your calendar regularly will give you something to look forward to! Don't overlook making "dates" with your husband too, so that you spend time together that isn't stressful. Remember, "happy are the children that see their parents holding hands." Best wishes!



answers from Boston on

Unfortunately I think you have to be very specific of exactly what would help you to relieve some of the stress you are feeling. For instance your massage and salon time should of been the time your husband could of picked her up at day care when she was sick. I think it's good you are going to sit down together and talk about it some more. I think you should definitely be prepared to talk to him about the specifics even if that means writing everything down.



answers from Boston on

I was reading the posts to get some tips as I struggle with the same thing! While I'm lucky that dad is so loving and hands on - what I've realized is he has no clue the mental aspect of being the person who has to stay two steps ahead of all the things kids require - dr appts, packing for daycare, clean bottles or cups, clean clothes, are we out of vitamins, diapers, baby tylenol... It was hard for me to understand I need to be specific when I ask for help but that is the only thing that works! Yes, I wish he could just see it but realizing I had to change my approach has gone a long way. It sounds like your husband's heart is in the right place. Good luck.



answers from Boston on

I think you will be getting many responses as this is a very common situation with new families! I feel your frustration! You are doing the right thing, communicating with your husband. It sounds to me like you have a pretty good foundation going with the daycare arrangement etc. and now it will just be fine tuning the responsibilities around the house. My husband and I try to keep things as even as possible so neither one of us feels overwhelmed. He takes out the trash & recycling, takes care of any outside chores (snow, lawn mowing, etc), homework and getting the kids ready for bed. He will also help me out as needed with dishes and laundry but for the most part I do that, cook dinner and clean up after. We both clean the house together every sunday (or try to at least!)One of our neighbors has her husband cook dinner every night and do the grocery shopping. Communicating is really the important thing here and you will need to revisit this topic many times as situations change and the kids get older. You are not alone!! Good luck..



answers from Barnstable on

Hi D.,
Feelin' like the little dutch boy, huh? Well, first of all, you deserve a round of applause for recognizing your feelings before it all blows up. Too many women do it all and don't say anything til too late. Sure, he thinks everything is fine..what is going on now has worked well for him. So, negotiating you'll need some answers prior to getting it all on the table. Do you have a third person (babysitter, Grammy, Grandpa, Aunt, Uncle, Friend) who can be the emergency pick up at day care. You need a relief person. And regardless of the time factor, your DH needs to do the emergency pick up too, maybe you can alternate. That first and second year babies pick up all the sickness. Once they are three it slows down.
Now, while your at it, figure out all the other things you do that seems out of balance. House work, yard work, cars, bills. It all adds up to too much stress for one person when there are two in the mix. Good luck. Sounds like your on the right track.
L. Bavota,



answers from Boston on

I could have written Leigh's post. I think that men really don't get that it is quite exhausting to have to keep that huge chunk of your brain reserved for running the house even if it seems like things are breaking down relatively evenly.

If you can, try to switch off times picking her up/taking care of her when she's sick. I know that you're 20 minutes closer, but really, unless she's violently ill, that shouldn't make a difference. Make sure that your own guilt about wanting to be the "good mom" who always "puts her child first" doesn't get in the way of this. I'm sure your husband is a good dad too, and he gets to/has to do some of the caring even when it's tough.

Dividing up the chores is tough, especially because sometimes I think that actual barnyard animals could be making a home in our foyer and my husband wouldn't think to pick up a mop. Then I just feel like I'm nagging him to clean up because either I do it myself or I ask him to do it. Neither feels like an attractive option. One thing that I did which worked pretty well was figure out all of the household chores, and how often they needed to be done. Some things, like vacuuming, needed to be done 2X/week (we have dogs), other things, like dusting or windexing really only needed to get done 1X/month. Make sure to think about the chores that maybe he already does, like taking out the garbage. I then wrote down what each of us had to do each week for the month. When he did it during the week was up to him. So if he wanted to spend an hour cleaning a bathroom, sweeping the kitchen and vacuuming the bedroom, that was his perogative. If he wanted to spend 15 minutes/day and spread it out, that was fine too. And I didn't have to nag him because it was already all written down. I did feel a little like I was making a chore chart for a 10 year old, but it worked.

Honestly, though, I don't know if he's ever going to get that feeling that you get the short end of the stick. I think that's part of being a working mom - sometimes you just feel like no one gets it. Hopefully dividing up the work a little more will make it a little better though. Good luck!



answers from Providence on

The fact that you are going to sit down and talk about it, is a big step because a lot of times men don't just get it and how much we feel overwhelmed. I agree with a lot of the posts, the thing that has worked for me is negotiating (after dinner, do you want to do the dishes or play with the baby and put him to bed? that he has to do something but still feels empowered!) sounds like talking to a toddler doesn't it! Also he gets up with the baby on Sat and I do on Sunday. I think if you are talking about it, he is going to better understand your feelings and hopefully make the effort consistently to help out more. He needs to know that he can take care of a child when she is sick. It doesn't all have to lie on you. My husband loved the fact that I was breastfeeding b/c he got out of so much! I would try to make some things easier to, like the online grocery shopping. Good luck and please post anything if you come up with a great plan that works!

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