ask the readers: I’m struggling to balance my work and family life

Throwing this one out to readers to weigh in on. A reader writes:

I am having some trouble balancing my family life/work life. I am currently working full time 40+ hours a week. I find myself struggling to make myself “appear” as a normal person who works and has a family. While we only have one child, we would like to plan for more. I manage most of everything that comes in and goes out of the house, which includes: dinners, cleaning, lunches, schedules (play time with others), swimming activities, dogs and cleaning up after the dogs, monthly bills, laundry, and working too. I know there are some “supermoms” out there who can handle this. I am really really trying. I find myself having panic attacks almost daily. I find myself taking sleeping medication just so I know I will get enough of hours of sleep a day so I can manage the next. My partner does help, in some ways, yes but not enough. Some really do expect the “women” to take care of child-raising.

My manager who has no children and is not married really has no idea what kind of circumstances I have. I have expressed to him that I am having difficulties at home, trying to manage. His ideas were for me to try to focus on work while I am at work, rather than “other variety of things.” Most of the other employees here are not married and do not have children, so they only know themselves, only know what their own needs are.

Stepping back, I have been employed at this position for almost 4 months now. I was unemployed prior for several months. I was employed with another employer for 5 years until layoffs took place. I had my child during that job, which I took my appropriate amount of maternity leave for.

How do I tell my employer that I would like to continue working at this job, but yet would like to cut my hours? I now have  an establishment with our customers and clients as a professional  in the company. I don’t know if seeing a therapist would help in the process of the focusing on work when working hours are in place and on home when home hours are in place.

Just trying to find my focus, and struggling.

My immediate thought is that your partner needs to help more. Why are you expected to be the person that juggles all of this?

There’s a lot of “people who aren’t married and/or don’t have kids can’t understand this” in your letter, but I actually think people can be pretty damn understanding of things they haven’t experienced themselves. What people are less likely to understand, I think, is why you’ve decided that you need to run the entire household yourself when there are two adults living there.

I don’t say that to blame you for that decision, but rather to point out that it’s the lynchpin upon which a lot of your stress is resting. And while I fully support your right to have any marital relationship that makes you happy, it sounds like this one is failing that test right now.

In any case …. readers, what advice do you have?

{ 351 comments… read them below }

  1. Joey*

    I’m married with two toddlers- its much easier if your SO helps with everything including the not fun stuff like diaper duty.

    1. KJ*

      I made the mistake early on of NOT ASKING for help. I assumed my husband should just know what I needed…I shouldn’t have to ask. At least in our case, he thought I had everything under control. I did not. Over the years, he has become very helpful, but I did have to get the ball rolling by asking/telling him what needed to be done. After awhile, he didn’t need to be asked anymore, he just noticed what needed to be done and did it. Works out much better that way.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        At the risk of everyone jumping on the OMG KIMBERLEE ESQ IS A SEXIST bandwagon, in my experience this is the #1 issue causing tension between genders… many women (not all, and definitely myself included until I started to notice) assume that the men in their lives pick up signals and hints about stuff like needing help at the house, and many men (not all, but honestly most that I’ve had any kind of close relationship with) just aren’t good with those signals.

        Like, I feel like I’m making it really obvious that I’m frustrated and stressed out, but in reality, the people around me aren’t getting it, because I’m not *telling* them that I’m stressed out.

        I suppose it’s a classic issue within genders as well; it seems like many people assume that they’re sending out all kinds of signals to their boss that they want to move up, or have too big a workload, or whatever, those signals aren’t getting picked up on their end, and then we just get more and more frustrated!

        I do think I’ve seen it more commonly between genders than within, though. I think women often rely on conversational nuance, where men tend to be more direct (but also more withholding; if they don’t think it’s important to say, they won’t say it, and also won’t signal it in any other way, while some women have a sort of subliminal level to communicate things we’re not sure we want to say aloud).

        Again, all anecdotal, and certainly not 100% true of both genders/sexes. Just saying if you’re not getting the results you want, being direct is a good place to start.

        1. J.B.*


          Also, I try really hard to let my husband do things his own way. Not perfectly, but I try to recognize it would be incredibly frustrating to have everything nitpicked.

        2. Anonymous*

          I find that, with the men who have been in my life, it tends to go like this:

          Mother did everything when he was growing up.

          When he lived on his own, he either lived in a state that I find unacceptable, or hired a woman to clean up after him.

          When he lives with me, he considers all household chores my responsibility. I can delegate “my” chores to him with varying levels of success, but the chores will always and forever be my responsibilities in the man’s mind. It doesn’t matter who owns the house or who is the breadwinner in the relationship.

          Even when the chore is left undone to the point where it is seriously impairing his life, he still won’t do it unless asked. I have, a couple of times, neglected to wash his laundry for weeks. He’ll actually look at the laundry pile, realize he needs clean clothes, and then come up to me and ask me to do it. Repeatedly. Then when I turn around and ask him to do it, he’ll finally wash his own underwear. He got to the point once where he actually went out and bought new underwear because I hadn’t washed his for a while and he’d run out.

          1. Dang*

            Happens with some women, too. Speaking as a lesbian who always seems to find herself in this situation!

      2. tcookson*

        I stayed home with the children for several years until my youngest started kindergarten, and it took awhile to retrain (1)myself and (2) my husband onto the new world order of me working.

        For awhile I kept trying to do everything that had been my job to do in addition to working full time. My husband would help, but as OP noted about her husband, “not enough.” I don’t blame him, because it took BOTH of us awhile to even recognize that some workload things needed to change. After I became aware of the problem, I started shifting some of “my” duties onto my husband (he never has really learned to cook, so I still do that, but now that my kids are 12 and 16, I’ve made each of them learn one recipe that they cook on an assigned day of the week). But he now does his own laundry, the kids are each responsible for theirs, and I do mine and the “household” laundry (like towels, tablecloths, etc.).

        The biggest help was that I told my husband I “couldn’t” do the finances anymore, and handed those off to him. We came up with a grocery/gas/personal budget for me and I take that in cash. It’s not an “allowance” that he “gives” me — it’s just to make the managing-the-finances job easier for him by not throwing him any unexpected overdrafts!

        I felt guilty at first for not doing “my” part as it had been defined before I started working . . . but I came to accept that these jobs are both of ours, not just mine.

  2. Cat*

    I agree. OP, it sounds like you think that managers should go easier on women who are married with children on the assumption that they will be doing everything at home. They shouldn’t. There’s a lot to be said for giving any flexibility allowed by the role in question, but it should not be allocated based on assumptions about who is doing what at home.

    1. Cat*

      That said, I don’t see why there’s anything wrong with going to your manager and suggesting that you cut your time to 80% (or whatever). Go in with a proposal about what you would do; what you would not do; and what hours you would work. Make it clear you’re asking; not demanding; and not planning on walking if you don’t get it. It’s not an unreasonable thing to ask.

      1. KJ*

        I have worked 32 hours a week for the past 13 years. It has worked out very well. I approached my employer with a plan, and we put a trial period on it so they could back out if necessary. I made myself available by phone and e-mail in case anything came up on my day off (although one might argue that a day at home with two small children is hardly a day off!). I plan to go back to full time after next year. I have no regrets whatsoever. Plus, they’ve gained a very loyal employee!

        1. Cat*

          Yeah, we have 3 people doing it right now; 2 for childcare-related reasons, and one for medical reasons. Two leave at 4pm instead of 6pm; one takes Fridays off. It works fine, though I wish one person came in late instead of leaving early, because coverage starts to get a little spotty after 4.

      2. glennis*

        I agree, but I think the OP should make sure that she’s not just asking for fewer hours; she’s asking for a schedule that helps her accomplish her family needs.

        When my son was in elementary school, I had a job where I worked 30 hours a week, and my schedule was geared toward dropping my son off at school and picking him up from after-school care. So I worked from about 9:00 am to about 4:30 pm, even though my office was open from 8 to 6. I worked in sales, and so it was pretty flexible.

    2. Ruffingit*

      AMEN! Many people are able to accommodate work and home. It’s not the manager’s problem that the OP either feels she must do everything and/or has a partner who won’t step up. Solve the home problem and you solve the work problem in this case.

      1. Anonymous*

        Exactly. The OP isn’t doing herself any favors by complaining to the manager about how busy and frazzled she is at home. It’s one thing to have a single heads-up conversation to proactively apologize to your supervisor for being distracted at work due to extenuating beyond-work circumstances, but this just sounds like a case where the OP needs to have a heart-to-heart with the SO about sharing the home responsibilities.

        1. Jessa*

          This. It’s a different conversation for a single parent or for one taking care of children and a disabled s.o. than for a dual parent household. Whatever the gender of the 2nd parent there’s some responsibility there to help get things done. As a manager I’d want to see solutions come WITH the conversation. If you’re just coming to tell me that there are issues, that’s a non starter. You need to be bringing me “there are issues, but here’s a solution can we do x or y or z?”

    3. Kou*

      This is something that’s been grinding my gears… Well, forever. The idea that the way for women to have the careers they want is for employers to be more open to the fact that women inherently have 2x the responsibilities of their male counterparts at all times. That’s baloney. It happens, because we’ve decided that it’s totally fine for dad to decide he doesn’t want to help and then it’s mom’s job to sacrifice herself to make that possible.

      And yeah, most dads are great and many moms would rather cut their hours. It’s all preferences. And sure, sometimes responsibility shifts to one partner or the other because it has to for some reason. But “that one has lady parts” is not a real reason. Our expectations of family life have made it unreasonably common for moms to get caught between a rock and a hard place, not happy with the situation or their options. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, letter writer, I wish I had better advice. This comes down to your values and what you want.

      Now, workplaces really *do* need to be more flexible, but for everyone. I feel like it’s a separate issue. I can be unmarried with no kids and still have a massive array of responsibilities, and I think it’s a mistake to say we only need more work flexibility for A) women because B) children.

      1. Piper*

        This. 1000 times over.

        I’m married, no kids. But I have a ton of other responsibilities outside of work that keep me extremely busy. I’m constantly running (sometimes literally) from one obligation to the next.

        I’m tired of the kids versus no kids argument. Everyone has lives. Everyone has responsibilities that matter to them, whether or not that includes small humans.

  3. Bryan*

    My first thought was also that the partner needs to help out more. I don’t think a therapist would help in terms of thinking about work at work and home at home. This sounds far more like a personal problem than a work problem. The only exception is if by 40+ you mean working 60 hours a week.

    I work a 9-5 and my partner works from home with very flexible hours. He will do a lot of the house hold chores because it’s what he does when he needs to do something to get away from the computer. My thoughts are the chores should be shared since we share the house so I do what I can when it’s available (if I come home and the trash is taken out there’s nothing I can do).

    1. EngineerGirl*

      Yes. The expectation that women did the cooking / cleaning / child rearing was because that was their job and the mans job was to either be out in the fields all day or in the factory 12 hours. Both people put in equal effort.

      It should still be that way.

      Your partner needs to step up and take 50% of the load. I’d suggest the “Boundaries” book by Townsend and Cloud.

  4. Rob Bird*

    I understand what you are going through. I have three kids (two of them with my current partner) and have all the things that come with it. There are only so many hours in a day and so many things to get done that it drives me crazy!

    I finally had a conversation with my partner about this and let her know she needed to do more because I was going to start doing less. But the funnt thing is, I never told her I was having a problem with all the stuff. I guess I assumed she should just “know” that it was a problem and expected her to chip in more and when that didn’t happen, I became resentful.

    Talk to them, tell them what you need, and go from there.

    1. Nichole*

      Good point about telling your partner there’s a problem. My husband and I have had to make a conscious effort on this, because each of us have certain things we want done “my way.” Unless told otherwise, we tend to assume that if one of us has been doing a task, it’s because that person has accepted it as their job. We’ve learned that we have to speak up if that’s not the case, and figured out which tasks we have to switch off because it’s a task neither of us want to do. Pretty soon the kids will be old enough to do that stuff… :)

      1. Josh S*

        In my experience as the father of a 2 year old, the two biggest reasons to have kids are A) for the entertainment factor, and B) for the cheap labor. ;)

        /bad parenting tips

    2. RB*

      Many times we expect our partners to be mind readers. Then we get upset when (surprise!) they don’t know what you need.

      I’ve been married many years and our son is now a teenager. When he was little, I did everything, too, and thought I would lose my mind. I was bitchy at home and extremely stressed. Then I started communicating with my husband about what needed to be done. He looked at me and said “why didn’t you say so in the first place?”

      Alison is right. This isn’t about work as much as home.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Communication is magic. At work, at home, at the mall trying on clothes… there is almost no situation where better communication won’t lead to a better life!

      2. tcookson*

        +1 on the need to communicate explicitly. One time when we were first married, I was stressed out because I had to go do something and the table wasn’t cleared nor the kitchen cleaned yet. My husband said, “Don’t worry about it; just go,” which I took to mean, “Don’t worry about it; I’ll clear the table and clean the kitchen.” I came back from my event to all the dishes still on the table and the kitchen still dirty! He had literally meant exactly and ONLY what he had said.

  5. AdAgencyChick*

    If your partner won’t help, start letting things go.

    Quit making his lunch (and your kid’s, too, if s/he is school-aged). He’s a grown-up, he can make his own, and even a young child can slap together a PB&J or put some salami and cheese in a zip-top bag). Maybe the swimming lessons and some of the playdates have to go. Can you split the cost of a cleaning service to take some of the load from you?

    1. fishy*

      +1. Five year-olds are fully capable of making their own lunches and it promotes independence in your child.

      Why don’t you ask your partner to take on one or two things of the list you mention above? The dogs or paying the monthly bills seem like perfect options.

      1. Jamie*

        Five year-olds are fully capable of making their own lunches and it promotes independence in your child.

        Really? I’m not being snarky, but is this true? Three kids and not one of them could have made a lunch at 5. Not unless it was an all cookie and juice box lunch. But a sandwich and apple slices and little carrot stick they never ate?

        Oh well – they can do it now…I guess that’s all that matters.

        1. Sydney*

          Different development and all that, but yeah some 5 year olds can make their own lunch. I was one of those kids, and so was my sister. My step-sister’s kid? Not even close. He’d make a giant mess and end up with peanut butter everywhere but his sandwich.

          1. VictoriaHR*

            My 5-year-old can get cups down for him and his brother, get the juice out of the fridge, pour the juice into the cups, put on the lids, put the juice away, etc. So yeah if I showed him how to make a PB&J and had individual packs of baby carrots or fresh fruit available, he’d be able to do it.

        2. A Bug!*

          I was able to put together a lunch at five years old, provided I didn’t need anything sharper than a butter knife. I am not completely sure that pickles, olives, and fairy bread was necessarily the most balanced of lunches, but my mom was kind enough to indulge me.

          1. Nichole*

            I discovered that my kids had been living on lunches of a sandwich, juice, 3 different types of fruit snacks, and jello for weeks when my 12 year old son took over lunch making duties. Your pickles, olives, and bread don’t sound so bad! I just told him that there needs to be fruit or a vegetable and when the snacky foods are gone, they’re gone until the next grocery trip. Pick your battles, right?

            1. A Bug!*

              In fairness, I should clarify that “fairy bread” consisted of a slice of white bread, buttered, with candy sprinkles. A lot of candy sprinkles. Can you still see the butter? Then it needs more sprinkles.

              1. Jamie*

                I want a time machine so I can go back and be your childhood BFF. There is so much I could learn from you.

                Everything is better with sprinkles.

                1. Kaz*

                  White bread with butter and sugar is the thing that reminds me most of my childhood. Sprinkles sounds like an awesome upgrade.

                2. Liz in a Library*

                  We never did these, but we did make “butter sandwiches”–white bread with way too much spreadable margarine inside. It’s totally grossing me out thinking about it now, but they were good then…

                3. TychaBrahe*

                  We kept a old spice jar repurposed with a mix of cinnamon and sugar in the cupboard for just this type of sandwich.

              2. Calibrachoa*

                Liz, in my native language the word for sandwich is literally “butter bread” :D I used to – and still would if I vcould get the right kind og bread – take a piece of rye bread, clather it liberally with butter and cut it into partial strips for what we called “accordion bread” :D

            2. Rana*

              Given that I basically lived on lunches of yogurt, juice, and an apple for years – well into high school – that sounds pretty good to me. :)

          2. Jessa*

            With me it was pre sliced bologna and cheese, but it was certainly do-able at 5. Slap some bologna and cheese between bread. With the right condiment dispenser you squish the condiment of choice on and you’re done. Seriously this is edible and even one day a week makes it easy. You can get the pump style ketchup bottle at any of the bigger supermarkets now, so even a kid who can’t lift and pour ketchup for instance can use that. You can do jar mayo or mustard with a spoon. So you don’t need a knife.

            Also basic lunches like that can be made in advance. You can even get those pre pack condiments at a lot of supermarkets in the picnic aisle. So on the weekend you make up a ziplock with meat, bread and a couple of packets of appropriate condiment for each day. Toss said thing in the lunch box. Kid assembles at school. But simple lunches can be worked out in advance.

        3. Laufey*

          I remember making simple sandwiches (PB&J, Ham and Cheese) at five. Things like tomatoes and carrots would be pre-sliced. Mind, I did have an older sibling around on days that I would be making lunch myself that young, so I wasn’t going to starve or anything if the peanut butter ran out.

          1. Felicia*

            Peanut butter hasnt been allowed in schools around here for as long as I can remember, so it’s always weird for me to hear PB&J mentioned as an option… I started making my own lunch around the end of 2nd grade, shortly after I turned 8, though I was probably capable of it sooner. There was pre sliced cheese or pre sliced lunch meats that I put in bread, and putting a few cookies in a bag and grabbing an apple isn’t too difficult. no knives and no hot stove involved, which were things i wasn’t allowed to touch. I’m not sure what the exact age a kid becomes capable is, but if you teach them how doing it in first grade doesn’t seem far fetched for most. I started doing my own laundry in 3rd grade after being taught how, and either i made my own bed or it didn’t get made from a very young age. I definitely intend to teach my future hypothetical children to do such things just as young.

              1. jennie*

                Actually, around here, soy butter, sun butter or other PB substitutes aren’t allowed in schools because the teachers can’t differentiate them from the real thing. I’m sure that makes things a little tougher on lunch-making 5 year olds. :)

        4. Ruffingit*

          I’ve seen many 5 years old capable of making their own sandwiches. The key is to begin teaching them early on with supervision. Letting kids help early in an age appropriate way makes the bigger tasks down the line easier. For example, 2 year olds can typically help sort laundry by color so let them help with that. Give kids small tasks and build on it and it’s amazing what they can do at young ages.

          That said, a lot is dependent on the child and hizzer (his or her) development so there’s that to be considered also.

          1. Jamie*

            Yeah, the older I get the more I realize how I’m not completely normal.

            Funny story (funny for me – sad and pathetic in retrospect): My parents were divorced when I was 4 and I’m the youngest by a lot…anyway one Sunday (the day we visited dad) I’m 12 and my sister is 23 and there with her husband and my dad asks her to cut my meat for “the baby.” That would be me. She said no and told him I was more than old enough to use a steak knife and I refused because I said it was bad enough I had to cut my meat at home, I didn’t have to do it at daddy’s.

            I was amused. My sister was so not.

            I will never forget her grabbing me by the arm and “guiding me” (read OW!) into the other room to remind me in an angry whisper that she knows I’ve already smoked so if I expected her to be quiet she expected me to cut my own freaking meat.

            And wasn’t she smug when I didn’t cut myself with the steak knife as my dad had feared.

            I didn’t do my first load of laundry until I went away to college or cook my first meal until after I was married…so perhaps it’s no surprise that I am not the standard bearer on instilling independence in kids.

            1. Jazzy Red*

              My parents raised all of us to be dependent on others. Becoming an independent woman was a long hard journey, but well worth it!

            2. Chrissi*

              If we’re telling stories…My parents have a picture of me when I was about 2 that they took one Saturday morning. I wanted breakfast and my brother (who was 4) went to wake my parents up, but they told him to go back to bed. So he took me into the kitchen and sat me on a chair with a phonebook on the seat, then somehow crawled up and got the cereal and milk and a bowl and spoon and made me breakfast. Of course, He ended up spilling the cereal and milk everywhere, including on me, so to clean me up he took off my pajamas I guess. Then he went back to bed. My parents came into the kitchen to see their 2-year old daughter, naked, sitting on a phonebook at the kitchen table happily eating cereal, with most of the box of cereal and at least half a gallon of milk on the floor. So they took a picture :)

              1. Chinook*

                My mother was NOT a morning person, so we children quickly learned that the cereal, bowls and spoons were all within easy reach and Mom always made sure there was milk in a pitcher small enough to pour.

                One year we had 2 male, 19 yr old exchange students, one Canadian and one East Indian (and a high caste one). The first night, they were told that, come morning, they were no longer guests and we’re free to eat what they wanted. The next morning, the poor Indian was shocked to find my 6 yr old little sister making herself cereal. When he asked what was for breakfast, she pointed to the cupboards, grabbed her bowl and went to sit and eat at the table. The Canadian laughed at the look on his face and then showed him how to make breakfast.

            3. tcookson*

              I was raised by my grandparents, and my grandma taught me how to do laundry for the first time ever right before I was leaving for college. I had so many clothes, though, that I went an entire semester without doing any laundry. I just saved it up in a big laundry bag, and when I went home for Christmas holidays, I took the big bag of dirty laundry home for my grandma to wash — and she did it!!

              I’m embarrassed now, and if one of my kids tries to bring me a bag of laundry, I’m making them do it themselves!

        5. Mary Jo*

          My kids learned how to make pb&j at age 4. It was a little messy, but they did it. All through grade school they made and packed their own lunches, and they also made their own breakfast of cereal or toast.

      2. De Minimis*

        I read too quickly and thought you were suggesting enlisting the dogs to pay the monthly bills!

        1. Jamie*

          Better dogs than the cats. The dogs would pay the cable bill if instructed to (for a treat) but the cats would let everything go unpaid and funnel money to their own offshore account.

          I love my cats, but I wouldn’t trust them with my money.

          1. V*

            +1000. My husband and I tell our cats that they are not named in our will (false) and are not beneficiaries on our life insurance (true, because that would be crazy), so that they don’t smother us in the night. :)

            1. Jamie*

              Mine are in my will also. But the eldest dog is the executor, so I’m not sure how much they will see of the cash after it’s spend on liverwurst and bacon flavored treats.

          2. Rosemarine*

            It depends on the cat. I’ve known some who would’ve had offshore accounts had the opportunity arisen, some who were not smart enough to figure it out, and at least one who was so sweet-tempered that she wouldn’t have taken the option had it been offered…I think.

      3. Jazzy Red*

        “Why don’t you ask your partner to take on one or two things of the list you mention above? The dogs or paying the monthly bills seem like perfect options.”

        Really?? The two tasks that are the least time consuming and take the least amount of effort?

        She should pass off two things like shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, or hauling the kid to activities. That would really be a help to her.

        OP, you’re doing two full time jobs, only you’re not getting paid for one of them. Your partner should be contributing more than just money to your household. Hand off some of the work, throw away your pills, and get a good night sleep.

        1. LMW*

          When I was in 2nd grade, my mom broke her ankle. She says it’s one of the best things that ever happened to her, because my dad had to do everything for the next six weeks. Once it was better, the balance shifted a little, but my dad was in charge of breakfast, lunches and shopping from then on. In fact, when I briefly moved back in with them post-college (till I had enough for an apartment deposit and car), my dad still made me breakfast every morning and packed me a lunch. It’s his job.
          Once my sister and I hit double-digit ages, we were each in charge of making dinner one night a week, though. We were told what to make and had parents on hand in case we needed help, but we were the ones who had to do it all. We were both pretty good cooks by the time we left for college.

    2. Anonymous*

      I’d add that if you stop doing certain things, make sure to talk to your partner about it.

      1. Rana*

        That’s a good point. Otherwise you end up in a situation where it becomes “who can go without clean underwear or toilet paper the longest”?

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          LOL. I’ve always wondered how common those scenarios are in real-life relationships. I’d sort of assumed it was all exaggerated for the TV, but now I’m not so sure…

          1. Chinook*

            DH told me that he and his roommates left taking the garbage out for so long that it started to radiate heat. The cat, in self defense, figured out how to open the box of kitty litter and used it instead of his litter box. Luckily, his hygiene standards have greatly improved!

          2. Rana*

            I did once have a toilet paper war with a roommate once. She was not really mature enough to be renting an apartment on her own (as I found out after being roommates for a few months) and showed absolutely no interest in contributing to the shared household supplies. I got fed up with it, so the next batch of toilet paper I bought, I kept in my room. We went for another month (after which she moved out because she could no longer afford the rent) and at no point during that time did I see even one square of toilet paper appear anywhere else in the apartment. I’m still disturbed by it.

            (And yes, this was a bit passive-aggressive of me, but talking to her about it did nothing, and I was at my wit’s end by that point.)

        2. Anonymous*

          In my observation, that’s usually not the male partner.. I had friends in college whose girlfriends refused to use the bathroom in their apartment.

  6. Recent Diabetic*

    I fully agree with what Alison said. My partner and I both work 40 hours a week. She ends up working more usually as her job is a bit more demanding than mine. We have two kids (3 and 1 yrs old). Our approach to our private home and children responsibilities is that we are both equal caregivers/parents, and so we take on tasks equally. There are some tasks that we own – she does the laundry (cuz i dont’ like doing it) and I take care of cleaning (cuz she doesn’t like doing it). As with children, we both do everything from feeding, cleaning, playing, and everything else. My partner has to travel occasionally for her job and so I am the sole caregiver/parent and I have to be able to take care of domestic affairs. Not because I have no choice, but it is part of life and I enjoy doing things for my children and taking care of the space we live in. Also, I am not in any way unique here. Most fathers I know are doing this and are much more involved in domestic affairs.

    We obviously step in and do other tasks that we don’t normally do if the other person is overwhelmed with work. I don’t let laundry slip by if she can’t do it for a few days. This works for our relationship and our children see that we are both very engaged. But, this is what works for us. Not saying it would work for everyone.

    1. E*

      This makes so much sense to me. When I hear about fathers like in the OP, I wonder how these men have so little interest in their children.

    2. Minneapolis mom*

      There is a wonderful website with tools and techniques to work out an arrangement like this. It’s called equally shared parenting. My husband and I agree with this philosophy: Each parent should have roughly equal investment in parenting, housework, breadwinning, and personal time. Practically for us, that meant me taking a three quarter time position and he getting a flexible work from home full-time position.

  7. KayDay*

    Also, don’t think you have to do everything. Nothing bad will happen if the bed isn’t made. Trust me. Also, it can help if your child has a designated play area–that way, you don’t need to stress about toys being left out as long as they’re in the play area.

    Also, see if you can “outsource” some of the household tasks–it might not be as expensive as you think to have a maid come every other week to do some cleaning (see if you can get a price for just kitchens and bathrooms, for example). Even if it’s not a regularly thing, some laundry mats have wash-and-fold service which can be really helpful if you have a lot of laundry that has pile up over time. Also, a good way to approach your partner about household chores is to frame it this way: “either you can do 5 more hours per week of cleaning, or we can hire a made for $200/month. Which would you prefer?” That sort of approach can make once choice suddenly seem more appealing.

    1. Marmite*

      This –> “Also, don’t think you have to do everything. Nothing bad will happen if the bed isn’t made. Trust me.”

      I’m a single parent and I work full-time. My work schedule is unusual and I often work 2 or 3 weeks at 60-70 hours a week and then get 1 or 2 weeks off. I very quickly learnt that in the 60-70 hour weeks laundry was not going to get folded, my kid’s dinner was going to come out of the freezer (or occasionally be pizza or chicken nuggets), cleaning was going to be on a mopping up spills only basis, etc.

      It’s not the end of the world if everything isn’t perfect. If you occasionally need to get take out for dinner or leave the clean laundry piled in the laundry basket, no one except your immediate family needs to know. It sounds like you put a lot of pressure on yourself to have the “perfect” home and work life, and while agree your partner should help out, even then letting things go sometimes can be a really good thing.

      Also, for what it’s worth, kids can be really good helpers and, depending on their age, enjoy doing “grown up” tasks. My son is three and can load and unload the washing machine (I put the detergent in but he does the rest), make himself a sandwich/pack his lunch, push our little vacuum cleaner around pretty effectively, and do the dishes (we don’t have a dishwasher, so it’s by hand). Sure, he doesn’t always do it perfectly, but he does a pretty good job, and a lot of times that’s enough.

      1. mel*

        you’re also doing the world a great service in teaching your son how to do these things and making it “normal” for him! If I don’t specifically ask my dude to do something at a specific time, he would never leave his video games and we’d be living in a garbage dump.

        1. Liz in a library*

          Amen! My husband is always happy to do anything when asked, but would think of almost nothing on his own.

          1. Jamie*

            I have one of those. It’s really important to remember that people have different definitions of “clean” and not everything is a deliberate and passive-aggressive f**k you.

            Took me a long time to figure out that my husband doesn’t leave crap laying around because he thinks it’s my job to pick up after him. He doesn’t see his pile of papers and socks on the floor as a mess, s0 to him it’s a non-issue. To me it’s a mess…so he’s not saying “clean it up, woman” because to him it doesn’t need to be cleaned.

            And if I ask him to pick it up he’ll do it without a problem…so while I could get pissy over the fact that he needs to be asked I just accepted that he and I will never have the same definition of what needs picking up so I ask nicely and point and he cleans up his crap. Done.

            TBH I’d way rather live with someone messier than me than neater…because I can deal with rolling my eyes and picking up towels but someone else criticizing me would not go over well at all. And he’s fine with the eye rolling as long as he never has to scrub a toilet. Win-win.

            1. cncx*

              so much YES. this is the number one best piece of marriage advice ever. people get roommates in college and learn to talk about roommate messes, but suddenly when people get married and have kids, a sweater left on the floor, is, as you said, a ” deliberate passive-aggressive eff you” instead of two normal people having two normal, yet different, definitions of clean.

              1. Rana*

                Yup. And even cluttered/uncluttered can be more complex than you’d think. Both my husband and I agree on some forms of neatness – we both think things like pizza boxes in the living room are disgusting, for example – and we’re both cluttery packrats, but the form of our clutter takes different forms. He (and his family) let things drift into random piles and heaps; me (and my family) organize them into stacks and columns. What helps is regularly tidying the shared areas, and ignoring what goes on in our own zones (it helps that we each have a room in which to shove our non-daily crap). It’s tricky enough dealing with that slight difference; I can’t imagine what an annoyance it would be if one of us was a neat-nik.

        2. Marmite*

          To me teaching that being part of a household means pitching in is an important childhood message. I don’t necessarily expect that he will magically stop leaving his Duplo people all over the floor for people to step on, I guess he’ll graduate to leaving socks and soda cans on the floor as his late Dad used to do. As long as he picks them up without complaining when asked (as he Dad did) then I think the lesson’s learned.

          Plus, I’d like him to go to college and not need to bring his laundry home because he doesn’t know how to do it himself!

          1. Rana*

            Heh. I’d bring mine home because it was nice not having to save up quarters to do it. (But I went to school out of state, so it didn’t happen that often.)

            1. Chinook*

              But when you brought your laundry home, did you expect someone to do it for you or did you just bring it to use the machine?

              1. Rana*

                Oh, I did it myself. Unless my mother got to it first (which I tried to avoid because 1) guilt, and 2) I had my own way of doing it by that time).

                So, yeah, it’s not as entitled/inept as the kids who were unable to do it without help.

    2. Bwmn*

      In addition to discussing more shared responsibilities – I 100% agree about finding areas where some outsourcing can relieve a lot of burden. Growing up both of my parents worked, and while having a clean home was important to both of them – neither super enjoyed it and both my brother and I definitely made it a struggle to get much more than a made bed out of us. The eventual decision for them to hire a cleaning service was that the overall cost (time, energy, fighting with kids, etc.) of cleaning the house themselves was far higher than the cost of the service.

      While you can argue about a whole host of bad lessons this taught me and my brother – my parents were good at pointing out to us if we asked to eat out or get take away that we couldn’t do that as often because we needed to have the cleaners. If we took the time to clean more ourselves, then we could be getting take away Chinese. Now maybe cooking is a greater struggle and spending more money on take away/prepared meals is a better way to save time for another family – but I do appreciate my parents for teaching that lesson. You don’t have to like or do everything yourself – but there is a cost. Whether it be living in a dump or not getting other luxuries.

  8. Anonymous*

    You might also see if you can afford some help with the household duties. If your partner is either unwilling or unable then it might be worth it to outsource some tasks.

    1. Anonymous*

      Exactly. If you are both working, then you need cleaning help, yard help, and handyman help. If he doesn’t like the expense (my ex would not have), then he can pitch in more. You can only do so much.

      Also, be sure to cultivate a group of friends…need someone to talk to who understands your situation. Make time to meet them for dinner once a week. Plus, it’s a great chance for your SO to take over the household for a bit.

  9. Susan*

    Can you afford to outsource any of your tasks, like laundry, cleaning, cooking? And yes, your partner needs to do his share of work around the house. Also, as a previous poster, said, can you afford to reduce your hours and perhaps work 32 hours (4 days) per week? Most employers will let you keep your insurance if you work 32+ hours/week.

  10. TBoT*

    I would strongly encourage the OP to seek help from a doctor or therapist, not for separating “work stuff” from “home stuff” but for dealing with stress and anxiety. Daily panic attacks are not an acceptable way to live, and living in a constant state of stress and panic is probably making it next to impossible to deal with a lot of day-to-day stuff.

    That said, the underlying cause of all that stress really does need to be addressed. Like Alison, I don’t understand why the OP’s partner is not doing more of the work. I wonder if the next step after addressing the anxiety/panic attack may need to be couple’s therapy, for both parties to understand what is a reasonable expectation for division of labor at home. Even if the employer agrees to reduced hours, that’s really going to be a temporary solution (especially if more children come along) without addressing the division of labor issue.

    1. Mike C.*

      I think if this route is taken, it should be couples therapy. This sort of stress needs both partners to solve.

      1. IronMaiden*

        I agree with both Tbot and MikeC. If you are having panic attacks, your health is suffering and this will further compound your inability to cope, creating a worsening spiral.

        Your partner does have to step up and share the chores. MikeC is right in that couples therapy might be beneficial. At the very least it will provide a neutral environment in which to discuss the (lack of) division of household labour and the impact on your health.

        Good luck and please update.

      2. TBoT*

        If the relationship issues are part of (but not the sole source of) the overall anxiety problems, couple’s therapy will only do so much, though. If the OP has an anxiety disorder, it will be much easier to work on the relationship issues with that disorder more under control. (So, individual therapy for the OP, couple’s therapy – with a different therapist – for the couple, if that’s financially feasible.)

    2. Ellie H.*

      I’m not a parent, but this really seems to me like a stress and anxiety issue, not a work-life balance issue. I think any reasonable person would agree that trying to manage all these things at once can be stressful, but ideally some therapy or perhaps anxiety medication would help with a sense of perspective. Medication can really help minimize the feelings of anxiety and panic to the point where you can focus in a productive way on how to make changes that will make your life easier and you better able to apply yourself at work and at home, separately. It seems like it’s the stress and anxiety that are preventing the OP from being as functional as she’d like or making her feel like she isn’t meeting the mark. It sounds like she is really doing a lot already! Taking things off her plate, as others have suggested, is definitely something to pursue too.

  11. Liz T*

    As I see it, here are OP’s options:

    1. Her SO takes on a significant share of the household duties.
    2. They hire professional help. (More of it, if they already have some.)
    3. The OP leaves this job and finds part-time work, perhaps transitioning into SAHM-hood should they have additional children.

    If it were me, it’d be #1 by a mile, with some #2 as affordable. My partner knows that’s the score. But not everyone’s the same, and we don’t know your partner, OP. I do think, though, that in your talks about additional children, you need to be very clear about these realities. If your partner knows about the panic attacks and insomnia and isn’t stepping things up, that’s something you need to discuss with him.

    And I am always in favor of seeing a therapist, even if it’s just once or twice.

  12. Anonymous*

    Focus on making a business case for why 80% would work for your employer rather than focusing on why you need to spend less time working. I’ll admit that I’d be pretty unsympathetic to a request to go to part time from someone who accepted a full-time job just 4 months before, but that doesn’t mean it’s not feasible/appropriate for your job and company. However, I’d recommend you really buckle down at work for a period of time before you make the request to go part time – if your manager has concerns about your ability to be productive at work, he’s not going to be supportive of a request to cut back hours.

  13. Marina*

    There are no supermoms.

    There are moms who get help, and there are moms who let things go, and most moms do both. A lot of my coworkers are parents, and ALL of them get help, either from their partners, their parents, their sister, their grown nephews, or paid help.

    If your partner won’t help, hire someone to help. Even someone coming in twice a month to do some deep cleaning can make a big difference.

    Streamline chores as much as possible–I use the crockpot most days, so I do any prep the night before, turn it on in the morning, and don’t have to do a thing at dinner time. Some people spend a couple of hours on the weekend cooking and freezing meals for all week so they just have to reheat them.

    And honestly… I agree with your manager that it would be good for you to figure out how to focus on work when you’re at work.
    And yes, see a therapist. Panic attacks are not something you should have to deal with. If your employer has an EAP, use it.

    Best wishes… I know how hard it is, and you deserve to have it a little easier. I hope you find the help you need.

    1. Jaimie*

      I agree. There are0 no supermoms. There are only people who (1) fake it better than you do and/or (2) are sweating the details less and/or (3) have tons of family help or a full-time nanny.

      You need your husband to step up, because he can’t have it all. You can’t run the house and raise the child and work full-time. You can’t. But your job is to let him help. Get out of the way and let him. He might not do everything the exact same way that you would. That’s okay. He can have his own way of doing stuff, as long as he does the stuff (take out the trash/make both of you lunch every day/wash the sheets weekly). So get a babysitter, get out of the house, and go to the library or a coffee shop, and work it out. There might be a little fighting, but hear each other out. The end goal is division of responsibility. This is just a plan for the next couple of months. You can always change it.

      You also need a circle of trust, friends who will cover for you and know that you will cover for them. So start making friends. Invite people over. Offer to help them. Build up those relationships. Some of those people should be co-workers. Ask for help when you need it.

      And if you can, eat some dinners from Trader Joe’s. Let the house get a little dusty. Shop online (if it can’t be found conveniently on the Internet, it is unlikely to enter my house). Give yourself a break. You deserve it, you have a young child. It will get better and easier, but it’s going to take a few years, especially if you want more children. Mine are 3 and 6 and believe me, I just got my life back.

      I promise it gets better.

      1. Jamie*

        And if you can, eat some dinners from Trader Joe’s.

        And pick up a jar of cookie butter while you’re there.

        1. Jaimie*

          Seriously. This person just needs to cut herself some slack, period. She deserves some niceness. My husband has always pretty much done his share, but I have totally felt just like this before. Maybe call out sick for a day and regroup?

          Also, yes to talking to a doctor. Maybe her company has a wellness plan with a hotline that she could call as a first step?

          Letter writer, if you are in Boston I will take you out for a drink.

          1. Mena*

            Call out sick and make it the employer’s problem? Not a solution and certainly not a long-term solution.

            1. Jaimie*

              I think one day of health-related leave for a person having a panic attacks is pretty fair.

          2. Josh S*

            OK. For a little bit there, I thought Jamie was responding to herself, and had finally lost it. Thank goodness for the additional ‘i’ in Jaimie!

            1. Jazzy Red*

              Jamie is very talented and quite possibly *could* carry both sides of a conversation.

              But it is a relief to see that we also have Jaimie here.

            1. Pussyfooter*

              I scrolled down to find out what to put Cookie Butter on and found this: “If you did not like this product there is no joy in your life and I hope things get better for you. ”
              This made me laugh more than “My Company Hired a Corporate Chaplain to Roam the Office…”

              Wish we could send cookie butter to the OP today. ;’)

          1. Jamie*

            An amazing treat Alison mentioned once. It’s the consistency of peanut butter, but it’s made from a butter-cookie/shortbread type batter…but spreadable on fruit or (my favorite) these little coconut wafer cookies also sold by Trader Joe’s.

            It’s ridiculously decadent – definitely not even a monthly treat for my house or I’d have to have the doorways widened…but every so often when it’s time to indulge it’s worth it.

            1. Rachel*

              OK. It’s time to reveal that I work for Trader Joe’s, and I have to say, this thread is just DELIGHTING me.

              If you can get your hands on cookie butter, STOCK UP. Seriously. It goes in and out at the warehouse faster than you can blink. For a while we were only getting one case a day and no sooner had it touched the shelf was it gone again. It’s been better this week, but still, I wouldn’t count on that lasting.

              I think I’ll go have a spoonful of it now.

              /insider trading

        2. SB*

          I did not know of this cookie butter, but am now very sorry I do. I will have to hunt it out at Trader Joes, and my scale is not going to thank you.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Ha, there’s no merit here; I am only doing it because I just found out that I appear to have pre-diabetes, and I’m trying to stop it in its tracks.

                  Weirdly, I don’t actually eat many sweet things; I generally have no sweet tooth at all. My problem is all the carbs that apparently turn into sugar once you eat them (who knew?).

            1. Pussyfooter*

              It’s 24 hrs since I read about cookie butter and now it’s infested my home. You are all evil for telling me about this, and I will think of you while I indulge in this nut-buttery-like, caramely, sugar-crunchy yumminess.

      2. saro*

        This is exactly what I came here to say. All the so-called supermoms I know get significant help from their spouses, relatives and/or hired help and their lives still aren’t perfect. It sounds like you’re doing too much, truly. Good luck to you, we’ve all had times of being overwhelmed.

  14. Tiff*

    Sounds like OP is experiencing SuperWoman syndrome right now. There really is no such thing as Super Woman, just Women trying to be super who end up super crazy or super annoying to be around because they’re always super duper stressed out.

    I work full time, I’m married and a I have twin toddlers. I also have a husband who works full time and is not too keen on cleaning. We had a come to Jesus talk about it, and I told him that there was no way I could accomplish all that I was doing without a sisterwife who was a sahm. Our choices were to live like pigs or hire help. We hired help. But I also had to get used to a slightly messy house and nothing (nothing!) being “perfect”.

    1. Jenna*

      I am in exactly the same position as you :) Married, work full time, and have twin toddlers (well, now they are 3 I think they are verging into preschoolers). We also struggled with the division of labour, so after we sold our house and moved into a smaller place to save money, we hired cleaning help. She runs her own cleaning company and charges really reasonable rates, and is a complete miracle worker. We just need to tidy before she comes and do laundry. She even washes our dishes! Best money I ever spent. Now we get to spend the time after work and weekends bonding and having fun rather than more chores.

      1. LMW*

        I live by myself, have no kids and hiring someone to come in twice a month and give my place a good vacuuming and scrub down was the best thing I ever did! I get super stressed when the house is messy and now, at least twice a month, I come home and find the house clean and I feel instantly relaxed.

  15. ArtsNerd*

    What people are less likely to understand, I think, is why you’ve decided that you need to run the entire household yourself when there are two adults living there.

    Yes. And that you seem to be assuming that people inherently know that’s what you’re doing. (Wait… “lunches?” Do you make your husband’s lunch too?)

    It’s sounding like you would rather work full-time and reduce your domestic obligations. Most reasonable adults would agree that it’s overdue. It’s possible that your husband is oblivious and the pressure you put on yourself is mostly internal – but if your husband won’t budge, you need to decide if it’s worth accommodating him (by either resigning or finding part-time employment) to keep the family together… or not.

    If your priority IS running the entire household on your own, then yeah- it is absolutely reasonable to find part-time employment instead of running everything on top of a full-time job. No one worth a damn is going to think any less of you for it.

  16. Sarah*

    I would also like to add that this works in reverse. Just because I don’t have kids doesn’t mean I want to work 50+ hours/week. I want and need work/life balance as much as someone with a family. So OP, don’t think you deserve special treatment. This is a larger issue of employers asking too much of employees, especially when they don’t pay for that type of commitment/work load.

    1. Anonymous*

      Agreed. It is really frustrating when an employee without kids is expected to stay late, but an employee with kids gets to go home early.

    2. Nicole*

      I fully agree with this! I do understand that by nature it must be more stressful to have children and work full-time, but I don’t have any kids and anything beyond 40 hours a week, except occasionally, is just too much in my opinion.

    3. Jamie*

      As a manager and a parent I agree with Sarah 100%.

      Emergencies (true emergencies) happen to everyone and should be treated with the same consideration because employees are people who have different lives and different obligations – my kid is not more important than your mom who needs you right now.

      And a single/child-free person has as much right to their personal time whether they are curing cancer or feeding the homeless or vegging on their couch as I do because I have to see my kids play or clean the house.

      I’ve found if you treat people like adults and allow them to deal with their lives as needed without creating a separate category for parents there is a lot less resentment all the way around.

      It does work the other way, too. I’ve had parents complain their weren’t offered OT (that they wanted) as much as single people because it was assumed that they’d turn it down. Some had good child care and wanted the same opportunities for extra money. Just let people worry about their own circumstances and keep stuff fair at work.

    4. Jaime*

      I agree with you too Sarah. I worked at a company a few years back that viewed workers with children differently than those of us who don’t have children.

      Our company was open on Christmas Day and I was told I had to work because I didn’t have a family. I wasn’t the newest person on staff and I had a lot of seniority at the time.

      Although I didn’t have children I made the argument that I did have a family because I was married. My husband and I do make a family and I want to be able to share holidays with him.

      I ended up having the holiday off but I have to make a case that even though I didn’t have children I still had a family. I also said that even if people aren’t married, they should have time off to spend with friends or relatives or just take the time off. My argument was time off and leave should be fairly applied to everyone not just solely based on if you have children or not.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Our company was open on Christmas Day and I was told I had to work because I didn’t have a family.

        Wh..whaaaaaaa???? OMG that is…I can’t even….

        *grabs other people’s hands and makes a quadruple facepalm*

      2. Anonymous*

        I was told that too, and was told I should “volunteer” to work all holidays (at double time of course) because I had no local family. I countered with triple time and they went for it. I didn’t mind, really, except that my manager mentioned this in the morning staff meeting in front of everyone. (Hey this loser has no family so she’ll take over for us while we take some family time.)

        1. Gaaah!!*

          Seriously. Being told I should work the holidays because I don’t have a family (my husband doesn’t count?? my parents?? siblings??) would result in a “Mean Girls” moment where I leap over the table screaming.

    5. ThursdaysGeek*

      Yeah, I’ve never understood how people even have time to have kids (not the initial part, but the next 18 years part). And then they even talk about watching TV! Even without kids, and never watching TV, I’m always busy.

    6. Kara*

      Also, the OP talks about her manager being single and childless but that doesn’t necessarily mean she has nothing else going on. Maybe she cares for an elderly parent, maybe she’s very actively involved with nieces and nephews, maybe she has a full volunteer life, etc. “You’re not married or a parent so you don’t know” is not going to get your manager on your side.

  17. Felicia*

    Like everyone here, I think the obvious solution is your partner needs to do 50% of the work. OP is living like a single parent when she is not a single parent. I’m sure there’s some stuff you don’t really HAVE to do (like make teh bed), and depending on the kid’s age they can do some (i did my own laundry since I was 8). Also don’t make his lunch. He’s a grown up and he can make his own lunch . I also started making my own lunch at 8. You don’t have to do everything because you’re the woman and I don’t have kids, though I’d love some someday, but I’d think most childless people would assume if a child is living with two parents, both parents do equal amounts of work.

  18. Anonymous*

    As a parent of a 3-year-old and an almost-1-year-old, I would say:

    1. Your SO needs to help. Daily panic attacks are not only going to hurt you, they will eventually hurt your marriage and possibly become detrimental to your kid’s well-being.
    2. YES to therapy. Huge, huge help for panic attacks and managing life.
    3. Please, please think hard about the challenges of bringing another kid into this mix. I was blown away by how much harder it is to work full-time with two kids than with just one.
    4. That said, it will always be chaotic. That’s the nature of mixing little kids and work. It’s impossible for both my spouse and I to work full time, take care of the needs of two small human beings, and keep the house running smoothly. We do the best we can. Some things around the house get dropped. Life goes on.

    1. HumbleOnion*

      #3 so much. Two kids aren’t twice as hard as one kid. It’s like 4 times as hard, more so on some days.

      1. Sam*

        So much yes to #3. Someone once told me, about kids, “One kid is one, but two is ten” which made sense only after I had 2. You might think that #1 can “help” with #2, or entertain him or whatever, but you’re adding sibling bickering and all the trouble that two little minds put together can dream up, and you’ve lost the portability of a single child. I could take #1 pretty much anywhere, but it’s so much harder with two of them. It’s no longer as simple as throwing one into a Baby Bjorn and carrying about your day – now you have one attached to your leg/boob/hip and another one begging for attention, and getting two little ones to go down for a nap at the same time is nothing even close to fun.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      #3–at least not until this situation is resolved, and they have had a huge discussion about how they will handle another kid.

  19. LCL*

    You need to have the talk with your SO. Because he hasn’t been helping enough, he doesn’t realize everything you do and how long each thing takes. For this to be productive and non-confrontational, make a list for a week of what you do every day, and time spent doing it. Then sit down with him and show him the list and have your discussion.

    And, for this to work, once you have a more fair division of labor, you MUST let him do chores his way and not criticize or step in because they weren’t done to your satisfaction. Show him how, then step back unless he asks for help.

    The way supermoms handle this is either their partner pitches in a lot more than yours does, or they hire out a lot of the work, or both. Why are you making lunches if you both work? Buy lunch! I always said that if I couldn’t afford to buy lunch everyday I would quit work and go on welfare. If you can’t even feed yourself from your job what’s the point?

  20. Ros*

    Oh, man, the supermom ideal. Based on having seen my mom manage it, and now managing it myself:

    1) Get therapy. Panic attacks and sleeping pills are not a functional lifestyle choice.
    2) Your partner is responsible for half the couple’s workload. My husband and I see it as “X’ workload (work, home, school – all of it), and so we’re each responsible for half of X. (Note that if you phrase it that way, it takes a complete schmuck to say that you should be responsible for more than that…)
    3) Hire help if possible. Cleaner for the house? Dishwasher, if you don’t have one? Identify what you hate doing most, and figure out if you can afford to throw money at it to make it go away and give you that time for things you like doing .
    4) Let things go. When all else fails, just let it go. The floor doesn’t always need to be impeccable, the kid can be taught to sweep the floor and pack lunches, the husband can pack his own, if you can’t bring the kid to lessons, either the husband can do it or the kid gets less lessons… Basically, let things go.

    1. Marmite*

      On the hiring help point, if you can’t afford a cleaner it may be worth looking into swaps with other local parents. I haven’t done it here yet (my son’s a bit older now so I’m not so desperate for some help), but when I lived in the U.S. I joined a local parents group that arranged to swap cleaning, gardening, babysitting, cooking etc. hours.

      So, for example, a SAHM might spend two hours during the day doing some laundry for me and then I’d babysit her kids for a couple of hours in the evening. I don’t know how common existing groups are, but, depending on where you live, would be easy to do informally with friends or neighbours.

  21. sarah*

    Ouch. I’m sorry. It’s very hard to juggle everything, especially if you don’t have the support. I only recently went back to working FT after working various PT positions for several years after my children were born.

    Some thoughts:

    1) A ‘come to Jesus’ meeting with your partner might be helpful. If it were me, I’d pick a stree-free time (ha!), prepare a list of all that’s on my plate, and tell my partner I need some help or I’m going to crack. It may be what he “expects” but perhaps his expectations can change once you lay everything out. If it helps, you can remind him that you taking a step back can have long-term consequences on your career (and thus your earning potential). If he helps you through this rough time (because it will get better), it might be better for him in the long run.

    Perhaps if you laid out all your responsibilities and he picked what he would like to do, it wouldn’t be as burdensome on him?
    2) Outsourcing as others have said. Hiring a “mother’s helper.” Perhaps a high-school student can come over during the “witching hour” to help you with laundry, straightening up, getting supper going, holding baby if needed. Perhaps a house-cleaner can come over. I have one once a week and it is amazing. The cost isn’t as much as I thought it would be ($55 for 2.5 hours in a large Midwest city). She deep cleans the bathroom, floors, changes sheets etc. I can’t tell you how amazing this is. I can maintain the house fairly well for a few days and then I can just let it go until she comes. I can focus on my kids and myself and my partner and still live in a decent house.

    3) Check out Getting Things Done by David Allen. Might be a way to organize all the things yo uneed to do and be able to focus on work when you need to. I’ve found that book very useful

    4) I do agree with your boss. When you are at work, they are paying you to work. It will hurt your career if you cannot be a performer (it did for me — I really needed to change some things in my life so that I didn’t comtinue to make that mistake).

    5) If the above doesn’t work, I would outline a plan to reduce hours 80% and understand if my boss said no.

    6) Focus on your sleep. I know it’s so hard and there are so many things to do during the day. But if you’re well rested, the little challenges don’t feel like big challenges .And you’ll be able to focus a lot better.

    Good luck! Please update us!

    1. Trillian*

      I’d like to add a personal recommendation for Julie Morgenstern’s “Organizing from the Inside Out”. It helped me, at least, who was behind the door when the organizing genes were handed out. No amount of organization will compensate for sheer overload or the need to throw things out of the lifeboat, but having functioning systems does decrease the sense of panic that everything’s slipping.

      She starts with an anecdote about her own epiphany, which was the realization as a new mother that unless she did something to enable herself to get out the door, her offspring wasn’t going to see daylight for years. So she organized the diaper bag and went on from there.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I’m single with no kids and I’ve been thinking about hiring occasional help myself.

      1. Anonymous*

        I’m single with four dogs and I have spent the past few years cultivating my “staff”. I have a great handyman, a great heavy lifting yard guy, another yard guy who does big jobs, a mow/blow guy, and am contemplating getting a house cleaner but what do I do with the dogs? I need a errand runner too. Amazon Prime is awesome but they won’t take the dogs to the vet for me.

    3. PJ*

      Coupla things about this post:

      “Perhaps if you laid out all your responsibilities and he picked what he would like to do, it wouldn’t be as burdensome on him?”

      I’m not sure I would focus on what would or would not be burdensome on my partner. I would focus more on what needs to be done, and insist that my partner take on a reasonable share. Why should the partner be the only unburdened one?

      “Check out Getting Things Done by David Allen. ”

      Excellent resource. Fly Lady ( is another resource, one specifically about making the home run more smoothly in less time, that both partners could use.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I don’t find myself worrying a lot about what’s burdensome on the person who apparently believes he’s entitled to slack off.

    4. V*

      +1 on sarah’s recommendations. I would add that when you are making the list of things that you do, also make a list of the things your partner does (how many hours does he/she work? Does he/she regularly handle lawn care? laundry? dog walking?). Essentially, it should be a list of “Everything We Do To Keep This Family Running” not just “What I Do . . .”. That way you both will: a) get perspective on how out of balance the tasks are and reassign them to gain balance; b) have an opportunity to eliminate or pare down tasks that are not essential; c) be able to consider what if anything can be hired out (ex. ironing to dry cleaners, lawn service, dog walker, housekeeper, child care, etc. – pick and choose what might work. And think about hiring neighbor hood kids if possible for things like dog walking, lawn care, etc.).

      1. Chinook*

        I like making the list”everything we do…” because the OP may be surprised by what the spouse is bringing to the table. Is he sitting like a lump when he gets home or is he doing yard work, cleaning up after dinner or working more hours than the OP. While I agree with most that he probably needs to do more, we also don’t know if the OP has ridiculously high standards and don’t want to discount what may already done.

  22. The Other Dawn*

    In my opinion, this isn’t a work problem. This is a relationship/home problem. You need to stop assuming that you have to “do it all”. As someone else said, the world will not end if certain things don’t get done, like making the bed or dusting everyday. Do you have a friend that doesn’t work, or works less, and would like to make a little money and keep busy? You could pay him/her 30.00 one day a week to come in and do a very quick once-over in the kitchen and bathroom or whatever you choose.

    I like the idea of “forgetting” to do something or just not noticing that something needs to be done. I’ve done this a few times and it usually works. Also, something that works particularly well for me is to say to my husband, “would you mind doing XYZ? While you’re doing that I’ll do ABC.” And basically what happens is we are working together in the same room, but what he doesn’t notice is that he’s doing about 70% while I’m doing 30%. I’m not saying my husband is lazy or doesn’t help out, but when the sink is full of dishes, and the strainer and dishwasher are full of clean dishes for several days in a row (and there’s only the two of us), it starts to piss me off a bit.

    OP, you should sit down with your partner and have a talk about the fact that you can’t do it all and you need help, whether it be him helping or you paying someone to help. And maybe it wouldn’t hurt to ask your boss if you could work 4 days a week or 10 less hours a week. That would give you a little “me” time so you can recharge and not have to survive on sleeping pills.

    1. The IT Manager*


      Unless your 40+ hours is more like 50 or 60+ every week, you have a normal, exempt job, and you are doing it poorly because of personal issues. You can’t do it all, but it doesn’t sound like work is asking too much of you. I’d be very leery of asking for a reduction to part time status for a job you started 4 months ago. You agreed to full time when you accepted employment and it’s perfectly reasonable of them to demand it.

      Frankly, it doesn’t sound like your boss is not understanding. It just sounds like he understands your situation is not normal and it affecting your work. You should not be worried about or focussed on home stuff at work.

      Obviously the best suggestion is for your partner to pull his weight. Others are to reduce your home workload by
      1) Hire help (nanny, maid, lawn care) and eat out or buy take out more
      2) drop or reduce the swimming and play dates
      3) rehome the dogs to a family that has time for them (because it doesn’t sound like they get much attention in your house)

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I agree about asking for a reduction in working hours. I totally skipped over the part that she’s only been there four months. Unless it’s 50+ hours a week, I don’t think OP can ask for a reduction this early in the game.

        I forgot to add that OP’s partner should be packing his own lunch and doing his own laundry. She works just as much as he does so there’s no reason for him not to help. That’s how my husband I do it.

      2. Anonymous*

        +1 on the dogs. I had a neighbor that loved their two dogs like they were their kids. The first kid came along and the dogs were relegated to the garage and the yard. The second kid came along and the dogs stayed in the back yard. One day I asked the couple if I could play with the dogs when I got home from work for a little bit and they didn’t care one way or the other. Boy did they love playing fetch, two awesome dogs. (I couldn’t have dogs, my wife was allergic).

        1. Nichole*

          What a cool arrangement! I would never think to ask if I can play with a lonely pooch. Dogs can start misbehaving when they go from being the center of the household to relegated to the yard, so you probably helped more than you know.

        2. The IT Manager*

          Interestingly I just read an opinion piece titled “If you’re going to have kids don’t get a dog” which echos this point and concludes with these words of wisdom:

          There are many lessons I’ve learned from my parents, but one in particular I wish I had followed. They didn’t get a dog until my sister and I were grown. They loved him like a dog should be loved until the day he died. He never got less cute to them. I never heard them yell, “GOD WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS UNDER FOOT?” They never regretted him.

          I cannot in good conscience tell you every thing I think on the subject of my dog Velvel. Yes, there’s more. I can only say this: To all you young couples, thinking, “We should get a dog!” “I love you, let’s get a dog!” “We’re not ready for kids, but what about a dog?!” — don’t get a dog. Or, if you do get a dog, don’t have kids.


      3. Sharon*

        Agreed IT Manager on focusing on work when you’re at work. As I mentioned, while an employer is concerned about an employee, their primary focus is the needs of the business. You’re hired to do a job and that’s what we’re paid for. That’s not harsh, that’s business.
        While I know some feel it’s OK to be so transparent with an employer, I disagree. Using discernment never goes out of style.
        I would urge this person to show a renewed commitment and focus on her job immediately. With this economy, don’t give employers a reason to think they made the wrong hiring decision. It really is a risk complaining and saying in so many words, I can’t keep up. They may become concerned that will spill over into the job.
        She can read all these comments and decide how she can best reduce her workload and engage help whether it’s from her partner or outside help.

    2. Anonymous*

      I have to agree. Your job is to be 100% focused on work at work. Sure, we can work out some temporary arrangements, but that’s temporary until you get your things straightened out.

      If I were the manager in this situation, I would find it very odd that you want concessions after four months. I hired you for a specific job and I still need that job done. You can ask, but “It doesn’t hurt to ask” doesn’t apply here.

      You need to simplify your life. If the SO isn’t going to help out, you just need less to do. Maybe that means less play dates/swim/dance/soccer for the kid, or maybe that means the floor doesn’t get vacuumed every other day.

    3. Anonymous*

      Forgetting or not noticing a task might backfire. I tried that and ended up getting a lecture about how forgetting to wipe something down was purposely disrespecting my partners’ wants and needs. He’s now the ex.

      I think writing all the tasks down, broken down into subtasks, is helpful. If not for him at least for you. It makes a good starting point for the conversation that must happen. One year I put a big calendar on the wall near the table and every day I wrote down everything I did. At the end of the year, just reading it made me tired.

  23. TFTF*

    Also, don’t think of it as your husband “helping.” Think of it as him pulling his weight and doing his fair share.

      1. Colette*

        When my colleagues used to say they were babysitting, I’d ask if they were allowed to eat anything in the fridge or if the parents left out specific snacks for them.

        1. Jamie*

          You have no idea.

          My mom would euphemistically refer to me as “very specific and highly alert.” Which is mom for total picky pain in the ass.

      2. mel*

        Ugh my stepdad was bad for this… my aunt was nice enough to babysit my 2 year old sister while both parents were working, but if he was home all day every day between jobs he would take her over anyway and then just sleep on the couch.

        My aunt started billing him. Ha!

      3. some1*

        I’m not a parent, and my parents are still together but my pet peeve is when people on Facebook post they are a single parent because their spouse/partner is out of town. What a slap in the face to actual single parents.

        1. LMW*

          It actually bugs me when people who are divorced and share custody say they are single parents. Because I know plenty of people who actually the sole parent, and it’s a million times harder when there is no back up at all and your kids are 100% dependent on you for that role.

          1. Liz T*

            Well, “single parent” means a parent who is single. “Sole parent” means sole parent, as you said.

  24. Michael*

    Better employers understand that they can have policies that are sane and fair for all that aid employees in balancing work and the rest of their lives. Some don’t.

    For my family taking control is about prioritizing.

    Both my wife and I work full time jobs. In addition to that, she chairs the Math and Science clubs at the school, I coordinate Chess Club and Odyssey of the Mind. We both also Coach soccer. She has coached basketball. I also coach Odyssey of the Mind and FLL teams.

    When people comment on how do you get this all done. I tell them, our house is messy, and it is. We have clean clothes, clean dishes (she cooks, I wash the dishes ) , but we have one cluttered house. It is a choice we made. We wanted our children to be involved in activities that enrich their lives through acedemic and athletic competitive experiences. There is a derth of people who step up, so we stepped up. That means we do not declutter nearly often enough.

    We prioritized the things we wanted to accomplish and de-emphasized other aspects. Hence a cluttered house.

    The reason we coach: We have better control of the practice times. And it is truly not hard to coach young kids to chase a soccer ball or basketball! They do it for fun anyway. :-)

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I just had a cool thought about the decluttering: I don’t know how old your kids are or where you’re located (city, small place). Our city has organizations that either come through neighborhoods every so often, or will pick up donated goods on call. If it’s feasible, once or twice a year, you could make it a family activity to clear out closets, etc., and choose things to donate that will help others but that you don’t need anymore. The rest can go in the garbage or be recycled. Kids learn to be charitable, house has less stuff. :)

  25. Sharon*

    I’m a senior level HR representative at a very large company. While many of the comments have some great advice, from a job perspective please allow me to chime in.

    You’ve been in your current job 4 months. I wouldn’t advise going in after being there such a short period of time and asking for a reduced schedule based on your current circumstances. While employers have concern for you as a whole person, their primary focus is the needs of the business. I just wouldn’t want you to lose footing with your employer or for them to view you differently. I would urge you to find another solution and maintain your commitment to your employer on a full time basis. Another word of advice, don’t confide or “overshare” with those you work with about this. I know that sounds terrible but people are human and they will at times, use this kind of information to their benefit if you get my drift.

    I too, have raised children (3) and have been overwhelmed, trying to work full time, keep a house and be a caring Mother and spouse. It’s a lot to handle. Some years back I was sharing my sorrows with a dear friend (someone I’d known for years and not someone in the workplace). She listened patiently and I conveyed all these things I was trying to keep up with. After I finished she looked at me and said this “lower your standards”. I realized she was right. I wanted to do it all, but that is not humanly possible. My husband too, is not domestic at all. What I wanted my children to remember is family, good memories, not how clean the house was, etc. I noted you have dogs and you can’t leave a mess if they have an accident. I get that. But find ways to reduce your workload if your partner won’t help. But I would quit doing his laundry and packing his lunch. My husband did start doing his and he found out it wasn’t so bad helping in that way. And like the other commenter said, involve your children’s help. After all, they need to learn to pitch in and now is the time.
    I hope you find a balance soon. Enjoy life, your children, your partner. Life is short….

  26. Lora*

    Your partner needs to step up. I don’t know how to make that happen, because when the Ex and I were waging chore wars, it was easy enough to say, “I am not washing any more of your clothes until you do the damn dishes,” and when his re-worn socks got truly funky, magically the dishes would get done. But you can’t do that with a kid, there is no “I am not changing another diaper until you pick up the baby from day care,” because if the baby doesn’t get picked up, realistically the day care is going to call YOU, not your partner (who is male, I think?). Guys tend to get a pass on “oh the forgetful Homer Simpson dad!” while women are monsters if we get to day care at 5:05 instead of 5:00. So, I’m not sure how to get your partner to help more, but that is a thing that needs to happen.

    I don’t have kids, but I do understand that it is very very difficult to manage all the stuff you are doing–I’ve had similar issues with the Ex’s mental illness, elder care, and my own health problems. I think your boss is just not the empathetic type, not that he isn’t a parent/married.

    The way I deal with that stuff is:

    1. decide what your bare minimum standard is and what you can live with, and then design your tasks to be as efficient as humanly possible at that. You don’t have to vacuum the living room perfectly, you can do main traffic areas and call it good until the dust bunnies grow fangs. Use rice cookers and slow cookers for dinner, because that’s one of those, “throw it in the pot and push the button” deals. I’m the worst at dry cleaning pickup, I always forget, so everything I own is wash-n-wear. See Unf*** Your Habitat for tips.

    2. You are not the worst parent ever if you limit your child to only one or two extracurricular-type activities. Don’t get caught up in who is the best mommy in the playgroup, that’s just silliness. Kids need time to play *without* structure, it’s actually better for their brains. I’m sure it says this somewhere on the internets :)

    3. Delegate. Pay someone else to do stuff. If your partner doesn’t want to do boring chores, fine–he can hire Merry Maids or pay for a nanny or dog walker/doggie day care for whatever it is that he’s slacking on. Him, not you.

    4. See the doc about the panic attacks. There are meds for that which are a lot safer and more pleasant than sleeping pills.

    5. Put yourself first. Seriously, you can’t take care of others unless you are in good shape yourself, and it sounds like you aren’t. Do at least one nice thing for yourself per month, preferably once a week if you can manage it. Whether that is yoga class, girls’ night out, band practice, whatever you like, you should do that, and it should be your down-time which is inviolate and 100% yours.

    6. If partner is resistant to changes that you propose, then obviously he DOES know exactly how much work you’re doing, and he has chosen not to do it. If he thought it wasn’t that much work, or wasn’t difficult to do, he’d do it himself. So, decide what you think about that. What is he giving you in exchange for you taking on his share of work? I would want, you know, a Maserati. Maybe an all-expenses-paid trip to Europe–with the pool boy! :D

    1. IronMaiden*

      Thank you, thank you, thank you Lora for bringing Unf**k Your Habitat to my attention.

      1. Rana*

        That site is wonderful. It is really motivating (without making me feel guilty and cross, like FlyLady does), and her approach does work.

  27. Jamie*

    My first reaction is that it’s not your manager’s problem if your partner doesn’t do their share at home.

    The old saying about having it all is crap – no one can have it all …because all choices come with compromises. You just make the right ones for you and your family and you can have “enough” if not all.

    I was a SAHM for 15 years. I did almost everything at home, because I was home and that’s what worked for us. There is absolutely no way I would or could maintain being lord and emperor over all things domestic and work 40+ hours a week…nor would my husband expect me to.

    A couple words of advice. Lose the guilt as much as possible. A lot of us have been there…feel guilty for working because someone might need you at home….feel guilty for not working because you aren’t helping financially…feel guilty as a working mom when you need to put work aside because of an emergency at home.

    No one can be all things to all people and I’m ashamed to say it took me until I was in my 40s to figure that out.

    My house isn’t always shining and ready for company the way it was when I was home and had 8 hours a day to devote to cleaning baseboards. But you won’t see us featured on hoarders anytime soon, either. Once I stopped shooting for perfect and settled for “pretty clean” my stress levels went way down.

    A friend of mine had a wall hanging in her house that I’ve never forgotten. “Housework, even done incorrectly, blesses your family.” I kept that in mind while I trained myself to say “thank you” when my husband and the kids kicked in even if they didn’t do things exactly the way I’d have done them. Things got done.

    As long as they weren’t using 409 to clean the good furniture or rolling towels instead of folding them (because that’s just crazy and no it does not leave more room in the linen closet…it looks like an outlet store running a clearance on sleeping bags for gnomes.)

    Now I am not saying everyone has to take turns doing every thing. If I grocery shopped there would never be anything but bagged salad and poptarts in the house and if my husband cleaned the bathrooms….well…lets just say we’d be growing our own cholera by now. But divide things up by who hates what least and who is best at what – but the effort and the time in taking care of a home and raising a family should come from both grownups.

      1. Jamie*

        YES – she was into that! I never was (I’m more an Unf*ck your Habitat kind of girl) – I never knew where that came from. All I know if flylady did work for her – but it made her compulsive about her shoes and her sink.

        1. PJ*

          OK, you’re the second person so far to mention this UnF Your Habitat thing. Gonna go look for it.

          Yeah, and I’m kinda crazy about my sink too. Hate the shoes thing. I’m a barefoot girl.

          1. Jamie*

            It works for me because I just love before and after shots of messes – I find them to be the most motivational thing ever. (although I would never submit because I would destroy any camera taking “before” pics in my house.) And for some reason the little reminders and tips of breaking things down into small manageable bites works for me.

            I tend to get overwhelmed by thinking I need to do something completely and top to bottom every time and that makes me very un-fun to live with. Reminding me I can go “unf**k” something for 10 minutes and then stop helps SO much with maintenance because nothing really gets away from you.

            Warning – it’s not for those who have issues with swearing – but IMO if you can’t swear about a messy house then what can you use those words for?

            1. IronMaiden*

              I’m with you on the getting overwhelmed. So many times I have started what seem like manageable chores (rearranging the kitchen cupboards for example) and 20 minutes in I’m asking why I started. The job is always bigger than anticipated and then the clean spot makes the dirty bits show up even worse than before. And I love the before and after pics on Unf**k Your Habitat. (Some of them make my house look like a show home.)

            2. Rana*

              Agreed. I love the “do what you can, but do it” approach. I also like that the houses and homes pictured look like ours, and not like something out of a magazine. The before-and-after pictures are really motivating.

  28. Anonymous*

    I agree…first thought is that your partner needs to pull their fair share. It sounds like this is not the case.

  29. Sophie*

    This is my first time writing a comment on here since folowing religiously for a few months, so here goes…

    I think the best thing to do is sit down with your husband and explain this to him. Does he realise that you’re having panic attacks? Any good husband would be mortified to know that his wife was having panic attacks because of her workload at home and at work, because he wasn’t helping enough?

    Say to him that you both need to have equal amount of responsibility.. say if you’re bathing the child and making dinner then perhaps he could take the dogs for a walk and clean up after them. If you’re not done by the time he gets back, could he not put some food in the oven etc?

    It’s all about negotiating home workload equally between partners. It’s not 1940’s/50’s any more, he needs to pull his weight..

    1. klaygenie*

      I was just wondering if the OP’s partner is aware of these daily panic attacks and the use of sleeping medication. Seems like something to question – even if they don’t know that it’s workload at home causing it.

      Also +1 to asking for specific help. My boyfriend is the worst at realizing chores need to get done. He just doesn’t notice the trash is full or the bathroom needs cleaning or the floor needs sweeping. So I just remind him and he does it without any problem.

  30. Jen*

    Outsource, outsource, outsource! If you can afford it, hire a cleaning person. Even if they only come once a month it will be so helpful. Hire a lawn service too for that matter.

    Get everyone in your house on a shared calendar like Google Calendar and start assigning tasks.

    I think sometimes people need to be more specific. I know growing up my mom would seem to have everything under control and then she’d flip out and it would be like “Well, gee, why didn’t you ask for help?” She just thought we should offer, we thought she should ask.

    I see that too. If I ask my husband he’ll do it. Sometimes it’s as simple as a chore chart or the calendar.

    We have two kids and we have our assignments. He drops the kids off, I pick them up. Twice a month one goes to physical therapy. I do one trip, he does the other.

    I cook during the week, he cooks on weekends. I rely entirely on the crock pot when I cook.

    And even with the system and the jobs there are things that get messed up. For a while I was the only one who was folding the laundry and now we both do it. But I had to mention it. He wasn’t going to read my mind or pick up on the dramatic huffing and puffing I was doing as I folded the clothes right in front of him.

    My kids are younger so they can’t help too much but eventually I’ll have to add them to the chore chart.

    As for the activities, I hate to be like this but either find others to help with the drop-off and pick up or stop doing it. Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money so I did not do girl scouts or sports or music lessons for many years and I survived. Pick one activity and assign drop offs & pick-ups.

    A lot of times you have to treat the house like a committee you’re managing. Delegate, don’t micro-manage, clearly communicate your expectations.

    The “management” will still fall to you but in home (much like work) if you are an effective manager, your stress will decrease.

    1. Jamie*

      If you can afford it, hire a cleaning person. Even if they only come once a month it will be so helpful.

      When they only come once a month what do they do? Big stuff like windows and baseboards? Because if they are coming only once a month you still need to do all the daily and weekly maintenance so I’m wondering how it would help.

      And I’m the kind of person who would clean like a lunatic before the cleaning person got there because I couldn’t stand to have anyone see our mess…so to paraphrase Mad About You – I don’t so much need a maid, just the threat of one.

      1. Marmite*

        Yeah, I have a friend who has a cleaner come once a fortnight and towards the end of the two week gap the house becomes downright messy. She works to the theory that because she pays a cleaner she doesn’t need to do anything other than give a cursory wipe over spills, but really once a fortnight in a house with kids and pets isn’t enough to absolve her of all cleaning duties. I know my place would be a complete tip if I went two weeks without doing any cleaning at all!

        I also would feel the need to clean before a cleaner came over, I’ve taught my son to vacuum, do dishes and do laundry instead. He’s rates are considerably lower than market, too, so it’s a win-win.

        1. Cat*

          Assuming it’s not a health hazard, sure it’s enough to absolve her of all cleaning duties. Nobody is under any obligation to keep their house neater than necessary not to endanger any of the inhabitants.

          1. KayDay*

            Nobody is under any obligation to keep their house neater than necessary not to endanger any of the inhabitants.


          2. Marmite*

            In her case there is a health hazard element because she makes a little extra money by selling food prepared in her kitchen. She’s also lost two lodgers because of the standard of cleanliness. It’s not that mess piles up in the two weeks, it’s that the house actually becomes dirty, and particularly in the kitchen that’s been an issue. She blames the cleaner for not cleaning well enough, but really once every two weeks just isn’t often enough for her needs.

            Obviously, it varies by house, but I would have thought once a month is not often enough to negate the need to clean. As someone else pointed out though, it could take away the “deep cleaning” tasks.

      2. Kathryn in Finance*

        I’m thinking that if I had a cleaning person come once a month, I would have them do the more “deep-cleaning” items, like moving furniture to vacuum, baseboards, dusting, washing cupboards, wiping down ceiling fans…the sort of things that I do about once a month that just are a more involved cleaning that my usual quick cleaning.

        1. Chrissi*

          I thought that too, but in reality I ended up reveling in the free time I gained by hiring them, and so I just paid them extra every 6 months or so to do the deep-cleaning too. I finally realized I hate cleaning, I procrastinate doing it, and I’m so much happier having a little less money and those chores not hanging over my head all the time.

      3. bearing*

        It totally helps because on that schedule they do the deep cleaning. The stuff that you really ought to be getting to once a week, but don’t because you’re too busy.

        The kids and I do a massive pick-up-the-floor, clear-all-the-counters the night before to maximize the benefit we get from the 90 minutes the cleaners are here. Since it is a monthly “appointment” we make with ourselves, it always gets done. I would be too tired to both do this pick-it-up AND clean everything!

        Bonus: once a month everything feels so nice and clean. You don’t get that hit if you sensibly do a little bit of manageable work every day or week.

        1. Jamie*

          Makes a lot of sense. I need to make more money so I can do something like this.

          Although, people in my house…touching my stuff…judging me…I’m so not secure enough for this. :)

          1. Judy*

            I’ve found you really do need to pick up before the cleaning lady comes, and my kids have to. There have been a few calls to her that evening, because where she thought was logical to put X was not where we thought X could be. (Specific pink princess pjs at bottom of stairs to take up for 6 year old to wear that night – were put on top of the washer in the laundry room. That was a crisis. 8 year old boy, being not helpful “Maybe she threw it away, since you left it laying around”. Not helpful, dude.)

            1. Rana*

              Yeah, my husband’s mother – who was a single parent when he and his brother were growing up – had a weekly cleaner in, and her job was cleaning, not de-cluttering. So she’d vacuum, and mop floors, and clean the bathroom, but it was on them to make sure she could get to the things that needed to be cleaned.

      4. The IT Manager*

        I assume they do the mopping, vacuuming, clean the bathrooms, dust, etc … the kinds of thing you can let go for a while. Your ability to do that greatly depends on if you have kids or pets both of which can make a place messier than an adult does.

      5. fposte*

        They do whatever you agree they do.

        For me, having somebody clean is bought time. I just write out a check and it gets me more actual time. It’s an absolute miracle. As somebody who’s currently living alone, I find it helpfully like having a partner in the cleaning–I’m much more game about picking everything up and putting it away if my cleaning partner is going to vacuum and mop. If I’m putting everything away just for the reward of doing the vacuuming? Eh, I’d rather read.

        After a while, you get into a routine with each other; they get to know your house and what needs attention faster and what doesn’t get dirty very often, and you can mention things you’d been thinking you’d like to get to seasonally or whatever.

        1. Jen*

          Yes, that’s what it felt like for me. I don’t have one now because I have two kids in daycare and there’s not enough money. But when I had only one kid we did the cleaner. She came every other week.

          I’d swiffer the hardwood floors and dust around the knick-knacks and use clorox wipes in the bathroom or kitchen from time to time but she’d come in and scrub the floors, vaccuum, dust really well with wood cleaner, clean the blinds, vaccuum the ceiling fans and lamp shades, scrub the tub, the shower and the sinks. She’d also change the sheets and wash the old sheets and fold them

          I loved coming home and opening the door and just smelling the Murphy’s Oil Soap. Loved it.

  31. Anon Y Mous*

    Letter Writer, I think you should take a step back and assess the number of jobs you’re doing, because it *is* work. You’re 40+ hours a week at your job, X amount of hours doing childcare, X hours maid work, X hours logistical and scheduling work, X hours chef work, X hours dog care, and that’s just from your list of what you do.

    I’m with Alison, my first question is “what’s your partner doing?” You and your partner are both the parents of your child, both (I assume) living in the house, both eating there, the dog belongs to you both (I also assume).

    There’s no right or wrong seperation of work, there’s “what works for us”. This sounds like it’s not working for you anymore. If you need two incomes (I don’t know if you do) and/or you want to work full-time, and you’re thinking you should reduce your hours because there are too few hours in the day to fit in the amount of work you need to do, I think you and your partner need to sit down and rearrange who does what.

    Especialy if you’re going to have more kids. If it’s a problem now, it’s going to be worse once you’re juggling multiple kids (and meals, and schedules, and playdates, and so on)

  32. Em*

    I work full time in middle manager position in a fairly typical office. I have two kids, ages 5 years and 10 months, the older of which has some mild special needs that required quite a bit when he was younger.

    I honestly don’t find it *that* difficult to balance being a good employee and a good mom most days. (There are, of course, exceptions.) There are some keys to making that work, though, and as Allison said, a HUGE one is that your partner has to be putting in their fair share into the parenting and housework. To be honest, if they’re not, it’s never going to work. In my marriage, and in so many others, we as wives and mothers start off indirectly teaching our husbands that they can’t do things around the house or with the kids “right” or as good as we can, so they don’t bother. Just like at work, you need to clearly communicate your needs and expectations with your partner, and you have to let them do it their way, even if it’s different and seems less good. (For example, I HATE the way my husband mixes the baby’s formula. It makes no damn sense. But he does it, and the baby gets fed, so I need to let it go.) You also have to accept that things don’t have to be perfect at home all the time. It’s okay for laundry not to get folded the day it’s washed, it’s okay to rely on convenience meals once in awhile – being flexible on that type of thing when necessary is key.

    Also, I disagree with your boss’ advice to focus 100% on work at work and 100% on home at home. Life isn’t that black and white. I make things work by sometimes doing home tasks while at the office, and sometimes doing office tasks while at home. I leave work early to take my kid to the doctor, and I make that time up by staying later another day or working at home. A lot of that depends on your workplace and your role, if that kind of true flexibility is possible, but in my experience at multiple companies, if you’re doing a kick ass job at your job, they tend to look the other way when you have to take your baby to the cardiologist at 3:00 on a Friday.

    To the flexibility point: be flexible on both fronts. I don’t give 50% to work and 50% to home every week, in terms of hours or energy. Sometimes home stuff is more critical, and 80% of my efforts go in that direction, other times it’s work that gets the 80%. And that’s fine. (And note that I’m saying 50% and 50% as the balance, not 100% and 100%. You can’t give 100% to two things. You can’t “have it all.” No one can, parent or otherwise. You only have 100% to give, just adjust where it goes based on the day.)

    Also, while you’re right that a single guy can’t understand what it’s like to have your life (I report up a chain of single guys, I get it), almost all people understand what it’s like to have outside commitments/hobbies/passions that they like to devote time to. And you can’t expect your boss to grant you more leeway because your outside stuff is a family and (from what you’ve said) and unhelpful partner when someone else’s is a love for making beer. Personally, I do what I can to protect my employees’ personal time regardless of what that time is filled with. I think most employers feel the same, that they either will or will not protect personal time universally, not based on individual situations (barring something really rare and unexpected, not parenthood).

    That was really long from someone who rarely comments. Sorry.

    1. Anonymous*

      I agree a lot of Em’s advice. But I’m guessing the boss probably advised OP to focus 100% on work while at work because her focus is currently lacking.

      I work in a flexible environment too and sometimes handle personal errands at work. But I don’t think it’d be a good idea for OP right now to think that is okay if her boss is already raising concerns.

      1. AP*

        True – I would guess the boss advised that because it seems like there have been problems. But if the OP can make up for the problems and have a few good months work-wise, she’ll be able to work up to increased trust and flexibility.

  33. Colette*

    You need to focus on what’s important to you.

    Is it doing everything your way?
    Taking care of everything house/child related?
    Having the house be spotless?
    Working a full time job?

    Pick what you want to focus on and get help with those. Your partner can do an (approximately) equal share, and if your child is old enough to play with toys, she’s old enough to put those toys away (with help, if necessary). Let everything else go (or put it in the “when I have time/energy” bin). You can re-evaluate as life changes.

  34. bearing*

    I don’t think OP has given enough information for us to know whether her partner is helping an amount that is fair and just.

    We know the hours the OP works, but we don’t know the partner’s hours. We also don’t know if the partner’s hours are at a job that could afford flexibility or if they aren’t. We don’t know if their financial situation is such that they MUST both work full time to make ends meet and protect their job security, or if either of them has to make a tough choice regarding balancing ambition with the needs of their growing family. We know she feels that her partner helps “in some ways but not enough” but we don’t know what other things are going on; and we don’t know what the “some ways” are.

    Lacking this information I wouldn’t jump right away to laying blame on the partner. The problem could be in the OP’s failure to communicate the degree to which she’s sinking. It’s clear from the OP’s letter that her situation isn’t sustainable, but IMO there isn’t enough information to really analyze the solutions (and definitely not to assign blame).

    1. Xay*

      I agree that we don’t know how much the partner helps. However, I don’t think that partner’s hours or their job situation really changes that the partner either needs to change their contribution (whatever that is) or they need to get additional outside help. That isn’t placing blame, that is recognizing that this is a two person solution, not just the OP.

      My partner and I have one child. At varying times, he was in grad school while I worked, we both had full time jobs that required regular travel, he started his own business that requires a lot of hours at times while I took a job that required even more travel and now he is settled in his business while I am working full time and going grad school part time. Through every single one of those scenarios, we had to periodically sit down because balancing working, parenting, and life wasn’t working and decide what we needed to do to get back on track. Working long or inflexible hours isn’t really an excuse not to contribute to the solution if your partner is under strain to the point of having panic attacks.

  35. Jen*

    You need to talk to your spouse about helping. If you need to be working a full-time job at 40 hours a week, there’s no reason your career should be taking a hit and cutting hours simply so you can clean and organize more at home. Not trying to be harsh but honestly, your situation is realllly not different than most people trying to manage work/home/kids etc…the only difference is that people are speaking up and making their significant others help. I work longer hours than my husband and my commute is horrendous AND I’m pregnant and guess who does laundry, dishes, gets dinner going if not made? noooot me! You will have a much happier home, marriage, and feel better if you are not carrying all the weight.

  36. VictoriaHR*

    Your manager’s right. You need to be focused on work when you’re at work. It doesn’t matter if your manager is married or has children. You signed on for the job, so you need to do your best. Don’t expect coworkers or your boss to pick up your slack if you can’t handle it all. Leave the home stress at home.

    Your partner might expect you to do all of the child-rearing, however he can take care of the dogs and their maintenance, paying bills, doing laundry, cleaning, or cooking, none of which have anything to do with children. My husband also works full time but he takes the boys to baseball practice, does the laundry, takes out the garbage, mows the lawn, helps in the garden, vacuums, does dishes sometimes, cooks sometimes, etc. Marriage is a partnership, not a dictatorship.

    I have two small children and my house is a pit. A. Pit. It’s not unsanitary or anything, but there are toys everywhere and the laundry’s not put away yet. Having happy healthy children is more important to me than a spotless home. That’s my opinion.

    Also, if you’re having daily panic attacks, perhaps see your doctor. I suffer from regular anxiety and I take medication for it. It really helps me to realize that I can’t do it all and to prioritize what’s really important.

  37. VictoriaHR*

    Also, if it’s your partner who wants to have more children, make sure that he is aware that he will need to help out more around the house and with the children before you would agree to that. Get your ducks in a row before you make that decision.

    1. Jamie*

      I agree with this so much, but didn’t know how to word it.

      Far be it from me to advise people on having kids or not, but if you’re in any situation that’s already compromising your health and making you unhappy it’s always best to sort that out before adding to the situation.

  38. Sam*

    I respectfully suggest that work isn’t the main problem here. It might not even be the fact that you and your partner have allowed the household management responsibilities to fall upon your shoulders. There are single moms with multiple kids and dogs and laundry who are able to work full-time, so there’s something off either with expectations or your response to handling all this.
    I am now re-married, but I was a single mom for a while, and I couldn’t afford to cut back on hours at work, so I had to re-prioritize things at home. From the activities you mention (play dates and swimming) it sounds like your child is pretty young (I could be misunderstanding) and maybe you can put a moratorium on those kinds of things for a while. If the child is a little older, he or she can handle breakfast, lunch and laundry on his own. My kids have done their own breakfasts, lunches and laundry since they were five – not because I’m mean or they’re heroes or something, but because we had to. There wasn’t enough of me to go around to do everyone’s laundry, and it turns out that little boy laundry is pretty easy to do if the soap is pre-measured for you, and breakfast is pretty easy if the milk is measured out. (As they got a little older they could measure out their own milk and laundry soap, of course)
    You’re not going to make your partner change – so I’d say stop doing for him what your partner could do for himself (laundry, lunches, etc.) and cut yourself some slack on the housework. Even now that I have another adult in the house, it only gets cleaned once a week. We don’t leave dirty dishes out or anything, but I don’t sweep floors or anything until Saturday morning, when the entire family cleans the house from top to bottom. It takes about an hour with all of us working, and then we get back to life.
    You mentioned that you’re thinking of having another child. I think you and the rest of your family may be happier if you can feel a little more comfortable with your life management, as well as distribution of household duties first. Based on my reading way too much into your original post, I don’t think cutting hours will help. I think you could leave your job entirely and your day will still be overfull and you’ll still be stressed. You’re not alone in this, I have friends who became SAHMs because they couldn’t manage the work/life balance and find that they’re still just as busy somehow and just as stressed (and now with more financial issues).

    1. Jamie*

      My kids have done their own breakfasts, lunches and laundry since they were five

      Laundry?? WOW! I’m going to stop reading this thread since clearly I’ve totally failed my kids in the independent thing. That’s amazing – seriously…it never even occurred to me to teach them until high school.

      At 5 my kids were expected to get the clothes in the hamper and the toys in the toy bins. My hat is off to you guys who instilled independence early, stuff like this just never crossed my mind.

      1. Sam*

        Jamie, it was truly out of desperation. But it totally worked. They had a little stool by the washing machine, and I’d just measure out soap in a few plastic cups, so they just dumped their stuff in, dumped in the soap, and hit the buttons I had marked with stickers. All I had to do was remember to measure out soap in advance. The dryer was even easier. They “folded” their clothes using standards much, much lower than mine, but honestly, t-shirts and shorts aren’t that delicate and they turned out fine.

        1. Laura*

          Amazing! My son is 8 and is a big help (my 2-year-old…not so much help) and I don’t think I could have gotten him to do laundry at 5.

          Have you seen the new laundry pods with the soap? We got them before a vacation where I wanted to take some laundry detergent with us and they are the best things. I thought they were silly, but no more using too much or spills or whatever. I keep them up high, but it’s only since I’ve gotten those have I felt comfortable letting 8-year-old do laundry.

      2. bearing*

        Me too, I love the idea of pre-measuring the laundry soap!

        I teach my kids to wash a load of their own laundry around age 10 so that they don’t have the “but Mom you didn’t wash my clothes and that is why I don’t have any clean ones” excuse, and I make them fold and put away, but they generally haven’t been responsible for much laundry beyond that. Mostly because I am a control freak about it.

        I suppose being a control freak about something (i.e., refusing to delegate) is a luxury for those who have the time.

      3. [anon]*

        I’ve been doing my own laundry since I was six. I made the mistake of telling my mom I thought the machines were interesting, and I was big for my age so it was easy for me to carry my laundry and load the top-loaders. Mom was no fool, and “allowed” me to do my own laundry right from then. I’ve been stuck with it ever since. ;)

      4. Kara*

        I’ve been doing my own laundry since I was ten and I sometimes get smug about that, but five is … wow.

      5. Short Geologist*

        I’ve been doing my laundry since I was a wee little thing (like, five) because I thought the whole process was fascinating at that age. Once I knew how to do it, no way in hell was my mother going to take back that chore.

  39. Anon*

    This is going to sound trollish, but I seriously don’t understand why women in these situations want more kids. I have a friend who has one kid now, is in a crappy marriage, crappy job she hates and she does EVERYTHING around the house while her husband comes home to sit in front of the TV and she is trying to have another baby. I am a single female with no kids (not sure that I want them) but I don’t understand why people want another when all they do is complain about the one they have and all the work that goes into it? Can anyone shed light on this for me? It makes me seriously terrified to have kids if this is what it is actually like!

    1. bearing*

      It does NOT have to be that way.

      Step one: don’t get so involved with a person with that kind of view about children and that you wind up marrying him.

      1. Jamie*

        This – definitely doesn’t have to be that way at all. Just make sure you’re on the same page.

        I’m not going to say having kids is always a ride on a unicorn eating a cupcake or that there weren’t days where I’d have sold my soul for 5 minutes in the bathroom without someone banging on the door…and sometimes I wistfully think of what I’d be driving if just one of the kids had been born with straight teeth (I see their orthodontist driving around town in his Mercedes and I do like to think that a portion of that car belongs to me.)

        But…and there is always a but…hands down the most important thing I’ve ever done. As much as they can be pita and little money vacuums I still look at them and can’t believe they are mine. I am so proud of who they are, and who they are becoming…and I honestly, truly believe each of them has made the world a better place just by being here. I can still remember like it was yesterday the moment I met each of them for the first time after birth…well met face to face anyway, after they’ve been kicking my bladder for months internally.

        Each time I said the most fervent prayer of my life. “Please keep them happy, healthy, and safe…and please make them love me. (Newborns are so serious looking – the love doesn’t shine back for a while)

        I don’t think anyone should have kids if they don’t want them, and they aren’t necessary for a fulfilled and happy life for everyone…but if you want to be a parent and you are committed to the well being of those babies above all else then it can be the best thing that’s ever happened to you.

        I always said if I failed at parenting nothing else would matter, and I firmly believe that. And I have three young adults who, while imperfect, are amazing, decent, and kind and with strong work ethics and a healthy combination of curiosity and caution I think I did okay. Not perfect, but okay.

        Kids need to be loved. Kids need to know that there are people raising them who are devoted to their safety, well being, and happiness (over all happiness – not the temporary kind). And they need the basics: Food, warm/safe shelter, clothing, a good education, medical/dental care, a decent public library in walking distance, and adults who are interested in their development as people.

        All the rest – it’s just icing.

        1. Anon*

          This is really beautiful. And I love that you put “a decent public library in walking distance” as a basic!

          1. Jamie*

            I honestly cannot imagine raising kids without one.

            I’ve been going to the library since I was a kid and without fail every single time I still get this weird little thrill when I check out books…because they are free! I feel like I’m getting away with something!

        2. anon*

          I think you are very right on much of this, but also on the flip side, I think we would be a better society if we more openly acknowledged that maybe not everyone needs to or should have kids, and it takes more than just love and desire to have a kid to be successful at parenthood. There are lot of children languishing in poverty, abuse and unhappy families out there, and I always wish that their parents would have paused and thought more carefully before bringing them into a dysfunctional life.

          1. Jamie*

            Agree 100%. If you don’t want them don’t have them. If you cannot afford to supply the basic needs then you aren’t ready.

            Every kid deserves a good start.

    2. Jim*

      There is little difference between haveing 1 kid or two, but a massive difference in haveing no kids and then having one

      1. fposte*

        You’re right on the second part, but there really is still quite a big difference between having one kid and two. I think the add-one difference doesn’t really start to become minimal until you get to about half a dozen and the older ones start doing part of the child care on the younger ones.

    3. Sara*

      I don’t understand this either… when I overhear my coworkers discussing their children, 90% of the time they are complaining about how they are stretched too thin and worn out, and only 10% of the time it’s positive.

      1. bearing*

        There’s a culture of complaining out there. And there are a lot of microcultures (some offices maybe?) where the main acceptable way to talk about one’s children or spouse is to complain.

      2. Rana*

        I think also that there are a lot of cultural scripts about what you “must” do to be a “good” parent, and it gets tiring trying to be perfect all the time. So venting to sympathetic ears is necessary to keep from burning out or taking it out one’s spouse or kids.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I don’t think you sound trollish. A friend of mine is a single mother, can barely makes ends meet, dad is an absent parent (and an ass), yet she wants another kid. Just like you, I’ve honestly wondered why someone would have another when it’s so hard now. It truly baffles me. But, I’m also married without children and absolutely no desire to have children. Ever.

      1. tesyaa*

        It’s called “baby fever” and it’s driven by two things:

        1 – hormones – the kind that make a woman in her 20s and 30s look at a baby and say “awwwwww”
        2 – the desire to “keep up” with siblings and friends who are having more kids. Yes, this is true, although most people don’t dare admit it.

        1. FreeThinkerTX*

          I’m 46 and have never once spontaneously said, “Awwwwww” upon seeing a baby. I say it; but I say it because it’s expected of me, because every baby is the most beautiful baby in the world to its parents and they tend to get miffed if you give an honest opinion of their child. :-)

          Also, I’m childless by choice.

          1. Jen in RO*

            I’m also child free by choice and happy about my decision, but I do feel weird sometimes that I don’t get that awwww feeling. Some babies are cute, but I still want to have a conversation with them, not coo…

          2. Ariancita*

            I’m child free by choice, love it, but do get the “awwwwww” all. the. time. for babies. They are just the most amazing strange otherworldly creatures and they are fascinatingly cute and innocent, yet so alien. But the “awwwww” does not translate at all into wanting to be a parent. I love kids. Liking kids does not mean liking to be a parent. Not enough money in the world….

    5. EM*

      This is the first thing I thought of too, and I know it sounds snarky, but WHY in heaven’s name would you want MORE children when you are in this kind of situation?

      Your partner has already shown who he is with respect to helpfulness, sharing household responsibilities, and parenting. Another child is not going to change any of that, and will only make the doing-all-the-work-partner’s life worse and more stressful.

      Does not compute.

  40. Not So NewReader*

    The lack of focusing at work and the panic attacks are probably coming from the same root cause- treat one and the other symptom will calm down.

    Just my humble opinion but please, do not bring more children or animals into your home until you get a handle on what you have now. Please don’t take on more of anything, at least for the moment.

    From first hand experience- a body that is not properly hydrated or lacks nutrition is a contributing factor to panic attacks and lack of focus. I started making sure I was drinking water every day and I got part of my focus back and less panic attacks. Make sure these basics are in place. If you are interested- I can type out here a simple technique to help you break the panic attacks….

    And I agree with others- there are no supermoms out there. None. There are people out there that seem to be doing better than other people- but that does not make them “super”. So part of your panic/lack of focus may be from misconceptions about how “well” everyone else is doing.

    To your partner- tell your SO that you need to make changes in what you are doing or you fear you will end up in the hospital. (This is not a threat, this is a statement of how things are going for you at this time.)

    Regarding your boss- Do other people work part time? If you honestly believe that your boss has no empathy for your setting then do not discuss your setting. (The boss may have some empathy but panic could be clouding your judgement sometimes. I know from first hand experience.) Know what you want- do you want 5 days at 7 hours per day, or 4 days at 8 hours per day? Have some idea of what you are negotiating for. Have some idea what you will do/say if he says no. I bet someone on this forum has done this successfully and can tell us about it.

    The common thread in your post that I see is you feel very alone and isolated because of all that is coming at you. The boss, your SO, etc do not seem to understand the magnitude of the situation.

    There is only one way to bail ourselves out of something like this and that is to delegate somethings out, and to prioritize the remaining things. Figure out what is important to you and what is not important. Not everything can be a Top Level Priority- this is not doable for anyone. A good life coach can help with these types of questions.

    Let us know how it goes…

  41. Wilton Businessman*

    From the manager perspective, it’s not my problem. If you need time to sort things out, then take the time, but when you come back to work I want you back at work. If you want to go to 4 days a week, I might need the position filled 5 days a week and I’ll have to find someone else to do the job. I’m sorry, but I need what I need.

    From the husband/partner perspective; WTF it’s not 1957. A relationship is a partnership of each member pulling their weight. I agree that either couples therapy or a good dose of “no nookie until the bills are paid” would work wonders.

    1. Jamie*

      I agree that either couples therapy or a good dose of “no nookie until the bills are paid” would work wonders.

      That’s a little drastic, don’t you think? Someone in this position has already suffered enough…find a consequence that doesn’t punish the innocent party.

  42. Sara M*

    As others have said, if you can afford to hire maid service, please do it! I resisted for a long time because I had it firmly in my head that only “rich people” could do it, and it would be somehow oppressive of me to employ workers. Now I understand that we can afford it, and I’m providing a job for a lower-income person who really needs it. I’m sharing the blessings of our stable income, in a sense. (And I always tip generously on top of the service fee to make sure I’m not exploiting anyone on accident.) It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s saved my sanity. So look into it if you can. I loved the comment earlier about “either you do 5 hours more a week, or we hire maid service.”

    1. Judy*

      One interesting thing, when my grandmother went back to work (in the 50s) as a secretary when my mom was in high school, she had a cleaning lady that came in once a week. And she kept her after retirement. They were living in a little 3 bedroom house, she was a secretary and he was an insurance agent, definitely not rich.

    2. Laura*

      We had a cleaning lady for awhile, and then found ourselves in a cash crunch and had to let her go. After the cash crunch passed, we never got around to hiring her back, and I dropped a few hints here and there but my husband never took the bait. I really, really hate housework, and I really, really suck at it.

      Then one day he muttered something about living in “squalor” and told me to go ahead and hire someone. My reply was to tell him that I had a cleaning lady when we met and started dating, so he knew full well what he was getting into. Then I said, “In the IT community we call this a “known defect” and the way we deal with it is to design a “mitigation plan.” That’s what I’ve done here.”

    3. Del*

      That’s a good way to think of it, and as long as your cleaning person is being paid a good wage (and it sounds like they are, at least for when they’re working in your home!) then there’s nothing necessarily exploitative about it, any more than there is hiring a service to do your lawn, walk your dogs, watch your children… any of that. They’re being paid to do things that you can’t do, because you’re out earning money.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I felt weird about having someone clean, also. My neighbor, and now my friend, doesn’t work. She’s in her early 40s and has some heart problems and other issues that prevent her from working. Her husband has a low-paying job and they barely get by. I have her come once a week for just a couple hours. It helps me because my husband and I both work full-time, and it helps her because she could use the extra money.

  43. Job seeker*

    I understand how you feel. I am in a situation at the moment where I am needed at home. It is interesting now that I am getting attention with resumes I submitted a while ago. Sometimes, I really do believe the wife and/or mother does know how to hold things together.

    We just got back (my husband and me) from helping our mothers in different states for almost a month. Everything went fine at home and in other ways kinda fell apart. I came home to a sinkful of dirty pots and pans and dishes. Dirty bathrooms and laundry in the dryer. Also, one of my little dogs had a health concern and is now blind. We are taking her to the vet and hopefully this was because of some wild mushrooms she ate in our backyard and can be reversed some.

    I tried so hard to plan ahead before our trip, I do believe sometimes we have to make choices in our lives. Sometimes, less hours working if you can afford this just makes life work better. I hope you are able to find a way to work this out for you and your family.

  44. AnonyT*

    Echoing what others said:

    1) Therapy for panic attacks. I also sense a need for perfection in this letter, but that’s just me.
    2) Couples therapy for you two. If you both are working, there needs to be more divvying up of household tasks. You’re not a single mother. My mother was a single mother and she was not as stressed as this until sick family members, money problems, etc.
    4) On that note, teach your child to be more independent. A five year old can keep their room in decent condition. With some help, they can make their own lunches.
    5) An occasional maid, if you can afford it, or laundry help, if you can afford that.
    6) Daily shortcuts help. You don’t have to be Martha Stewart. If you’re cooking everything, make crockpot meals or freezer meals or meals that can be prepped in a short time before work so that you can throw it in the oven and not worry over a stove. Sunday Prep helps too:
    7) Try scaling back on cleaning, if you can. Some people get by on fifteen minutes a day. Rinse dishes and put them in the dishwasher instead of letting them pile up. Make the SO unload the dishwasher.
    8) If reaching out to your SO fails, you really have to let go. Your situation reminds me of that Facebook meme, where the husband (ostensibly a professional) comes home to a wrecked house with the kids all over the place in disarray and is shocked. He finds his wife at the table and asks her what’s going on. She asks, “You know how you come home and ask me what I did today?” He nods. She responds, “Well today, I didn’t do it.”

    My SO used to do the same with me. Before, when I stayed at home, I did a lot of things around the house, and my SO didn’t find it all satisfactory, and I hated most of it and was terribly depressed. Now, I have a full time job, as does he, and he helps. We both have things we prefer to do so we divvy them up that way. I like cleaning the kitchen, he hates it, so I clean the kitchen 75% of the time even though I cook 95%. I’m not a fan of vacuuming and dusting, he loves it. We both hate laundry, but he hates taking it down more, while I hate folding more, so we do it all together. We’re actually better for divvying up stuff. The house looks better on the whole, and it’s easier for him to let go of things not being perfect because he hates doing them too.

  45. LCL*

    …and, to make the process of making the list of everything you do easier, because it is really just one more chore, send yourself an email every morning or afternoon describing what you did and time spent. Print them at the end of the week, and you have the list.

  46. Sara*

    Ha, try being one of the only single/childless people in your workplace. It’s not all a basket of roses either. I feel as if I’m under a separate set of less flexible, more strict expectations and standards simply because I do not have a child. While I may not have children, I do still have a life after 5pm just like they do.

    I don’t see how this woman’s domestic issue is or should be any concern of her manager’s and find it unprofessional she would bring it up in the first place. Unless she is being abused or something. Deaths in the family and severe illnesses, temporary bad situations like going through a divorce, etc… those are things you may need to discuss with your manager. But your lack of childcare assistance? In what way is that relevant at all to your boss at work?!

    1. scw*

      I SO agree with this! In fact I found it particularly offensive that she said that people without kids do not know what it is like to have to care about/for someone else! People’s lives are complicated, people have to take care of elderly parents, siblings, friends. Even if you don’t have kids, it doesn’t make you a soulless selfish monster who never has problems outside of work. I know parents say their lives would be empty without their kids, but realistically nature abhors a vacuum and life without kids fills up with other things that can be quite important. And honestly I get sick and tired with parents who are offended because a childless person thinks that something in their life is important, since nothing can compare to the importance that is children. Your kid’s piano lesson is less important to me than practically anything in my life–and if I can’t take my dog to the emergency room because he is dying while you run Junior to football practice I’ll be pissy.

      1. chikorita*

        Especially if you’re a singleton who has elderly/ sick/ injured/ disabled relatives/ pets/ whoever else who need care and support. Being childless doesn’t mean that being magically free of responsibilities/ any sort of life outside of work

  47. Kaz*

    I think the biggest issue here is that you are having panic attacks and aren’t able to sleep without pills, but all you can think about is “how do I keep everyone else around me happy”. You need to take care of yourself before you can solve any of these other problems. Your happiness is at least as important as your husband’s happiness or your child’s happiness. You can’t keep putting yourself last all the time.

    And you should keep in mind the old maxim – “you can do anything you want, but you can’t do everything you want” – you need to figure out what is most important in your life and prioritize that. Every single thing on the list can’t all be top priority.

  48. Corporate Sellout*

    I tried to read through all the posts to see if someone already said this, but ran out of steam at comment #50 or so. But here’s my .02: your career is not a sprint but a marathon. There will be times when you can plunge whole-heartedly into your career, and times when you can only do a B+ job. If you can relax a little bit and do a “good enough” job at work, without worrying that you have to knock the socks off your manager, then maybe you’ll be able to relax a little more at home too. You may be setting standards for yourself both at home and at work that are higher than necessary – you won’t know until you un-try!

    1. Jamie*

      Shooting for B+ at work can be hard to recover from. Situations may be transient, but reputations aren’t. A couple of missed raises/promotions will potentially lower your earnings for years.

      B+ at home is easy to recover from – they love you there.

    2. Anonymous*

      At 4 months into a job a B+ should get at the very least an extended “review” period. If at 4 months my coworker thought they could slack off I would not be happy. If they’d been in this job for 3 years with a demonstrated ability to knock the socks off everyone and they needed to do a B+ job for a month or two after a new baby? Fine, no biggie, we all have moments. But not when you just started. And not indefinitely. I hope if this ever happens my boss fires that person, including me.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit*

        Whoa, these responses surprise me. I’m a workaholic, overly ambitious, A+ kind of person myself, but I think Corporate Sellout’s point is fair and thoughtful.

        And I realize this is semantics, and we all have different ideas in our minds of what B+ work looks like, but since when did B+ become cause for alarm? It’s not like she was advocating for just getting by, slacking off, or dropping down to D-level work.

        1. Jamie*

          I see your point – but she’s only been there 4 months. When you’re new you are setting the tone of who you are and what you can do…because she’s still in the reputation building stage at that company.

          It may not be totally fair, but the initial impression is still being made and that sticks.

          The last couple of months I’ve had peaks and valleys where I wasn’t working at full capacity because of some medical things. I’ve been given a lot of leeway (more than I need) because for 5 years my bosses know well my usual pace and urgency so they know if I have a rough day medically it’s beyond my control – and it’s not reflective of what I’m capable of or who I am.

          Dropping down to a B+ for an extenuating circumstance after you’re a known commodity won’t have the same potentially serious ramifications of doing it 4 months in.

        2. PJ*

          I’m with you, Victoria. If C is average, B+ is very good. If someone is giving me consistent B+ work, they’re getting raises, and maybe even promotions.

      2. Kelly*

        This is sort of tangential, but where did you guys go to school that B+ equaled “slacking off”? I teach high school, and a B+ in my class means you met all of the unit expectations with strong results. To get an A, you need to demonstrate that you have done significant independent learning beyond the already rigorous standards of the class. You have gone beyond the given expectations.

        A lot of students would be really glad to get a B+, and I’m continually reassuring my class and their parents that B+ is a really good thing! I’m so sick of kids who think that B+ means that they are failing. Are you the people giving them this impression? If A-level is easy enough that everyone working hard can get it all the time, your standards stink.

        I just took Corporate Sellout’s comment to mean “you don’t have to be perfect”. Many people have commented on perfectionism coming through in the letter, and sometimes thinking everything at work has to be an A+ perfect product means you don’t get enough done (which at most places is the higher priority that producing masterpieces).

        1. Jamie*

          I was personally just using B+ because that was the verbiage in the original comment.

          I took it to mean not performing at maximum capacity – but not being subpar either.

          Regarding grades – I personally have been prouder of a hard earned C one of my kids really worked for than a A that they skated through. When it comes to kids and grades I’m all about the effort.

          My eldest has severe learning disabilities so I found it was a fine line to walk to make sure he was being adequately challenged, but that he was placed properly so with effort he could succeed. Nothing kills a spirit faster than working as hard as you can and failing, and nothing kills potential faster than pencil whipping the kid through without regards to what he’s actually learning. This carried over to my other kids.

          Sorry for the ramble, but for me as long as the kids are learning and applying themselves and passing I never cared about the grades. When I was growing up it was a different environment and competition and achievement was everything…far more important than what was actually learned. But having kids who are really bright but don’t excel academically taught me a huge lesson. Having academic gifts doesn’t mean your smarter than everyone else. It doesn’t mean you’re smarter than anyone else. It taught me that in our traditional school system if you learn best by reading, have a great memory, and test well people will mistake that for great intellectual ability.

          And sometimes it is, but sometimes it’s not and the over emphasis on that minimized the gifts and intellect of others who are just as bright…but it doesn’t show on the test scores.

          This is an issue near to my heart because of my own arrogance before kids and what I’ve learned by raising kids who learn differently. I have never grown so much by being knocked down a peg or 10.

          1. Kelly*

            I liked your comment. It’s a total aside, but I had to say something because I occasionally think we are crazy in this country (the US) about what “success” means. I honestly do not want my students to feel disheartened or like failures when they get a “B”, and I also do not want to give everyone who shows up and turns something in an “A”. When I’ve talked with parents though, I’ve had a lot of conversations about why Little Jane or Little Wakeen did not get a perfect score, but fewer conversations where parents asked or discussed questions like “Is Little Jane learning?” “What does Little Wakeen do the best? Where could he improve?” – I get that grades have practical meaning in the world completely separate from the learning they may or may not represent, but helping everyone learn is always my focus.

            I’ve had a lot of students who were doing well, but having panic attacks because although they were working hard and making progress, they didn’t recognize it because their parents had taught them that anything less than a perfect score was failure. My worst procrastinators who suffer from not getting everything done more often than not are struggling primarily with perfectionism. I work with teenagers, which is different than adults, but I just heard a lot of that same thread in the letter.

            I also come at it from a perspective where I have a job where I do not feel like I am A+ all the time! I teach five different subjects year-round, including two world languages, supervise and track lunch detention, and coordinate short stay programs at the school where I work. I’m always working hard (putting in 100%) but my lessons are certainly not all A+ perfect quality. I wouldn’t have my job anymore if I held myself to my own highest quality standards, because I would have spontaneously combust from stress overload already.

  49. Ms Enthusiasm*

    Maybe I’m totally off base here but, OP, are you perhaps from a different country or culture where having the woman do everything is a little more expected? If that is the case are there other women from that same country/culture that you can talk to? I agree with a lot of the other comments on here but I also think you need to build up your network of support. You need friends and family you can rely on. And it might make it easier if they have the same background as you and can offer advice on how they cope.

  50. B*

    Just because I am single with no children does not mean I have any less responsibilities at home. In fact, I am the only one to do the cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, pay the bills, fix things, etc. I do not have anyone else to ask or rely on as they are my responsibility and I am the only source of income.

    As AAM said, just because someone does not have children and is not married does not make them less understanding. The issue is, it is not their problem…it is yours. You chose this for your life so own up to it, talk to your spouse, and realize you cannot be perfect.

    I would EXTREMELY caution you to not bring up to your manager how they could not understand or your home issues, etc. The only thing it will do is alienate them. Remember this is your issue, not the workplaces.

    1. Kelly*

      I lived as a single person in an apartment for two years, before moving in with my current boyfriend.

      The cleaning/cooking/bills etc. were honestly way more time-consuming when I lived alone. Granted, I do not have children, and the trick to this is that the loved ones you live with have to help!

      1. Chinook*

        I agree that living single is more work than living as a couple (but children are more work than both). No matter what happens, I will never come home to a cooked meal or a cleaned home and food and toilet paper never magically appear. Even if I get sick, this stuff needs to be done. What’s worse is that this isn’t necessarily a lifestyle choice either (I would prefer to live with DH but that is another story).

        OTOH, there are some perks, the biggest being that the brownie and beer I remember being there yesterday will still be there when I get home.

  51. Leigh*

    I’m a mom of two and work full time, with a 2-hour daily commute. You’ve gotten some really good advice here about getting your SO to help out more, letting some stuff go undone, and hiring help as you can, and I want to second all that plus chime in with one more step: if you have vacation or sick days available, TAKE THEM. I take at least one day a month to catch up on things at home, hang out with my kids, or run errands. Sometimes I call it a vacation day, sometimes I call it what it is: a mental health day. It sounds like a small thing but that one day a month really helps keep me sane.

    But for real, get your SO to help out. You can’t do this by yourself; supermoms are a myth.

  52. Anon*

    Plenty of people have situations where the woman does 99% of the domestic work. Those set-ups work for the family and no one should judge them if that’s how they choose to live. Most of the time, this works because the mom is a SAHM and the father is the breadwinner. They’re each doing the same amount of work but in different arenas.
    But. This is clearly *not* working for the OP and her family. Whether the OP’s parter isn’t helping out because he just doesn’t want to (or think that he should), or whether he’s too busy with work, is irrelevant. The OP is carrying waaaay too much of the weight, and this situation is just. Not. Sustainable.
    There are a few ways to fix this, from my perspective:
    1) OP quits entirely and focuses just on domestic work. Maybe once things are under control, she gets a part-time job or volunteer work, as well. This works is her husband’s job is too time-consuming for him to do much around the house, but earns enough for him to support the family single-handedly.
    2) OP keeps her job and her husband steps it up significantly. Cooks dinner every other night, does half the laundry, runs errands, picks the kid up from school, etc. But we’re talking at LEAST a 40-60 split of household labor, preferrably 50-50.
    3) OP drops her standards considerably. Fewer playdates and extra curriculars, more frozen meals, more cluttered house, etc.
    4) Husband and wife shell out for help, so that the vast majority of domestic work is off wife’s shoulders.

    Any combination of these works, but SOMETHING has to change – and it’s not work. Is one more day off a week really going to be enough? Unlikely. Plus, it looks unprofessional to ask for this change so soon after starting – which could really hurt the OP in the long run.

  53. Laura*

    OP, I completely understand. It’s really tough to feel like everything needs to be done and you’re the only one to do it right. You probably feel like you’re in the middle of juggling act and everything is about to fall apart.

    So, how do you stop juggling and start balancing? I’m not going to lie; it’s really hard and I’m still trying to figure it out. But these are the things that work for us.

    1: My husband is amazing. He does so much to help around the house and with the kids. (He really likes to rearrange furniture, but in order to do that, he has to do a deep clean. Tonight, I’ll take the kids out for a coupe of hours and he’ll have the living room and kitchen cleaned and rearranged just because he’s bored with the current look. He makes dinner a couple of nights a week.) He knows we’re a team, so we focus on that. If your partner doesn’t know how overwhelmed you are, sit him/her down and explain what you’re feeling.

    2: Run on cruise control. We have the toddler’s diaper bag all packed with duplicates – extra outfits, diapers, wipes, bibs, etc. Everything she needs for daycare gets put in on Sunday, so during the week, it’s just pick up and go. Car keys ALWAYS are in the same place. Purse and work bag gets packed the night before. Figure out what you need in the mornings the night before so that the morning rush has one less thing. Use a group calendar (I like Cozi, but a lot of people find a Google Calendar works really well) to actually know your and your family’s schedules. Figure out cleaning regimens and organize your house in a way to make your life easier. And yes, your house might not be as clean as it once was. It’s ok.

    3: Get a medical check up. You said you’re using sleeping pills. Anxiety and depression can make it difficult to properly assess what’s really happening. Combined with a lack of real sleep, and it’s possible your partner is helping out, but your brain chemicals aren’t “reading” it. You may be able to come up with better ways to think about all the things you have to do.

    Good luck.

  54. Ruffingit*

    Clearly, your partner needs to be doing more. Couples counseling may help with getting him to understand that.

    However, I would also suggest taking a look at the things that are on the “to do” list. How many activities is your child involved in and do they need that many? How many play dates are you trying to make happen? How clean does the house need to be and how often?

    Basically, look at scaling back on some of the things you may be thinking of as “MUSTS.” Because it’s not a must that your kid attend six play dates and two swim lessons a week. It’s not a must that the house be cleaned top to bottom every week, etc.

    Aside from that though, I want to emphasize again that regardless of what is on the to-do list, your partner needs to be stepping up and helping. Many people (men and women) have successful careers with no problem because their partners HELP. And I might add that there’s nothing wrong with outsourcing either. If a clean house is a priority, but your partner doesn’t pitch in as much and it exhausts you, hire a cleaning person to come in once every two weeks or whatever (assuming you can afford it). Generally, you need to be dividing the chores, but it’s also OK for neither of you to do certain things and to let someone else take over.

  55. JMegan*

    I haven’t read all the comments, so I apologize if I’m repeating something that has already been said.

    Your situation sounds a lot like mine – laid off from a long-term job, a period of unemployment, now finding your way in a new job that you’re still counting in months, where you’re the only one in the group who has children. It’s like you’re living my life!

    My first thought is that your husband might be suffering from clinical depression, especially if this is a new pattern of behaviour for him. Has he always been so unwilling to help around the house, or is this a recent development? Is there something going on in his own life that might have caused this shift? (It turned out that my now-ex had post-partum depression – apparently fathers can get it too, which we didn’t know at the time.)

    Now. This is NOT to excuse his behaviour – he definitely should be stepping up to the extent of his ability. Just that it’s worth checking out to see if there’s a medical (or other) reason that the “extent of his ability” might be less than usual.

    As for yourself, can you get some help around the house – hire a cleaner to come in every couple of weeks, for example? Have a friend or a family member look after your child for a few hours so you can rest, shower, go out with your friends? I know it feels like just one more thing to add to the to-do list, but self-care is so, so important in a situation like this – in order to be a good mother, and a good office colleague, you need to take care of yourself first. (Believe me, this is a lesson I learned the hard way!)

    If you have an EAP at work, that’s a really good resource – they should have lots of ways of helping you out. Good luck, this is a really tough situation you’re in.

    1. JMegan*

      Also, plus one million to what others have said about going to your doctor. Stress, anxiety, and panic attacks are almost certainly affecting your “extent of ability” as well. You have a lot on your plate, so it’s perfectly normal that you would be experiencing these things – but just because it’s normal, doesn’t mean that it can’t be fixed or that you just have to put up with it.

      Medication, especially when combined with other forms of self-care, can often clear a whole lot of space in your head to allow you to deal with all the other stuff.

  56. A Teacher*

    I just want to echo what a few others have said, don’t go to your manager with the attitude the he/she can’t possibly understand your life. It would be like me saying you can’t possible understand how lonely or frustrating being single can be at times. It is very easy to live in a bubble and only see your life and not the struggles/challenges of those around you. I’m also single and what others have said: multiple jobs, the only one paying the bills, parents/sister, and serving as a foster mom for homeless dogs , etc…all take up time. I think I saw the saying some time ago but we’re all playing the same game, just different levels, dealing with the similar challenges just on a different journey.

  57. Katie the Fed*

    You’re bringing your manager things that aren’t his concern. How you manage your home responsibilities really isn’t his concern. He can only affect what you deal with at work. If you want to limit your hours to 40, or under that, then approach it from that angle. “I want to work fewer hours. Can we figure that out?”

    BTW, I am a big fan of work/life balance. I use up my leave. I leave at 40 hours a week. I don’t like my employees working extra hours. And I don’t have kids or a husband, so I think your generalizations are very unfair. It’s not the unmarried/unchildrened’s responsibility to ensure you have work/life balance. It’s your responsibility to address the issues you’re having with work with your manager.

  58. SJ*

    I realize this comment is so far down the list that it may never be read– but had to give an input on this.

    I understand where you’re coming from. I, too, am a woman in a relationship with someone who expects his SO to do all the stereotypical “house wife” duties: make the lunches, clean the home, etc. I don’t know if this is a cultural thing (he is not American and I am), or if this is just a spoiled Momma’s boy thing, but whatever the reason, he was raised with that old world mentality.

    I made it clear to him long ago that I would LOVE to be a stay at home “supermom”– and would do all the housework and all the play dates and all of that– if I did, in fact, get to STAY AT HOME. But if he wants me to contribute financially, he can expect to contribute on the homefront.

    I’m not saying this is the right thing for every woman (of course), and I ultimately agree with others that you’re doing too much. I’m just saying that I DO understand what it’s like to be with a man like that, and there is a way to make that lifestyle work if you both want it– but that requires giving something up, whether it be working full time, or being the “supermom” as you put it.

  59. Mena*

    The conversation you need to have is with your partner, not your employer. If Partner feels women are to be the child care taker, then focus your energies solely on this task. Let HIM do everything else. Oh, and HE doesn’t feel that cleaning, cooking, and laundry are his task? Well then he can hire someone.

    And please consider therapy to explore how/why you let yourself get into this situattion.

  60. Laura*

    Please do NOT ask your manager if you can cut your hours. He will immediately wonder if hiring you was a mistake, and this will manifest itself by mediocre performance evaluations, and being passed over for good projects and assignments. You will be setting yourself up to fail, or at least not to succeed. Your manager may be sympathetic to your struggles, but ultimately, they are not his problem. He needs someone who can do the job you were hired to do, so don’t give him cause to think he made the wrong choice, especially since you’re still new to your job.

    The first thing you should do is talk with your partner about making the division of household chores more even. Better yet, hire a cleaning service. We have people come clean every 2 weeks and it is a godsend, and not as expensive as you might think. And if you find one that provides all the supplies, you will even save a little money there too.

    Years ago my mom told me that when she and my dad were first married, she was losing her mind doing all the household stuff on her own. She grew up in a house with 7 other kids, and everyone pitched in and did whatever needed to be done without being asked. My dad grew up as an only child with a single mom who did everything for him. My mom lost it once and yelled at him for not helping her, and he very reasonably responded with, “Well, just tell me what you want me to do, and I’ll do it.” She had never asked him for help; she just assumed he was letting her do everything. Your partner may not realize everything you’re doing, if you haven’t specifically told him that you need help. So ask for help.

    I don’t know if it’s a guy thing, but my husband is kind of like this too. I have a hard time asking him to do things, which is mostly because the “nagging wife” is so NOT who I want to be, so I obsess way too much about sounding that way. Anything I ask him to help with, he will, unless there’s a specific reason that he can’t.

    We have a pretty fair division of duties. I start work later than he does, so I do the daycare drop-off in the morning, and since he finishes work earlier than I do, he does the pick-up. I do most of the cooking, but then our teenager does the dishes. I do most of the laundry, but my husband takes care of the yard, the dogs, and paying the bills.

    If you don’t communicate with your partner about needing help, things will just fester until they blow up in a very bad way. So talk to him, immediately.

    And carve out some time to do things just for yourself. I do yoga a few times a week, and I get up at the crack of dawn every morning to work out. And every few weeks I get a mani/pedi. All those things help keep me sane.

    1. Laura*

      Also, after you’ve established yourself in your job, you could test the waters and see if you could flex your schedule instead of cut your hours.

      Maybe you could work at home one day a week. Maybe scoot out a couple hours early one day a week with the understanding that you’ll make up the time and still end up with a 40 hour week.

  61. SL*

    I would recommend reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. It echos what a lot of the commenters have said – you can’t do it all without going crazy – and provides anecdotal stories of how other women have found a balance and achieved as much as they can in both realms. While the women references are fairly privileged and not necessarily in the same situation as most of us, I still think some of the strategies can be extrapolated to “normal” life and aid women in working our way up to greater successes.

  62. PPK*

    “His ideas were for me to try to focus on work while I am at work, rather than “other variety of things.” ”

    To me, this seems like valid advice from the manager — otherwise he will be trying to tell you how to run your personal life. I mean, maybe they know of a child care that’s closer to work, or of an great house cleaner, but it’s not like a manager should tell you how to structure your life outside of work.

    This might be a subtle (or maybe not so subtle) way of the manager telling you that he doesn’t want to hear about your household problems. He just wants you to do your work at work. Not that the manager doesn’t realize you have a home life and might laugh at some funny kid stories, but the manager isn’t interested in who is doing the laundry at your house.

    Some streamlining ideas that I don’t see mentioned —

    Put things on auto-pay as much as possible. Yes, it’s nice to go through your bills and sometimes companies make mistakes and bill extra, but if its auto-pay or tear your hair out and/or late fees, I vote auto-pay.

    Swap to buying lunches full or part time (another time vs. money)

    Doggie day care — maybe not every day, but a day or two a week to give the dogs extra care and exercise. Or maybe pay a neighbor kid to take the dogs for walks. Or take family walks with the dogs. I know this sounds like more stress (“wasting time”), but walking has benefits for everyone.

    Lists — This might be making light of a more serious condition, but when my brain gets wound up with other tasks, I write it down. Often this can let me relax about it and do the job that I’m supposed to. For example, if I’m at work and I have non-work stuff bugging me, I jot it down.

    Do any of the kid things have car pool potential where parents rotate picking up a couple kids? Is your partner in a position where he could do some of the pick up/drop off? Around here, it’s quite common for one parent to do one side of something (pick up after school/day-care vs. bring to). Then they can either stay late or come in early if the job demands and only have a hard time at one end of the day. We have flexible working from home, though, so people can get online and work at different times.

    One thing that I’ve learned is that sometimes it is absolutely worth paying someone to do something. Yes, there are many things you can do yourself. But sometimes the time and frustration you save yourself are worth paying someone else.

  63. LisaD*

    If a partner is basically just another child to take care of who happens to provide some income, what’s the advantage of being married over being divorced and absolving yourself of partner’s meal duties while receiving some income by way of child support? Maybe a cynical view–okay, not maybe, it IS a cynical view–but if I were in that situation,it would surely occur to me.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Not cynical, just reality. Many people (both men and women) are living in situations where they don’t have a partner, they have a child who has taken the form of an adult. In some cases, it sure is better to cut loose that person because they provide very little benefit to your life and they take away so much that it’s not worth what they do give. If they’re not willing to step it up and be an equal, letting them go is not only not cynical, it’s the only sane response.

  64. fposte*

    OP, I also haven’t seen money mentioned. If that’s a factor, you need to consider the fact that a part-time position may well not be paid at the same rate as full time (you may make less than 80% of your current salary or your hourly rate may change) and it may affect your benefits. At my office, we’d actually need to create a new position and rehire you for it (we wouldn’t want to lose an official fulltime position so we wouldn’t convert that one to part-time). It’s not a simple matter just to work fewer hours even before you get to the political/reputational issue.

    But I think you went to the workplace question because you’re desperate that something’s got to give and you’re reluctant to face the possibility that home is the place where it *should* give. I think longer-term you’re going to be more satisfied if you can get your home life arranged more supportively and your home expectations more appropriately calibrated, rather than just assuming that you’re always going to have to do what you currently do at home.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Agreed about the fact that she immediately went to work as the culprit here rather than home. It may be that she’s dealing with an unreasonable jerk of a husband who absolutely won’t throw her a life preserver when she’s drowning so she thinks work is the place to solve this problem. It’s not. Not even close. This is a home problem and needs to be resolved there. Approaching this as an issue of needing to work less is not going to clear up the problem at home.

      And please OP, PLEASE DO NOT bring another child into this situation right now. Get the home front problems ironed out first.

      1. Pussyfooter*

        And giving up a job the OP seems to Want to keep would put her more at the mercy of anyone being unfair/unkind to her at home–not less.

    2. Hooptie*

      “But I think you went to the workplace question because you’re desperate that something’s got to give and you’re reluctant to face the possibility that home is the place where it *should* give”

      Fposte – are SURE you aren’t really Captain Awkward under a pseudonym? You are so insightful. And kind.

  65. IronMaiden*

    I would recommend “Boundaries” by Drs Townsend and Cloud. It takes a bit of a Biblical approach but if you can handle that, the advice is sound.

  66. Paula*

    I feel like at almost 200 comments, mine won’t get seen, but I will post it anyway.

    This is not a work problem. It is not your manager’s responsibility to make your home life easier. Asking for a reduction of hours to take care of a terminally-ill parent, spouse, or child is appropriate. To ask for a reduction of hours so you can be at home doing laundry is not. (Assuming there is child-care during the day, and that time away from work would be used for chore-type things?)

    This is not a work problem. This is a home and relationship problem.

    I’m irritated by the people saying the partner needs to “help out” at home. It’s not helping out when it’s your home. (As others pointed out upthread, male parents aren’t ‘babysitting’ when they do child care – they are PARENTING.)

    OP wrote “My partner does help, in some ways, yes but not enough. Some really do expect the “women” to take care of child-raising.”

    If partner is expecting the OP to take care of child-raising, then I would argue that partner can be expected to take care of dogs, chauffeuring, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. There needs to be a reasonable expectation for division of labor at home, and I don’t mean 90-10 for the OP.

    Good luck, OP. I urge you to seek therapy for your panic attacks, use of sleeping medication, and relationship issues.

    Good luck.

    1. Pussyfooter*

      “I feel like at almost 200 comments, mine won’t get seen, but I will post it anyway.”

      I know this feeling, Paula–I see you! I see you! :’D

    2. Ruffingit*

      For me, when I use the term “help out at home” I use it in the sense of helping out the team (meaning the husband/wife). Both partners need to “help out” not because it’s one’s job and the other is helping, but because the helping is being done for the team effort and both people should be helping to make that team the best it can be. For me, it’s not about “it’s one person’s job and the other helps that person,” it’s about “It’s the job of each person to help out the team in achieving its goals of a clean house, raising children, etc.”

  67. Sadsack*

    I wonder if OP’s partner realizes that she is taking sleeping pills and having panic attacks. If not, time to tell him how things have really been getting done and discuss what he can do to share the load. If he is aware of the pills and the panic attacks, good luck because I don’t know how he could knowingly let her go on that way without stepping in. I am hoping that he was completely unaware and would gladly do more now that he knows.

    1. Jazzy Red*

      From the OP’s post, I think her husband is trying overwhelm her with work and responsibilities, and convice her that she’s stuck in this situation and that there’s no way out (the “women’s work” remark she made). Of course we don’t know that, but my niece’s ex-mistake did this to her, so I tend to go in that direction when I hear things like this.

      There’s a lot of good advice for her here, and I hope that things get better for her.

  68. Ali*

    Ugh…OK. I really hope you don’t ask for extra accommodation at work. As someone who is single and doesn’t have any kids, I find it really frustrating when people with kids are given special treatment…I had to work with someone who was like this, always missing time or coming to work late because it was something with the kid.

    My friend has this problem as well. She doesn’t work outside of home, but she is always trying to be the super Mom or stressing herself out when her husband won’t help. She insists on doing everything and when I try to tell her ways she can cut herself some slack, she doesn’t listen, so I’ve given up. I am stressed from time to time too, but if I ever get to the point where I am prescribed Xanax to get by…just shoot me.

    Anyway, I’m going off here, but you haven’t been at this job for long, and I really don’t think you should be treated differently just for having a kid. You knew what the demands were when you took the job, right? Then it’s your job to deal with them or find a place you can work that is going to be more flexible, if your job is indeed not flexible on this stuff. I work with someone who has a young child, and he isn’t constantly asking for special schedules or accommodations. Occasionally, something will come up, but he doesn’t make a habit of it or think he should be treated differently than the rest of us just because he has a kid at home. (We’re a remote team, so everyone has different circumstances and we just work around them.) Maybe you should learn how to handle your life a little better and take some of the load off.

    1. Hooptie*

      Hmm. I’m on anti-anxiety medication and I’d much rather be on an even keel than have someone shoot me. Unless you’ve been there it’s hard to speak to it.

      I do agree that special accommodations should not be made because someone is a parent unless everyone else also gets the same opportunities. (Flex-time, etc.)

      1. Angst*

        Anxiety sufferer here too who has been saved many times by Xanax and also Zoloft. Ali can clarify, but the way I read her note was not saying that Xanax in and of itself is a bad thing. It’s a bad thing when you’re taking it due to out of control external circumstances that you can change, but you refuse to. There, the answer is more “Get control of your life, pare down your schedule, get some help from your partner” not “Take a pill.”

        1. Hooptie*

          But it was the medication that calmed me down to have the perspective to be able to change things. Chickens and Eggs, right? :)

          1. Angst*

            Could well be that the meds help to calm you down enough to make changes. I’m just saying I read the comment above as saying one shouldn’t go to meds as the first line of defense. And I agree with that. Meds have helped me tremendously, but I don’t recommend them for everyone as the very first thing they should do. If you need them, go for it. But I get the sense from the OP’s post that she’s looking for band-aids of a sort for her problem rather than getting to the real root of the issue, which is her partner’s lack of support and assistance.

  69. Michelle*

    I used to have a boss who had two kids with learning disabilities and health issues, and a spouse with mental illness so severe that he was basically a third child, unable to care for himself.

    I learned over time never to expect that my boss would show up that day or stay for the full hours that were expected. I felt badly for the crappy home life situation and I tried to be as understanding as possible, but I still hated the expectation that I would pick up the slack since (at the time) I had “no family of my own”. (Married, but had no kids then.)

    I really hope you won’t ask for accommodation at work due to your home situation. You had the partner and the kid (and the dogs, and the laundry, etc.) before you got this job, right? But you applied for and got the job with the expectation that it was full-time hours? (Unless 40+ means 60-80?)

    It seems that most of the 225 comments above this one have a couple of things in common:

    1. You can’t do it all.
    2. You shouldn’t feel badly that you can’t do it all.
    3. Partner needs to step it up and do his fair share. (e.g. make his own lunches, half the chores, etc.)
    4. Cut back on activities (swimming, playdates, etc.) until you have a better grip on the time required for those things. NOTE: this is NOT depriving your child.

    And therapy therapy therapy.

      1. Michelle*

        You know, I know it’s from 2011 but it’s still such a useful collection of information. I’m glad to know you thought so too!

  70. Lisa*

    May I strongly suggest looking into the therapeutic work of John and Julie Gottman? Their work is science-based and very effective. They have webinars, workshops, books, and have trained therapists all over the place.
    You may think you are communicating effectively, but the work they’ve done shows that GREAT communicators connect MAYBE 40% of the time. For most of us, its more like 25% — and that’s with someone you love. (Such a depressing statistic, really.) But they don’t leave you hanging, they teach specific skills for interaction that truly work. (Some of them feel incredibly awkward at first, but they get to be 2nd nature very quickly.)

    As many have said, you and your SO need to work things out better so you aren’t killing yourself in so many ways.

  71. Hooptie*

    Lots of comments here, so if the OP gets this far…

    Would your SO (or another relative/friend) be willing to commit to watch your child for a block of time on a weekend so that you could batch some of your tasks together? My mom used to do that when we were young – we weren’t allowed to bother her on Sunday afternoons, but it was well worth having a happier, not-so-stressed mom the rest of the week.

    I would honestly focus on getting him to agree to ONE thing rather than a huge discussion on equal share of the work – that may make him MORE resistant and won’t help if you want to stay in the relationship. Baby steps!

    If you happen to live near a college, you may want to consider a nanny-type situation; maybe free room and board in exchange for certain tasks – if you have the space and are comfortable with that?

    I live alone, but even when my ex lived with me I liked to make casseroles, etc. on the weekend and throw them in the refrigerator/freezer for later in the week. We both preferred not to eat leftovers, so I divide the recipes in half and use two 8 x 8 pyrex dishes with the covers (so simple). They do take a little longer to cook when frozen, but it saves tons of time during the week on prep and cleanup! Lasagne, tater tot casserole, meatloaf – tons of things are good (and sometimes better) after being frozen. You can divide them pretty easily too.

    Another suggestion – could you buy salad mix and some sliced deli meat and cheese and throw together quick chef’s salads?

    I hated having to go around the house and pick up my ex’s dirty laundry. We made a deal – any colors went immediately into the washer and as soon as the machine was full whoever was there started it. Whites went in a hamper next to the washer. I still did all the folding, but that I could do when I had time (while watching TV, etc.)

    I feel for you, OP. I have to carefully manage my anxiety too. I didn’t require therapy, just talked to my doctor and she put me on a medication that keeps me on an even keel. So try that too if you like. Therapy is another huge time commitment that you may not be able to handle right now, so maybe this would work for you.

  72. Kim*

    I’m making the assumption that he’s either 1) aware that he’s a slacker and doesn’t care, or 2) claims that he’s doing his full share, even though he so isn’t, and this is a sore subject.
    Either way, for heaven’s sake don’t even think of having another child in this marriage with a partner who isn’t fully participating in the running of the household and/or parenting.
    Also, your letter in no way hints this, but please don’t let the dogs be the ones to pay the price and lose their home and family if this situation becomes more difficult, unless it’s to friends or family that you know will take good care of them.
    I recommend the “Crucial Conversations” book for advice on having the difficult talks you need to have with your husband. (Your job isn’t the issue, really.) However, speaking from painful experience, don’t accept a half-assed effort on his part as adequate improvement. Your husband receives the benefits of the home and life you’ve built – he’s responsible for 50% of the work it takes to keep it going. If he refuses, it’s time to begin preparing an exit strategy (or accept that your life will increasingly be filled with resentment, stress, and exhaustion.) Harsh? Yes. But you only get one life. Don’t waste it with someone who’s lazy and selfish.
    Personally, handling everything being on my own is EASIER than when I had someone around who threw self-righteous crumbs of assistance my way and cared nothing about my health or mental state. The disrespect was the heaviest weight, not the actual chores and errands.

    1. PuppyKat*

      Thank you so much for bringing up that the OP should be compassionate toward their dogs, if something bad happens. Two of our three dogs came from shelters where they were dumped because they didn’t fit someone’s lifestyle anymore. (We were able to get their back stories.)

      And before I get jumped on, yes, I do understand that people’s lives can change through no fault of their own. However, I still think that you owe it to your dogs, cats, gerbils, etc.—all the ones who love you and ask for so little in return—to find them stable loving homes, or at least get them into a no-kill rescue situation.

  73. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

    I don’t think that it is unreasonable to ask to go down to part-time. Many employers are open to part-time employees, job sharing and flex time. Offering flexibility is very attractive to working parents. Take a good look at the company culture. Are there other employees with this kind of flexibility? If this isn’t an option for you and you want to stay in your current role, there are certainly things that you can try to make your life easier. Try a working mom’s support group. Either in person or virtual. I get a lot of great tips from other working moms. That being said, it IS hard to juggle a family and a career. However, if it is so hard for you that you are having panic attacks and trouble sleeping, there could be more going on. I would suggest seeing if your employer offers an Employee Assistance Plan as part of your benefits package and contacting them to find information on a counselor who may be able to help you find some balance. Also, If your partner is not helping enough, you have to speak up and specifically state what you need taken care of and make it perfectly clear that this extra stress is affecting your health and your job performance (stressing the importance of their help and support). Lastly, feel free to let some things go. You are not a bad mom if your house gets messy, laundry piles up, or you eat takeout a few times a week. So focus on what is most important. Everything else can wait. Good luck with everything!~

  74. Pussyfooter*

    Hi OP,

    I identify with panic attacks and insomnia. The only help I knew of was family and they didn’t trust the mainstream medical establishment so denied my requests for getting counseling. I thought I could tough my way through a couple years of an AA degree. As my totally undiagnosed anxiety got out of control, I dropped from full time to 3/4, to 1/2 time. That was a BIG mistake, and I totally REGRET it.

    If you are having physical symptoms, it’s realistic to get that addressed ASAP. You’ll have a much faster, easier time figuring out what to do when you’ve slept and your mind’s not racing. If a heart to heart conversation with your SO gives you that, fine. If a trip to a therapist gives you that, fine. (The best therapy gives you short term support, while showing you how to change what’s not working into a better long-term solution…so it’s just a stepping stone to interacting with the people in your life, anyway.)

    We really can’t tell from a short letter if you’re SO is totally closed to any change, how happy you are in that relationship, etc. so it’s awfully hard to know which advice would be helpful to you. Personally, I avoid men who think their gender/humanity is at risk if they’re fed a bite of quiche (stupid), or wash and put away their own plate (selfish/inconsiderate). If your guy is that clueless, you might consider yourself a single, working mother of TWO children, with pets to care for too.

    *I am so marking this entire thread today for life-skills advice for myself. There are some really helpful comments throughout and this is a really good thread.

    I hope something we’ve said helps you OP.

  75. Spiny*

    While at work, I suggest giving yourself a set amount of time to to worry about home stuff. Maybe 15 minutes every few hours or something. Jot down the to-do thoughts that flit across your mind and ignore the list until that set time.
    Also, use reminders- I love Google calendar for this. Outlook is also pretty good, especially the snooze and follow-up functiond. I have lots of reoccurring reminders for stupid stuff that I worry I’ll forget.

  76. Anonymous*

    I think you should look into hiring some help around the house. Really, it does depend on your income – it’s probably not worthwhile if you are minimum wage, but there are lots of jobs where it might be a better option. Ask yourself whether the price of a cleaning service is comparable to the reduction in work hours that you are considering. Also consider delegating tasks to the child, if the child is old enough and if your husband won’t help out.

    Look around for babysitting options – maybe you have a neighbor, friend, or relative who’d do it cheaply. Maybe you could hire a nanny or a part-time babysitter, or get a daycare.

    Also, take stock of what you’re doing and look for places where you can cut back your effort. Maybe instead of cooking dinner, you get takeout on some days, or go to a restaurant, or just make something simple (salad? sandwich?). Maybe instead of cleaning once a week, you clean every other week. Maybe you don’t need to put quite so much effort in with your child, and you can let him/her have more unstructured play time (again, depends on the kid’s age).

  77. JoAnna*

    I’m married, have 4.5 kids (8, 5, 3, 20 months, and due in October), and work full-time outside the home. My commute is 43 miles one way, which takes me about 1-1.5 hours depending on traffic.

    How do I do it? Very low standards, a house cleaner who comes every other week, and a husband who helps out with a lot (he also works full-time but from home). Eventually I’d like to be a SAHM, but right now we need both incomes even after daycare costs.

    My work-home balance sucks, frankly, but right now I’m doing the best I can with the circumstances I’m in. That’s all anyone can do.

  78. theotherjennifer*

    taking sleeping pills is clearly not a long term solution – and before you think about bringing another child into the world you need to get your priorities in order. Work is work. Life is life and you need some help with the life part. good luck.

  79. Hooptie*

    I thought about this overnight, and again, since there are so many comments maybe I missed this. But there didn’t seem to be a lot of suggestions on how to manage her work.

    How are your organization and prioritization skills? Do you have tools that you use?

    I live and die by task lists. It is so simple to drag an email into Tasks, and very quick to type in a new task, at least in Outlook 2010. It takes a huge load off my mind, because I don’t have to worry about missing something if I’m super busy and my mind is racing.

    Every morning, and a couple of times through the day, I analyze my task list, and break down what has to be done and what I CAN do on larger projects.

    Planners work really well for a lot of people, but it’s faster for me to just work out of Outlook.

    It also provides SO much satisfaction crossing things off the list. :)

  80. Cruella Da Boss*

    Actually, it sounds more like you are trying to justify quitting your job to juggle the responsibilities (and guilt) of motherhood.

    Been there, done that (Mom of 4 here: 1 Tracy Flick-esque, over-achieving future President, 1 set of OCD twins, 1 Aspie) and I say go ahead and do it!

    If raising children is the woman’s work, then I guess providing a living is the man’s, right?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Keep in mind, though, that if you do quit, you’ll probably be limiting your future earnings if you decide to go back, not paying into social security and retirement, and potentially being in a harder position if you ever end up not married to your husband for any reason (widowhood or divorce).

      I’m not saying don’t do it, just to make sure you have your eyes open about this stuff.

  81. Jessa*

    I really think that before you go in with any plan to your boss, you make sure it’s the plan you can live with. You will NOT be able to go back and change it later citing more stress/work. Also, I hate to say this but I’m going to. Now is not the time to be thinking of more children. You are already saying you don’t have the life balance for what you have now.

    You may want to talk to a counselor, not just to settle out what your work/life balance is but maybe a financial one as well. It might well be better for you to work part time, or you might be able to afford a cleaning service or something else, if you stay full time. If you don’t end up settling things out where your partner provides more help, there are people you can hire to help. Particularly if you’re working.

    And this next part may be a little hard –
    But you have to get that A: it’s not the job of your boss to fix this for you and B: it’s not about fair with the other people that have no kids, they may have parents they’re taking care of, they may have significant others with problems. They may have pets that are ill. They may just have their own lives. The fact that they don’t have kids doesn’t make the fact that you do, their issue to solve.

    Every task you do or do not do is a choice you make. Every task your partner or child do or do not do is a choice (or in your child’s case possibly an age issue, I do not know how old your child is so I have no idea what level of “keep your room clean etc.” can be expected.) But make yourself a list of everything.

    Then make some decisions. Some of that stuff can be farmed out to your partner (ask which stuff they want to take off your list.) Some of it can be ignored a little. A little dirt in a house never killed anyone. Some of it can be hired out (cleaning, laundry, etc.)

    Also, if you’ve never spoken up before, and played the “I can do it all” card all this time, your partner may have no real clue that you NEED or want help. So you really need to come at this without blame. There can’t be any “you never do the dishes” if you’ve never ever expressed that you’re tired of doing the dishes.

  82. Vicki*

    I would like to know why the word “women” was quoted this way in the original letter:

    `Some really do expect the “women” to take care of child-raising.’

  83. Jessica*

    I realize I’m super late to the party on this one, and that other commenters have said the same thing, but here goes:

    OP, if you only take one piece of advice from this, please care about yourself enough to go to a doctor and get help for your anxiety. The best thing you can do for your family and your career is to make sure that you are able to be present, and not sidelined because of debilitating panic attacks and lack of sleep. It may not solve your work/life balance problem immediately, but it will put you in a better place to deal with these issues rationally and make good choices. Take care of yourself, and best of luck with everything!

  84. Patty*

    There are downloadable calendars you can download as PDFs, modify as needed, and print.

    Start by making a chart of every daily, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly task you can think of. Put them in a spread sheet or chart in word. Probably best to have the daily, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly things on their own charts..

    Leave space for a set of initials and a check mark — then, sit down with him and say which of these things do you want to start doing — because I can’t do them all. Get him to see, visually, how much time all of this will take you.. Then for the coming month, print out the lists as well as a weekly or monthly calendar with appointments etc.. on it. Keep it all handy and ask him to check off when he does stuff so that you can stop being concerned about it having been done (especially something like paying bills — or scrubbing the shower..).

    Your child should have responsibilities on a daily and perhaps weekly basis — even little kids can set the table, help with kitchen clean-up and pick up their own rooms — the way you present it to your child is that they’re part of the household and need to chip-in to make things work well.

    Then, as others have said, let him do things his way..

    If that doesn’t work, find a cleaning person to come in weekly or bi-weekly — tell your spouse that they’ll be taking care of nearly all the cleaning duties…

  85. Nancypie*

    OMG its not “helping”! Your spouse also lives there and also has a child. It’s contributing to the household. That is really bugging me in this thread.

    Ok, now to offer something productive. Does your area have Peapod grocery deliveries, or something similar? The charge was either $ 7 or $14, and they were always giving me free deals. After you place your first order, it saves your foods, so you can just recheck things you need again. So after your list is established, it takes about 10minutes to order next time.

    Automate your monthly bills.

    Don’t make beds during the week. Pick up the house for 15 minutes an evening. Use a sorting hamper to streamline laundry. Or drop laundry off for wash and fold during busy weeks (but this is pricy). Get a cleaning service and then just touch up in between.

    Most of all, just hang in there. It takes a while for things to settle in.

  86. EG*

    As a wife and FT employee with a husband who suffers from anxiety, panic, and is 100% disabled/stays at home, I completely relate to all of the issues being discussed. Life is crazy, and usually piles on more just when you think you can’t take any more.

    1. please go see a therapist, or talk to your doctor about other options. medicine is helpful, but having a therapist or someone who can talk you through the options.
    2. talk to your spouse. if he isn’t on board with helping, talk to someone else. if he was unaware of the extent of your issues, this will be essential to helping you unload some duties.
    3. find time for yourself. even if it’s 5 minutes reading a book or spending a few minutes writing in a journal while waiting for dinner to finish cooking, every little bit helps you focus on yourself and you are important!

  87. Danielle*

    I’m a single mom of five with a full time job. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and do what you have to do.

  88. KF*

    OP: I would like to thank everyone of all their comments on this post.

    Its been some time since I had posted and had asked this particular question.

    I have begun to seek therapy. Has it helped. A bit. Are they on my side? A bit. It just seems from my observation of our session is that she wants me to be happy, and whatever makes me happy she is willing to work with me on that. Be it that I may “sound” like a whiny child. (I read just about all the posts).

    Hubby has also begun therapy with me. We’ve only had a few sessions so far but is it working? Maybe. I will have to see as time goes on. Has he been helping? Yes and no. Again we have to see it as time goes on.

    Medication? I have been working on that as well. Has it been helping? a bit. I suppose every little bit helps.

    I do enjoy the fact that some people on here may think how easy it is to manage your house hold family work and motherhood. Suck it up does not work well with me, since I am the one who will usually work well and hard to accomplish my goals. The ability to hire a housekeeper is not really an option as well. Having my 2 year old daughter do chores around the house would not really work as well. Those parents who have 4,5,6,7 children and work full time jobs, I praise you, and hope that you yourself and spouse are raising your children, rather than your children raising your children.


    In my own decision, and in therapy and in talks with other parents similar in my situation, I have decided I will find a job which permits me to spend more time with my child, and more time with my family, and more time to reflect on being a parent. I am not selling myself short on anything. I do not feel that way at all. If my current position does not allow me to do so, I will find another place where I can praise myself for being me.

    Put it in smaller much much much smaller terminology. We only live once. We are nothing but a speck of dust on this planet. If nobody will ever remember your existence, if nobody will ever remember your name or your birthday, it will always be your family. Even if you have the most loving/hatred for that person, they will remember you.

    I hope some will see it just as an observation sort of way rather than, the JUST SUCK IT UP AND DO YOUR JOB sort of thing. Which way would you like to look at it. In a more of positive or a negative way?

    I am still having anxiety attacks, and only sleeping 5.5 or so hours a night. Again, I am working on it. I appreciate EVERYONE’S advise, both good bad negative and positive, for you took the 3 4 minutes to just make a comment, a note, a suggestion, a blip of a moment in your life to write to me.

    I will keep updates for you.

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