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"Extracurriculars" beyond SAHM duties? (Long, sorry)

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
How does this work? Am I allowed to take on other things when I can't even get the house clean?

My situation... I've been SAHM for 5 years, ever since ds1 was born. (I have two boys, 3 & 5.) I suck at housekeeping. I try to keep up on things, I do. From day one with a high-maintenance ds1, I have not been able to maintain a clean or tidy apartment/house. Then I had a high-maintenance preschooler PLUS a baby. Then they were 1 & 3, and I couldn't do a THING (we could afford weekly housekeepers that year!). Well, now they're 3 & 5 and somehow I still spend a lot of time referreeing them, etc. So, I'm bad at it. Don't know how other people manage it.

Meanwhile, for the last 5 years, dh complains and pleads and seethes about the state of the house. I have improved, I KNOW I have. I've instituted new systems in the last few months, now that I feel I have the breathing room, with the kids being "older". Every evening I make a point to clean off the main counter in the kitchen, and every morning I try to actually run the dishwasher so I don't get a full day behind on dishes. (Of course by dinner there's a full sink of dishes again....) I try to get the living room (playroom) almost back to square 1 in the evening, so we wake up to a decent space. Laundry - well, I'm not good at keeping up on it. DH ends up doing his own and resenting it. I've set up email reminders for me to vacuum different rooms each week, etc. That has gotten it done more often, still not perfectly "on time".

I could go on - but, the long and the short of it is, I'm a messy person, dh is neat. I don't see dirt and he notices EVERYTHING and is bothered by it. But I'm the SAHM and I believe it should be my domain to keep the house. But more to MY standards than his. But, I try to get it closer to his.

So NOW.... ds2 is starting a co-op preschool in the fall (ds1 will be in all-day Kindergarten!). Tonight was my first meeting for the school, about fundraisers for the year. Everyone is expected to contribute some time to organizing a fundraiser. When I got home and filled in dh about it, he started going off about how dumb it is, how inefficient (I agree actually), how we'll end up spending time and money on organizing when we could just pay a bit more in tuition and be done with it. THEN he comes out with how how I shouldn't be taking on extra stuff, he won't be happy if I can't even do the basics of the house. Like until the house is neat I can't do anything else??

I don't see it that way. Dishes and an extra email or phone call are different things - the energy they take, the time of day, etc. And doesn't scheduling in more things often mean MORE gets done, somehow the organizing and the energy steps up a bit to accommodate it all? Or am I wrong about this. Anyway, it's not really an option to say I can't help fundraise, and it could be good to put my brain on something for an hour or two or whatever, but dh is actually proposing we pay a couple extra hundred dollars to the school, as if we contributed enough and any other project I take on is just extra. His math may be right on that, but it's socially wrong......

And he went off about how the house is "always" this or that when TODAY when he got home the sink was empty, there was a laundry running, the kids had a bath, the living room was pretty picked up, the counter was cleared. (The rest of it - same as ever, due for a dusting, due for a mopping. But he didn't notice the good stuff.)

And it makes me mad to think I shouldn't be "allowed" to do other things until I can get my housekeeping skills up to par! Actually, I've been tempted to fill up my life with other pastimes, like cooking from scratch more, or finally learning to sew, or more gardening, etc. Or a very part time job, if there were any to be had. How does this work for other SAHMs? Do you first master the home-making, or do you do other volunteer stuff or PTA or whatever anyway?? Thanks for reading all this, part vent, part question....
post #2 of 40
I've been a SAHM for nearly 14 years, and I've handled things differently at different times. What really matters for you guys is what you can both live with.

It sounds like you really want more of life outside of housekeeping and your DH really wants the house a little cleaner. I suspect that he agrees that you being happy and part of the community is a good thing, just you think the house being a little cleaner would be nice. Right now, the problem is that you both think you have to pick just one of them and you disagree on which is more important.

The trick is to figure out how to have a little of both.

On the house keeping front, I'm curious if you have much clutter. Decluttering is, IMHO, the first step to sanity in housekeeping.
post #3 of 40
I am a sort of SAHM. Meaning, I do WOH, but only 15 hours a week, only when DH is already home, and it's only temporary until DH's income goes up enough that we don't need mine. And since DH works full time and is in school nearly full time, the housekeeping does fall to me.

And I have quickly come to the conclusion that as long as my kids are healthy, happy, my house is safe and functional, I don't care if it's occasionally messy. Sometimes, doing "extra curriculars" is what gets done. That type of stuff, IMO is just as, if not more important.

I tend to take a longer and somewhat morbid view of housekeeping-I do not want my tombstone to say "she was a good housekeeper." By that I mean, I don't want my kids and husband to remember me for how clean the house is. I want them to remember me for the fun times and the supportive times and all of that. To remember that I worked the fundraising carnival booth and how proud my kid was to show me off to his friends when they came by the booth. To remember that I drove her all over the place to do all the practices and such that she wanted to do.

I also approach it from a standpoint of what I want my kids to learn. Do I want them to learn that cleaning is the most important thing? No, I want them to learn that everyone needs balance in life.
post #4 of 40
my dh made it clear from the beginning of our getting an actual real house (as opposed to when we lived in a bedroom) that he expected it clean. not all the time, not perfect, but clean looking and picked up. at first, i was REALLY upset, i figured he shouldnt tell me what to do! this is my domain, i dont tell him to go to work and work hard. its a given.

but i realized, i just have to do certain things to make it "clean." like, for instance, when my dh comes through the front door, the first room he sees is the living room. so, i make sure, 15 minutes before he comes home, to pick up the living room, put my purse/diaper bag on the coat hanger, straighten out the rug, turn off the tv, open up the blinds, etc. i find if the living room looks tidy, he doesnt mind waiting an extra 10-15 minutes for dinner. (he comes home starving.) during the daytime, i try to do one big cleaning thing each day, except for one or two days. mondays are usually for the bathrooms, tuesdays are usually mopping days, wednesdays i dust the furniture, and so on... i try to aim for doing some sort of laundry every morning, whether it is my ds cloth diapers, which needs to be done every other day, or just a random load of laundry. then we hang dry, and at night i bring the clothes or diapers down. its definitely a routine.

i feel like im babbling. to sum up: wake up, do a load of laundry in between running around with my ds. sometime during the day, do something big (bathroom, dusting, vacuum,etc) around time for dh to get home, start dinner. right before he shows up, pick up living room. right after dinner, he is expected to take my ds for at least 20 minutes so i can clean the kitchen. i know he is tired, but i (and you!) need a bit of help. the house gets pretty cluttered as the evening goes on (usually thanks to my ds lol) and right after bed time, i do a sweep through and pick up odds and ends. usually lasts 20 minutes.

i wipe things down here and there, whenever i can. i also make sure to get out of the house once a day, to keep the sanity. my dh is a neat freak like yours, but he has told me the house is better than he expected when he is in that kind of mood, he has no problem with me doing other things.

and i do have a problem sometimes with being "in charge" of the cleaning, but really, i would rather be doing this than the hard, backbreaking labor he is doing to keep up in a home. and i am tired, mentally, more than he is,but i remind myself that he is baring all the financial burden, and i want a happy home. its not always perfect, but it works for us
post #5 of 40
It sounds like you need to have a discussion with your husband about his expectations. He seems to need something from you that you are not currently providing him. I think in many cases, its one or two relatively small things that the SAHP can do most days that gives their partner the sense that the home is clean. For my DH, I just need to have most things out of sight when he arrives home- I try not to have the unwashed laundry mounded about and encourage the kids to pick up a bit when I'm expecting him home. Talk about it!

Not being 100% on top of household management and housekeeping does nto negate exracurriculars, IMO. The reason my house is sometimes messy is not because I am not here enough, it is that my energy level and interest wax and wane over time. I *could* scrub the dining room floor but its important (and often preferable) for me to read books to my daughter or play with the baby. I *could* be less involved with my volunteer work outside the home but chances are good that I'm going to replace that time out of the house with knitting or reading time, not cleaning.
post #6 of 40
It is way too easy to critique a job that you never have to accomplish. That is why I am a big fan of everyone pitching in to keep the house tidy. If your DH is constantly bothered by certain messes he notices (that are not on your radar) than those things fall to him to keep clean.

OR

If your DH thinks there is extra $$ to devote to tuiton, then there is certainly extra $$ to devote to some professional cleaning help.

You are "allowed" to do whatever you decide is best for you because you are an adult. You are certainly not your family's cleaning slave at the expense of your own needs...sheesh! I'm sorry, but his expectations sound way too stepford-wifey for the comfort of my stomach.

ETA: In the interest of full disclosure I think being a SAHM is a full time job not counting cleaning. So you work full time and so does he...then you split the housework. Anything else is unfair IMO.

ETA #2: Sorry I just keep coming back to this because thinking about it is making me so mad for you OP! How dare your DH come home and cripe to you about the state of the house...like ever! If my DH did that he would find himself with a long list of chores, AND childcare while I went out and got a pedicure.
post #7 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chamomile Girl View Post
If your DH thinks there is extra $$ to devote to tuiton, then there is certainly extra $$ to devote to some professional cleaning help.
Yeah, this is what I was thinking. I also suck at housekeeping. I like to have a clean house, of course, I'm just disorganized and messy. However, my DH does not ever complain. I also have an older child who can help out a lot, like load/unload the dishwasher, help with laundry, and garbage. The responsibility of cleaning the house is not just on me, we all pitch in at our house.
post #8 of 40
sorry to hear your dh is the way he his. My house in very well lived in.... and while it is sanitary its not tidy by any means, and my dh never says a thing about it and I have as much free time during the day as I NEED. I do think it is our job to clean up after our kids during the day, but when your dh is home it all should be 50/50. And you are NOT HIS MAID. while it may be fair to say you take care of the kids needs during the day, he SHOULD be expected to do his own cleaning etc. Any that you do for him is EXTRA work for you.
post #9 of 40
First I'd be annoyed that I had to live up to someone else's standard of what good housekeeping is. That's not my job, my job is to take care of the kids and do all those little things that enrich their lives. Keeping the house clean comes second, even third to everything I have going on.

Being part of organizations that benefit my kids (school, Little League, ect) is part of my job as a sahm, just as much as making sure they have clean clothes and feeding them. It's important to me as well, to have something for me, even if it does benefit others. It's not about donating money, it's about bettering the community that we live in and being part of something.

Once your kids are older and get involved in sports and other lessons, it gets even harder to make sure there's a hot meal on the table, you can forget about dusting knick knacks!!

I'm a sahm to a 9 and 4 year old, the 9 year old plays on 2 baseball teams, football and plays guitar. The 4 year old has dance and needs a lot of attention. I'm PTA president (with about 100 jobs there), my dh lives out of town 5 days a week, I have a chronic illness, my laundry is done, there's healthy food to eat, the kids are clean (ish) but most importantly, we are all happy and that has NOTHING to do with how clean the house is.
post #10 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
It sounds like you really want more of life outside of housekeeping and your DH really wants the house a little cleaner. I suspect that he agrees that you being happy and part of the community is a good thing, just you think the house being a little cleaner would be nice. Right now, the problem is that you both think you have to pick just one of them and you disagree on which is more important.

The trick is to figure out how to have a little of both.

On the house keeping front, I'm curious if you have much clutter. Decluttering is, IMHO, the first step to sanity in housekeeping.
You are right on. He probably knows it's not black and white, but he's so fed up with the house. You'd think we're living in a real sty... but we're not. When my parents came to visit a few days ago, my mother said "it's looks pristine in here!". It looks almost the same as it usually does, only freshly vacuumed and the living room rug was totally clear. The piles on the kitchen counter were there, the bathroom was OK, but not freshly sparkling or anything. I guess my standards are just like my mother's!! His standards are like his mother's.... or what he thinks her standards were when he was our kids' ages.

But back to your point - it's very tricky to compromise and do a little of what we both value. That should be the goal!! But he's so set on the house being priority #1, and he works long hours, so he can't just do it himself happily or something.

Clutter - yes, we have it. Too many toys, perhaps, and definitely too much stuff without a container or logical place for it. I would love to take on the organization projects. After the dishes are done..........
post #11 of 40
Just my two cents...but, if you are a stay-at-home person then upkeeping the house to a conventional standard of neatness is YOUR responsibility first. Your DH is working to have the roof and the walls that surround you there and it's your job to work at keeping the inside running smoothly and whether your DH is a clean-freak or not, it just sounds like as a housekeeper you could use either outside help (which the expense of is daunting when there is only one income) or a real sit-down list making session that you stick to on a daily basis.

And for what it's worth, I've been a stay-at-home mom (for 2 years) in the past but have been working full-time now for 10 years, have a spotless large home, laundry is always done, meals are cooked, free-time/family time is predominant and with no outside help needed (this is with 4 boys in the house full-time ages 13, 12, 11 and 8). It most certainly can be done with 2 kids.

Time/efficiency are key requirements and are skills that need to be put into play consistently.
post #12 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMama36 View Post
Just my two cents...but, if you are a stay-at-home person then upkeeping the house to a conventional standard of neatness is YOUR responsibility first. Your DH is working to have the roof and the walls that surround you there and it's your job to work at keeping the inside running smoothly (snip)

And where in this scenario do you put your needs? And why should the 'conventional standard' be that of the man? And...I don't know about the OP's DH but my husband works because he loves his job and the roof over my head is a nice side-bonus. I SAH right now because it makes more sense financially (and I can't find a freaking job right now anyways) so I in no way see the money my husband makes as making me his houseslave.

And for what it's worth, I've been a stay-at-home mom (for 2 years) in the past but have been working full-time now for 10 years, have a spotless large home, laundry is always done, meals are cooked, free-time/family time is predominant and with no outside help needed (this is with 4 boys in the house full-time ages 13, 12, 11 and 8). It most certainly can be done with 2 kids.

Umm, I'm glad it works for you, but again how is this helpful for the OP? I can tell you that in my situation if I was expected to do what you are doing the resentment would kill my marriage. Are you a single mom? If not what the heck is your DH expected to contribute??
I guess I do not understand the Donna Reed mentality.
post #13 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chamomile Girl View Post
I guess I do not understand the Donna Reed mentality.
No Donna Reed mentality here. I just know how to run a house. DH and I BOTH work to have the roof and walls, and we do it because we love our jobs as well. DH and I both take responsiblity for the running of the household, but to be fair, our kids have set responsibilities (ie: vacuuming their rooms, keeping stuff off the floor, kitty pan duty) which with younger kids is just not feasible, I get that. He and I both do laundry, we both love to cook so no issue there and the household chores (inside and out) really just fall to whomever just does it. We have a master list of chores and we just check them off--he's an engineer and I'm an analyst so check-marks are especially appealing to us!

My point to the OP was just because her standards differ from her DH does not give free rein to the house being dirty. And right now, household management, since she has the privilege of staying home is her responsiblity, and that should come before taking on any added responsibilty outside of the home. I think her DH has a valid point.

In closing, I think she should give herself a chance to find the best way possible to keep up with the housework that works for her (that's the only way you will keep it up consistently) and then once that is under control, then take on the extra.

Again, no Donna Reed here! LOL I truly believe if both parents work, then it's shared responsiblities; if one stays home, the onus is on them to do the lion's share.
post #14 of 40
Sure if can be done when you are outside of your home for 10 plus hours a day. My house was much neater when I worked because we weren't here. This doesn't help the OP at all.

When I was in the working world a discrepancy like this between expectations and execution meant it was time to look at the job description. I hope yours says Parent not Person at the top. If my mom called my house pristine I'd feel like I was living in a House Beautiful photo shoot. Is there something specific he wants done or is he just saying "just make it cleaner". If volunteer stuff is required at your kid's school I don't see how that isn't part of the Parent part of your job. Is your DH going to volunteer?
post #15 of 40
First, it has been a lot easier for me to keep the house clean since I went on a mass de-clutter spree. Really, go through everything you own and chuck whatever doesn't easily fit and have a proper home, and once you've decluttered it will take you less time to clean and your house will be neater at all times. Also, if you and he together get the house decluttered and in good shape, it should be easier to keep it there than to spin wheels moving stuff that doesn't have a home from one spot to another and never really getting anything picked up, which is what cleaning looks like when you have too much stuff.

Now, having said that, I think the two of you need to come to some sort of agreement about minimum standards, and he needs to help you consistently meet them, depending on how much time he has after work. I do most of the housework, but that's because I have more time to do it. My husband's job requires him to work a ton of hours. When he wasn't working so many hours, he did more cooking and cleaning, though I think I've done more than him since I've been home.

I guess the thing is that being a stay at home mom doesn't mean you have to work more hours than he works. If house cleaning takes a couple of hours a day; cooking, meal prep, clean up, and food shopping take a few hours a day; and you add in taking care of children, including bedtime routines, getting up at night with them, baths, etc., and figure that you work 7 days a week instead of 5, you are working far more than 40 hours a week. If he is not working far more than 40 hours a week, then he needs to pick up some slack.

I don't count time when kids are napping or occupied and I have free time to use the computer or something as child care in my above figuring, but most of the time I'm either cleaning or helping children with something or putting a child down for nap or changing a diaper or making food or cleaning up after a child has been eating, etc. Really look at how many hours a week you're working, and show him. A lot of people aren't aware of how much time is eaten up just by having kids around all day, both by their minute-by-minute needs, and by the messes they make since they're home all day messing up the house from sunup to sundown. It takes a lot of time to deal with that AND all the meals and prep and cleanup AND then regular housecleaning like vacuuming and mopping and dusting.
post #16 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMama36 View Post

My point to the OP was just because her standards differ from her DH does not give free rein to the house being dirty. And right now, household management, since she has the privilege of staying home is her responsiblity, and that should come before taking on any added responsibilty outside of the home. I think her DH has a valid point.

In closing, I think she should give herself a chance to find the best way possible to keep up with the housework that works for her (that's the only way you will keep it up consistently) and then once that is under control, then take on the extra.

Again, no Donna Reed here! LOL I truly believe if both parents work, then it's shared responsiblities; if one stays home, the onus is on them to do the lion's share.
I don't think the OP is living in filth. I think her and her dh have different standards of clean, neither are wrong. But just because she's not living up to his standard of clean doesn't mean she can't have outside activities. It's one thing when I tell my ds that he can't go outside until the Legos are picked up, it's quite another for my husband to tell me I can't work on an outside activity until I learn to keep the house the way he likes it. It's laughable to me and I find it ridiculous. If the ownership of keeping the house clean falls on one person, then it needs to fall under their standard of clean. A spotless house will NEVER be more important to me than doing things that I and my family enjoy.
post #17 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamalisa View Post
I don't think the OP is living in filth. I think her and her dh have different standards of clean, neither are wrong. But just because she's not living up to his standard of clean doesn't mean she can't have outside activities. It's one thing when I tell my ds that he can't go outside until the Legos are picked up, it's quite another for my husband to tell me I can't work on an outside activity until I learn to keep the house the way he likes it. It's laughable to me and I find it ridiculous. If the ownership of keeping the house clean falls on one person, then it needs to fall under their standard of clean. A spotless house will NEVER be more important to me than doing things that I and my family enjoy.
This is a very good point! If he's thinking he has some kind of parental authority over you like that, I'd be angry about that mindset.
post #18 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chamomile Girl View Post

ETA: In the interest of full disclosure I think being a SAHM is a full time job not counting cleaning. So you work full time and so does he...then you split the housework. Anything else is unfair IMO.
see i'm more of the mind that the WOHP should be devoting their time at home to the children, not doing housework. when I SAH I would clean during the day with the kids then when X got home I was out the door to go have me time.
post #19 of 40
Quote:
this is with 4 boys in the house full-time ages 13, 12, 11 and 8
Keeping a house clean with older children is about nine thousand times easier than with younger children. I rediscovered this fact when my now toddler was born 13 years after my oldest. The destruction my toddler (now 20 months) can rain down in one room in 30 seconds is astounding. If your youngest is 8, then I would venture a guess that it's hard to remember how much destruction a 3 year old can cause.

I do agree with the concept that the lion's share of the housework does fall to the SAHP. IMO that does only make sense. But, I don't think anyone should be required to meet a particular standard set by their spouse before they get to do something "extracurricular," particularly when that thing is involving the kids anyway, as in the OP (since it was for the preschool fundraisers.) Now, if the OP was saying that the dishes were piled up for 4 days, or the floor was so bad that they needed a path through the house, or the counter was such a disaster that they couldn't cook, then yeah, I would say she needs to figure out how to manage her time enough to get that done, before she is doing other stuff. But if the house is safe and healthy, doing something for herself or for her kids, or both shouldn't be forbidden by someone who is her spouse, not her parent.
post #20 of 40
I can empathize OP. I am not the neatest person and my husband was raised by Donna Reed.

My first thought was, if your dh is willing to pay the extra tuition, how about pitching in that money towards a cleaner twice per month?

But, if you don't go that route, I would try to talk to your dh about what his "things" are. Which things make a house feel clean to him? For some people, the clutter makes a house feel dirty, but for others it's the actual dust. Is it the room that he first sees when he walks in the door, the kitchen, living room etc. My dh had to come to the realization that I am not a great housekeeper. I am a fantastic mom, but the housekeeping, not so much. But I know what he DOES appreciate the most and I try to work on that and he appreciates it. My dh likes food and hates clutter, so I do my best to pick up the floors, dining room table and make a good dinner and then he feels well cared for.

And to answer your original question, no, you do not have to put off your "me time," until after the housework is done. You and your dh need to realize that when your needs are met, you will actually be a better housekeeper, wife and mother. If all you do is toil away at something you hate, then when is your cup filled up? When you fill your cup, it will overflow into the other areas of your life....including the dishes.
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