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Help me get perspective on these 2 situations (long)

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Background: I SAH and take care of our 3 kids (4.5yr old + 2 yr old twins). DH works long hours and it's common that we eat dinner and start the bedtime routine before he comes home--which is really, really exhausting for me after a long day to do all that on my own. I do all the nighttime parenting for the twins. Also keep in mind that I have been pregnant or nursing continually for over 5 years now. I have so much sleep deprivation to make up for that after 3 mos of the twins mostly STTN, I feel only marginally better. I've also been sick non-stop for two months. DH tends to stay up late, which is why he gets up late and works late. I'd have more help during the evenings most of the time if he would start going in earlier. I am in bed early but have trouble going to sleep because he's still up for a long time. Also, that is my ONLY time to myself, period. It's rare I get any time to myself when DH is home, although he does, which is an ongoing discussion between us.

Problem #1:
I think I could finally kick this series of colds and flus if I could get a little more sleep. In the morning I stay in bed with the twins and nurse and don't get up until they are both awake. I see this as no problem, because DH is up and getting ready for work. I think it shouldn't be a big deal for him to get the kids some breakfast while I sleep in a bit. By the way, the kids have their TV time in the morning so it's not a heavy parenting time for him--it's just get them food while he's getting his own. Then while they watch TV he can take a shower, wake me up, and go to work. Not a big deal, right? To him it's a HUGE deal. He says that it takes him hours to do this because it takes so long to make breakfast for each kid. (Standard daddy breakfast: bowl of dry cereal, bowl of yogurt, piece of fruit. About 3 minutes for me to make that. He makes himself irish oatmeal and uses the microwave. Takes 10 minutes total. I usually cook breakfast, and it still doesn't take a ton of time.)

He blames going to work late on the fact that I'm sleeping in instead of getting up with the first child and cooking breakfast. I blame it on him staying up after midnight every night. If I take the kids for an early outing, I get breakfast for all of us, get us all dressed, pack a lunch. That takes about the same 90 minutes it takes him in the morning to just get himself and 1 or 2 kids fed.

I am having a REALLY hard time seeing this from his side or wanting to compromise at all!! Please tell me, is it unreasonable of me to expect him to give the kids breakfast while he's making his own, if he's got to get ready for work?

Problem #2:
The house hasn't been in great shape since the twins were born, but I do my best to keep up with the dishes and the toys. The twins have also been potty training, so a lot of my time goes to the constant cleaning of potty seats and the occasional accident. Yesterday for example I cleaned up all the toys in the family room and kids' rooms, then we had a playdate, cleaned up again (with their help), then had lunch, nap, cleaned the kitchen, went to the grocery store, cooked dinner. DH came come and was extremely irritated with what a mess the house is. Not that he aims the frustration at me, it's more the kind of annoyance you get when you can't find something because your stuff is all hidden by toys and clutter. But I take it personally. I can't help it. I ended up saying that I already cleaned up the toys TWICE today and I can't clean the kitchen or make dinner without the kids making a big mess again. After dinner, the kids and I put away their toys every night, but DH rarely helps (he needs some time to unwind after work) and when he comes home the toys are usually still out. I feel like, if it bothers him so much, he could pitch in to help clean it up. And where is MY time to unwind after work? He does help with the kids, just not the cleaning. Doesn't even rinse his own dishes. On the weekends he helps by mopping or scrubbing the toilet, which is great, but he doesn't do much the rest of the week. I feel like it all falls on me.

I feel so defensive about the house, how do I stop taking it personally? I've tried talking to him about it and he just doesn't seem to get why it hurts my feelings to have him badmouth the state of the house. Any advice??
post #2 of 12

It sounds like you both need to sit down and have a good long talk.  I suspect he does not realize all that goes into your day.  Sounds like he thinks you have it easy peasy and shouldn't be a problem.  OR if he was raised that mom was the superhero and does it all then he is not used to thinking that you CANT do it.  If you see what I mean.  You know that it only takes 10 mins for breakfest, but he doesn't because he doesn't know the routine. 


So, I suggest you guys have a serious talk about expectations and what he understands about what it is you do.  It will be an eye opener if nothing else. 



post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Rani, thanks. smile.gif We have had talks. And talks. And more talking. It doesn't get through. I even went on a 2 day trip with friends recently so he'd have to take care of everything and get a taste of it. He ended up feeling satisfied that he can do just as good of a job. Of course, it took me days to make up for everything that didn't get done while I was gone. When we talk about it, one of 3 things always happens: he gets defensive and refuses to accept that I have a point, he agrees I have a point but then doesn't make much effort to change anything, or he pitches in for a week and then slowly slacks off again.

I did try talking about it today with him, saying that tonight I'm turning the light out an hour earlier because I'm tied of him coming to bed so late, and he hung up on me. So talking is not working well right now.
post #4 of 12

I have a few ideas that might help:


Set the table the night before, if the breakfast is oatmeal then do it in a crockpot.  Breakfast solved.  DH and I have had similar conflict about the mornings in some ways and eventually I do get his feelings a bit - he sees me still laying in bed, he doesn't really want to get up either and then he has "extra" things to do like feed the kids...  I don't AGREE with all of his feelings, but I get them, so it is easier for us to work through them.  Hey, and if he will get to work earlier and home earlier if you get up 15 mintues earlier, then maybe it is worth it in the long run for you to do it (or call his bluff?).


How does your husband feel most loved/nurtured?  Are you addressing that area of his life?  Does he know what makes you feel most loved and nurtured?  Does he know how he could address it?  It isn't your job to make him do what makes you feel loved, but if you both know how to make the other feel loved then that can be helpful.


Pare down the toys.  Rotate 3/4 of them out and have the kids put toys away before they take out something new.  I have had the kids clean up toys before watching TV while I make dinner.  That works well at times - then all the toys are cleaned up and dinner is done when DH gets home.  The less they have to make a mess with at a time the easier life is.  I can't believe how much better my daily life/quality of life is when the kids toys are rotated out and when they are limited.  It's like magic.


Hope the ideas help.



post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Ooh, I like that crockpot idea. I have looked into that before and all the recipes seem to be for small crockpot. Mine is 5 qts (also have a 6.5 qt one), do you know if it's possible to make a big batch with that size? Maybe I should post that in the cooking forum.

I do rotate toys, I have several boxes that I swap out, and several messy things (mostly blocks & things with small parts) are out of reach in closets so I can control them. My kids have always been the type to just dump bins out instead of pulling a few toys out. And when they play it's not jsut one thing--they want to dress up (clothes all over floor), cook a "meal" (play food and plates everywhere), set up a fort to eat in (pillows and blankets everywhere), feed their dolls (doll shelf cleared), and then use blocks as extra pretend food (blocks container dumped out). And in less than 20 minutes, 2 rooms look like a hurricane hit!

The getting up in the morning thing...it's more like an hour, maybe more. I could totally see getting up 15 mins earlier. But an entire hour, when I've been up with the kids? Especially when I've been up with at least one kid every night for 5.5 yrs? (Including the sleeplessness of pregnancy.) An hour or two is a big deal to me.

I did have a victory yesterday, though. After he hung up on me when I said I wanted to go to bed early, that night he was ready for bed on time and in a pleasant mood about it! I guess he thought about it during the day and realized it IS better for both of us. I didn't want to risk any bickering, so I didn't ask. wink1.gif

I have been trying to address those areas of how he feels loved. I know the giving him his own exercise time is a big one, and gives me the rewards of him being in a great, stress-free mood. We rarely get time together without the kids--like a couple times a year--and it's something we do both miss. I could be better at addressing his needs. It's pretty hard to do that when I don't think anyone (including me) is thinking about my needs at all.

I just feel like I have sacrificed so much for the family and for him, don't get any time to myself, limited sleep, woke up today to the start of yet another cold, and then to get complaints about sleeping in or the way the house is....how do you work on your relationship when all your patience and time is used up on the kids and house??
post #6 of 12

If the kids are up for an hour with him while he is getting ready for work, it very likely IS slowing him down.  Kids take time and energy, as you well know, and it may take even more time/energy from him because he isn't used to dealing with it all day.  Do you do TV?  Could you have a DVD in the DVD player that you could teach the oldest how to start (or that your DH would be willing to start)?  Just for the week or two you need to get back on track?


If they do that with the toys you can either let them and deal with the chaos or take away more and restrict more.  Since it is a problem for you I'd personally restrict more (rotate out more).  They don't NEED to be able to dress up, cook, build a house, eat, and do whatever all at the same time.  Sure, it's fun, but they can do more complicated and messy scenarios when they are older and can pick it up more themselves too.  Less toys ALWAYS makes my life easier, and somehow the kids still play all day.  Go figure.


I get you on needing to meet your needs and not getting them met.  Is there a way to talk to your DH just about that - that YOU need to get more sleep to be a better wife/mom, and maybe the two of you can work together to figure out how to make that happen?  Getting Mama's needs met properly is a real dillemma of motherhood and one I often still struggle with.



post #7 of 12

I hope that my response isn't totally off base. You sound like an amazing mother with a very common issue that I struggle with myself. I have hope that you can resolve a few of the issues and also get some sleep!


I had similar morning issues with my husband. Over the course of time I've learned that he missed having time with me and starting off his day with a dose of me got him through a work day. I don't feel up to getting up with him every morning, but when I do, it just feels good.


He may not even know it, but something sounds off-kilter. Finding out and addressing his need might swing back the balance in your life. I think that his frustration over the toys is misplaced from something else. This dialogue might help you get to the root " Listen, I noticed that you have been ____ lately and I just wanted to see how we can do things better around here. How is work, is it really stressful right now? What "goes through your mind" ("are you feeling") when you see the kids toys out when you come home? Is staying up late comforting to you? ...... on and on and on. Do the first part without bringing the discussion back to you. Take it all in, then start asking "constructive questions" like, " would it help in the morning if I had your oatmeal ready to go in the crockpot?", "Do you think that if you were to get home earlier, would you enjoy having dinner as a family?" and " Does alternating our free times sound good to you?". Just learn from my mistakes and avoid the conversation being to long and too hunky-dorie. Also, talking about goals might help you both get on the same page. If he doesn't open up, abort mission and try again later. Finding out what is wrong, and then working towards an agreeable solution is what has worked best for me. Yes, I know it sucks that you're the only one making the effort to fix the situation...but, from my experience, that's not going to change.


Now, at the very end of the conversation, if plan doesn't meet all of your needs, make reflective statements like, "I understand that you are tired. This cold has gotten the better of me for weeks. Do you think that you could (insert request here), it would help me out so much." I've learned that you won't get what you want if you don't ask for it. Also, when he's watching you work your tail off, ask him "Can you rinse your plate?", " Can you get the kids ready for bed". Yes, he will resist. But after time, he'll start anticipating your requests as well as notice the rewards of a clean house and time to cuddle up with you. As for the history of trying for a little while and then slowly digressing...think back to potty training your oldest. Every day had a different and progress required a patient parent to have a shot in hell of success. You'll have to be the one who nurtures the new routine and habits until they become second nature...but a sticker rewards chart might be over the top (j/k)! In a week or so, reassess with him the changes you have made and see where you both can improve. You're not just addressing his needs, you are helping him to help you.


Here is an idea: Set the table and pre-pour the cereal for the kids. Bowls with lids would work well for this. Buy prepackaged yogurt or dish out enough into individual containers for the week. Prep the fruit, if possible. You could even put everything on a try in the fridge so that it can be pulled out and dolled out quickly in the morning. All that is left in the morning is for him to make his own breakfast and pour the milk. Here's an Irish Oatmeal in a 5qt crockpot recipe, but I think it'll yield too much for your needs: http://tipnut.com/how-to-make-overnight-crockpot-oatmeal-oatmeal-in-a-thermos/. You may be able to modify the recipe by putting a baking dish inside your crockpot. Or, you can cut the morning cook time of the oatmeal from 30 min to 12 min by doing the quick soak method the night before as shown on the McCann's website: http://www.mccanns.ie/preparation.html


I hope you find something that works for you!

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Believe me, taking care of the kids is not really slowing him down. He literally doesn't even take their diapers off, just plunks them at the table, turns on a TV show, and gives them each a container of yogurt and piece of toast or bowl of dry cereal. There is very little parenting going on there! He likes to have a lot of "me" time in the morning AND at night, and this gets in the way of that. I need me time, too, but it's just come to be standard that I am the one who is going to sacrifice taking care of myself for everyone else to be ok (emotionally & physically).

He does have stress from work--his company was hit hard by the recession and he's on reduced pay, plus there is always that threat of more layoffs. Which I understand, and it's why I do support him getting exercise to de-stress. But I have to admit, I get resentful when that support doesn't come back to me. This argument has been going on since our first DC was born, I do not think he understands just how much I do. I do shut down on him, because so much of my energy goes to the kids. It's hard for me to cut him slack when I don't really get any and have been am physically ill for *months* because of it. I guess being sick has just made me lose my patience and refuse to compromise on this one thing. Does that sound like an excuse? I'm kind of fed up, I guess. shrug.gif

I have been doing good at getting him to come to bed earlier, although he's starting to stay up late in bed playing on his phone. eyesroll.gif And it's his alarm clock so I can't ban it from the bedroom! I'm trying to make some changes myself so he will see I'm taking his complaints seriously and trying to do something about it.

Thank you for that crockpot recipe!! I've been meaning to try it all week...but just came down with another cold so I feel pretty awful. 3rd one since Christmas, yay. Maybe having *his* breakfast ready in the morning too will help him move along faster, regardless of whether the kids are up.
post #9 of 12

One book that has helped me is "How to improve your marriage without talking about it."  It addresses how many men and women are conditioned to act from different places, men from shame, and women from fear, and how this can cause a communication breakdown where each partner shuts off and feels threatened.


I asked my DP if this sounded accurate to him and he said that yes, when I bring up a concern, his gut reaction is to feel shame that he is not being a good enough partner.  That causes him to want to shut out what I am saying to defend himself from feeling shame, even if what I am saying is a valid concern.  I havent gotten to the end of the book to find out what is the solution, but just knowing that when DP reacts defensively it's not because he doesn't love me or because he wants to be lazy & him knowing that when I ask him something is not because I am trying to shame him or because I want to be lazy has already helped smooth over one recent disagreement we had about distribution of labor & resulted in both of us going away feeling loved and willing to do more for each other.


I think there is a big issue here with you sounding overworked, and I'm not trying to downplay that or say that you should do all the compromising, because I don't think that's very healthy in the long run.  But maybe this book will help you come up with a way you can communicate better wtih your DH (and hopefully find compromise that works for you both) since it sounds like all the talks aren't really working.

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Cyclamen - thanks for the book rec. I'll look that one up at the library and see if DH will read it. I don't know if it's shame causing the defensiveness, but it could be. I tend to think he's just not very confident. Also his parents are extremely dysfunctional (and defensive & passive aggressive over the tiniest things), and in times of stress I think those old habits come out.

We didn't have a great weekend, communication-wise. But it did make me have some realizations about these problems I posted about. I end up feeling really resentful about these things, which fuels his defensiveness. And I'm starting to believe his annoyance or anger about these two situations is misplaced. He's mad at himself and doesn't realize that, so he's taking it out on me. Which is obviously not ok, and makes sense why I get resentful! It's apparently a self-feeding loop.

I'm going to attempt one more time to talk to him tonight, and I'm going to bring up couples counseling. We can't really afford it, and have no time, but I think even a few sessions would help.
post #11 of 12

i read that book and it helped for awhile. but i couldnt get over the fact that i seemed to be doing it all by myself. DH wants his "me" time too. but i dont get any. it feels very lonely. <<hugs>> mama. i hope you find some peace.

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
LionessMom, I feel the same. It can't be me giving all of myself to the kids, house, AND relationship, and getting very little in return. We had a problem 6 months ago when I was completely burned out and felt like I was losing it, and DH didn't have much reaction to me telling him that everyday. Turned out that he understood "burned out" to mean "tired" and I had to use the dictionary to explain how bad things were for me and that I needed help from him! He did help....for awhile.

I did start looking for therapists, and I told him that. It sparked a huge discussion/argument, which was actually good in the long run. He agreed that neither of us are communicating well, and if we had been we wouldn't be in this place of resentment and defensiveness. He did pull the "you're exactly like your mom!" card, which made me very glad I'd already called the therapist or my head would have exploded! LOL!

I also started a thread about trying to organize the toys, because the constant mess is contributing to our stress and grumpy moods. And a couple of days ago I cleared out the majority of toys and put them up in the kids' closets. New rule: only a few types of toys will be out at once, and they need to mostly stay in the kids' rooms. If they want to play with something different, they have to trade me for it. Like yesterday, DD wanted to play will the doll house people, so the kids cleaned up the blocks they had out and handed me the container before I handed them the container of people. I noticed that all of us stayed cheerful during that--no yelling--and the mess was manageable enough for them to clean up on their own before bed. I hope this becomes the new "normal" for us.
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