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An Unexpected SAHM Detour

Nov26

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Advice Smackdown ArchivesHi Amalah,

Last year the husband and I decided to finally take the plunge and try for a baby. 15 weeks ago, I got knocked up! Three weeks ago, I was laid off. As you can imagine, this was not exactly how I pictured my prenatal adventure. In my head, I would work until I had the baby, take a lengthy maternity leave, and then go back part time because really, let’s be honest, I didn’t have enough work to fill a whole week. Surely my company wouldn’t mind. Well, I guess they noticed…

ANYWAY, the husband had expressed some interest in my staying home after the baby was born even before the layoff. We can mostly handle it monetarily, especially if I do a little freelance work from home, and he was raised in a very traditional “dad goes to work, mom stays home and takes care of the kids and cleans the house” kind of home. I, however, was so not. My parents separated when I was 4 and while it was as happy a divorce as ever existed, my mom worked all the time. She paid someone to clean our house and even then it was cluttered. I’m not opposed to giving it a shot, but I have no idea how to even begin to live up to the husband’s stay-at-home-mom standards.

I know that once Noah was born you decided to leave your full-time job (not that I’ve read all your archives over the past several years or anything…) and I was wondering if you or your readers had any advice for someone who’s suddenly expected to do the dishes AND the laundry AND make sure there’s no cat vomit on the floor? How did you handle the transition? Motivation and organization have been my biggest problems so far, and I’m trying to get it sorted out before the baby arrives because I know it’s only going to get harder then.

Thanks in advance!
Liz

Do I have any advice for someone “who’s suddenly expected to do the dishes AND the laundry AND make sure there’s no cat vomit on the floor?” No. Because that, childhood memories of June Cleaver aside, is simply not the reality for all SAHMs today. It certainly wasn’t for me. It still isn’t. And as long as you continue to “do a little freelance work,” it probably won’t be for you, either.

I gotta tell you, I get itchy and nervous whenever I hear wives describe their husband’s memories and expectations of staying home. (Anybody remember this column? ) I get nervous when I hear husbands automatically wanting their partners to take on the role they remember their mothers taking decades ago, maybe without a perfect memory or all the facts about how their childhood household really functioned or everyone’s relative contentment level. I also fundamentally dislike the “well, YOU stay home, and thus all household chores belong to YOU” division of labor. I guess that works out for some couples, but for a woman who never planned or expected to stay home full-time and who has just been uncomfortably and unceremoniously pushed into it…well. I worry.

Your lack of motivation is not a sign that you’re “bad” at this or doing this “wrong.” You were just laid off from your job. You didn’t consciously make this decision to suddenly sit at home and face down hour after unstructured hour. I DO think it’s great that you guys think you’ll be all right and are willing to give a different arrangement a try, but it’s soooooo totally normal to find yourself mourning and struggling to adjust to your new reality. A reality that includes tasks that you probably never valued that much (laundry, errands, all basically essential nuisances, maybe), and the occasional intrusive guilty thought about not “contributing” financially or depression about it “not mattering” what you do during the day…hell, I worked my tail off to make my stay-at-home/work-at-home life happen and I still went through a very confusing grieving process once I did it. So allow that to happen, if you haven’t already. It’s okay not to be thrilled, or to be anxious, or to second-guess the master plan.

In the meantime, try to give your days some structure. Have set tasks you do each day in order or specific days of the week. Keep a physical to-do list if that helps you stay motivated and on-task. Set rules for yourself about TV and Internet use. Start a blog, a scrapbook, a hobby. Find a prenatal fitness or yoga class to attend and meet other moms-to-be; arrange regular lunches or nights out with your old coworkers or friends. And if the dishes don’t get done on days where you have a social engagement, don’t sweat it. These interactions are important, and don’t ever think otherwise.

And be honest with your husband about your feelings. I’m sure he KNOWS he didn’t marry his mother, and that he KNOWS you’re doing this with no blueprint from your own childhood to go from, but still. Make sure you guys keep your expectations of each other grounded and realistic. Having a spouse who stays home should not absolve the other of all household responsibilities. Figure out exactly what the new division of labor looks like, down to who takes the trash out at night and mows the lawn on the weekends and takes suits to the dry-cleaners. Let him know when you need help or a break or for him to take care of dinner one night. Let him know if sometimes you think you might want to look for part-time work after the baby arrives, or need some help in the form of a sitter or cleaning service when the freelance work kicks in.

But mostly, be patient with YOURSELF. I’m sorry this response has been so light on the practical stuff and heavy on the motivational pep-talk. But this is a huge adjustment — I don’t think anyone can ever appreciate how huge it is until they’re in the thick of it. I know I didn’t. You don’t need someone else’s expectations of stay-at-home-mom-ness looming over you like a shadow. You need to find the way it works for you and makes you happy. And seriously, the baby may arrive and you’ll take one look at him or her and realize that the lay-off was a tremendous gift and a push into exactly the life you wanted. Or not! Even if you end up pursuing a Plan B in the end, all that really matters is that your home is a happy, supportive one — with clutter and unfolded laundry or without.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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22 Responses to “An Unexpected SAHM Detour”

  1. Natalie Nov 26 at 5:52 pm Reply Reply

    sigh. I have nothing useful to add to Amalah’s advice jut to stay make sure you discuss this now and stand up for yourself. My daughter is almost two and while we talked about this issue I never really thought it was necessary to split chores and stand up for what I wanted. Now I work full time as does my husband but all of the house work and child care is my responsibility because my job only pays for my school loans and things like groceries while his pays for the mortgage and other bills. I have been deemed less important in the household economy and that has now carried over to everything. My marriage is suffering in fact I feel it is beyond repair,my self esteem is suffering and I am starting to feel like my daughter’s idea of what a woman does is suffering too.

    Stand up for yourself and do it before your baby is born!

  2. Susan Nov 26 at 8:12 pm Reply Reply

    You know, you might be able to find another job and make the decision later. It’s hard to know how you will feel after the baby comes now. I have stayed at home and gone to work and their are pluses AND minuses to both situations. But I do Agree that as I am currently unemployed, I am a little more resentful about housework that I do as my kids are in s bool and husband works.  And I plan to rectify a lot of that when I start my new job Monday!
    Post back and tell us how it goes if you can.

  3. Mary Nov 26 at 8:18 pm Reply Reply

    I have been doing this motherhood thing for almost 21 years, so I have a few things to say on the subject. I never, ever expected to be a stay home mom. My generation believed that we were so lucky and privileged to have an education, and we should use it. (do I sound really old when I say that? I’m not, but things were very different 20 years ago!) I didn’t exactly plan to get pregnant, and I worked up until the night before he was born. On the day he turned one week, I was back in the office, picking up the pieces and wrapping things up.

    I had no idea how I would fall in love with that little boy. I cried just thinking about taking him to daycare. For awhile I tried to telecommute, but both my employer and I agreed it wasn’t working, and they weren’t interested in a part time or job share arrangement. So. I was a stay at home mom.

    Tiny babies kind of take up all your time. You may find whole days go by when you just sit on the sofa and breastfeed. Laundry piles up. Dishes pile up. My husband is great, and never made me feel bad about not contributing, but he is also kind of a messy person, and my mother-in-law was the perfect mother. Whole days went by when I never got out of the house, and never spoke to another adult. The house got so bad I was embarrassed to have friends over. Etc.

    So pay attention to what Amy says about having your own things, your own life, I can’t emphasize enough how important that is. Go to flylady.net and learn an easy way to keep your house mostly presentable most of the time. My mother was a perfect housekeeper and knew these things instinctively. I needed to be taught.

    Make time for exercise and taking care of yourself. This is one of the biggest regrets of my life, that I didn’t do that, and I’m still trying to fix that today.

    My kids? Are awesome. I treasure every single memory I have of being with them. I am so glad I got to have that experience. Later, when the youngest started school, I found a part time job that I like very much, and I make enough money to make a dent in the college tuition, so I feel like I’m contributing again.

    Sorry about writing a book, here. I just wish somebody had told me this stuff when I was deciding to stay home. Today, I adore my kids, and am still married to my husband, who is still a mess. I pay someone to come in and help me clean every two weeks. I still plan menus one or two days at a time, because I don’t mind grocery shopping. Find your own way, and make sure you’re happy. Everything else will fall into place.

  4. HereWeGoAJen Nov 26 at 9:09 pm Reply Reply

    I agree with Amy on all the pep talk stuff. My practical advice would be to get the house as organized as you want it and as streamlined as possible before the baby is born because babies are a huuuuuge time suck. And join some kind of mom’s group (the one I am in will accept you when you are pregnant, pre-actually-born kids) because babies are a weird combination of never being alone but also not having anyone to talk to.

  5. Julie Nov 26 at 10:58 pm Reply Reply

    I certainly second the advice about making some time to get out to mom’s support groups now. For one thing, it will give you a social outlet now. It will give you people to talk to who have been where you’re about to be and can give you practical advice about what to expect, local resources, where the good walking parks and playgrounds with baby swings are, a possible source of hand-me-downs, etc. And when the baby does come, you won’t be facing the intimidation of a new social environment coupled with the challenges involved in simply getting out of the house with a new baby – if you’ve at least been to a meeting or two you’ll know where they are, know what to expect, recognize a few faces, etc. La leche league, MOMS club international, meetup.com, there are all sort of places to go to look for mom’s groups. I was lucky enough to be able to attend a few La Leche league meetings before my son was born, and I was very glad I did – even just the experience of sitting in a room with some women who were openly breastfeeding made me feel a bit more comfortable about the whole experience when my little one arrived.

  6. Nicole Nov 27 at 12:50 am Reply Reply

    Thank you Amy. I wish I had this pep talk when my first daughter was born. I went through this transition 2 years ago and just now feel like I have an emotional handle on it…right before #2 arrives. Luckily, my husband had a realistic view of how his house ran as a child. He has given me the space to be the mom I wanted to be. I’ve worked part-time, freelance, volunteer, and temporary positions in the last 2 years as my brain needed and opportunity presented.
    I’m not ashamed to say I have a housekeeper every other week. Or that my 2yo loves her sitter’s house 2 mornings/week. Ditto to finding mom groups!!! And I’d suggest a good volunteering outlet as well. Using my work skills on a volunteer basis has saved my sanity several times.

  7. JIllian Nov 27 at 9:18 am Reply Reply

    My husband is a stay-at-home dad. Something that was really helpful for both of us was to get clear on exactly what his job is. We feel that it’s to be as present for our kids as he would be for a boss in the office. With whatever free time he gets (mostly during naps) he gets as much of the house under control as possible. But if I come home to a sink full of dishes and an explosion of toys and laundry (as I often do) I’m happy to hear that they spent their time going to the park or building with blocks or whatever. The mess matters much less than that bonding, enriching time. I think that our parents’ generations expectations were so much higher for housekeeping, but lower in terms of how much connected, active time spent with kids. To each her own, but I’ll take the latter. If you and your husband feel the same way, he just needs to understand that the former is going to suffer.

  8. bwcagrl Nov 28 at 10:56 am Reply Reply

    I also found myself unexpectedly in the role of SAHM to two kids. For my own sanity I had to set up a routine for myself and the kids – one that included a little time for each day for a little of everything. I also whole-heartedly recomend flylady.net for developing good routines for the home…my house STAYS clean almost by itself now because a few minutes a day makes a huge impact. My routines are so routine now that I don’t even have to think about cleaning…my daily ‘chores’ are habits just like brushing my teeth. During the summers when both my kids are home, we have time each day for a few ‘chores’ (15 min), crafts, outdoor play, reading time with mom, tv or computer time, quiet time after lunch, and more time to play in the afternoons. We also work in errands as needed, playdates or trips to local parks.
    I am part of a mom’s group and I volunteer a little bit in my kids’ classrooms. I find that because I do have a schedule and stay organized, that we have more time to connect and just enjoy our time together…whether it’s playing an indoor game, or going swimming.
    I have also found that because I plan meals about 2 weeks in advance I save a ton of money on food (about $200/month) which means $2400/year that can be set aside for something else, or put toward debt retirement.
    I still feel guilty sometimes for not bringing in as much money, but we all eat much healthier, live in a cleaner house, have less stress, stick to our budget, and overall spend more happy family time together. And those things are priceless, especially because I know my children are watching and learning invaluable lessons from what I do, not from what I say.

  9. Stefanie Nov 28 at 1:33 pm Reply Reply

    I found myself in your situation as well when my daughter was born, and expected that I would be able to take care of the baby, keep the house clean, cook dinner every night, etc.  By thinking that, I definitely set myself up for failure!  New babies do take up all of your time.  We expected to let our cleaning lady go after my daughter was born, but ended up having her come more often.  Saving that money would have been great, but was not worth the stress I felt with the house so messy.
    My daughter is now 1, and some days I am able to have the house picked up and dinner started when my husband gets home, but on they days when she is having a tough time or we spend all of our time outside, I don’t.  And I don’t apologize for it.  I remind myself that my primary responsibility is to take care of my daughter, not function as a maid or cook.
    My advice is to 1.  Give yourself a break and do not expect to get everything done without help.  2.  Do everything you can to make time for yourself: do shopping online, have your groceries delivered if you live in an area that has that, plan out your meals in advance, but don’t feel bad if you end up eating cereal instead.  3.  Ask your husband for help.  Yes, he does work all day and deserves a break, but so do you.  And moms don’t really get those, so don’t feel badly if he has to come home and put some dishes in the dishwasher.  4.  When given the option of cleaning the kitchen or lying down for a nap with the baby, take a nap!

  10. Hillary Nov 29 at 11:12 am Reply Reply

    I just want to add that you may want to reset some expectations. Remember that if you were both working, your baby would be with a sitter or at daycare, and when your child is at daycare all you are paying them for is caring for your child. Think of yourself at home like a daycare teacher; don’t expect that you’ll be able to provide childcare AND housekeeping AND grocery shopping/cooking every single day. That is unrealistic and won’t serve your child very well! Think of the time your husband is working as the time you’re running a daycare, and when you’re both home, split up the chores. Just because you aren’t bringing home a paycheck doesn’t mean you should suddenly be saddled with every household responsibility! Good luck.

  11. HomeValley Nov 29 at 1:05 pm Reply Reply

    I am also an “accidental” SAHM – I was laid off during my maternity leave (a whole OTHER issue), but I am really, really enjoying it. It was never my intention to be at home… But then this tiny little baby seemed to need me so much, and I just couldn’t imagine leaving him every day for work I wasn’t extremely passionate about (I think the only thing I was passionate about was the income, if I’m being honest). I am 6 months in, and it’s working better than I ever imagined. I have to agree with Amalah’s skittishness about this whole thing (my husband’s mother stayed at home), but the key is to keep the lines of communication WAY OPEN. Always say what needs to be said. Though I am at home, my husband still does his share of the household chores. Neither of us is afraid to get our hands dirty. He’s also very good about giving me time away/alone. He’ll cook dinner, get the babe ready for bed and force me out to the coffee shop for a few hours to do nothing but READ. He’s not perfect, but most of the time? He gets it.
    He’s also handed me quite a gift – since we can afford to live on his income alone at this point, he’s said: what is it you really want to do with your life? Go do it. So now, I’m planning on going back to school next fall for my Master’s, eventually my PhD. I say this because getting laid off was the best thing that could have happened for our family. Time with my sweet son, time to cultivate a more nurturing side of myself, and time to regroup and attack my goals. I hope it turns out the same for you. Enjoy.

  12. Nadya Nov 29 at 1:45 pm Reply Reply

    For me the tables turned. My boyfriend is the stay at home dad and I work. He got laid off and I am still here kicking in corporate america. Daycare is way to expensive and since he was laid off he took the job. I don’t think I could ever be a stay at home mom. Not because I wouldn’t mind staying home with my baby but because I realize you don’t get the respect you deserve. You single handedly wash bottles, do loads and loads of laundry, cook, pacify the screaming baby,make bottles, try to fit a shower in there, more cleaning and then by the time the day is over you have someone asking you what you did all day and how good you have it. I know its not funny but I get phone calls from my boyfriend at work whining all the time how this can’t be life. How he gets no respect and no one cares. I feel him but it is what it is. He does work part time while I work full time and he finishes up college. I alreadly finished so..why would I stay home? We argue about who does more and ramble on about bottles and what I spend money on and at the end he promises me one day you will see what its like to be home and not be appreciate. I appreciate but it is what it is. Staying at home is not easy. Unless your rich and can cruise the malls shopping and getting your nails done. Its a job man. An unappreciated job. Good luck.

  13. BMom Nov 29 at 2:59 pm Reply Reply

    My job also ended when I was about 10 weeks pregnant… and I’d never planned to stay home. So, ditto to a lot of what Amalah said here… friends, moms groups, storytime at the library, whatever.

    What really helped me during the unstructured time before B arrived, in addition to some of Amalah’s suggestions about routine and all that, was some structured volunteer work. For me, it was at my church helping in the office, but it coule be all kinds of things. It was also an easy thing to stop doing as my due date got closer.

    Now I’m working outside about 20 hours per week, and its still hard. Babies (and toddlers, OY) are hard work. We’re still adjusting to the who-does-what and what doesn’t actually need done, and we have a cleaning company that doesn’t come regularly, but we can call when things are edging out of control :)

  14. Rebecca Nov 29 at 11:12 pm Reply Reply

    I got laid off when my company shut down 1 week before my due date (July 8) It was actually quite awesome because I got severance + unemployment instead of an unpaid maternity leave. I thought that I would do school (full time masters program) mostly at night and have childcare part time (for the new baby + old baby (13 months older) I soon realized that I was way not cut out to do more of the childcare and hyper sensitive to the balance of power and household chores issues. Partly that was because up until that point we had somewhat separate finances and I felt like I was taking an unfair autonomy and financial security hit. I hate housework, I am bad at full time childcare and I love working full time out of the house I realized. Stay at home moms do put themselves at financial and career risk by staying at home which puts them at risk not only in the case of divorce but the unemployment of the spouse, death or disability of the spouse. I was contacted out of the blue through LinkedIn with an amazing job opportunity and my stress level has decreased dramatically because I am able to bring in a great salary + benefits and have a nanny/housekeeper. I just want to put it out there that not everyone loves staying home with their babies and that is totally ok. I find babies – especially newborns actually pretty boring.

  15. Leigh Nov 30 at 1:51 pm Reply Reply

    When my youngest was a baby and I had a three-year-old at home, my husband once came home to a not-sparkling house and asked the infamous question, “what did you DO all day?” So I made him a list. The next day I wrote down every diaper change, every snack made, every phone call to the plumber, every Cheerio swept off the floor. It even overwhelmed ME, reading all the tiny little things that took up my day. He never asked that question again, and actually hung the list above his desk.

  16. Michelle Dec 01 at 3:18 pm Reply Reply

    Unrelated to the question at hand – Often times when I open the link to this page, I can’t see the beginning of the question – typically whatever is next to the graphic. Sometimes I can highlight it and then see it, but not always. In this particular instance, I can only see “Hi Amalah (BIG Whitespace and Advice Smackdown Graphic) ANYWAY, the husband had expressed…” Perhaps its only a problem on my computer but since I’ve had it happen often just thought I’d mention it. Love you Amalah!

  17. Zanbar Dec 01 at 3:34 pm Reply Reply

    Sorry I had to respond to NATALIE… I really feel for you as I also have a nearly-2-yr-old and have really had to fight not to be expected to do everything around the house. Actually, I think I am doing rather well, although I was on the phone with my mother-in-law this morning, in tears because sometimes it feels that he JUST DOESN’T GET IT!!! She was like – ‘Men, they’re all the same, you’ve just got to train them’. It’s about incremental steps, pointing out EVERYTHING that is taken for granted, and getting him to agree to take on one little task at a time. First it was daycare (we are both freelance so it takes negotiation), then cleaning and cooking, then giving me a night to do yoga, right now I’m working on nursery pick-ups. For some reason I still can’t get him to see that washing his socks aren’t my responsibility. It’s very annoying when he gets cross when they run out.

    Anyway, its not too late to tackle it with him. Be gentle, use logic, don’t start the conversation when you’re stressed out already. Maybe ask him to take on a bit of cooking, and then tackle it a task at a time, or you could go all out and divvy up your working week. It sounds like you’re committed to your daughter having a strong role model, so I’m sure you’ll get there in the end.

  18. Jo Dec 03 at 3:42 pm Reply Reply

    It is such an overwhelming, exciting thing to be expecting your first baby and regardless of choosing to stay at home or accidentally staying at home or working or working from home, it always brings about a huge lifestyle change. No one I’ve ever spoken to knew what it would be like to have a baby until it happened. I was even the nanny for newborn twins (twice – for two separate families!) for years, and planned in my head to always be a stay at home mom when the time came for me and still, motherhood came as a big shock–in good ways and uhh… in more challenging ways. Though I chose to be a stay at home mom from the beginning, I went through a slight confidence and identity crisis. I worried I was wasting my master’s degree and no one respected me anymore and I was always going to spend my days with a baby attached to my boob while piles of dirty laundry taunted me. (That sort of happened for a while, but it got better, way better!) It may be true that the majority of the world judges who you are on what you do, but I have now been a SAHM for over two years and hell, I’m proud of what I do. I love it. Not always, most most of the time. But it took a while. Practically speaking, I do a majority of the household stuff while husband works and makes the wonga. It sounds very 1950s, but it works for us. I say the two factors that make it work are that my husband never expects me to do anything and he is very appreciative when I do. Also, I didn’t worry much about house stuff when our baby was small. Don’t sweat anything until your baby is sleeping reasonably well (which could take a while) and you have a semi-routine going and feel capable of taking more on. Be nice to yourself. If you have a day when you don’t want to do anything, don’t. I have cleaners do a deep clean once a month and just spot clean. Make sure you’re comfortable and not resentful of how the tasks are divided (if I cook a big meal, husband does dishes. I do all the laundry, but he takes out trash, etc.). Also, always remind yourself that being a mom is a (more than) full time, very important job. You’re raising a human being. It’s pretty cool, difficult and sometimes daily, but definitely in the long run, very rewarding. If someone doesn’t seem to respect that, then they’ve got problems, not you. Good luck and congratulations!

  19. SAHM Dec 04 at 4:46 am Reply Reply

    I have been thinking about this since Amy posted it, and have hesitated posting a comment. I too worked full-time before we had our son a year and a half ago, and it was a big adjustment for me to go from lots of adult interaction and sharing the household responsibilities to being quite isolated by motherhood and also taking over most of the household responsibilities. My feeling is that yes, you have been unexpectedly laid off, and are not necessarily choosing to stay home. BUT, it’s important to note that you are ABLE to stay home. I’ve lost count of my friends who, after 6 weeks of maternity leave, had to tearfully leave their tiny babies in the hands of a person who had no idea what they needed. As someone said above, you have no idea how much you are going to fall in love with this little person, and you may find yourself in another unexpected situation–being incredibly relieved that you don’t have to go back to work after just a few short weeks of being home with your baby.

    That being said, I guess I’m in the minority here, but yes, I think it is the job of the SAHM to take on more of the household responsibility. My husband’s mom also stayed at home, and my mom worked full-time, so I understand the life experience that you are coming from on both sides, and my husband and I had to have a conversation when my son was a few months old about expectations of who will do what. There are a lot of things I hate doing as far as housework goes…ironing and dusting, for example. But you know what? There is stuff your husband doesn’t like about his job. There was stuff I didn’t like about my job, but I did anyway, because it was part of the job. You’re not going to enjoy cleaning off your baby who has just pooped all the way up his back, but you do it, because you love your child and that’s part of your job. Also, I have found that if I put too many responsibilities on my husband, then wait around for him to get to them in his timing, I just get resentful and annoyed, which would put a strain on our marriage. Honestly, it’s just easier to do it myself, the way I want to do it. You might find yourself in the same situation. I also suggest flylady.net. She has a good system that you may actually want to put into place before the baby comes so you don’t get completely overwhelmed by information or starting a new way of doing things after your world has been completely turned upside down by the new little life in your house.

    So yes, have a conversation about expectations. Realize you are not going to be perfect and more importantly get your husband to realize that, and just how much time it will take to care for a newborn (it will help if he is home for a week or so after your child’s birth and realizes just how time-consuming everything is, especially feeding the baby). But don’t butt heads to the point of putting a strain on your marriage because your husband didn’t put his plate in the dishwasher and that’s his job. So often we expect our spouses to take over some of our chores sometimes to give us a break, but we still expect them to do all of their stuff, make the money, etc.

    Good luck, and congratulations! My job doesn’t get much respect, but being able to raise my child makes it all worth it–not to mention the freedom and flexibility of not working outside the home. For me, the rewards far outweigh the things I have given up to stay home.

  20. ksmaybe Dec 04 at 8:31 am Reply Reply

    I haven’t read the other responses (only so much time while my kids eat breakfast!), but I wanted to toss in from my experiences, that regardless of expectations of either party, be prepared for tense moments. DH’s mom worked for most if not all of his childhood, Still, he feels like he can’t say anything about things that don’t get done, or that he would like to see done without my taking it personally. He’s probably right. It’s hard to negotiate who’s responsibility tasks are and it’s hard to not feel completely responsible for everything, no matter how great you each are at things. That said, it’s wonderful. I’ve been both SAHM and WOHM. Both are rewarding, both are amazing. Motherhood is amazing. Congratulations!

  21. Lindsay Dec 06 at 5:44 pm Reply Reply

    I want to second a lot of the things that Mary (3rd comment in the list) says above.

    My mom was that perfect housekeeper, and even trained me that way from when I was little… and I still can’t ever live up to my own expectations of doing it as well as she did.

    I think there are two main things I can contribute to this conversation:

    1. Start looking now for a babysitter. Figure out which of your neighbors have responsible teenage daughters, or ask for recommendations in the nursery at your church (the nursery workers probably know who the good babysitters are) or look through Amalah’s columns for more ideas… No matter how attached you are to your baby, no matter how sensitive your baby is, find someone that is willing to deal with you both and take that baby for an hour or an evening, and then (a) GET OUT OF THE HOUSE BY YOURSELF, and also (b) SPEND TIME WITH YOUR HUSBAND WITHOUT THE BABY. That will make a huge difference in your ability to cope with whatever’s going on with the house.

    2. Everyone has these fights about the chores. They say that money is the biggest cause of fights in marriage; I am sure that chores is absolutely, unquestionably #2. At my house, we fight about whose job something is, about pet peeves (a couple at our house include: puts dirty pans in the oven to get them off the counter; sweeps the kitchen and leaves the dirt pile in the corner instead of in the dust bin), about how fast something did or did not get done… It’s important to realize that you are going to have conflict about this. If you think you’re each going to be able to get it all perfect without annoying the other person, you have another think coming. And generally, it’s okay to argue, but make sure you are aware of it, and not putting these (technically) petty arguments in front of all the reasons you guys do love each other.

  22. cass Dec 09 at 9:45 pm Reply Reply

    Hi there, I’m the mommy with the war at home, which you linked to in the above post… I’m happy to report that hubby and I have settled into a routine with the kiddo and things around our house are MUCH happier now. (And the kiddo just turned one! HOORAY!) Is hubby still wishing he was at home with the kiddo more? Yes. Does he still wish the kiddo was with me or another family member instead of day care? Yes. But he’s had more than a few days and nights alone with the kiddo since then and knows that it’s really HARD. Absolutely wonderful and rewarding but HARD. (I’m not jetting off with the girls each weekend, but an afternoon or night off once in a while to do ‘me’ things is great!) He’s seen me after a full day alone with the kiddo and knows how burnt out or frazzled I can get. (He ocassionally has weekend commitments for his job and omg, the transition from 2 naps to 1 has been HORRENDOUS for us and of course the struggles always happen on the weekends I’m alone.) He’s seen me after a few hours away and recognized how rejuvenated I am when I return and how much better of a mother I am. (Yay me time!)
    So for the original poster here – talk to your hubby. Let him see what it’s like for you. Discuss expectations. Have him ‘walk a mile in your shoes.’ Give it time, but make sure your needs and desires are expressed, that hubby knows the baby is your #1 concern and time-taker, and repeat these things as often as you need to to make sure they are actually heard and understood. (And, you know, try to discuss them calmly and not during a whispered shouting match. Makes a HUGE difference. ;))
    (Did I happen to mention make sure you get YOU time every once and a while? :))

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