Author Topic: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?  (Read 5674 times)

SomedayStache

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TLDR:
I resent my spouse because his priorities are different than mine.  He spends a lot of time, effort, and money on an activity that I don't value - even though I theoretically support his efforts I must admit to myself that I really don't appreciate them.  I want a clean house and he doesn't care about the state of the house.  I want time to relax and be together - and while he wants this as well he's always busy doing something else other than spending time with me.

I'm guessing there are some of you on the other side of this (the stay-at-home parent side) and I'd love to hear your honest opinions because talking this stuff out with him is like stepping into a minefield.

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Long version:
He's been a stay-at-home dad (sometimes part-time employee) for 8 years.  After a period of not working outside the home he's recently picked up 3 shifts a week at a local plant nursery.  He works 8 hour shifts Tues, Thurs, and Saturday.  The pay is very low and last month we actually lost money because of additional grocery costs due to the fact that I had to cook 3 days each week and I'm not nearly as good at cooking as he is. 

He's about to graduate with an associates in sustainable horticulture and growing vegetables/organic farming is his passion.  Therefore working at the plant nursery is great for him - but not so great for me or our family.  It's not helping our bottom line and is cutting into our time together.  (I mean we FINALLY had weekends together and then he goes and asks to work on Saturdays??!)

Even when he wasn't working outside the home he's constantly busy and stressed by all the work involved with upkeeping our homestead.  We still have a 3-yr-old at home, so there are many activities he can't do during the day and ends up doing catchup work in the evenings when I'm home to watch the kids.  Two nights ago he was outside planting/weeding until long after I was asleep.  Last night he was outside at 10pm spraying our land with garlic-spray to stop mosquitoes.

He's an awesome dad and a responsible spouse (with the exception of house-cleaning which he does minimally and I usually end up rage cleaning a few times a month)  When he's home he cooks all the meals for us.  He's not out spending all his time at bars or money on alcohol - he's spending time in the garden and money on garden stuff...but if I am honest with myself the two scenarios have pretty much the same effect on me. 

I miss him and I hate all the time/effort/and money that goes into up keeping our homestead.  I wish we could just live in town and have a few raised beds.  But he's living his dream.  I, however, am not living the dream.  I don't know how to talk to him about any of this because we have such a long, tormented history in this area.  He doesn't think I respect him or place any value on his contributions.  And this is tricky because I DO and I don't at the same time.  I value his parenting contributions and love him as a person - I don't properly appreciate all the homesteading stuff and really think it hampers our long-term financial plans and absolutely hate how much time he spends on it.

So what do I do?  My current plan is survival until our youngest starts school in August 2018 and hope that will give us some spare time together in the evenings.  Is there a better plan?  (I also realize how ridiculous this rant probably seems to everyone who has it much harder.  I feel like we could have an easy, cush life together due to my generous 40-hr/week job which easily pays all our bills.  But he's off mucking it up and instead of a single-income lifestyle we have become two working parents and I'm not seeing the benefit to our household.)

ysette9

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Oh, I feel for you. It sounds tough to be in a situation where you don't fundamentally align with your partner on life goals and direction. As you recognize, this isn't a money question but a deeper issue. We all do some level of sacrifice to the other's interests since I doubt any two people are perfectly aligned. It sounds like you two are fairly far apart and you feel that him pursuing his dreams is actively undermining your own.

I wish I had something more helpful to say. I think you may be best served by going to a counselor to help you two talk things out since the stakes are high and it sounds like the topic is already emotionally charged. Can you separately do some soul-searching on what really basic things are important to you and what aspects you are willing to compromise on? For example, can you be okay with his homesteading if it doesn't cut into your family time with him and doesn't cost the family money? Can you be supportive of his dreams provided it doesn't add more than x years to FIRE? Can you hire housecleaners so you aren't arguing about the state of the house? This was a really good move for us because it mostly removed that topic of argument from our list.
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Mrs.MLM

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SAHM, here. I have no idea if this is what your husband is experiencing, but this is what happened to me:

I got way more productive when I became a SAHM. I never fully appreciated how much work there is to do. When I was working full-time, I didn't have time to care about the junk drawer or the garage or the pantry, so those things just weren't taken care of. Now, the tasks expand to fill the time. Granted, it doesn't sound like your husband is cleaning/organizing as much as you would like, but he's found other things to do around the house.

Not bringing home a paycheck has also made me feel the need to do ALL THE THINGS. Coupled with always being "at work," it's easy to become too busy. I recently implemented a 7am-7pm "work" schedule. At 7pm, I stop, take a shower, read or watch TV (Side note: I'm late to The Americans, but WOW, so good). It doesn't matter if there are still dishes in the sink.

Finally, I need something for myself. Almost everything I do all day is for the baby, my stepdaughter, or my husband. I started blogging for me. Perhaps that's what horticulture is for your husband.

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P.S. I'm also an ACOA (adult child of an alcoholic). I promise you if he spent all his money on alcohol, it would be a lot worse. Spouses and children of horticulturists don't go to support groups. Of course, that doesn't mean this is an ideal lifestyle for you or that your concerns aren't valid.

SomedayStache

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Oh yeah, bars and alcohol were a bad example.  Maybe golfing or motorcycles would have been better.

Also, the Americans!  Very good show.

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little_brown_dog

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I’ll wade in here as a SAHM. It sounds like your husband has found a very meaningful identity with his gardening and homesteading. This can be really hard for people who work outside the home to understand, but when you are a SAHP having a ME identity outside of childcare, cooking, and cleaning is really, really important for mental health and self worth. Yes his gardening and homesteading doesn’t impact you in a beneficial way, but for him it might be literally the only aspect of his identity where he takes pride for himself, outside of caring for the house or others. Being self sufficient and fostering that is a huge source of pride and mental stimulation for people who live completely in the domestic sphere. Never mind the fact that people who value it really believe it brings measurable value to their families - they are able to take care of their families in a very special way that quite frankly many people nowadays simply don't know how to do (growing food? That is a skill almost no one has anymore!). It’s what keeps them happy in between all the obnoxious boring stuff like cooking, picking up, dealing with toddler tantrums, etc. And the part time job is often a critical moment of adult time for SAHPs...seriously, my part time job and volunteer work keep my brain from rotting. If he were to give it up, and instead say spend more time cleaning instead, he would just only have a predominantly servant identity. Great for the housework, terrible for him and possibly your marriage. There is a reason all those 50s housewives were so depressed...they had no identity outside childcare and making the house nice.

I don’t know your circumstances, and it sounds like you guys are like us – very DIY people who probably balk at the idea of hired help. But if the housework is a point of contention, it might be really useful to pay someone to clean once or twice a month, at least for the time being. That way you don’t have to demand your husband sacrifice his gardening time to do it, but the house will be cleaner. Another option would be to try to figure out 1 night every couple of weeks where you both agree to do a quick sweep of the house for cleaning, say for a 2 hour block. Grab wine, put on some music, get buzzed (if you drink that is), and pick up together. Tackle one problem at a time...first deal with the easier issue (the cleaning) and then consider the part time job.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2017, 06:44:26 PM by little_brown_dog »

StarBright

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Hi SomedayStache,

I was (and still am, in some ways) in a similar situation to you. For a couple of years we were taking money out of savings so that he could work and we could send our kids to daycare. My DH is now in his (relatively) low-paying dream job and I am in the higher earning most decidedly not dream job :)  It is so hard and even though we try to be very egalitarian there are weird gender things that need managed and navigated around.

If family times in evenings are high on your priority list can you guys also swing part time childcare for your three year old a couple of days a week? That way your DH could do his homesteading during the day.

I wish I had something helpful to say regarding the resentment - but I haven't found that total solution myself. When I feel the resentment and jealousy getting too bad, i revisit some books by the gottman's:
https://www.gottman.com/about/the-gottman-method/

Their work on marriage is fascinating. There is also a great chapter about them in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink.

In any case- I'm sending you best thoughts and internet hugs!




lhamo

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Unless your DH values being a SAHP more than the gardening, you guys need to send your toddler to preschool, at least part time.   Because he can't be a full-time SAHD to a toddler and pursue his career passion.  Just like you can't be a full-time SAHM and have a career either.   It is fantasy to think that you can do both things at the same time.

Having help with childcare is not a bad thing.  For some kids, it can be an awesome thing.  I would try it at least part time to start with, and see how it goes.   As your kid gets older, maybe there will be more ways he can help your DH with his gardening tasks, and then there won't be the need to keep him out from under foot.

OR, think about moving into a rental in town for awhile and renting out your homestead.   See how the lifestyle works for you.   Maybe now is not the time to be homesteading, but you don't necessarily have to sell.  Let your DH build up his rep as a sustainable horticulture person in town first, and move back to the homestead when the kid is a little older/easier to manage.

The thing to remember is YOU HAVE CHOICES!   The infant/toddler stage is very challenging, because kids need so much support.  But it gets easier as you get older.   Don't be a fanatic about saving money right now.  If you have some wiggle room in your budget, take advantage of it.   It will only be for a couple of years.   Once your kid is in school, it gets much easier.
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PharmaStache

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Preschool is. a great idea.

I'd be mad too if I had to come home from working full time and my partner was off doing his own things, leaving me alone to clean and take care of the kid.  You need a mix of alone time (for each of you) and family time. 

mm1970

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Quote
I’ll wade in here as a SAHM. It sounds like your husband has found a very meaningful identity with his gardening and homesteading. This can be really hard for people who work outside the home to understand, but when you are a SAHP having a ME identity outside of childcare, cooking, and cleaning is really, really important for mental health and self worth. Yes his gardening and homesteading doesn’t impact you in a beneficial way, but for him it might be literally the only aspect of his identity where he takes pride for himself, outside of caring for the house or others. Being self sufficient and fostering that is a huge source of pride and mental stimulation for people who live completely in the domestic sphere. Never mind the fact that people who value it really believe it brings measurable value to their families - they are able to take care of their families in a very special way that quite frankly many people nowadays simply don't know how to do (growing food? That is a skill almost no one has anymore!). It’s what keeps them happy in between all the obnoxious boring stuff like cooking, picking up, dealing with toddler tantrums, etc. And the part time job is often a critical moment of adult time for SAHPs...seriously, my part time job and volunteer work keep my brain from rotting. If he were to give it up, and instead say spend more time cleaning instead, he would just only have a predominantly servant identity. Great for the housework, terrible for him and possibly your marriage. There is a reason all those 50s housewives were so depressed...they had no identity outside childcare and making the house nice.

little_brown_dog has some good advice here.

I'm not a SAHP, but we are both working parents.  The hard part in your situation (and ours), is that time is limited and you need to prioritize.

I think it's very important for both parents to have time on their own to pursue their passions.  Ideally an equal amount of time, but people have different needs (for sleep, relaxation, etc.)  My spouse *needs* time to relax at night after the kids are asleep, to reach or watch TV.  I *need* time to do crafting and exercise.

So, one of the ways we do this is to schedule a lot of the stuff. 
We schedule dates together (though I admit we have been bad at this lately)
I schedule my workouts religiously.
We used to schedule our individual gym time too.

We also pay for a housecleaner.  It's tricky when one person's standards are different than the other, especially when the person with the higher standard is *not* the one who is expected to do the work.

Also the preschool recommendation is pretty good.  My younger kid is 4.  It's just hard at that age.

So my recommendations:
1. if you value time together, schedule it
2. if you value a clean house, schedule cleaning time together (or hire out).  You didn't mention the age of the other kids, but I'm *just* now starting to have my big kid help with chores.  It's just been easier to do it ourselves, but he's 11.  I was doing chores way way younger than that.
3. You have to let him have time for his passion, but maybe some negotiation on "how much time" is in order.  And, can you do it together (would it go faster?)


Laura33

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2017, 11:01:48 AM »
OK, there are a lot of things mixed up here. 

1.  It is perfectly reasonable -- and necessary -- to want the two of you to have time together, both as a family and as a couple.

2.  Your DH has different passions than you.  You appreciate his passions when they are applied to things you value ("growing" your own nuclear family), but not when they are applied to things you don't value (growing non-humans).

3.  You value certain things more than your DH (cleanliness), and you resent when he does not sufficiently prioritize those things.  You believe that your agreement was that part of his job would be to do those things to your standard.  His actions suggest that he does not view his job the same way you do.

4.  Your DH has been a SAHD a long time.  His actions demonstrate that he no longer finds this role fulfilling or sustainable on its own, and that he needs time/space/energy for stuff that is just him (see 2, above).  However, because his "job," as defined within your family, is still SAHD, he is attempting to accomplish 2 on top of all of his existing obligations, which leaves him short on time/energy for 1 and 3.

So, really, you are right that something has to give, but you are wrong to approach this from the perspective that the "fix" is for you to persuade your DH to spend less time on 2 and more on 1 and 3.  He is *not happy* with solely being a SAHD.  8 years ago, you guys both probably went into this division of labor believing that it would work for both of you.  Then life happened, and it isn't working for him any more.  So the real "fix" is to restructure your arrangement to lift some of the burdens that go with the SAHD job so that he can devote some time to his own passion while still having time/energy left to spend with you as a family and a couple.

The obvious starting point is the housework.  My rule in my house is "he who has the higher standards is responsible for making sure things are done to his satisfaction."  I.e., agree on a very basic level of acceptability; anything more than that is on the person who cares more.  In my house, this means that I am the one who gets to worry about making nutritious meals.  In your house, it would mean that cleaning above basic sanitation levels is on you.  Or make the whole issue go away by hiring cleaners (my chosen solution).

But clearly, lifting the cleaning duties is not going to solve the problem, because he is already not cleaning to your standards.  So if you want time with him, then you need to figure out a way to ease some of the other SAHD duties.  E.g., daycare, babysitting, preschool.  Give him more time during the day to do his classwork and homesteading, so that you guys can enjoy family time when you are home for work. 

Note that I am not saying this all has to fall on you.  Your DH may be one of those people who will gladly putter and tinker to fill all available hours, and to the exclusion of all else.  So if he is being that guy, it is reasonable for him to cut that back some.  But my point is that that is not the starting point for the discussion -- he has just resumed this after years of doing the SAHD job exclusively!  You need to approach this from the mindset that acknowledges that *he is not happy* as a full-time SAHD and that he legitimately *needs* this other stuff to be happy, and so your job as a couple is to figure out how to make that happen, because any plan that leaves one of you unhappy long-term is not an acceptable solution.  So your initial question can't be how to get him to cut back on "his" stuff to focus more on what you want; it *has* to be "how can we renegotiate the division of labor to free up more time so we can both get more of what we need to be happy?"
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abhe8

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2017, 11:32:40 AM »
I think your first line says it all. "I resent my spouse because his priorities are different from mine."

I would start with counseling.

Fwiw, our family has a very similar structure. I work a well paying 40 hr job and dh stays home. He farms/gardens our little homestead and homeschools our kids. I take care of cooking, cleaning and most evening kid activities. He does most of his homestead work in the evenings and weekends. He takes care of most all errands, cars, finances and outdoor home maintenance.

Again, for us, it's a dream come true. So I'm not saying your set up is inherently bad or wrong. But for you, it's clearly now working. And if talking about it gets you nowhere, time to bring in the pros.

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dca

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2017, 06:53:36 PM »
Hi, SomedayStache.

I lurk around your journal a little bit, so I'm reading your post in the context of you often feeling unhappy and trapped in your high-paying full-time job. I'm in a bit of a similar situation, as I feel that I have to give up a lot for our family to live in our HCOL area so that my husband can work his (relatively low-paid) dream job in his dream city. I think that you should cultivate things in your life that give you joy and fulfillment that don't necessarily require DH's cooperation. For me, that has been getting more sleep, leaning in some at work (but not all the way), and working on what I'm passionate about (writing), which doesn't bring our family any income. It is easier to feel generous and supportive toward DH when you yourself are happy.

How come all that homesteading hasn't lowered your grocery bill? My parents grow vegetables organically in the backyard of their suburban house and produce more than enough for themselves. And is he interested in keeping chickens to keep your family in eggs?

In any case, good luck to you, & hope you get through this rough patch soon!

Kathryn K.

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2017, 08:57:03 PM »
Someday Stache - Yeah, the differing priorities is a tough one.  As I think I've mentioned on your journal, the impacts of my husband's conventional agriculture activities are a lot the same as your husband's homestead activities (lots of time and effort away from the family, minimal or negative monetary gain).  And as you allude to, the guys feel justified because it's a productive activity and not golfing or watching football  However, it's still a net negative to the family.  In my opinion, it's ok for the balance to run negative for a while, but at some point it needs to swing the other way; in my case it's an ongoing discussion with my husband as to how long he keeps going if he doesn't start to turn a profit on the farming.

However, my husband still works his FT engineering job and though I stay home I also do contract work PT and am paid well for the hours I work.  I think a lot of your resentment might be due to you having to shoulder the financial burden alone and your DH not helping you in that. Maybe you guys could agree that he needs to make $X/yr as his monetary contribution to the family? When you're married with kids, sorry it can't all be about following your bliss by growing organic tomatoes.  Not that he can't pursue his own interests at all, but he needs to fit it around the baseline of helping to support the family.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 09:01:31 PM by Kathryn K. »

SomedayStache

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2017, 07:24:29 AM »
I'm on my phone so I can't properly quote back all the helpful and insightful ideas that have been thrown my way.

Biggest thing I'm starting to admit, though reluctantly, is that I'm not the right one.  I've been thinking about this logically and in terms of what is most efficient and financially sound.  Well, that shit looks good on paper but what I'm missing are the emotional aspects.  I must account for them in my mental balance sheet.

No.  I need to erase my mental balance sheet because that way probably lies divorce.  This is a marriage not a business relationship.

I've proposed housecleaning and childcare before and gotten very negative reactions.  Childcare I can kind of see his opposition to because it ends up being almost two hours of driving for five hours of care and he only gets three and a half hours of time to accomplish tasks.  Maybe I can try the housecleaning suggestion again.

Stuff to think about. 

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Kathryn K.

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2017, 08:26:51 AM »
SS - Agree that you can't keep a mental accounting of who exactly gets what but don't agree that you're not "right" in some respects. If you don't feel supported and like you're getting some key needs met at least partially (clean house, time together) that's how you feel and those are certainly valid things to care about. What is your husband doing on his end to try to make things work for you?

Going back to the financial angle, I finally went ahead and set up a separate farm checking account and credit card for my husband to use for his activities last fall.  You do a good job of tracking expenses, but for us having the farm stuff separated to its own account makes the economic impact of the farming crystal clear (e.g., currently money is going down way faster than cash is coming to replace it.  Of course I just saw that my husband had charged an expense we had discussed would go on the farm account to our personal CC, sigh...)  Can you set up separate accounts for the homestead and/or decide on a budgeted amount for it you can live with to at least try to contain the OOP financial impact?

On the childcare, I agree that 2 hrs of driving for 3.5 hrs to do stuff isn't a great balance.  You might have to get creative to find something else that would work better - high school kid during the summers or older lady nearby, both of which could come to you? As far as the house cleaning, I would just put my foot down and set it up. Try to frame it as giving your husband more time for homesteading rather than it being his not cleaning up to your standards, but also make it crystal clear that it's something that is very important for your own mental wellbeing so you're at least going to try it. (As an aside, why do men think they always get final veto over everything? Grrr)

BeanCounter

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2017, 08:36:45 AM »
Hi SS!! I miss your journal. Hope you all are doing ok.
Yes, to letting the mental balance sheet go. If DH and I did that, it would spell nothing but trouble for us.
My DH is great at doing a lot of stuff, but not housekeeping. It's like he just doesn't see dirt. I like things VERY clean. Probably too clean if I were being honest. One of the things that we have been doing that seems to help is to have what we call "the hour of power". We make of list of household chores that need to be done (not including laundry as that is ongoing) and we all, kids included, pitch in for an hour on Sat morning. After an hour we're done. I have the little boys do things like change their sheets and make their beds, clean their bathroom sink and tub (I do the toilets), pick up toys and put away their clothes. Then I just go through and vacuum, dust and clean toilets quickly. DH does works on lawn care and laundry, and helps the boys with their assignments.
It just seems like when we all work together it gets done fast and isn't that big of a deal.

lhamo

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #17 on: April 22, 2017, 10:21:41 AM »
Could you try to find someone who would be willing to come to you to provide care?  Are there NO other residents in the area?  Employment, especially flexible employment, can be hard to find in rural areas.  Maybe there is a SAHM or homeschooling parent nearby who would really value/appreciate the opportunity to earn a bit of money without having to drive to town.

Could you do at least the dropoff, with him just doing pickup?   Or find someone in town who would be willing to bring the kid home if you do dropoff?

Or move to town, rent out the rural house, get childcare in town and have DH just maintain the gardens PT, rather than living on the property FT.

What you are doing now is NOT working for you both.   Thinking creatively about other options is crucial.  Otherwise your DH needs to accept that this growing season is not the one where he can dive into his career/passion.   Maybe next year, when the bub is 4, it will be easier to manage.  Kids change a lot between 3 and 4, and between 4 and 5. 
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Laura33

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #18 on: April 22, 2017, 12:34:20 PM »
So, first, it is a big deal that you are willing to look at this from another angle.  Kudos.  FWIW, it's not about who is right and who is wrong.  It is about both of you trying to look at things through the other's eyes and working to find a balance that gives both of you enough of what you need.  It is just as "wrong" for him to reject help (at the cost of you guys not having time together) as it is for you to expect him to give up on the outside work that matters to him.

I think it is thinking and talking.  You need to acknowledge his needs, and then ask for what you need from him.  It is perfectly reasonable to want to spend time with him; it is perfectly reasonable to feel the stress of the sole breadwinner in a stressful job.  Both of you have reasonable needs that are not currently being met, which requires both of you to engage and be flexible to figure out how to fix it.
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MayDay

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2017, 06:55:46 AM »
For childcare, it doesn't have to be preschool.

Find an in home daycare that takes part time kids. Drop your toddler off on the way to work, and have him pick up at 3 or 4. Now he gets 6 hours or so, with only one driving trip for him.

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dca

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #20 on: April 23, 2017, 08:06:29 AM »
^^^Agree with everyone above: there's no wrong or right. You can't be happy if DH is miserable, and vice versa. You're in it together. There have been great suggestions about creative ways to make things better. If the childcare place is on your way, and it fits with your work schedule, you could even do both drop-off and pick-up, so that DH's has a couple of days to pursue his projects. What you get in return is more time with family and a happy husband.

Also agree with KK above, giving the housecleaners a try and framing it as more time for DH's homesteading.

tthree

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #21 on: April 23, 2017, 04:07:53 PM »
OP, from previous posts I gather your household has more of a tidying problem than a cleaning problem.  At the end of each day set a 20 minute timer, and it's all hands on deck (DH, kids and you) to put all the shit back where it belongs.  As for cleaning, if the house is generally tidy I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how little time you need to invest to clean.  I think if you and the kids devote 1 hour on Saturday mornings to just cleaning, you will be able to keep a good baseline of "clean".

I am glad your DH found work outside the home, as I think this is vital to him regaining his identity beyond SAHD, and Mr. SomedayStache; however, it is clear there is not time for DH to homestead AND work at the nursery.  As a team you should decide which is best for the family.

I also get the feeling your DH feels undervalued.  If you helped him with his homesteading vision, I feel like it would be an opportunity for him to be valued, and for the both of you to spend time together.

SilveradoBojangles

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #22 on: April 23, 2017, 06:34:34 PM »
Have you considered counseling? It sounds like you two live in a rural area, but even skyping with a therapist in the evenings after your kids have gone to bed might be helpful in helping you two improve your communication and set joint priorities.

Also, you mentioned that you miss him. But it sounds like you want to spend time with him on your terms. Have you considered making time where you help him with his homesteading chores so that you can have a chance to chat, learn more about what he's doing, and hear about what he's excited about? That can go a long way to helping you two reconnect, and putting some meaning behind your words. For example, a long time ago I decided that I would nurture my husband's interests, even when I don't share them, and I expect the same from him. Sometimes that means some time away from each other, and sometimes it means spending more money than we otherwise would. But everyone needs outside interests to feel happy and fulfilled, and that is what I want in a partner. Obviously, there are boundaries, and we respect and abide by them. For example, he plays tennis every evening, but being home by a certain time for dinner is non-negotiable for me, and after I communicated that he has made that happen. And after deciding to try and learn more about this thing that he really likes, it turns out that I really enjoy watching tennis. So now that is something that we can do together.

On the flip side I really like to garden, but the amount we've spent on seeds, starts, and supplies far outstrips what my little raised bed has produced. But that is why we factor some individual discretionary spending into our budget. He's never once complained about the extra spending, and he gets excited when we eat out of the garden, because I'm excited about it. He occasionally toodles out to the garden and asks me about what's growing, and of course it's really nice to tell someone about your interests, so I give him the tour. And I appreciate the gesture.

I guess what I'm saying is, there are two ways to approach your partner's outside interests. You can see them as something to compete with, or you can see them as something that makes up the person you love, and embrace them at whatever level works for you, simply because it is important to them. Of course, it sounds like horticulture has moved beyond hobby and is in career development stage for your husband. Your kids won't need him 24-7 forever, and so he likely views the work he is doing now as groundwork for the next stage where it he can contribute monetarily. Having these discussions with a counselor might help you two get on the same page about what your goals and needs are.


SomedayStache

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #23 on: April 24, 2017, 12:51:52 PM »
I started this thread basically thinking "It doesn't make sense for my husband to work!  There is no benefit!  Why is he making life harder on us needlessly!"

Well - you've all greatly succeeded in showing me some of the many benefits, perhaps less tangible than time or money, but still benefits.

How come all that homesteading hasn't lowered your grocery bill? My parents grow vegetables organically in the backyard of their suburban house and produce more than enough for themselves. And is he interested in keeping chickens to keep your family in eggs?
I don't know?!  Maybe it has?  This summer might be a better test because last summer he was trying out a CSA and felt a lot of obligation to provide plentiful baskets for his customers which often gave us the shaft.  Like that time he bought a plastic clamshell of greens from Sams while our fridge was overflowing with freshly picked greens - but those greens were promised to other people!

It will be a few years before I recover from our last chicken experiment and have the courage to try again.  We got a dozen unsexed chicks freshly hatched at our neighbors (they have about 40 chickens) and ALL BUT ONE of those chicks were male.  Then we had to figure out how to kill them which we did too slowly and thus were feeding roosters for a long time.  The one poor female chicken was constantly harassed and I breathed a great sigh of relief when some wild predator finally killed off the last of the bunch.  That was a year+ long experiment that netted us zero eggs but cost us time, money, and sanity.

What you are doing now is NOT working for you both.   Thinking creatively about other options is crucial.  Otherwise your DH needs to accept that this growing season is not the one where he can dive into his career/passion.   Maybe next year, when the bub is 4, it will be easier to manage.  Kids change a lot between 3 and 4, and between 4 and 5.
 
I feel like we've pulled the 'maybe in a few years' act on my poor husband for so long.  I mean, it's our own fault.  We both honestly thought that he could be a stay-at-home dad AND do all the stuff he planned.  hahahahaha.  That's the kind of poor planning that happens when two soon-to-be parents have spent minimal time around young children.  It's been almost exactly ten years since I yanked him away from the life he wanted. 

OP, from previous posts I gather your household has more of a tidying problem than a cleaning problem.  At the end of each day set a 20 minute timer, and it's all hands on deck (DH, kids and you) to put all the shit back where it belongs.  As for cleaning, if the house is generally tidy I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how little time you need to invest to clean.  I think if you and the kids devote 1 hour on Saturday mornings to just cleaning, you will be able to keep a good baseline of "clean".
This is unnecessarily petty for me to point out, but hey, I'm going to anyway.  Hubbie has an exceptionally low standard of cleanliness and mine is way too high.  The most recent rage-cleaning binge precipitated this post.  I noticed on hubbies night to put the kids to bed that our sons' room was trashed.  Literally.  Easter candy detritus strewn about the room and little shards from the popcorn ceiling were covering the floor.  It was cluttered too, but mostly the trash was what bothered me.  I let it go because it was his turn to do bedtime.  I was disappointed that it wasn't picked up before bed, but since it was husband's day off knew it would be taken care of the next day.  It wasn't. 

He'll also do things like leave plates with food on them out.  Sometimes breakfast dishes are there when I get home from work.

I also get the feeling your DH feels undervalued.  If you helped him with his homesteading vision, I feel like it would be an opportunity for him to be valued, and for the both of you to spend time together.
This is the heart of a lot of our difficulty.

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #24 on: April 24, 2017, 01:22:32 PM »

I feel like we've pulled the 'maybe in a few years' act on my poor husband for so long.  I mean, it's our own fault.  We both honestly thought that he could be a stay-at-home dad AND do all the stuff he planned.  hahahahaha.  That's the kind of poor planning that happens when two soon-to-be parents have spent minimal time around young children.  It's been almost exactly ten years since I yanked him away from the life he wanted. 

It's not like you put a gun to the guy's head and forced him to marry and have three kids with you.  He willingly choose that as well.  It's great that you can see things from his perspective, but it sounds like you're tying yourself in knots to address his concerns and blaming himself while he's doing ??? to address yours.

FWIW, I went and spent 6+ hours in the tractor with my husband yesterday (and this is an old piece of junk tractor so was half hanging off the seat and got covered in dust and dirt) and it was super good for us to spend time together and also for me to better appreciate what he does. And he mentioned several times how much he appreciated me coming out with him.  So I would suggest you try to do some homestead activities with your husband occasionally. I know it's tough with kids though, we were lucky yesterday that we were at in-laws' farm and my MIL was able to watch our daughter.

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #25 on: April 24, 2017, 01:54:13 PM »
So I was thinking about this thread some more. I’m going to get real on modern homesteading because I actually do it to some extent (producing own eggs, veggie garden, crafty things like winemaking, etc). I find this life, while very rewarding, is also highly romanticized and I suspect you two are also caught up in that space between the fulfillment homesteading is supposed to give you and the sheer crapshoot of the logistics of it.

Homesteading used to work well because the whole family was involved. Ma and Pa both worked in the gardens and with the livestock. Many times no one had any other time-intensive employment outside the home, unlike today where most homesteaders are supported by at least 1 full time job. The kids also helped out to the best of their ability given their ages, with large broods of children often managing each other. The sheer amount of work required investment from all parties, but it also kept it from being completely overwhelming because there were usually a bunch of hands on deck to help out. Modern homesteading is often very much like your experience – frequently 1 partner is more invested than the other. At least one partner has to work a full time job. The kids are either too small or not expected to help substantially due to safety concerns or other valid reasons (school schedules, etc) which means they are just a drag on the homestead instead of active contributors. Few of us have broods of 5+ kids with older children hanging around to manage younger ones while Ma and PA do chores so we also have to manage child care too. As a result, modern homesteading has a lot of the same work (weeding, planting, caring for animals, caring for children, etc) but far less human help to do it. Unfortunately, there really isn’t a way around this unless you either 1) scale back the homesteading work to something where 1 person can comfortably do almost all of it, 2) you jump in and take on extra homesteading tasks, or 3) you outsource the cleaning and childcare.

In our family I am the homesteader. I am the one who does the bulk of the domestic, garden, and animal care because I am a SAHM. My husband is a full time worker in a demanding job. Even though I do 90% of the homestead stuff, it still bothers him that the poultry are so gross and messy or when he has to care for them on occasion. It sucks that we can't go away for more than a couple nights without arranging for someone to care for them. And even I find it obnoxious to trudge out there in the mud and freezing rain to wrangle lost birds or pick up carcasses after a predator attack. As a result, we have decided to let the rest of our flock die out and won’t be replacing them any time soon. I’m expecting our 2nd baby and I can’t manage to be all little-home-on-the-prairie without asking my husband to take on even more work. And we are both tired. So once the birds are gone we are going to make do with gardening for at least the next few years until we are out of the rough baby/toddler period. The truth is, this life was far more fun and manageable before we had kids because we had more time.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2017, 01:57:29 PM by little_brown_dog »

tthree

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #26 on: April 25, 2017, 09:12:01 AM »
For years I would send the oldest (now eight) to pick-up the playroom.  He would play for hours, but nothing ever got picked up, and it started to be a running joke......sick of the kid?....send him to pick-up the playroom.  He'll be quiet for hours, but the room will probably look worse!

Stick with me, I have a point here.

Finally I asked him, "Why don't you ever pick-up?" 
Him: "It's hard."
Me: "What's hard?"
Him: "I don't know what to do first!"

Lightbulb!!  Finally I understand why after all these years why DH did nothing when I asked him to "clean the kitchen" or "clean the living room".  He also had no idea where to start.  I suspect your DH may have the same issue and as a family you should work on systems that make maintaining a home easier.

Everyone should be doing some basic picking up and tidying.  Come up with a daily list:
(1) Put dishes in sink (or dishwasher) and wipe table.   5 minutes MAX. (Notice I didn't say wash dishes.  Baby steps.)
(2) Make beds.  Pick shit off floor.  5 minutes MAX each.
(3) After school: Empty backpack.  Dishes to sink.  Homework to appropriate pile.  Backpack hung up where ever it belongs.  2 minutes MAX.

My SIL has 4 kids (plus my brother) so 4.5 kids.  She has some excellent systems for getting everyone to contribute and keeping things tidy.  ie. she has a basket for each family member in the living area, when your stuff is found out and about it is placed in your basket until the next day, you have the option of re-homing the shit that makes it's way into the basket or it's gone.  No rage-cleaning binge required.  It's their choice to comply, or face the consequences as clearly outlined.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2017, 09:43:37 AM by tthree »

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #27 on: April 25, 2017, 09:30:33 AM »
Those are some great ideas tthree! I agree with whomever said that it really doesn't take long to clean. It's the general messy clutter and picking up that are the hard parts and what deep most families from managing the house. This is why I won't hire a maid. By the time I clean for the cleaning person to come, it's mostly done.
Someday, maybe you all need a MAJOR purge?
Also check out fly lady for great tips and routines.

LittleBrownDog, your post was really interesting. I could never homestead. Too much cost and work, plus never being able to go on a long vacation would not be for me!

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #28 on: April 25, 2017, 10:20:55 AM »
In my family, H wouldn't notice the chunks of ceiling or the candy wrappers all over the floor.

I do what tthree's SIL does. I throw their shit away. Would I like my H to manage the children's belongings, initiate cleaning, etc? Yes. And I ask him him to do specific things sometimes, and he does them. But he just isn't ever going to keep the house sparkling or declutter old kids clothes or whatever.

Since I don't want to do all that myself, I throw it all out. Walla!* Now i never have to nag you about it again!  My kids get a warning to pick up, then it's gone. We have a tiny amount of toys relatively speaking. They can now clean the toys up in half an hour. We have consistent checklists for before school, after school, etc. H didn't take the initiative to develop that but he'll implement the checklist that is hanging there.



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LadyStache in Baja

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #29 on: April 26, 2017, 07:05:15 AM »
He ran a CSA? Damn! That's a ton of work and stress and also very rewarding. We run a CSA as well. So did he get paid for that?

I honestly think his time would be better spent on his own farm. I don't think he needs the low paying nursery job. He can learn anything he needs to off of youtube or volunteering at a bigger farm once in a while. Also I recommend this book: https://www.amazon.com/Market-Gardener-Successful-Handbook-Small-scale/dp/0865717656/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493211640&sr=8-1&keywords=the+market+gardener

The Market Gardener by Jean Martin Fortier.  He really walks you through EVERYTHING you need to know. Helped me a lot with our farm.

I definitely learned farming skills from working on farms for short stints, but then most of the learning came from doing.

If he does quit the nursery job, I would suggest allowing him to have his own dedicated working hours on the homestead where you both know that he'll be working and you'll be with the kids. Having a homestead is stressful because at every moment I would be doubting myself "should i really be in the garden right now, maybe I should make dinner", or "should I really be cleaning the house right now, maybe i should be in the garden". Having set hours where he can work guilt-free and know that his house responsibilities are covered during that time would be nice. Maybe that's part of what he likes about the nursery job.
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NeonPegasus

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #30 on: April 26, 2017, 07:34:04 AM »
Folks have given you great ideas here. There are many things to tease out.

I think others covered the importance of your DH's work to his self-identity and self-esteem.

You guys do need to come to an agreement about childcare and cleaning. Period. The first thing I'd do is set minimum cleaning standards. It sounds like picking up trash and tidying rooms would be a good start. Your 3 year old needs to be taught to do this. It is an age appropriate expectation to have trash thrown away and toys back in bins. You can't ask for toys to be organized but get big bins for everything to be tossed into. Then cleaning needs to be a nightly routine. Every night after dinner, DH takes two kids (one of which is always the 3 yo) and says "it's time to pick things up and put them away." That is word-for-word his nightly instruction. That must be done before advancing to bath, reading and bed time.

If your DH can meet the minimum requirements, you need to figure out how to handle the rest. I finally hit my limit with doing all of the housework (I work at home for our business and have more unscheduled time than DH) so it is now the family rule that we all do housework on Saturday morning before anything fun. I write up a list of chores for each child and for DH. DH and kids understand that if they do not do their chores, I will hire a maid and that money will come out of the budget for fun activities. Of note, DH doesn't necessarily clean to my standards. I keep my damn mouth shut and alternate chores as needed so the bathrooms get the "proper" cleaning at least once a month. Some clean is better than no clean, KWIM?

For childcare, 3 year old is old enough to have a teenager come over and play while your DH is working. I paid a kid $5/hr to come over for 2 hours while I worked. I was there in case of any problems but it gave me a bit of time to get stuff done. And no, your DH cannot get anything done while being responsible for a 3 year old.

You are only 3 years into the gig of parenting your first kid. It will get easier. Your child is on the cusp of being able to contribute more (though do be sure to look up a list of age appropriate chores - they can do more than you think). Every time your child changes developmentally, you have new challenges to adapt to and have to restructure the system. The important thing is to take the time and build that structure (and rebuild it). Systems, patterns, framework - whatever you want to call it, these are they years you must have consistency in expectations and application so you can actually get shit done and not go crazy.

dca

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #31 on: April 26, 2017, 07:56:39 AM »

I feel like we've pulled the 'maybe in a few years' act on my poor husband for so long.  I mean, it's our own fault.  We both honestly thought that he could be a stay-at-home dad AND do all the stuff he planned.  hahahahaha.  That's the kind of poor planning that happens when two soon-to-be parents have spent minimal time around young children.  It's been almost exactly ten years since I yanked him away from the life he wanted. 

It's not like you put a gun to the guy's head and forced him to marry and have three kids with you.  He willingly choose that as well.  It's great that you can see things from his perspective, but it sounds like you're tying yourself in knots to address his concerns and blaming himself while he's doing ??? to address yours.

Agree with this. Sounds like in your current arrangement, NEITHER of you are getting enough of your needs met, and there's resentment on both sides. It doesn't have to be either/or: is this the life you always wanted? What are your dreams? He should be supporting you as well.

Sorry, I laughed at your chicken experiment. Some very interesting homesteading posts above. My parents, who are immigrants and have serious skills, talked about chickens for a while. My mother in the end nixed the idea because plucking would be too much work. Neither of them had a problem with the killing.

FWIW, I have a lower standard of cleanliness than my husband & see no problem with leaving the breakfast dishes out until the end of the day. Over the years, he has trained me to be closer to him, and we both compromise to some degree. In my life, I've roomed with people who are true slobs, i.e., they NEVER washed any dishes, the floor of their room was covered with dirty laundry, and they would throw fast food containers directly onto the floor. About twice a month, I would scrape off the moldy food, wash all the dishes in super hot water, and pick up the trash from the floor. When my husband gasps at the state of the house, I remind him there are people in the world much worse than me.

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #32 on: April 29, 2017, 09:00:40 AM »
It seems to me that you put the garden/homestead activities in the real of "important hobby", maybe in line with exercising - important, but not essential to daily function of the household.  Meanwhile, your husband puts those activities somewhere in the realm of "productive value, in line with a job" and "fulfilling life passion" which he needs because SAHD-ing seems to be sucking away his life energy (which, it would mine, so there's that...).  The problem is that the time commitment is so high, without it really contributing to anyone in your family but your husband in the short term.  Have you guys written down a list of priorities?  Discussed what level of time commitment the family can support?  If it was profitable would that make a difference to you?  Does it depend on what those profits are used for?  And I can't remember if you've said this, but your husband may have moments all day when he's resenting you and that you "get" to go to work each day.  We don't have kids, just a dog, but my DH and I have both started exercising again, and we've already had to talk about household division of labor due to having less time.

Also, hire a d**n house cleaner.  2x month, 1x month, anything.  Do it for 6 months, a year, see how it goes.  It's probably cheaper than counseling, and definitely cheaper than divorce.  And yes, as my mother used to say, "and now it's time for the whole d**n family to pick up their things and put them away".  Usually right before bath time for my youngest sibling.  My dad was on board, but the parents mostly gathered papers or went though mail that was left out, and cleaned any spills from the toddler, and monitored while us kids went around and picked up all of our things and at least put them back in our rooms.  And told us about the 5 things we each missed because we're kids and lazy and didn't see them.  So then we put those away too.  By middle school we were responsible for doing our own dishes (and if you left dishes out, expect to be taken immediately from whatever activity you were doing to go clean them right. this. second.).  That cut down on a lot of clutter.

intellectsucks

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Re: What to do when parents have different priorities - why are we so busy?
« Reply #33 on: April 29, 2017, 11:39:38 AM »
Some great advice in this thread, so I won’t rehash what’s already been discussed, but have you considered spending more time with him WHILE he’s planting/weeding/spraying?  As awesome a show as the Americans is (my brain’s grammatical eyes just crossed), wouldn’t you have just as pleasant an evening outdoors with him?

Theresa Wiggin

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My DH is a SAHD, AND loves gardening. We ran into exactly this same problem.

Lots of good suggestions above.

It helped us significantly to start with this question:

Is the time that he spend gardening considered work time or fun time?

If it's work time, then of course, you should watch the kids in the evenings and on Saturdays when he's working. Just as he takes care of the kids all by himself when you are working. (Sounds like you've got an older one in school, so worth noting that "take care of kids" isn't exactly equal).

If it's fun time, then his fun time needs to be balanced with your fun time (time when you aren't working, but get to do fun things by yourself and he also watches the kids during those times), and family fun time (it's important).

My and DH made big strides once we figured out I thought gardening was fun time and he thought it was work time.

I bet he says it's work time - and then you have to evaluate it like you would any job: how much financial value does it add? what's the cost (helps us to quantify childcare as a dollar amount - like, yeah, you are watching the kids at night but let's pretend you get paid for that; let's pretend he gets paid for watching them during the day - how much would you have to pay to replace yourselves)? is he building experience for higher earnings later? what kind of professional satisfaction is he getting?

Good to ask these questions for your job as well.

I think with changing gender roles, it's easy for men to assume that women get a great deal of satisfaction from their work, and for me and my BF who is in a similar situation - that's not quite right... we don't feel as great about working as we perceive our men to feel about their jobs. She had to tell her husband, "Stop saying I'm working at my dream job. Yes it's FT, yes it pays well, yes it's in my field. But my  dream job is to be a SAHM who writes fiction." And he stopped. Very helpful!

As far as cleaning, it helped when I broke down my job as 50% not bad stuff, 25% stuff I find satisfying, and 25% stuff I hate to do. So.... if he hates cleaning, fine. Just spend 25% of your time doing it. IDK if you can create a similar breakdown, but I felt respected/listened to when we acknowledged that part of my job suck but I still have to do them. And there should be an equal balance with his job. Some great stuff, some okay stuff, and some sucky stuff. Such is life.

Long post on a long thread, but I hope this helps you start the conversation.

If you two are like me and DH, he's handling the stress of this mismatch of priorities by wanting alone time outside with the plants (negatively put: avoiding you, running from the problem) and you are dealing by wanting together time to talk it out and spend more time together (negatively put: getting clingy). Hope you can get on the same page!

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^^ Wow, really great post!
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SomedayStache

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Some great advice in this thread, so I won’t rehash what’s already been discussed, but have you considered spending more time with him WHILE he’s planting/weeding/spraying?  As awesome a show as the Americans is (my brain’s grammatical eyes just crossed), wouldn’t you have just as pleasant an evening outdoors with him?
Valid point - though we don't ever watch TV until after dark.  While my husband may be able to deal with a headlamp and all light-seeking bugs dive bombing his head while picking weeds, it's not exactly my cup of tea.

I'm sure I could find time to go out and help him in the garden, but it's not my first thought.  In the evenings after the kids are in bed is my time to practice my instrument or do laundry. 

We had a kid free morning for a few hours Sunday where I could have easily helped him, but I spent that time balancing our checking account and credit cards (churning cards has made this task take a bit longer every month).

Honestly, it's just not something I want to do.  I'd rather be cleaning inside, or dealing with our finances, or playing an instrument, or almost anything else than helping in the garden.

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In the evenings after the kids are in bed is my time to practice my instrument or do laundry. 

Just curious:  What instrument do you play that doesn't disturb the sleeping children?
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SomedayStache

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My DH is a SAHD, AND loves gardening. We ran into exactly this same problem.

Lots of good suggestions above.

It helped us significantly to start with this question:

Is the time that he spend gardening considered work time or fun time?

A bit of both I suppose.  We'd have yard maintenance no matter where we lived.  But that's an entirely lower level of *work* than I think you mean.  If you mean work time that is producing value to the family I'd say it's not that.  DH would probably say it's exactly that!

Quote
If it's work time, then of course, you should watch the kids in the evenings and on Saturdays when he's working. Just as he takes care of the kids all by himself when you are working. (Sounds like you've got an older one in school, so worth noting that "take care of kids" isn't exactly equal).
We have 3 kiddos.  The older two are in school, the youngest is 3.5.  This is another of my petty annoyances - because even though I said I'd stop keeping score the logical part of my brain notices that evenings and weekends are filled with THREE kiddos whereas he has only one during the week.

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If it's fun time, then his fun time needs to be balanced with your fun time (time when you aren't working, but get to do fun things by yourself and he also watches the kids during those times), and family fun time (it's important).
I do get a weekly Thursday night ladies night.

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My and DH made big strides once we figured out I thought gardening was fun time and he thought it was work time.
How did you reconcile these two disparate viewpoints? 

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I bet he says it's work time - and then you have to evaluate it like you would any job: how much financial value does it add? what's the cost (helps us to quantify childcare as a dollar amount - like, yeah, you are watching the kids at night but let's pretend you get paid for that; let's pretend he gets paid for watching them during the day - how much would you have to pay to replace yourselves)? is he building experience for higher earnings later? what kind of professional satisfaction is he getting?

Good to ask these questions for your job as well.

I don't know how much financial value the homesteading adds.  I feel as if it's losing money and we'd be better spent just buying organic food.  I also just want him to scale down a bit to something that is managable. 
Example:  He grew beets.  Started them from seed, babied them, grew them into large beautiful plants.  We had some and they were delicious.  He baked up the remainder of the crop with the intention to freeze the already prepared beets as the chosen method of preservation.  He was busy all evening and it was about midnight when the beets were *almost* done.  He sat on the couch for the ten extra minutes to finish them out and fell asleep and they all burned to a crisp. 

Stuff like this happens a lot.  He can grow the food, but it rarely gets preserved.  I've done a few batches of canning or freezing but it is a damn lot of work.

As far as financial value from his low-paying nursery job - we are putting all that money he makes into a category to save up for a BCS (walk behind tractor).  So his money is going to pay for his garden habit.  And it will take years and years to save up the amount needed because he only brought home ~$400 last month.  (Less if you realize that his money is taxed at our marginal rate and zero taxes were removed).

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I think with changing gender roles, it's easy for men to assume that women get a great deal of satisfaction from their work, and for me and my BF who is in a similar situation - that's not quite right... we don't feel as great about working as we perceive our men to feel about their jobs. She had to tell her husband, "Stop saying I'm working at my dream job. Yes it's FT, yes it pays well, yes it's in my field. But my  dream job is to be a SAHM who writes fiction." And he stopped. Very helpful!

I started a new position at work in which I am (at least for the moment) far happier.  I've also noticed that my husband is far happier now that he is working a few days a week.  But




SomedayStache

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In the evenings after the kids are in bed is my time to practice my instrument or do laundry. 

Just curious:  What instrument do you play that doesn't disturb the sleeping children?
The harp.  My youngest now asks that I play it while he's going to sleep because otherwise he gets scared and lonely.  (He knows I'm close if I play in the hallway).  It's super cute "Mommy - can you pleeease play the harp in the hallway so I don't get scared".

This is one of my secret life goals.  Someday I want to play therapy harp for people in hospice or ICU...but that's for another stage of my life.  At the beginning of the long path to get there.

Vindicated

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In the evenings after the kids are in bed is my time to practice my instrument or do laundry. 

Just curious:  What instrument do you play that doesn't disturb the sleeping children?
The harp.  My youngest now asks that I play it while he's going to sleep because otherwise he gets scared and lonely.  (He knows I'm close if I play in the hallway).  It's super cute "Mommy - can you pleeease play the harp in the hallway so I don't get scared".

This is one of my secret life goals.  Someday I want to play therapy harp for people in hospice or ICU...but that's for another stage of my life.  At the beginning of the long path to get there.

Very cool.  I like that goal. 
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Sibley

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I don't know how much financial value the homesteading adds.  I feel as if it's losing money and we'd be better spent just buying organic food.  I also just want him to scale down a bit to something that is managable. 
Example:  He grew beets.  Started them from seed, babied them, grew them into large beautiful plants.  We had some and they were delicious.  He baked up the remainder of the crop with the intention to freeze the already prepared beets as the chosen method of preservation.  He was busy all evening and it was about midnight when the beets were *almost* done.  He sat on the couch for the ten extra minutes to finish them out and fell asleep and they all burned to a crisp. 

Stuff like this happens a lot.  He can grow the food, but it rarely gets preserved.  I've done a few batches of canning or freezing but it is a damn lot of work.

This is a problem. He's spending a lot of resources (time, energy, money), and getting no or very little return. That needs to be acknowledged and factored into whatever decisions you guys make. If he can improve the back end result, then that justifies the front end investment. Right now the equation is out of balance though, which is part of your problem.

little_brown_dog

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I don't know how much financial value the homesteading adds.  I feel as if it's losing money and we'd be better spent just buying organic food.  I also just want him to scale down a bit to something that is managable. 
Example:  He grew beets.  Started them from seed, babied them, grew them into large beautiful plants.  We had some and they were delicious.  He baked up the remainder of the crop with the intention to freeze the already prepared beets as the chosen method of preservation.  He was busy all evening and it was about midnight when the beets were *almost* done.  He sat on the couch for the ten extra minutes to finish them out and fell asleep and they all burned to a crisp. 

Stuff like this happens a lot.  He can grow the food, but it rarely gets preserved.  I've done a few batches of canning or freezing but it is a damn lot of work.

This is a problem. He's spending a lot of resources (time, energy, money), and getting no or very little return. That needs to be acknowledged and factored into whatever decisions you guys make. If he can improve the back end result, then that justifies the front end investment. Right now the equation is out of balance though, which is part of your problem.

The beet situation is a perfect example of what I was talking about earlier in the thread...comprehensive homesteading cannot be effectively or efficiently done with just 1 or 2 people because the workload is so immense. As someone who has canned in the past, it is insanely labor intensive and time consuming despite being simple in premise. There is a reason women used to have "canning" days where batches of multiple women would get together to put up the foods. Doing it with just one or two people takes forever and you get maybe say...4 pint jars out of hours of work. I think you need to really talk to hubby about the fact that he is attempting to follow a dream that simply is incompatible with just 1 or 2 people.  He needs to just focus on 2-3 homesteading activities he loves, preferably ones that are particularly efficient. At our house we do a small summer kitchen garden with potted herbs, eggs, and winemaking. That was manageable for 1-2 people. I have also heard bee keeping, once you get past the early set up issues and costs, is also pretty efficient in that the bees really look after themselves the vast majority of the time.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2017, 10:12:41 AM by little_brown_dog »

TheInsuranceMan

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For years I would send the oldest (now eight) to pick-up the playroom.  He would play for hours, but nothing ever got picked up, and it started to be a running joke......sick of the kid?....send him to pick-up the playroom.  He'll be quiet for hours, but the room will probably look worse!

Stick with me, I have a point here.

Finally I asked him, "Why don't you ever pick-up?" 
Him: "It's hard."
Me: "What's hard?"
Him: "I don't know what to do first!"

Lightbulb!!  Finally I understand why after all these years why DH did nothing when I asked him to "clean the kitchen" or "clean the living room".  He also had no idea where to start.  I suspect your DH may have the same issue and as a family you should work on systems that make maintaining a home easier.

Everyone should be doing some basic picking up and tidying.  Come up with a daily list:
(1) Put dishes in sink (or dishwasher) and wipe table.   5 minutes MAX. (Notice I didn't say wash dishes.  Baby steps.)
(2) Make beds.  Pick shit off floor.  5 minutes MAX each.
(3) After school: Empty backpack.  Dishes to sink.  Homework to appropriate pile.  Backpack hung up where ever it belongs.  2 minutes MAX.

My SIL has 4 kids (plus my brother) so 4.5 kids.  She has some excellent systems for getting everyone to contribute and keeping things tidy.  ie. she has a basket for each family member in the living area, when your stuff is found out and about it is placed in your basket until the next day, you have the option of re-homing the shit that makes it's way into the basket or it's gone.  No rage-cleaning binge required.  It's their choice to comply, or face the consequences as clearly outlined.

Just wanting to note about the "I don't know where to start" thing is soooo true.  I have spurts where I'm overly messy, and I hear about it from my wife, which I should.  I'm an adult, I should be able to pick up after myself and our kids.  However, if it's anything more labor intensive than vacuuming or dusting, I just don't know where to start.  The best example is "my" garage.  I've worked on some projects lately, we built some additional shelving, a playhouse, and a few other things.  We came in there one night to extend a shelf, and once that way done, she wanted to clean.  Honestly, besides struggling to put my own tools away (because I'm the opposite of an organized person), I had no idea where to begin.  We had the cars out of the garage, and stuff all over the floor.  Totes, garbage, stuff for spring clean up day, fishing gear, hunting gear, etc.  Honestly, with my lack of even a bit of organization skill, I stood there dumbfounded.  In fact, I walked over to my beer fridge, cracked a beer, and slowly tried to clean my bench off and put the aforementioned tools away.  By the time I actually had that done, she was already sweeping the garage out.  She is just crazy efficient and I'm the exact opposite.

A440

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We have similar issues.  Maybe I am less charitable toward my husband, but my perspective is I am working for our family and he is working for his self-actualization.  And maybe it will pay off someday.  Maybe it won't.   

I think it is reasonable to ask your husband to look into more lucrative applications of his skills.

With This Herring

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*snip*
----------------------------------------------
Long version:
He's been a stay-at-home dad (sometimes part-time employee) for 8 years.  After a period of not working outside the home he's recently picked up 3 shifts a week at a local plant nursery.  He works 8 hour shifts Tues, Thurs, and Saturday.  The pay is very low and last month we actually lost money because of additional grocery costs due to the fact that I had to cook 3 days each week and I'm not nearly as good at cooking as he is.

I'm not going to comment on the good points various people have made, but is there a way to fix this part?  Could he get crockpot meals prepped the evening before, then set them cooking in the morning before work on those days?  Could the meals on his SAHD days be made bigger so that leftovers will cover those days?  Could you guys put together a list of frugal meals that are easy to cook and either of you can prepare those days?

He's about to graduate with an associates in sustainable horticulture and growing vegetables/organic farming is his passion.  Therefore working at the plant nursery is great for him - but not so great for me or our family.  It's not helping our bottom line and is cutting into our time together.  (I mean we FINALLY had weekends together and then he goes and asks to work on Saturdays??!)
*snip*

I'm pretty ignorant, and here it will show:  What does an associates in sustainable horticulture do, job-wise?  Would this let him work as a consultant at local, larger-scale farms?  Would this let him take on a much larger role at the plant nursery?  Is the current work acting as a stepping-stone into a larger role like this or an introduction to people who might hire him for these roles later?



It sounds like the gardening/farming is a large part of his identity.  If he cannot preserve food consistently, the question is how to make the farming better financially and family-wise.  Would it make financial sense to run a CSA again, charge enough to cover his expenses and time, and make sure there is a "personal" patch set aside to feed your family?



You have two school-age kids.  Can they help him out with gardening enough to give you two time together every night?  Can the school-age kids be given the responsibility to make sure the dishes are done every night?
Because your toaster got hacked because you tried to watch porn on your blender.

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Go soak your beans.  You know you keep forgetting.

Hargrove

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The "one with highest standards needs to do it" (or be satisfied in between doing it half the time) advice is right. That's the only way that works. If you have the higher standards, it's probably too late to tell him to change his - it will only sound like "all that work you did that you expect some gratitude for is actually not good enough." His message will be "why should I work on this at all?" Is your higher standard worth doing it yourself? No? Then relax the standard when it's not your turn to do it. Is the higher standard worth doing yourself? Yes? Then do it and have the satisfaction of it being done.

Nobody is done with the work. The SAH parent works all day and then... still has kids after you get home, but may want to pursue another thing. You worked hard all day and come home to... yes, more work with kids (but also may want to pursue another thing). The trick isn't figuring out when the work stops or who has more kids for how many hours, it's scheduling it so that you can have a healthy relationship, too, and you're perfectly reasonable to want that. That he passes out with his prized beets burning is not a good sign on his end for time-management. It's sad that your job doesn't give the satisfaction his job does for him, but that may be how he sees the disparity in your willingness for him to work. If daycare can work, great. If the kids can help with the homesteading to free up time, great. The distance between you and your husband, once healed, can help him see that charging off to complete a 5-person homesteading task by himself is not even the best way to pursue the thing he wants to pursue. If you have come off as dismissive of it, however, he will just double-down on the desperate pursuit of it.

I think it is thinking and talking.  You need to acknowledge his needs, and then ask for what you need from him.  It is perfectly reasonable to want to spend time with him; it is perfectly reasonable to feel the stress of the sole breadwinner in a stressful job.  Both of you have reasonable needs that are not currently being met, which requires both of you to engage and be flexible to figure out how to fix it.

This is the basic "what." Orient yourself around a team-based problem-solving mentality instead of around whatever it is that you want. Intellectually, you acknowledge he's a good father, but emotionally you don't sound like you do, though it sounds like you recognize the need to try to fix this. It sounds like you picked up a few points from which to find value to heal emotionally, but that process will be threefold - he needs to work with you, you need to work with him, and you also need to work with yourself. You may resent the delivery he's offering on "his jobs" because of how much you resent your own job. Don't let that become resentment of him.

"Honey, can we talk? I think you've done a tremendous amount of work for our home. I learned how important having a work identity can be, and I know how much you enjoy homesteading, even though it's tough for me to appreciate sometimes because of how differently I feel about my own job. What I would really like is for you to get the satisfaction you get from the homesteading, and that also I could spend more time with you - I miss you, and I want to spend more time together. Can we figure out how to make both of these things work for us?"

Avoid any words like "always" or "never." Tell him how you feel instead of what he does. You have a valuable alternative perspective from some of the SAHs on here now - you need to work on your own feelings and expressing them well so you can quell your own suspicions that you're getting some kind of unfair deal. Thinking from that perspective is a poison you can drink straight to divorce. Think of it as a team-problem to solve. Even if labor is divided unevenly, assuming problems can be fixed together is the foundation to remedy that - accusations of unfairness won't help at all.

I think you are looking for help early enough. Counseling is a very good option if communication is too difficult right now. Good luck.

Bird In Hand

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Orient yourself around a team-based problem-solving mentality instead of around whatever it is that you want.

Exactly.  If either one of you pursues your own interests without regard for how the other person feels about it, there's going to be conflict and resentment.  When you both start from a premise of good will toward the other, then you each will be motivated to find solutions that both of you are happy with (or at least are OK with).  It might be difficult to get there from where you (both) are now.  But your other options are a miserable marriage or divorce.

Sibley

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Just wanting to note about the "I don't know where to start" thing is soooo true.  I have spurts where I'm overly messy, and I hear about it from my wife, which I should.  I'm an adult, I should be able to pick up after myself and our kids.  However, if it's anything more labor intensive than vacuuming or dusting, I just don't know where to start.  The best example is "my" garage.  I've worked on some projects lately, we built some additional shelving, a playhouse, and a few other things.  We came in there one night to extend a shelf, and once that way done, she wanted to clean.  Honestly, besides struggling to put my own tools away (because I'm the opposite of an organized person), I had no idea where to begin.  We had the cars out of the garage, and stuff all over the floor.  Totes, garbage, stuff for spring clean up day, fishing gear, hunting gear, etc.  Honestly, with my lack of even a bit of organization skill, I stood there dumbfounded.  In fact, I walked over to my beer fridge, cracked a beer, and slowly tried to clean my bench off and put the aforementioned tools away.  By the time I actually had that done, she was already sweeping the garage out.  She is just crazy efficient and I'm the exact opposite.

I can understand that, as I know people like that. However, you need to beware the possible consequences: pissing people off because you're lazy. Or whatever. If you really are stuck, ok, but don't just stand there drinking beer while someone else is working hard. ASK them for direction. Because otherwise, you're a mooch. It's a fine line, don't cross it.