Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm owed 602 hours of "time off"

Paraphrased from Parenting mag:

Excuse from a mom for not taking time off: "I stay home and my husband works hard all week, so I feel bad taking a day to myself".

Answer: Well, you work hard all week, too, if you're taking care of kids--some would say harder, given the zillions of details you keep track of and all the needs you must satisfy.  There are labor laws in this country and you can decide if they apply to you, too.  For every eight hours you work, you're entitled to a half-hour lunch and two 20-minute breaks.  If you're a stay at home mom with no help, you work about 16 hours a day.  That means you have 14 hours a week coming to you.

Let's discuss.  I read this to Tim this morning and his response was "Do those 14 hours count for sleeping?"  Oh, ha.  Ha.  NO.  Isn't he funny?  He really should take his act on the road.  Literally.  But this article got me thinking a lot about staying home all day and how I feel about taking time to myself.  It's difficult for me to compare the work I do at home to the work Tim does out of the house, or in our case, out of his office in the basement.  What I do at home is definitely work...making sure Noah is taken care of and entertained, cleaning the house, laundry, shopping, bills, house maintenance and upkeep (damn straight I mulched the backyard all by myself) among numerous other things.  And it's HARD work, believe me, I know.  But I signed up for this, right?  When we decided that I would stay home, I knew what that entailed and all the responsibilities that would (most likely) be mine alone.  So I have a hard time saying to Tim at the end of a day "Here, Honey, take the baby, bathe him, put him to bed, then could you pretty please unload the dishwasher, put away the clean dishes, reload it with dirty ones, then fold the clean laundry from the dryer, transfer a load, and start a fresh one in the washer? Oh, and then scrub the toilets because they really won't clean themselves.  Thanks!" while I sit on the couch painting my toenails or run off to the bookstore for quiet time.

How do you handle this?  I WANT, nay, NEED time off just like everyone.  But I have trouble throwing my very hard working husband under the bus so I can get that time off.  I constantly remind myself that all the work he does, especially the "after hours" work and weekend work is for the benefit of our family so I really should stop complaining about having to do another load of laundry.  On the flip side, he's as much a part of this family and a parent as I am so he's just as responsible for the baby, the house, the cleaning, etc.   I could say that because he works at a job outside (ish) the home, he really isn't as responsible for those things.  But I don't whole-heartedly agree with that.  I know I would feel different about the 50/50 split if we both held paying jobs and HAD to split up these repsonsibilities.  But since I AM home, I CAN do these things.  

Hmmm.  This whole post looks like a brain dump without too much organization.  In summary, and because I am not going to review this before I post it, how do YOU handle this?  How do you split up the home/parenting responsibilites?  How do you handle the necessary "time off" for both of you?


Anonymous said...

It's not a brain dump, it's just a muddled issue. I totally get it.

Neither of us stays at home, but we definitely each have days where one does more than the other. My DH gets home before I do, generally, so he spends 2pm-6pm with Maddie on his own. Some days that's awesome, and other days... not so much (teething, etc).

We've both learned that we simply have to ASK. It's so important to simply share what you need with your partner. I spent the first, oh, 10 months of Maddie's life in an intermittent blind rage because he just COULD NOT SEE what needed to be done.

Of course, I wouldn't SAY what I needed, either.

So... I know it's a bit trickier for you, since you're "not working" (oh ha. HA HA HA HA!) But I would say that delegating bathtime to your DH is certainly not "throwing him under the bus."

When I am having a stressful time at work, my DH will take bathtime even though he's been home and "on" much longer, simply because he knows I need that 1/2 hour to decompress. Maybe that would be a start... just 1/2 an hour to yourself in the evenings. It makes a WORLD of difference.

OKAY, I'm going to stop talking now... can you tell this is something I'm very opinionated about? Sheesh. :) But good luck... you'll find your balance, I promise.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm going to back you up here, absolutely.

I feel uncomfortable expressing these same feelings to ANYONE other than my mother (who I have mentioned in my blog) and her response is always, "Well you have no choice" or "Yeah, I know. Really hard, isn't it?"

Basically, find out what your other half is willing to do to pitch in, and then ASK, like Bessieviola said. I give mine a decent heads up before I request that he drop what he's doing and manage the baby. Otherwise I get some pretty fierce backlash -- suddenly I'm an a**hole for not noticing that he's working from home, or getting ready to head off to work and is finishing his cereal! If you feel alone in this, please know that there have been a few nasty F-words flung about in this house over the "sharing" of duties. Eventually we had to discuss it calmly, and I quickly got sympathy and support from him. He's not a bad DH. But I feel like a liar pretending that it's all sunshine and flowers under this roof.

In the end, I know that I am becoming a stronger mother/person by, as you put it, handing all the details of the day. Just planning a balanced meal for the baby, only to have him refuse to eat or throw it on the floor, is enough to make me want to sign up to work at Starbucks sometimes!

If you like to go to the bookstore for quiet, DO IT! Plan a date with yourself and keep it. You'll be glad you did. Unfortunately, no one's going to offer. That's what really sucks, right? You have to make your time off official. Don't let anyone guilt you, girl. That's my two cents.