I am a SAHM and on a daily basis I free abused and unappreciated by everyone in my family. I try to explain this to my husband but he thinks I'm just complaining and that I should be thankful that I can stay home and that I shouldn't expect anything in return. What he doesn't understand is that I'm not complaining about staying home, I would just like a thank you once in a while or someone to ask me if I need anything. Just because I'm home doesn't mean I have the whole day to myself while the kids are in school. My husband thinks I could just take a day off whenever I want and sit around and do nothing! Well, that really made me angry and I explained to him while he gets to go to work 26 hours a week (yeah that's right 26 hrs!) and come home and lounge around while I run around with the 3 kids and take care of everything like homework, after school activities, doctors visits, orthodontist, play dates, laundry, cleaning cooking, food shopping, organizing everyone's schedules, attend school related things, etc. etc., and the list goes on, he goes to work and comes home and his day is done. Being a SAHM is 24/7 with no break. I have not had a night out in months and am about to lose it. Recently my husband said I should get a part-time job so I don't feel like I'm stuck in the house all of the time. Why will this make me feel better? I still have all those other responsibilities that need to get done as well, which will mean I am working round the clock! What can I do to convince him that all I want is for someone to say thank you once in a while or for my husband to take me to dinner so that I can get away from all of my responsibilities for a couple of hours?
I would put it in terms of manners. For example, ask your husband that if they went over to a friends house for supper, he'd want them to say "Thanks for supper!" to their friends mom? Kids don't think of doing that stuff if they haven't had a ton of practice. If they see him thanking you often, that's one way they'll learn good manners.
Then you could also tell the kids that if there's a supper they really like, they should tell you "Supper was really good tonight, thanks for making it." and then it'll stick in your mind and maybe you'll make their favourites more often. It's not exactly a "Thank you" but I make meatloaf every so often just to hear my son say "This is so good, I would eat it off the floor!" I don't get a "Thank you" from the kids when I cook salmon and asparagus, but you can bet I get a chorus of them when we have pork chops or pasta or tacos.
With the kids (they're school-aged?), this is a life skill. You need to flat-out tell them:
"I don't normally expect you to thank me for doing laundry, but you asked for this shirt for today and I did an extra load of laundry last night so that you could have it. I'd like you to say thank you to me when I go to extra effort for you" If they balk, you can say that next time, they can just pick from whatever is already clean.
"Coming to the park on the way home wasn't part of my plan today, I had other things I wanted to get done. I went to extra effort to make your day better, I'd like to hear a thank you."
I know that when you ask for it, it doesn't feel like a genuine expression of gratitude. It may or may not be, but kids are going to take for granted everything they get, unless it's pointed out to them. Once the habit forms, you will get some spontaneous thank-yous.
Finally, I have to say... if you do all that in front of your husband and he doesn't jump enthusiastically on board and start demonstrating gratitude, then I would be seriously pissed!
It sounds like you and your husband need to have a talk about redistributing work. Parenting and running a home aren't jobs that get assigned to one parent while the other just has bringing in money as their job (it can be, but only if it's working, and this isn't working for you). There is a set of work that needs doing in your household: 26 hours a week of paid work, 24 hours a day of parenting, plus the work to run the household. Your husband can't delegate any of that 26 hours a week to you, but everything else can be divided between you in a way that feels more genuine to the two of you. But figuring out that division can be really hard.
It sounds like you are feeling really frustrated because you need more appreciation and support from your family. I hear you!
I understand and have been there myself. Things are tons better for me now! Thought I would share my perspective and experience...it may resonate with you, or it may not. It may also not be enough for you, but here goes...
I wish I could say that things have changed in terms of the level of support and appreciation I receive from my husband. He has stepped up in terms of spending a little more time with our daughter to free up some time for me; however, he helps a lot less with the household/cooking than he did before we had a child. In fact, his help is almost nonexistent. I also spend time every day cleaning up after him...he leaves a trail wherever he goes.
It finally dawned on me one day, after countless conversations with my DH about my feelings/needs around support with the household and childcare, that things just weren't going to change. And I was miserable. And I was sick of asking for help. I realized I had to find a better way because I was beginning to fantasize that if I was going to do it all on my own, I may as well leave and have one less person to tend to. However, I didn't really want to sacrifice the marriage...
So, I looked at the situation and realized that the only thing I could change was me. I figured out that I can do it all without the extra support from him, and haven't looked back. I never realized how much energy I spent being trapped in anger and frustration. Letting go of my anger freed up tons of my time and energy. I also realized that I needed to find other avenues for support. I fostered a few relationships and decided to call my mom more. And, honestly, this part is still a work in progress. Definitely could still find more avenues for support...
Of course, after sharing all of this, my sincere belief is that the ideal situation is finding a way to share the load more equitably with your husband and kids. After all, you guys are setting an example for your children about what a marriage is and how it works. I just share all of this in case you do ultimately find yourself in a situation where you discover that you will not be getting more support from your husband. I think it is worth exploring other avenues first...
I echo what other PPs have said. You need more support from your husband. My husband works more than full-time and still pitches in with housework. We have a nice system going-- I cook, he does the dishes, he does laundry, I clean the bathroom and do general upkeep, he'll put the kids to bed, I manage the home (finances, playdates, appointments, etc). You ARE working when you are a SAHM and it's ridiculous for your husband to not share in house chores or "after hours" childcare. His day should only be beginning when he comes home from work . I would encourage you to speak openly and honestly to him about it and see if anything changes. Sounds like you need a break lady and you more than deserve it!!!
Jean, feminist mama raising three boys: W (7), E (5) and L (2.15.13)
When your husband is at work, you're looking after the house, and that's your division of labour.
When he's home, and you're home, you're both looking after the kids and the house, and that's your division of labour.
Your husband is not doing his share of the work.
Last year when my dd started school I realized that my "work" day was going from 7am-9pm. So I adjusted my schedule. I got up and got the kids off to school and started laundry, cleaned up the kitchen or whatever. Then I stopped doing things that HAD to be done and did things I wanted to do. Then after a few hours, I got going on what had to be done and prepped myself for the after school rush. There was no reason I should be working 14 hours a day.
If your dh is home, tell him you're going out and go. Go sit in a park with a book. He's got plenty of free time, he can take care of the kids.
I swear the best thing that ever happened to me was bedrest. My dh got a serious taste of what I did around here and he's been a changed man ever since. Can you break a leg? Joking ;) sort of.
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