"Accountability" for your time? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 02-28-2015, 10:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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"Accountability" for your time?

I'm a SAHM to 4 boys: 2 teens (twins) with Autism, learning disabilities and visual impairment; a 3rd teen who's especially challenging because I'm "only" his step-mom, he has emotional hang-ups regarding his out-of-state mom (who engages in a lot of hostility and undermining) and he does a lot of sneaking and testing rules/boundaries; plus a 1st-grader.

My DH typically works from home, but the last 5 months he's been working out of state all or most of every week and some weekends. I think that's mostly over, starting today.

Last time he was home (2 weeks ago), he was here for just 48 hrs. There was a lot going on, including one son's birthday, a big family party in our home, issues with his mother (who can stress him out) and our furnace and water conditioner breaking down during a cold snap. So he was likely irritated about multiple things. But he blew up at me about my housekeeping, before he left, complaining that I have "no accountability" for how I spend my time.

1) That was grossly unfair, since our house was in pretty excellent shape by the time he got home that weekend. The last few things I needed to do before the party were to sweep (with a family of 6 and a dog, even if I sweep daily, 24 hrs later it can look like I haven't swept in a week); and move some storage boxes to the garage. I ran out of time and asked DH to take care of those 2 things while I picked up the twins at their dad's house (almost an hour, round-trip). DH apparently resented that I hadn't finished everything myself, during the week.

2) I agree that if he's the only one earning money, the majority of the house/child responsibilities should be mine. But it seems so obvious that, with him home only rarely for nearly half a year, I have more to do. He ought to be more forgiving, if I don't get to sweeping, not less.

3) Since I wouldn't want to run his business, I generally give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he's doing it as best he can, even though everything doesn't always go smoothly. And he definitely feels entitled to that benefit of the doubt. I think I'm entitled to the same trust and forgiveness of imperfections from him, regarding the kids and house.

4) DH hit a big nerve. My ex grew up in a very wealthy family, where his home was always spotlessly clean and decorated like a magazine, while he was oblivious to how that happened. Invisible women took care of everything! When we became young parents of medically precarious, special-needs twins, caring for them stressed him out so much that he never wanted to do it alone. Yet, he might return from a "hard" day at the office and accuse me of having "sat around on my a-- all day, doing nothing", if I hadn't gotten to the vacuuming...never mind that I cared for those "stressful" infants and their medical treatments round the clock, on 4-to-6 hours of sleep/night, in 1-to-2-hour intervals! My ex also lost respect for me and concluded I "had no ambition" because I could stand to be a SAHM, while I felt there was no other choice, at that point. I never expected similar-feeling comments from my current husband, who's always sounded so supportive of SAHMs.

When DH got home tonight, he apologized for his comments 2 weeks ago. But during that time, I've been stewing about the "accountability" issue. While he's not normally rude about it, I think he genuinely has no idea what I do, often because my doing something frees him from having to think about it.

He never dusts, reorganizes cluttered drawers and cabinets, figures out which clothes the kids have outgrown, donates them, nor shops for replacements. He never stores the summer clothes and gets out the winter ones so we all have enough room in our drawers; washes the dog bowls or the laundry machines; wipes fingerprints off walls, scrapes smashed raisins off the kitchen floor, or checks to see if we're running low on art supplies or sunscreen. Truly, I doubt he's even aware most of those things need to be done and would likely dismiss it if I told him they do. (How important can they be, if he never thinks about them?)

And many things he does realize I do don't seem nearly as time-consuming, to him, as they are. Ex:
> He wants "us" to be involved at the kids' schools, but he's rarely the one who volunteers.
> He knows the twins have resource teachers and a tutor, but doesn't realize the time I need to spend corresponding with them and the twins' classroom teachers, to make sure they're keeping up in school and utilizing their accommodations.
> DH appreciates that I buy or make Christmas gifts for the kids, their teachers and everyone in our big, extended family. But he doesn't realize that's about 80 people and to do it on a reasonable budget takes a lot of thought and effort.
> He knows I drive the kids to/from school (private school = no bus svc), but he doesn't realize that between their different schools (in opposite directions from our house) and their different schedules and activities, driving them around typically consumes about 3 hours of my day.
> He looks down on cereal and store-bought snacks, preferring 3 hot meals/day. But he doesn't realize that if - every day - I cooked an early breakfast for the kids, packed their lunches, made a later breakfast for him, cooked lunch for the two of us, made after-school snacks for the kids, then cooked dinner, with clean-up I would never leave the kitchen.

The past 2 weeks, I've thought a lot about making a time-sheet to show DH what I do. But, A) it would take time to make one and thus not accurately reflect how I typically spend time; B) as discussed above, I don't think simply listing what I do, or the time it takes, would make him believe how much time some things really require; or convince him that they're necessary; and C) wouldn't making a time-sheet validate the idea that I should account to him for my time, like an employee? I find that pretty offensive. He doesn't make time-sheets to let me judge whether he makes the most of his time - and he'd be offended if I asked him to.

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Last edited by VocalMinority; 02-28-2015 at 10:20 PM.
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#2 of 17 Old 03-01-2015, 06:02 AM
 
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Can't write a long reply right now, but just wanted to lend some support. It is a weird world, this SAHM thing. It's both always and never your own time, and it just can not be looked at the way one would assess an employee. I often feel guilty if I can't do absolutely everything aside from the work outside the home, but I don't think that's fair. We're stay at home moms, not caretakers of grown men, who would have at least some responsibilities beyond the work day even if they were single. Sometimes there's just plain more to do than a single person can fit into their day, end of story.
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#3 of 17 Old 03-01-2015, 12:21 PM
 
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Ask him to validate his weekends/off-time in the same way (i.e., why are you sitting on the couch when you could be reading to the kids or cooking dinner)?
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#4 of 17 Old 03-01-2015, 02:51 PM
 
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I might make the list, once, just so he could actually see exactly what happens in the house. I always felt like my husband "got it" until I was on bedrest. One day he mentioned that "the water cooler gets so dirty all of a sudden, I've had to wipe it down, like, every day!" NO EFFIN SHI$T!!! So unless you can arrange a broken limb, or bedrest or a trip out of the country, I'd personally make the damn list and then ask him exactly where sweeping is supposed to fit in? I wouldn't see it as validation of how I spend my time, but proof that I'm too darn busy to worry if the floor is spotless.

My husband has lived away 2 of the last 5 years, home on weekends only. The amount of stuff that didn't get done was staggering, but the amount that had to be done for survival was staggering as well.
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#5 of 17 Old 03-02-2015, 04:13 PM
 
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F that! Make him a list of where all the cleaning supplies are located. If he's not satisfied with the standards you have for cleanliness around the house, he can pick up any percieved 'slack' he sees.

You hit the nail on the head about the benefit of the doubt on doing your best. When the house isn't up to it's usual standards, he should be either accepting that or offering to help.
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#6 of 17 Old 03-13-2015, 01:22 PM
 
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I wonder if this is a common stress reaction from husbands? Not that it's ok for him to behave like that. And you with so much on your plate. Obviously you're not sitting on your butt eating bonbons and watching soap operas all day. I'm glad he apologized!
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#7 of 17 Old 03-23-2015, 10:43 AM
 
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Wow, hugs to you. That is a lot to have on your plate, even if you did have a super supportive partner who was home.

Do you get the sense that he made the comment as a reaction to stress, maybe taking something out on you and then regretting it because he knows better, or something that he truly feels but has never said before? That would make a difference to me as to how I reacted probably. If it was a random comment he knows was a mistake...I'd let him know that sh!t does not fly, and move on. If it's a deeper issue and he really believes it, then I'm not even sure.

Personally, I wouldn't make a list for the reasons you mentioned. You should not have to justify your time. He should be actively looking for ways to cut you a break, not accusing you of mismanaging your time.


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#8 of 17 Old 04-16-2015, 01:02 PM
 
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no time sheet! I personally do not spend 10 hours constantly cooking, cleaning, etc. I get some down time too. I read or surf the web or work on my genealogy hobby while I am home. But I get a ton done around the house too. I get 3.5 kids ready every morning plus myself (DP gets his oldest dressed and fed cause she wakes super early, but I finish up and make sure her hair, teeth are brushed, etc) That in itself is a lot of work. So sometimes I slip away and sip coffee after drop off and the younger ones watch tv. We all need breaks. And if you have intense things with the kids going on with special needs and coparenting etc that stuff is even more draining. My DP never makes comments about what i do around the house, though he did all the cleaning in his home with his ex so me doing an average job is awesome in his eyes. He does help with cleaning, dishes etc, but the laundry I prefer to do myself. It is a lot of work. DSD said once "kindofcrunchy, you are always doing laundry" I sometimes feel that I am because there are 6 of us!

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#9 of 17 Old 05-16-2015, 01:47 PM
 
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I have a to-do list suggested to me by dh. It's a great idea but I have only one child. I would email it to him daily so he could compare it to the previous days. But the problem with the to-do is I don't put dishes,cooking and stuff like that on it which sometimes gets neglected while I might have been busy talking to the insurance company about a claim, ordering dh's vitamins online etc. In your situation you just have too much on your plate, you don't have to create an accountability list, it's obvious you have a lot but if it helps you could create it for a single day just for you to see where your time goes and how little of it you have. Those are just my thoughts.

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#10 of 17 Old 05-16-2015, 02:32 PM
 
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I made a list of all the things that need doing regularly so if anybody has spare time they can scan through, pick an item that needs doing, and do that. When they don't, like usual, it's all me. The sheer length of it makes them all aware just how much I am doing.
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#11 of 17 Old 09-12-2015, 11:54 AM
 
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I think our husbands are related, OP.

I wish I could give you some pointers, but we struggle with these same issues around our house. I really think it is a stress reaction. We don't see each others' days, and we both fantasize that the other one has it easier. That makes it easy for us to go after one another when one of us has a bad day.

What really hit a nerve with me is all the little things you do that he thinks are unimportant simply because he doesn't have to think about them. The same thing totally happens around here. I visit my dad on Sundays, and it's always a bad day. I dread going home all day because DH is frequently in a bad mood when I get home. He complains about all I don't do, but then he can't handle the house alone for one day while I'm gone without losing it. He gets to spend all day getting angry about the little things that he's used to not having to think about when I'm here. And yet somehow this doesn't make a connection with him about all the things I DO do when he's at work.

When this issue was worst for us a few years ago, I did feel compelled to write down the details of my day. It wasn't a good feeling, being held accountable to someone who's supposed to be my equal. I made sure not to attempt to hide how crappy it made me feel to do it, or how resentful I was for being made to feel like I had to. He got the point, but it didn't help long term. Writing it down on paper doesn't give anyone the true depth of what you do in a day. It's just a piece of paper.

I'd go with the equality tactic. Whatever he asks you to do, turn it back on him. You're equals. If you have to justify your time, he has to justify his. And if he gets all huffy and says "Well, I only go out and PROVIDE FOR OUR FAMILY!" (Like some people ) Turn that back on him, too. "Well I only look after the well-being of EVERYONE (and everyTHING)!" What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Eventually you BOTH have to come to an agreement that you each have very different, yet equal jobs. You have to work on the assumption of equality in your time spent.
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#12 of 17 Old 09-15-2015, 01:42 PM
 
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I often feel like the work we do at home is invisible. No one sees the dirt that isn't there, or the dirt that they don't have to clean up themselves.
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#13 of 17 Old 09-17-2015, 09:57 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KSLaura View Post
Ask him to validate his weekends/off-time in the same way (i.e., why are you sitting on the couch when you could be reading to the kids or cooking dinner)?
I not only agree, but I'll add another thought.

Is he accountable to you for how he spends his time at work? Does he write a list that includes timestamps and how he spent each and every minute of his day? This includes any time farting around on email, Yahoo news, or IMDB. Or shooting the breeze with a co-worker.

Sorry. The OP struck a nerve with me, so I can't think rationally or provide any wise insights.

The other day, DH was complaining about how disorganized the pantry looks. I snapped back, "You have as much spare time as I do. So if you don't like it, start organizing!" He hasn't said a word about it since, and we still have to dig awhile to find the sriracha sauce.
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#14 of 17 Old 09-17-2015, 10:22 PM
 
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Does anyone get the urge to go on strike? Just so that everyone can see that those clean clothes, home-cooked meals, washed dishes, cleaned out litter boxes, and empty garbage cans aren't getting done via osmosis???
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#15 of 17 Old 09-18-2015, 02:32 AM
 
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.... have been on some sort of "semi-strike" for a while = i'm on reduced duties (which i choose)
one of the things i did/didn't to = i picked up youngest child stuff in communal areas and just dumped them in a disused laundry basket which sat on the couch ... for maybe a year until ..."someone" got any idea how to tackle the problem ....
what doesn't help at all is that DH has different views on what is "normal" AND will NOT talk with me about education and what goals to set for our children .... so we amble along ... sometimes limping ...
these days, i tend to get more motivated to start organising my own stuff (that has been shoved a bit everywhere since i usually only make time for the basics, that is clean water points, decent food, clean clothes and school work done, ... plus everyone in some sort of organised sport for the last few years ... also "play time at the park" with the youngest during which time i knit or crochet for pleasure ....) ... but that is because DH has been away for 2 weeks .... he's coming back soon .... but will probably be working abroad for a few months with occasional visits => that was decided only recently ... but am surprised to see how the dynamics of the family are already changing .... am crossing my fingers that one less person in our living space .... will mean easier routines ??? we'll see how it will have turned out by Christmas time ...
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#16 of 17 Old 09-18-2015, 01:08 PM
 
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A few weeks ago, when my brother was over for dinner, my oh-so-thoughtful DH quipped, "by most people's standards, we live like slobs." That got my blood boiling, and I could have said a thousand things in response. "Exactly whose standards are you referring to?" I'd liked to have asked. "People without young children at home? And who is helping out at attaining said standards?" But I let it slide, and said something lame instead, like, "We all do the best we can." Luckily, my brother knows me well, and knows my husband too, so DH's comment didn't really affect anything, except maybe my bro thinks I don't do enough to stand up for myself. DH only makes himself look bad by saying such things. But still... ARGH!
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#17 of 17 Old 09-18-2015, 03:07 PM
 
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Ugh, I'm on a semi-strike, too. It's almost as much work to keep on track with it than to just revert to my old ways. I sometimes feel like my husband thinks the only reason for my whole existence is to make his life more convenient. The kids too, but well... they've got an excuse. They're kids. There have been things I've asked him to do that he just flatly refuses... simple things like could he come in the front door, so the back door won't be clogged with jackets shoes and work gear? And NO, he won't go one minute out of his way each day to convenience me. So I have to clear a bunch of junk from the kitchen floor every time I clean and it looks cluttered and messy all the time.

Last night is a good example of how I've changed my behaviour. He called me from work to tell me he'd be late, and his next shift starts at 3am. He asks what I'm making for supper, to which I answer I hadn't decided yet, I'm working on some other chores and will get to it in a bit. He told me he isn't going to have a lot of time to mess around, he wants to eat, shower and go to bed. So is something going to be ready wehn he gets home or should he just take care of himself (which means hitting a drive-thru) Now, the way I'd usually respond to this is immediately think up what to make and get started on supper, so it'd be ready when he gets home. But last night I said "Oh, that's a good idea, pick up something for everyone to eat." He was like "Okay call me back when you guys decide what you want." and I was like "Nah, just surprise us." I mean seriously, if you want your evening to go perfectly smoothly, don't expect me to drop everything and make that happen. I'll help but don't order me around.
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