Weekends: Budgeting Time with The Kids & Each Other - Relationship Advice
I am a stay at home mother of three. My husband works 5 days a week. He leaves the house around 7:00 every morning and doesn't come home until about 7:00 at night. He says he's exhausted when he gets home. I am still the one on kid duty even after he gets home. He doesn't help me at all with the kids or the house during the week days at all. I need a break on the weekends. He should spend time with his kids anyway and I need a break. He doesn't see it that way he says well you get to stay home all week while I go into the office. He says well I need to rest on the weekends. But that isn't really fair because I get no break or rest all week but I know he does. I know he goes to the gym which is right at his building and I know he has work lunches sometimes. Even just having lunch by himself in his quiet office sometimes is something I am jealous of but he doesn't understand. I know his job is stressful but I see all the breaks he gets and he doesn't see the breaks I get and he doesn't see how stressful my job is. Yes it is a job! I feel like we are heading to a crisis. I googled for help on this and found your hub about married men with kids. I can't talk to anyone because it sounds like I don't want to be with my kids. People with kids love to lie about how they are oh so happy everything is fine but it's all bull. So I kno no one will really give me advice that likes kids. So i am writing to you. But I don't think we are in the bad shape that some of your people are. We still have sex almost every morning when we wake up. I just need some help. Wendy.
Wow. Well, I always say, it's not that I don't like kids, it's just that I can't eat a whole one. ;)
I understand what you're saying. I can see why you don't feel you can talk to people with children about your situation. You just need to do some time budgeting.
You're right, you should get a break from being on call with the children 5 days and nights straight every week. You're right, it is a job, and it is a hard one. You both need to have time away from the kids and each other. And you also need couple time & adult time. Your mornings together are an awesome indication that there's a lot of connection between the two of you in the midst of this chaos, and I truly applaud that. Now let's expand on it.
The first thing you really need to tackle here is getting your husband onboard. In a calm way, at a quiet moment like maybe after the kids are asleep or first thing in the morning when you wake up and spend your time together, you need to let him know as clearly as you can that you two need to do work on some time management together. If you can, you could put together a little video with your camcorder (you're a parent, all you people have some kinda camcorder or something.) It could be just little snippets, 5 - 10 second shots you take all day long of different things you do and the kids do. It may even be funny. But it should show him how long and tedious and involved and exhausting your day is. Kids crying, baths, laundry, toys, crying, breakfast, lunch, crying, driving to the market, in the car seat, out of the car seat, diaper changes, crying, vacuuming, spills, play time, nap time, crying... show the clock at the start or end of each snippet, speak into the camera to your husband.
Do not make this a competition of who works harder. You have to approach this as a team player. This is about the two of you working together to do what's best for your family.
Once you have his attention and agreement that you guys need a plan or a schedule, present him with one. Take control of this, don't leave it up to him. You're the one suffering in the current situation. So you be the one to create a solution.
Maybe you could start with a plan for Saturdays and Sundays. Tell him you want to join a gym, or take a Tae Kwon Do class or something on Saturday mornings. It's his responsibility to get the kids up and give them breakfast. You'll be gone from say 8am - noon. Even if you just go to a diner and have a cup of coffee in peace and read a book, it's important for you to have quiet alone time. And it's important for him to be spending some time with his children, as you said.
Then, talk about making plans for Saturday nights. Have a date night. Maybe every Saturday isn't feasible, maybe every other Saturday might work. Sometimes it should be just the two of you and sometimes you could make plans with other adults.
If you haven't already, start utilizing babysitters. If you have a parent or a sibling that would watch the kids once in a while, that would be great. If not, try to find a professional. There's actually babysitting sites now where teenagers take tests and become certified.
Another great babysitting idea is to work with another couple. If you have neighbors or friends that have kids make plans together where you have all the kids at one of your houses with a babysitter, and you adults all go to the other house for dinner, drinks, a movie, conversation, or whatever. If you did this once a month, you could take turns whose house has the kids and whose house hosts the adults. Staying in can be cost effective and easy. But of course you could plan to go out together too.
Separately from these weekend plans, you need to make some adjustments that will help you get through your heavy week. For one thing, pick a night where your husband is responsible for dinner. That way you get one night off from cooking. Tell him he has to call an order in to a restaurant or take-out place, and he has to pick it up. You can even tell him he has to clean up afterward too. So it's a paperplate night. So it's pizza or Chinese food, maybe not the healthiest choice. But it is a mentally healthy choice. Tell your husband he can pick wherever he wants to get dinner from. Tacos, KFC, stop at a diner and get salads and gyros to go. He can stop at his mother's and pick up a lasagna. He can make hotdogs, whatever he wants. If you really want this to work, tell him it's his call and you'll go along with it whatever it is. He has to come home a little earlier that night and he has to think about something the kids will enjoy. It could become something the kids really look forward to, and it could become something he winds up enjoying.
I've suggested this in another Hub, and I've gotten some really nice notes on how well it worked for some people. Hire a high schooler in your neighborhood as a mother's helper. $7 or $8 an hour, maybe you could get them for an hour a day every day after school. Or, just one day a week for a couple of hours, whatever works. Have them come in and just help. Whether it's to clean the dining room, help you pull out the Christmas decorations, sit with the kids in the living room while they watch a video so you can take a long bath, or make a long distance phone call in peace to your college roommate or your sister, it's a few moments where you had just a little bit of help. Hire one with a driver's license and maybe you could have them run errands for you once a week. Sit still and enjoy that video with your kids while your mother's helper runs to the market, the dry cleaners, the gas station and the pharmacy for you.
You would be surprised at how much of a difference it will make in your psyche to have regained just a few hours a week for yourself.
As you're telling your husband your ideas, relay excitement. invite him to be excited with you. Tell him you appreciate how hard he works, and thank him for that. Remember: it's not a competition. You want him to appreciate all you do, start by offering your appreciation for him.
The bottom line here is that you said you're afraid you're headed for a crisis. Don't let that happen. Ask for help. Work with your husband. Hire a Mother's Helper for a few hours a week. Bring Grandma in. Set up plans with neighbors. Don't let this become a crisis.
Do what you need to do for yourself: that's the best thing you can do for your family. Good luck!