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The Unhappy Housewife-to-Be

The Unhappy Housewife-to-Be

By Amalah

It seems like several times a week my fiancé and I are having the same fight.

I stay at home with our 6 month old daughter and he works 12+ hours a day. I breastfeed and she’s just started on solid foods. She’s now teething and I’m finding house work even harder to accomplish. Our house isn’t exuberantly messy but laundry isn’t always put away, there’s usually some dishes and I dont know how to keep all surfaces completely dusted or wiped down all while breastfeeding, calming an upset teething baby, diapers, play time…she gets bored so easily then screams because she’s bored. I cook dinner maybe once a week but according to him I’ve never cooked dinner at all.

So the argument ends up being – “I could do your job of cleaning the house in 30 minutes, cooking is EASY, and that I’m essentially inadequate at being a house wife in general.”

I feel like it stems from him having his mom on this pedestal. She raised 4 boys, always had dinner ready, house was always spotless and according to him she did it without the help of anyone. The fact that I’m often compared to her and never measure up has made me start to resent her and refuse to ask how she did it. She also didn’t breastfeed so chalk that up to extra time she must have had.

At the end of the day I know I’m a fantastic mom. My girl is so loved and so well taken care of and aside from teething she’s a very happy baby.

My question is…how do I do it all? I love my fiancé. For the most part he’s one of the sweetest kindest men and a great father. However we’re not a team. He doesn’t clean; he will not clean and when he’s home the baby is still primarily all my responsibility. His mother picked up after him before me and now the job is mine. Which I don’t mind he works so ridiculously hard to provide for us. I just don’t know how to do it all or how anyone could without running themselves ragged.

How do I keep my house to his standards, make sure bills are sent out, cook dinner, and make sure my baby girl isn’t screaming to the point of madness while I attempt to get things done?

So disagreements between out-of-the-home-working/stay-at-home parents over household division of responsibilities is a very, very common problem. But it has the potential to become a very serious one, especially considering the details you’ve included here. Imma jump to the end conclusion, which is that you guys need couples counseling.

I personally don’t like your fiancé’s outdated 1950s-like expectations of you and his job vs. EVERYTHING ELSE approach to dividing up household responsibilities. I get the long work hours but when he’s home, it’s still HIS home and HIS baby. It’s disrespectful that he not only won’t pitch in to clean, it sounds like he actively creates messes/clutter with the full expectation that you’ll pick up after him — even while he’s ALSO actively criticizing the way you do it. Meanwhile, he won’t help with your daughter so great! You’re basically living with two babies. A job and a paycheck do not automatically a full-fledged grown-up make, unfortunately.

If this were a roommate-type living situation, that B.S. would not fly, 12+ hours of work or otherwise. He’d be expected to contribute to the shared household maintenance/gruntwork just like everybody else. Again, entirely disrespectful that because you’re his fiancé (or more likely, a woman), he can completely check out from cleaning up dinner dishes or doing a load of laundry every once in awhile. I mean, damn, if he can “clean the house in 30 minutes”…well, go right ahead, Guy Who Doesn’t Ever Clean Yet Is Some Kind Of Cleaning Wizard! I’ll set the stopwatch. See how that works out.

And no, I don’t believe for a SECOND that his memories of his mother are completely accurate, or even applicable to your situation right now. But you’re going to need some help from a neutral third party on that one. For some reason I have a sneaking suspicion that he was later in the four-kid birth order, has no real memory of what things were like when there was a newborn or very young baby around. He has NO idea what it’s actually like to care for a baby full-time. (And you’re right, breastfeeding anchors you in one place, to your baby, and is very time-consuming. As is modern-day parenting where we don’t just keep the baby in a swing or playpen for hours at a time.) But as you’ve discovered, you can have this exact argument over and over again, and you will lose every time. Mommy was ALWAYS perfect, and you ALWAYS fail to live up to his impossibly unrealistic standards.

Make no mistake, that sort of thinking is TOXIC to a relationship, with or without a child involved. Do not marry this man unless he agrees to couples counseling.

As for your final sentence/question: You’re in the trenches right now, and you’re stuck with an incredibly unsupportive partner. Most of us need a year or even more to really find our footing and balance between caring for our child and…all that other stuff. Most of us these days DO have some kind of help during the first year — be it family members close by, a cleaning service every once in awhile, paid childcare, getting groceries delivered, relying on at least one of the 9745692034 bajillion apps out there to make our lives a little easier. And there’s nothing WRONG with needing (or just plain wanting) help. His mother doesn’t “win” anything because she didn’t.

(See: progress, feminism, evolving gender roles, and the fact that spotless houses do not automatically equal happy, well-adjusted childhoods. And obviously his mother missed a couple important parenting tasks along the way, like raising a grown man who doesn’t need or expect someone else to “pick up after him.” Guess she was too busy doing housework.)

At a bare minimum, most of us get help with all this stuff…from our partner. Or at least we get some understanding from our partner that it really, really isn’t the end of the world if the laundry sits unfolded for a couple days.

When your daughter is older, it does get easier. You tackle the laundry on Monday, pay the bills on Friday, make dinner while she watches Sesame Street, etc. Partner helps with the dishes because he helped make them dirty, helps with bath/bedtime because that’s part of being a good father, you both refrain from criticizing and nitpicking because you’re a family and a team. And because he respects the hard work YOU do. But it sounds like you guys are going to need more than just the passage of time to get to that state. Get some counseling and break this argument cycle ASAP.

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

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 Ama...

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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Comments

  • Allison

    Oh wow. If my husband ever implied that I was supposed to keep the house spotless, kids happy, and food on the table, I would leave for a weekend while he got to do it all and then see if his tone changed. He may work 12 hour days, but you are a mom 24/7! It doesn’t end! He needs to appreciate that you do so much, just like you appreciate that he does so much. If this doesn’t change you will build up so, so much resentment at him.

  • Julia

    I second Amy’s advice on couples counselling. Being compared to his mother for anything is just going to create a toxic relationship. I stay at home with our 14 month old son and my husband works 12 hour days and travels often for work and we live four hours away from any family.  Our house is by no means clean; laundry sits for days, dishes sit in the sink until morning, things get vacuumed when I get to it etc. I mean, the house isn’t a toxic dirty mess but it isn’t going to win any awards.  My husband however, doesn’t give a shit. He cleans up his messes, does the dishes when he can and when he is home he ALWAYS gives our son his bath and puts him to bed. I either relax and have me time or I use that time to clean up.  Things aren’t perfect between us, but I definitely don’t feel judged or unsupported. Hope things gets better! 

  • Stephanie

    I see this scenario play out with my cousin and her husband. He’s a “big shot” lawyer, who really thinks his job is to make the money and her job is to do everything else. Her dad (my uncle), who lives several hundred miles away, comes up on a regular basis to take care of things around the house that her own husband won’t do.
    I don’t get it, but if she won’t put her foot down on what the division of responsibilities is, there’s nothing I can do about it.
    It sounds like you need to do the same, or get couples counseling like Amy suggests. These are unrealistic expectations he’s setting and it’s going to come to a head sooner or later.

  • Myriam

    My advice in situations like this is always the same. Leave him with the baby for about 2-3 hours, and not at nap time. Feed her and go for “an appointement”. Leave him with a 1-2 items to-do list. See how he feels after. And yeah, go to couple’s therapy…

    • Myriam

      You can also take-a-day-off when you don’t do any of the things you usually do during the day (cook for you and the baby, but not him), don’t do laundry, don’t do dish, etc. It might help him visualise how much you really are doing…

    • Ros

      I totally did that while on maternity leave (Quebec: year-long leave). I had a 6-month-old child who needed entertainment and wanted to be held (and would ONLY sleep if she was touching someone), and I was starting to hear snarky comments about housework and dinners and laundry. So I had 3 appointments in one day, and left him with the baby.

      Came home to a crying child (she was tired and had refused to nap). Complete mess of a house. No laundry done, no dishes done, no dinner ready. I actually looked at him and said ‘oh, I’ve had such a big day, I assume you’ve got dinner ready, since you’ve been at home all day with nothing to do other than take care of a child, hmmmm?’ That was a year ago, and I have not heard a single, solitary peep about ANY of it. And he’s been a lot better about doing half the housework, all the laundry, washing floors, and expressing appreciation for dinner.

      • Myriam

        I’m in Montreal! Hello “neighbor”!

  • Jeannie

    I’m going to throw a spanner in the works here: IMO, when one partner works 12 hour days outside the house, then yeah, I agree that 90% of the work to keep the house going belongs to the other person. And I’m speaking as someone who has done the SAHM thing, with both one and two kids. In fact I wanted to do that, because I knew how hard my husband was working so I could be at home. 

    Having said that: it takes A LOT of time to look after a baby, and A LOT of time to find ways to look after everything with a baby around, and by NO MEANS was my house ever spotless with a perfect dinner each night when I was a SAHM. 

    The difference was that my husband was always appreciative and supportive of my efforts, and put in what time he could. We were a team, and we tackled all the stuff a household needs (paying work, laundry, dishes, childcare, groceries etc) as a team. So while I agree *in principle* with the husband, I also agree he’s being a major jerk here and the couples counselling is a very good idea. 

    • S

      YES! Same here. Totally supportive partner who does so, so much (and current SAHM working only 15 hours per week from home) but I think part of the SAH job is to help the FAMILY. So get some laundry done! 

  • Kay

    So here’s a question: if you were also working 12-hour days and your daughter was in daycare, would he help you? Is the issue that keeps him from helping really the 12-hour days, or is it that he’s a man and you’re a woman so it would always be your job to take care of the child and the home no matter what?

    If it’s the latter, please really think about the impact this attitude is going to have on your daughter. It goes beyond her seeing her grown mom tackling 100% of the duties at home. If his nitpicky, mess-making, non-supportive tendencies are really about gender, she will internalize that her role is to make men’s lives easier. His mom raised 4 boys, but you have a girl. Look out for her, and for your own sanity.

    • Kim too

      I was willing to cut you some slack, right up to the last sentence.  The OP is not sounding resentful.  She’s TRYING.  And hey, hurray for you if you were able to keep up, but you are not her and you don’t have her baby, so stop with the “get some laundry done”.
      It’s not helpful.

  • nicole

    Does your husband have any vacation days available? I would suggest he take some, even one, and shadow you for the day. Anytime you are nursing, he has to sit with you. Play with the baby, change the baby, cuddle the baby. All of it. Let you get out and take a quick break. It may open his eyes to what daily life is actually like better than trying to explain it. I know counseling is not always a realistic option for many couples. Help him see your perspective, then both commit to being a team with a common goal.
    I might also suggest a carrier or sling for those times when you simply can’t put your daughter down.
    Best of luck to your family! I’m still looking for the light at the end of the tunnel, but I’ve been assured it’s there!

  • Lindsey

    I’d like to chime in here, since I work full time and until quite recently my husband stayed home full time with our daughter. He was home with her from the time she was 6 months until she was 18 months, and now he works 1-2 days a week. I have a longish commute, and I’m out of the house 11+ hours a day.

    When my husband was home full time, he did the grocery shopping, paid the bills, and did 90% of the laundry. He would fix sandwiches or tacos for dinner probably 3 nights a week. I got up at night to nurse my daughter, but if the waking lasted longer than 10 minutes or so, he would take over so I could sleep. I did all of the house cleaning, and all the cooking (with the exception of the 3 dinners or so a week that he handled) and most of the dishes. I also took over caring for our daughter during the evenings and weekends so he could get out of the house by himself or relax.

    Now let’s remember that he was not breastfeeding. Our house was not and has never been immaculate. The laundry occasionally piled up. And when that happened and the baby ran out of clean pajamas, you know what I did? I took my ass down to the basement and I did some damn laundry. I would NEVER criticize him for not adhering to some kind of housekeeping standard or ask why the laundry was building up. He took extremely good care of our daughter. She was very happy and well cared for. He spent hours every day talking to her, reading to her, and taking her outside. That’s what’s important.

    Your fiancés behavior is so unacceptable. I also think couples therapy is in order.

  • Lindsey

    After reading a couple other comments I think I’m going to keep talking 🙂 I agree with other commenters, this sounds like a guy who would insist that the baby and house are your responsibility whether you worked or not, just because those are a woman’s duties. If you marry him, think down the road to when your kid(s) are in school and you decide to go back to work. If you let him establish now that childcare and housework are 100% your problem, will that change if and when you return to work someday? You don’t want to let him establish unrealistic expectations now, just because you can (maybe) find a way to meet his demands at the moment.

  • H

    OH man, I feel for you. My husband and I both work full time so we split household duties but I always genuinely wonder how SAHMs do it all. Last night I tried to get dinner started before my husband got home and my son (14 months) was super fussy and wanted to be held the whole time I was chopping veggies. I really don’t think women can (or should for sanity) try to do it all. I think the bottom line is he needs to be more involved. Either by helping with household duties or by watching your daughter while you cook, clean, laundry, whatever. If he can’t him see that (either by your convincing, counseling, or otherwise), I would suggest thinking long and hard about whether or not you want to spend the rest of your life with him.

  • Rachel

    So to chime in here, my husband was raised by a single mom and so has *no* gender-specific expectations of division of labor and is usually very very helpful. We own our own company and both work from home but I do about 20 hours a week and he does about 70-80 hours/week with the expectation that he needs to be on calls a lot so needs complete focus and attention whereas I do more back-office stuff that can get done whenever or is ok to do upstairs where the baby is being loud. Whenever he has gotten frustrated or insinuated I’m not doing enough around the house it’s bc he is feeling extremely pressured and stressed about work and needs a break from everything. My husband is the most amazing person in the universe but he doesn’t communicate feelings very well and it took many many years for me to figure out what he is “actually” trying to tell me (hint: it’s not the actual words he’s saying). So my point is, is your fiance feeling like a lot is on his shoulders and that isn’t being acknowledged? With my husband, a few thank-yous for working so hard and wow your day must’ve been tough, and he is right back to helping me out at home and being an equal partner. I now know that during certain extremely stressful periods he just needs to be able to do a little less around the house, be given some verbal acknowledgment, and if this continues for too long a time then we need to have a talk but 90% of the time he realizes he isn’t doing so much at home and steps back up. Maybe try just saying to him you understand how long and hard his days are. Full stop. Try saying that a few times without saying how yours are too. Then, at a different time mention how difficult your days are. I wonder if he gets a little appreciation if he then will notice what you do.

  • Maggie

    Sounds like the man I married – his mother made his bed every morning and picked up his clothes off the floor and “magically” made them reaapear clean and folded in his drawers. He didn’t even clear his own dishes off the table after eating, nevermind wash them. Never cooked a meal in his life. Its a cultural thing and it’s difficult to change someone’s thinking, but I am slowly working on it. He vaccuums now, and takes out the garbage, and will, if asked specifically, do a small childcare task like change a diaper. He just doesn’t see any child or household job as having anything to do with him. And our house is messy because I’m also breastfeeding AND have a preschooler and I do make dinner every single night. But at least he’s not nit-picking – he knows I’m doing my best. That is the most troubling sign, and I agree with suggestion of couples therapy.

  • IrishCream

    Work is work. He’s working 12-hour days at his job; you’re working 12-hour days at yours. Any remaining housework and childcare duties that fall outside of those hours should be split evenly between both parents. I make 1.5 times what my husband does but I sure as hell don’t insist on only doing 40% of the chores, and he’d never pull that stunt on me if the roles were reversed.

    And if he won’t clean and he won’t do any of the hard work of parenting…he may be a loving father and a “fun dad,” but I’m sorry, he is not a great father. 

  • Katie

    Agree with others on counseling and letting him spend the day alone with his daughter to see how much he can “accomplish”.

    But for your own sanity, I would suggest trying out a few baby carriers. That way your daughter can stay close to you while you do whatever the F you want to do, whether that’s treating yourself to a manicure, taking a walk or doing a load of laundry.

  • Allison

    Another SAHM (looking for a part time job, but at home for the past 6mo) with a 12+ hr a day working husband who does nothing.  A husband who doesn’t clean up after himself lives in a messy house, no matter how much or how little his wife works.  My husband chooses mess and I chose him, but only people who do the cleaning get to have opinions on the messiness of the house.  Plus, when he gets home and on the weekends, my husband still finds time to be the one responible for our daughter.  Did he want to have a family? Being a dad is more than a paycheck and sperm doner.

  • Melanie

    I agree that you need couples counseling ASAP. I stay home with two kids and do take on the majority of household tasks, but my house is a disaster zone at times. As I type this I have two loads of laundry on the couch that need folded and I really don’t know how long it’s been since I vacuumed. While I don’t expect my husband to come home and start folding he also doesn’t complain. He gives the girls a bath at night while I get dinner cleaned up and the last of the toys. If cleaning gets too backed up he will take the kids out for a while on the weekends so I can get hard core about it. I don’t know your husband but if I did any of the passive aggressive things (like not doing the things I can get done) it would end up in a huge argument. figuring out what works for us didn’t happen over night and we both had to adjust our expectations. You will get there but it sounds like you may need help from an outside source. And I don’t know about your relationship with his mom but if I talked about how hard it was in front of my MIL (without vilifying him) she would probably set him straight about how it wasn’t as perfect as he thinks. Good luck! Hopefully you’ll be writing back with a positive update soon.

  • s

    Do something about it now before you do something about it later. I heard it constantly and one day I’d had enough. I up and left and he realized how much I did. He sees his kid *maybe* 4 hours a MONTH by his own choice and still does nothing else. Disposable dishes. Eating out.
    Meanwhile i still do everything i was before and then some but am no longer being told i do nothing all day long.
    Good luck.

  • Jodie

    While I agree that the parent staying home should shoulder most of the family administrative tasks (and did when I was at home with my kids), only up to a reasonable level.  While your husband has 12 hour days, he does get to come home.  What he’s asking is that you have 24 hour days – no bueno.

    My husband and I recently went through a tough spell where I felt I was shouldering far too much family administration (we both work/commute the same time.)  I ended up opening a shared google form that we both slotted in anything we did related to the family upkeep.  It was pretty eye opening for us both.  Him in that he saw just how much I did and wasn’t getting credit for (doc appointments, buying clothes, upkeeping our Amazon Prime, etc.) and for me to see I couldn’t keep the pace up.  He stepped up more and I found stuff I could offload with help and now we’re MUCH happier.

    Ultimately though it does take a team.  Hugs OP hope you guys navigate this,

  • Wallydraigle

    Anyone who has ever asked a human child if her room is clean and been told “yes” with great sincerity will understand why most of us remember our houses being clean when we were kids.

    Kids have no idea what “clean” means. I tell my kids to clean their room, they go in there and move things around for ten minutes, and look! There’s (almost) nothing on the floor, Mom! It’s super clean! Nevermind the piles of toys on the dresser and nightstand. They genuinely don’t get it.

    I’m a SAHM with two kids. While my husband is at work, my work is to take care of the kids and the house. I do a pretty good job. My kids are 6 and 7 now, and kind of clean up after themselves (kind of), so that’s half of it. I’m not bound to the couch for hours a day feeding a bottomless bag of hunger and poop.

    But there are still some days where there is SO MUCH to do–return library books, plan meals, grocery shop, doctor appointments, etc–, and he comes home to a messy house. That man STILL helps me do any remaining housework for the rest of the day. The one I appreciate most is that he cleans up the table and kitchen every night after supper. I sit there reading to the kids or eating more dinner or just staring into space because I can, and he just… does it. He doesn’t act like it a huge favor or that I owe him something for it. And let me tell you, that makes him 850% more attractive to me. And it makes me much happier to be doing housework during the day.

  • Wallydraigle

    And let’s not forget the emotional exhaustion that comes with keeping tiny humans alive all day. I don’t think working outside the home and staying at home with the kids can be compared in a quantifiable manner. They’re totally different. But emotional exhaustion is the big one. Everyone has had a horrible coworker or boss, and that can be pretty bad. But you don’t have to lovingly wipe your coworker’s butt or prepare you evil boss a delicious snack. You clock out and leave them behind, and you never have to worry whether or not your face-to-face time was nurturing enough, or how big the therapy bill will be in fifteen years.

  • Anna

    Oh girl…. First of all, practical get thru tomorrow advice: get yourself a carrier or sling. And at this age I put a pack n play with some Tupperware and random fun for baby things in it in the kitchen so I could load the dishwasher or do something, anything!!!, without my kiddo flipping out. Music helps a lot too for some reason it always kept him happier a bit longer.

    Your fiancé… Girl! YOU work 24/7. So his 12 hour work day can kiss my ass. He gets to get up in the morning, shower, get dressed and eat without a small person screaming for him. He gets to go to work all day and complete tasks in a timely manner, without a small person screaming at him. He can use the restroom and eat when he needs to. He gets to come home and sleep all night (I bet you do all the nighttime parenting too, because nursing and he works?), again, minus screaming small person. It’s not like you WANT the house to be a mess and dinner to be PBJ again (but if you do that’s ok too!), but it is f-ing HARD to be a mama, and to be a mama trying to do it all, and damn near impossible to be a mama doing it all with a partner who isn’t, well, a partner. You are not HIS mama.

    Get ye to counseling, and get YOURSELF to a yoga class or book club or something one night and one weekend afternoon a week. Target does not count as “me” time. Neither does him getting to be fun dad while you slave away on household chores. Let him see how much he gets done while alone with the babe, and give yourself the gift of peeing alone, even if it’s only twice a week 🙂 Seriously, do it NOW. It took me 3 years and a butt ton of resentment and tears and maybe one or two dishes thrown overly aggressively into the sink to get to a place where my husband is truly my partner in parenting our son.

    • Susie

      I like you. Your written voice sounds a lot like mine. I’m going to plaster this advice across the walls once my next one is born, because I suspect that I’ll forget a bit once the next kid is born…

      • Anna

        Well thank you! My second is due to arrive in 10 weeks and I will be plastering my own advice 🙂 Good luck to you! 

  • Jennyroo

    This was my life. It breaks my heart to read it. I had three babies (and two miscarriages) in five years… and every night I would dread my husband coming home because he would have nothing good to say and could only criticize how the house looked. I also worked full time after my (Canadian) one year maternity leaves. If I worked my butt off to get the dishes washed, he would make comments about how they weren’t put away. If I pushed through three loads of washing, he would comment if there was a pile of laundry waiting to be folded… If the laundry was folded, I was incompetent and lazy because I didn’t get it put away in drawers. You get the picture.  So basically I had three children who were at the time 7, 5, and 2 years old and my husband walked out the door. He seriously left me because the house was too messy. Sigh. It’s been two years now, the house is still messy, and I am working every day to try to build back up the self esteem that was crushed by him day in and day out. My heart breaks for the writer. No one deserves that kind of treatment. Not for any reason is it at all tolerable.

    • Gabs

      I’m sorry you dealt with that. I’ll tell you one thing that might, maybe, someday help comfort you: he would’ve left no matter what, he just chose to make it seem like it was your fault. If he had really wanted to be there, he would’ve worked on it; instead, he took the coward’s way out and made you the scapegoat. You deserve better than that, and I hope that with some counseling, you can come to realize that you are worth that.

    • IrishCream

      You sound like an awesome mom and a really good partner, and your ex sounds like he did not deserve you one bit!

  • MR

    Wow. Yeah, I agree with all the previous commenters. If my husband ever said anything like “I could do all that in 30 minutes!” my only reply would be, “Go ahead. I’d like to see that!” His expectations are completely unreasonable. My husband has had schedules where he worked 6 12 hour days for months at a time, and he had an hour commute each way. He would come home, eat, and go to sleep before repeating it all the next day. He would not comment on the state of the house, because he didn’t care as long as he could eat and go to bed and had clothes to wear to work the next day. So, yeah, everything else was on me during that time, even though I was working full time (this happened both before and after we had our first child). It was much easier without kids, of course, but even then, the housework slipped. As long as I made sure he had something for dinner, and clean clothes to wear, that day was a win, even if nothing else got taken care of. So, yes, definitely get couples counseling. But, in the meantime, focus on those things, and see if that doesn’t help ease some of the tension between you both. Think of it this way – you don’t have to put ALL the clothes away, just his, so always start with those. If yours and the baby’s aren’t put away, you don’t have a problem digging it out of the laundry basket or dryer. But with a 12 hour day, he only has the energy to look one place – his dresser. And make sure he has dinner every day ready when he gets home. To do that, prep in the morning, so all you have to do is put it together or reheat it when he gets home. Also, make extra, so cooking one meal can provide 3-4 meals with no additional cooking. If you have some freezer room, start a stash of leftover meals, so that on those days where you just can’t find time to cook, you can just pull something out of the freezer and heat it up. And, definitely get a baby carrier! You can spend quality time with baby while strapped to you while you do laundry or cook. She can even take naps there (assuming you don’t also need one). GL!

    • MR

      I forgot to add, the morning prep is crucial, because those days that fall apart always get worse as the day goes on. At least if you have prepped stuff in the am, there is more a chance of being able to throw the stuff on the stove to cook, or whatever, in the evening. But expecting to be able to prep AND cook in the evening is just unreasonable in the evening with a baby. That’s the witching hour(s).

  • K

    Wow. Poor OP. I don’t know how SAHMs do it. I really don’t. I stayed at home for maternity leave and one brief period in between jobs, and here’s what happened: our house was messy. I didn’t always cook the best food. Our baby was alive though, and quite happy. So. THE BABY IS ALIVE AND QUITE HAPPY. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned about marriage is that it’s not actually 50-50. It’s never split down the middle. There are periods of time that I have given more than 100% to my partner, when he was only capable of giving me 10%. And there are times when he’s given me more than 100%, and I’ve only been capable of giving a little bit. But. That’s marriage. I don’t always have my ish together perfectly, and neither does he. But we both try really hard. We try hard to see the other person’s efforts, and we try hard to put more in when it’s needed. And the first 2 years of our son’s life? He had to give me a lot of support. I struggled to balance motherhood and working outside the home. I was unhappy in the job I had, and I needed a ton of emotional support and love and kindness from him. And I didn’t have the motivation to come home and even do half the chores. So he stepped in. He did a lot, and when I was in a better place, I returned the grace he’d shown me. This past year, it was his turn to struggle. And guess what? I’ve taken on a lot more around the house, and have done as much as I can to make his life easier. We both work full time. Doesn’t matter. Because I love him and he needs that support now, and we are a team. I get that SAHMs might take on more of the logistical stuff at home, but he should care more about your happiness and your kid’s happiness than whether or not laundry is folded. Couple’s counseling might help him see that, and a reminder that it’s never 50-50. It’s giving as much as you can all the time, otherwise why be married? Why parent together? If it’s a paycheck versus chores, it’ll never feel fulfilling.

  • Julie

    I agree with everyone here! I wanted to added this fantastic article about why husbands criticize stay at home moms. It talks about the idea that his mom was a “perfect” mother and a lot of other topics you mentioned!

     http://www.drpsychmom.com/2015/07/16/why-men-criticize-their-sahm-wives/

  • Alison

    When my daughter was a baby, my husband once offered to take care of her for a whole day so I could have a day off. I asked if he could also get up with her during the night, so I could also get a full night’s sleep. He said he couldn’t do that because then he would be too tired to take care of her the next day. I just stared at him and finally said, “what do you think I’ve been doing for the last ten months?”

    Many many men just do not get it.

  • Janna

    My husband grew up in a supremely patriarchal society, i.e. his mom didn’t pick up or clean or cook because the maid, house cleaner and cook did those things and the gardener did the rest. His brother has two kids and brags daily that he’s never changed a diaper. My husband **thought** going into marriage/baby that an ideal situation was zero effort on his part but what he has found is that you get out what you put in. My daughter is now 2 1/2 and he has discovered for himself that the more time and effort he puts into her, including changing poopy diapers and soothing her when she cries in the middle of the night, the closer they are and the more she looks for him and reaches for him. How is he a great father if the baby is your responsibility when he’s at home? You can’t bond with a kid you don’t take care of and honestly I don’t think you can stay bonded with a man who doesn’t put in or understand what you are dealing with. You stay at home, this is your whole life that he is demeaning and belittling. Sorry if that’s blunt.

  • Holly W.

    Agree with allll the comments, for sure. Wanted to chime in on the MIL “my house was always clean when I was a kid.” In my husband’s case…it was true. He had older sisters when he was born – 7 and 4, and his mom was always a SAHM. And she just…spends every moment of every day cleaning. She shampoos the carpets every couple of weeks, literally. He never did a lick of laundry, had to put a dish in teh dishwasher, etc., in his LIFE. He went from living with her to living with his sister, to living with me after we got married. And he has almost never made comments to me about it, but it was years of adjustment for him to realize that yes – you do have to put the laundry in teh dryer, and put away the clean dishes, and put your own shoes away. We didn’t fight about it a ton, because I have different priorities than a clean house, but if he’d every comment and say “I’d really like it if the dishes were done every night right after dinner.” or “There does seem to be a lot of dust.” I just look him in the eye and say – sure. You have two hands. I am most often dealing with a toddler, folding laundry, or working in the evenigns (we both work full time). I prioritize my kids, my exercise routine, which is minimal, and my husband, in varying orders. A spotless floor does not make the top 5, IMO, and he’s always been welcome to do something about it if he’d like. It’s taken time, but over the years, he’s slowly started to just…do whatever hethinks needs to be done. And like I said – he never had a ’50s attitude about it, like “it’s your job.” but he didn’t really know what to do, since everything had always been done for him. Now, with a 5-y-o, a 2-y-o, and twins on the way, several nights a week after dinner we rock-paper-scissors who does bath and bed and who does dinner cleanup and dishes, and then he’ll ask me, hey, are there a couple of things that you really need to see getting done tonight? and he’ll take one of those things, or more. so, it can be done, it just takes time to learn expectations and then adjust them!

  • Abby

    So sorry you are going through this OP. I am also a sahm, and it was a shock to me how difficult it was to balance caring for a newborn with all the other household duties. But like others here, my husband never once judged me and pitched in wherever he could when he was home. He was working 10 hr days for most of our baby’s first year, and he was helping me with night wakings, cooking, paying bills, changing diapers, and more. You deserve better. You really do, OP. It would be good to try couple’s counseling, but frankly, this dude sounds pretty set in his beliefs and not likely to change too much. My advice would be to leave for greener pastures. They are out there. Best of luck to you, OP. ((hugs))

  • Laura A

    When I quit my job to stay home with our baby, my days started looking a lot like yours – I was breastfeeding and pumping (yay low milk supply) 80% of my day, and had a baby that would wail if I was more than 3 feet away. So I sat on the couch with her for at least 6 months, with short, stressful trips to the bathroom or microwave while my child screamed in her bassinet.

    You know what my husband did after a full day of work and a 3 hour commute? He took the wailing baby off my hands when he came through the door. He made dinner. He did laundry. He would take care of a night feeding here and there, and did more than his share of diapers. I curled up in a ball and tried to breathe, that was the division of labor for a while. And sometimes that’s how it is. 2 years later, I plan menus and cook every meal and go to classes and do a lot of cleaning and organizing during the week so we can have stress free weekends as a family. I happily give him ‘time off’, because he needs some time to recharge too. We do this because we’re FAMILY, we share each other’s burdens when we can and try to make each others’ lives better. Even when we were both so tired and stressed we couldn’t stand to look at/speak to one another, we did this. I think your husband needs an attitude adjustment.

  • CeeBee

    There’s a saying that says you can only have two of these three things: 1) Kids 2) Sanity 3) A clean house.
    As far as the baby goes: read Janet Lansbury’s blog. I wish I’d found her when my two were infants. She has a lot of advice on how to make your child content while you: pee, eat a meal, get out of the barf covered shirt, etc. And for all of the advice books/websites/etc., I’ve ever read…. her advice always works. Always! I’m not a huge fan of her tone, almost like parents are the most detrimental thing to their babies. But her advice works.every.time.

    As far as the fiance: yes to everything above. The thing I have noticed as I’ve gotten older (early 30s), is how much those mama’s boys stand out. They basically act like your fiance, and know some woman who can run the world and keep a clean house, oh and by the way, she just so happens to be his mom! Seriously, my friends that are mama’s boys are terrible people inside of relationships or cannot manage to stay in them. My husband’s best friend asked my husband why we take turns sleeping in on the weekends since my husband is the one who works. OK, so I don’t get up every day of the week at 6AM to two demanding pre-schoolers wailing for milk and breakfast and the world at their fingertips? Right. I’d try for counseling, and if he refuses, start making a plan for you and that baby to go live on your own because if he refuses counseling, their is no upward in this situation. He will ruin you because you will never be his mother. And why would you be? You were right to reach out to someone for advice. Go find someone who can help you remediate your husband or start your life over.

  • S

    He sounds like he’s being insensitive, but I bet it’s stemming from frustration and legitimate questioning what you’re doing. So here’s where I am going to be blunt, too. You mention only one singleton with no special needs and you mention no part-time work. You really should split the chores evenly, which is most definitely not 50/50, and certainly closer to 90%, while you’re not working. For now, his job now is to earn money for the family, yours is to take care of family needs. Once you return to the workforce, you’ll split it 50/50 or otherwise evenly, depending on your commitments. For now, after 20 minutes, pop the baby off the boob and stick her in an Ergo while she naps and you do the laundry. Make a schedule, use a dinner planning app, get things done during the baby’s many naps. 

    • MD

      Hmm. Correct me if I am wrong, but you sound like someone who has never had a baby or maybe the paying-job half of a couple with a baby? Or maybe you are a mom who had one of those miraculous babies who was happy to be “popped off your boob” after 20 minutes so you could get stuff done. Whatever the case, there is a real lack of understanding for what most new moms go through in your comment. 

      For the 12 hours the OP’s husband is at work, taking care of her baby is 100% her responsibility. For the other 12 hours, it is 50/50. She is working, too, it is just at a job that is unpaid and generally unappreciated. 

  • S

    Thank you for your assessment. I am a SAHM with twins, no childcare, I work part time from home, and my children have special needs. I don’t have a child who was happy to be popped off the boob initially, but neither could I be a pacifier and not get to eat. I got real and made it happen anyway, popping the kid off so that I could pump for the baby who was unable to breastfeed and then did what I could around the house. Nutrition from breastfeeding comes in the first 15 minutes, any more is comfort that can be achieved with a carrier. I absolutely understand being frazzled at home and I’m saying she needs to get control of these feelings in order to get things done. Perhaps she’s depressed.

    • MD

      Sorry for mis-judging you, S. I feel like a jerk! I don’t think she is depressed, though. She is bonded to her baby, her baby is well cared for, and her house is suitably clean. It sounds like the problem is that in spite of this, her husband tells her she is inadequate. That is external criticism, not internal criticism that you find in people with depression. 

  • Abby

    I don’t think she’s depressed at all. Babies are different. I could not get anything done around the house when my newborn was napping because she was a crazy light sleeper and our house was small with thin walls. I wasn’t good at cooking or meal planning to begin with, so how could I be awesome at it while juggling a newborn’s needs by myself? The newborn’s needs should come first and no sahm should feel guilty about the other crap. It will get done eventually somehow. Please don’t feel obligated to do 90% of the chores every day. Thats dumb. Do what you can within reason. That said, there should really be a teamwork vibe coming from your significant other rather than judgement. He has not walked a mile in your shoes. The newborn period (the first year) is so so so hard, and I feel like people get some kind of amnesia about what it was really like to adjust to having a tiny critter totally dependant on you for everything 24/7. Not only is it hard work, but it is a huge adjustment! I think you’re a wonderful mama, OP. And when you look back on this time (with amnesia of course!) you won’t remember the dirty dishes or takeout meals, you’ll just remember all the precious moments with your sweet baby. S, you sound too good to be true (like OP’s MIL) lol.

  • Call Me Jo

    I agree 100% with Amy. One additional suggestion I would like to offer is baby wearing. It can be a lifesaver for simultaneous snuggles and getting things done, plus many options make it possible to breastfeed at the same time. I didn’t wear our son often around the house, but when I did it was because he wasn’t feeling well and was being extra demanding and I needed to get things done. 

  • Not chastising or condoning any behavior or lifestyle choices, just thought I’d offer my input on how I manage my very opinionated exclusively breastfed 4 month old.

    Baby wearing.

    My child likes to be up where she can see things and likes to have those things change pretty regularly. She doesn’t quite of the tummy muscles to keep her in the seated position, so she gets very frustrated very quickly. She can abide her play gym for about 10 minutes, ditto the exersaucer, bouncy seat, bumbo, etc. While 10 minutes may seem like an eternity in baby taking care of time, there’s not a lot that can get done.

    Let’s not even talk about the epic diaper changes and marathon feeding sessions. 

    BUT, as soon as I put her in the carrier (facing out to the world) I can get sooooooooooo much more done. We’re still not talking spotless house and magical food prep, and I still have to rotate tasks frequently depending (there are only so many shirts she can stand to watch being folded before she is bored out of her mind, but who can blame her?), but she happily sits and watches the world around her. Giggles even. And a few stops at the mirror so she can ogle both of us always elicits a grin and kick of the legs.

    I take her grocery shopping this way as well. She gets a frequent change of scenery walking up and down the aisles, and I get an added resistance work-out squatting to get the items on the bottom shelf!

    And some days, I just say bugger to housework and sit with her on the floor or porch or wherever else I can get her to sit quietly for a few minutes of mother/daughter bonding time. Dirty clothes don’t cry.

  • Jenn

    I had a husband like that. I now have an ex-husband like that. Years and years of begging and pleading and trying to make it work, but I got nothing in return. I worked full-time and with an hour-long commute each way there just weren’t enough hours in the day to do housework. He would come in from work and go straight to the couch, falling asleep out there with the TV and lights on, not lifting a finger to do anything. My father stepped in to take care of the house repairs, my mother stepped in to help prepare meals on weeknights. His parents’ solution was “Oh, just love him anyway.” I was essentially, for 6 years, a single but married mother of 2, and thank heavens I had my parents’ support. There was no criticizing from him though, and I was never compared to his mother (not to my face, at least.) And that fact in the OP’s story is what makes me think this is an entirely different issue. Or adds a whole other complicated layer to the solution.

  • Kim too

    Here’s the thing that most people don’t think about, particularly if they’ve never stayed home with a small child: when you live in your house all day long, it gets dirty. Before kids, most of us wash dishes maybe once a day, clean the kitchen after dinner, run some water in a cereal bowl, and when we come home after work (where most lily, other people are doing the actual cleaning), their house is the way they left it.  When you have people linking there 24/7, the house is constantly being used, and messes happen, and there is no one else around to pick it up.  Add in the part where many of us do not have fantastic housekeeping skills, even if our mothers did, and yeah, things get dirty. Life happens.

  • Mmmmmmpie

    I completely realize that this is not the point and yes, I am overly sensitive BUT. Just because I don’t breastfeed doesn’t mean that I have some magical chunk of time accumulating to do chores in. I still have to hold and feed the baby. Yes, if someone else were here, they might be able to do it, but like a lot of SAHMs, it’s just me and the baby most of the time. Sooooo, yeah. Not “nursing” doesn’t = free time.

  • kefi18

    My husband is constantly guilty of not cleaning up after himself (and not because his mom did it for him! Total opposite, he grew up in nasty living conditions with his alcoholic parents smoking cigarettes in the house, so everything was dingy and stinky and they didn’t care if the house was clean or not), and he just doesn’t really think about straightening up unless I ask him to do very specific things, and even then they generally don’t get done without me nagging and asking him a million times. So if I’ve asked him to do something a zillion times and he still hasn’t done it, I take the low road and become a total meanie wife. (Hey, at least I own up to it) Take your socks off in the living room and shove them between the couch cushions (seriously wtf are you 6?!), I throw the socks away, don’t whine to me when you realize you have basically no socks and have to go out and buy more (yes, you have to go get them yourself). Put your dirty clothes in a pile on the floor right next to the hamper, and I’m not washing them. Don’t bitch to me when you have no clean shirts for work, and all your dirty ones are covered in cat hair because your pile of dirty clothes is his favorite place to nap; you should’ve put them in the hamper. Say you’ll wash the dinner dishes before you come to bed, don’t, then say you’ll do them in the morning before work, and don’t again, so I come home from work to find last night’s dinner dishes still all over the counter, and I’m not making dinner. (I get home first so I make dinner) He knows it’s the way things are, and if he wants a different result, he can start picking up his own fucking socks because he’s an adult, and I’m his WIFE, not his maid.