Tuesday, July 27, 2010

He Said She Said: What the working parent expect of the SAHP

Two of our contributors are asked to take opposing stances on an issue and present a case for their viewpoint. Comment and tell us who you agree with or what you believe or think! The topics are suppose to elicit a response and start a conversation in comments. Enjoy!

TOPIC: My spouse expected me to do the house tidying when I was out of a job and at home (always bugs me when she is the one who trashes the house and expects me to clean her mess up).

She Said: Nitebyrd

This statement brings a plethora of questions to mind regarding the definition of “trashing the house.” Unless the employed spouse has a hobby of doing chainsaw sculptures in the living room, allows their pet goats free rein in the house or entertains rock bands for tequila tastings in the evening, then “trashing” begs further description.

I’m going to assume that the employed spouse does none of the aforementioned things and that “trashing” consists of more minor transgressions such as, leaving dishes in the sink, the morning paper spread out over the table, uncapped toothpaste tubes and overflowing garbage cans. Should the employed person expect clean up of these types of things? Well, YES! Yes, they should.

Let’s face if folks, no matter how hard we try, household and child care chores are not now nor will they ever be a 50-50 deal for most people. One person always gets more of the burden. Usually, this is the woman in a regular hetero relationship. If the woman is employed and the male is not, then expecting him to maintain regular household chores whilst still looking for suitable employment is not asking too much. Most days, you are not spending eight to 1- hours job hunting. Having the house stand up to “white-glove inspection” or having gourmet meals prepared each evening isn’t what I’m saying. But expecting to come home to a tidy/clean house, laundry done, kids not filthy, homework started or done and dinner ready, seems reasonable to me. After all, stay-at-home parents and/or spouses are expected to get all that done and more.

The stress of losing a necessary income and bearing the weight of the family’s financial welfare is difficult, to say the least. Add on coming home to a messy house, children that are dirty and hungry, laundry piling up, dogs needing to be walked and a spouse who’s first question, after a day at home is, “What’s for dinner?” and you are looking a potentially homicidal situation. So, would hanging up the wet towels, wiping toothpaste off the counter, washing dishes, dusting, vacuuming and learning how to work that machine that cleans the clothes be too much to ask for making home life less volatile?

I think not.

He Said: DCHY

As most of you know, I am a SAHP. I used to work for a living. The terms, while I was gainfully employed, was different. What I meant by "terms" was who did what with the housework.

My wife and I shared equally at the time. Sometimes, she would complain that I wasn't doing my part. The truth was she contributed more to the mess than I did and she thought I wasn't doing my part.

We had our discussions (yes, plural) about that and I coined the term/phrase for what she did - "I'll do it later" and she realized that she was looking at so many of her "I'll do it later" piles. Then, I didn't have a job anymore...

I have a slight touch of OCD and seeing the mess everywhere drives me NUTS. She even created catch-all drawers (there are 6 now) to deal with them later. I tried my best to avoid all the "I'll do it later" piles and just clean the rest up.

I'm telling you...the piles breed faster than the rabbits! As I sit typing this, there's a collective mess of my girls' toys and whatnots all over the living room to my left...and a bit more of the same in the TV room to my right...and toys strewn all over the dining room behind me.

There's clothes all over the couch in the TV room and in the hampers, all for my wife and my girls. My youngest is only 3 years old and cannot possibly put her clothes away. I would do it, but her closet is stuffed full of "I'll do it later". Argh.

Tell me this - should I still clean up all the "I'll do it later" mess or accept my thankless role of being a SAHP and clean?


Okay everyone! What do you have to say?


Anonymous said...

As much as I adore DCHY, if going simply but what He Said, She Said, I have to side with Nitebyrd. Sorry darling TL.

But here's my thoughts;

I am the SAHP. That means, in my opinion, that the majority of the house work is for me to do. There are some things that I simply will not do; lawn care and taking the garbage out (though there are times that I will surprise hubby and do it). I also do not do the cooking in our house. That is something hubby enjoys doing and I think it's a way for him to push work out of his mind so that he's entirely here for his family.

Now, having said that, when he is home, I feel that we are BOTH home, NEITHER of us are working. Which means, things like house work and child rearing is now a 50/50 thing.

No matter what; I do expect my husband to tidy up after himself. I expect him to put his dishes in the kitchen (hey, even if he simply puts them on the counter and not in the dishwasher Im happy), dirty laundry in the hamper, towels put in the hamper box, pee drips wiped up off the floor or side of toilet.

He's a grown man. He can take care of himself and did so for many many years before we married. Just because I am the SAHP doesn't give him a free pass at being a slob.

So, yes, the SAHP (for whatever reason they are home) should be doing the majority of the house work. However, the other spouse should be picking up after themselves. They are not a 2 yr old (and DCHY, don't you dare tell the sexy wife that I said that lol).

Oh, and for the record, I do expect my 6yr old and 3yr old to clean up after themselves too. They need to pick up their toys and put them where they belong. They need to put dirty clothes in the hamper, though I would never expect them to put away clean clothes because, like DCHY, I have a little OCD in me and they need to be folded and put away EXACTLY or I simply cannot function.

Elaina said...

I'm a SAHM of two, an almost-3 year old, and an almost-1 year old. I think my primary job is to take care of the children. For example, my daughter knows all her letters, can write her name, and knows a few sight words. My son, the 1 year old, knows a few words in sign language, and we do lots of playtime and singing. However, I think part of raising healthy, happy children is giving them a healthy, chaos-free environment, so yes, I do the majority of the housework.
I am NOT a clean freak by any stretch of the imagination, so it's hard for me to force myself to stay on top of the housework, but I think that it's part of my job.
I will say, however, that it frustrates me that when my husband is off work, he's off, but I spend my evenings making dinner, cleaning the kitchen, etc. I'm in school, so I feel like my whole day is jammed packed, while my husband comes home from work and decompresses. I've expressed this frustration, and he's taken over smoe of the evening childcare, like bathtime and storytime, so I can do my homework. Still, I had to get up before everyone this morning so that I'd have time to squeeze in a workout before the kids got up.

Basically, I think each spouse should have some personal responsibility, but I still usually end up picking up my husbands sweaty PTs that he dropped in the floor on the way to the shower. Its just not worth the argument, nor is it worth the frustration. And I try to think how frustrated I would be if I went to work everyday, then came home to a messy house. I know that I'm busy all day with the kids, but he may not know that. To him, it probably seems like I don't do much, even though I spent naptime writing a paper and I supervised playtime while folding clothes.

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

I think that if you are the SAHP that cleaning and maintaining the household is part of your "job". A "job" I consider the best in the world!

Having said that. It's also a hard job and one that is 24 hours 7 days a week, you can't even take sick time because there isn't time for that!

Having to work now I miss being a SAHP, even the cleaning because it got done. But I do remember how irritated I would get that he put his clothes on the end of the bed AGAIN because he stayed up watching TV until he fell asleep and was evidently too tired to put his clothes in the hamper right next to where he dropped them.

Now having to worked and staying up later than I should because I don't want to start my day again, I see MY clothes slowly piling up at the end of my bed because I was just too tired to put them away or in the hamper...

All I know is, do the best we can and don't allow the rest to get under our skin. But then again, I didn't get OCD when it comes to cleaning-so I can see how someone wld be a bit more irritated.

SciFi Dad said...

I think the WOHP needs to be a responsible adult, and not leave piles of crap everywhere. However, I also feel that the SAHP is responsible for much of the day to day home maintenance.

I understand the perspective that childcare is the primary task, and I agree with it. But I don't think it's the only task.

nitebyrd said...

The children need to clean up their toys, clothing, etc. before bedtime. That should not be your responsibility. Make it a game with the 3 year old, she can put her dirty clothes in the hamper, I think and be taught to pick up after herself.

The "I'll deal with it later" piles, go through them - you should know what's junk and what's not. Toss the junk, put the rest in a laundry basket. Show your wife the leftovers and tell her, "Later has come." Screaming and gnashing of teeth will ensue but give her a time limit then toss it.

I did this to my children (my ex-spouse worked as I did and he never really collected piles) - once. That was all it took. The lesson was costly but worth it.

nitebyrd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elaina said...

nitebyrd, I disagree. Sorting through the piles, tossing the stuff that you KNOW is junk, that's fine. But setting a time limit and then tossing everything shows a serious disrespect to your spouse. She may be disrespecting him as well, but not honoring his request to deal with the mess, but that won't be solved by throwing away her belongings. I ask my husband to do things that are important to me, but I don't tell him, and I would never throw his belongings away.

DCHY said...

Alex - kids learn from their parents, right? Guess who they're learning from in terms of creating a mess. How can I effectively enforce the rule of tidying up when one of us goes the "Do as I say, not as I do" way? Defeats the purpose of getting the girls to clean up.

Elaina - congratulations to you for teaching your son sign language (even if it's few signs). My wife used to go after me for not leaving my dirty clothes where they're supposed to be. Now, she leaves hers all over. LOL

Shelle - I can see how you totally get it when the shoe is on the other foot.

SciFi Dad - yeah, I take care of the girls. Not complaining one bit about that at all. You're right, it is not the only task. I do the dishes, take out the trash, feed the girls, nap the youngest, clean up the house, put away my clothes, make my older put hers away, and then kick back.

Nitebyrd - I did that (tossing out the "I'll do it later" piles) once...there was a huge fallout over that. She just doesn't want to admit that is a problem. See no evil... The only thing I can do is remind her, remind her, remind her, remind her, and remind her.

Elaina - you're right...she is disrespecting me. She knows she needs to clean everything up.

TisforTonya said...

I went back to work 11 months ago.

The house went to pot.

Okay "pot" might be overstating things... but my catch-all piles accumulated. I hate these piles - and I think that OF COURSE I will get to them later. I've gotten to them later... it just usually takes a deadline (like my brother visiting in a few days) to kick me into high gear.

I would get mighty pissy though if ManOfTheHouse started treating me like a child by creating an arbitrary deadline and threatening to toss it all. Nothing sits for MONTHS... but weeks? maybe.

We apparently need a SAHP - but polygamy is illegal (and distasteful in the extreme to me) I guess it's time to put on my big girl panties and deal.

Anonymous said...

Blogger is really pissing me off today. Comments are getting screwed up and half the time aren't posting. I'm going to try this ALL OVER AGAIN.

@ DCHY - I'd like to say that you should tell E&C that Mommy is doing something bad by leaving her stuff where ever it may fall. However, I know this is a huge No-No in the parenting world. However, you could word it differently; say something along the lines of ... "We must all tidy up after ourselves to help Daddy around the house. By learning to pick up your toys and other belongings, you're being big girls and it makes me very proud of you!"

I'm sure you've talked to Sexy Wife about this but maybe try again. Tell her how you feel that by leaving these things and never sticking to her promise that she is hurting you and disrespecting you.

Also, have you tried going through the piles together? We're currently working on the basement, something that needs to get done. I don't know what is garbage down there and what needs to be kept, but hubby needs me to keep him company. I sit there with him, chat, hold the garbage bag and just be there with him while he does it. He gets more done that way and it's much more fun when there's two people involved. Maybe even get the kids involved if possible?

@ Nitebyrd - I too would never throw away someone else's items. With my luck, I would throw something very important away. Yes, it would be their own fault for just leaving it laying around, but utimately, I'm the one who threw it in the garbage. However, I can entirely see how you would make that decision. I've thought of it lol.

@ Shelle - My husband would do the same thing; take clothes off and drop them right next to the hamper. Geez it was sooooooo annoying.

I don't view what I do as a "job". It's just simply what I do in our family/marriage. The role I play, so to speak. However, I agree, house work is something that is a never ending job. It's not something that can just be turned off and has 9-4 hours. Because of that, when hubby is home, we tend to make things 50/50 or as close to that as possible. He does his fair share, especially when I've had a hard day with the kiddos.

As for the OCD part of it all, it's hard. If things aren't put in exactly the right place, in exactly the right order, I can't breath properly. I have to stop everything just to fix it.

@ SciFi Dad - I agree completely with everything you said.

@ Elaina - I liked your comments. I can relate, especially with people not realizing just how much work there is when you are a SAHP.

@ T - I had to laugh at your last comment about polygamy lol. I do, however, disagree with how a deadline would be treating someone like a child. However, you're completely entitled to feel that way if it were you. I just disagree :) But, again, I still wouldn't toss everything out.

DCHY said...

T - maybe we should move to parts of the world where polygamy is legal... ;)

Alex - I've gone through the piles with her. I've talked to the girls. I have tried ultimatums. The only thing that could possibly help...is to move to another house and repeat every few years. ;)

TisforTonya said...

it probably comes from HOW it is said rather than WHAT is said...

"hey honey - would you like me to help with these so that we can have the counters clear by the weekend" goes over a teensy bit better than - "you know - I haven't seen this counter in 2 weeks, I'm pushing it all into the trash at 5 p.m. so if you want anything you'd better scramble"

DISCLAIMER - my idea of "piles" and "clutter" is probably not the same as everyone's... mine is the coupons I may use pile (that one I don't mind tossing really...) and the kids schoolwork pile (which disappears at the end of the school year anyway!)

DCHY said...

T - honey gathers more flies than vinegar...but garbage attracts more. ;) I'll try again tonight and get back to you what her answer is. I'm betting she will say something like "Ok, let's do it this weekend".

Unknown said...

Being a SAHM for the first 9 months of my daughters life, I have some room to talk here.

My boyfriend did not EXPECT anything from me, as we had a new baby. I, however, did. He worked long shifts and I stayed home with a child. Although a child can be a job on its own, that child sleeps. It naps, or it goes to play in its room (older children). I kept the house clean (errr tidy...) I did the laundry and the dishes and made dinner and I did it all with a smile on my face because I appreciated being able to stay at home and I appreciated that my significant other had to work outside of the home. If you do not have a job, you should pick up messes. That pile of toys you speak of, instead of fretting over them, pick them up. It would take less time than the fight that is brooding. If the "junk" drawers bother you, clean them out. What else do you have to do?

Unknown said...

Ok, I just read through the comments and I must say DCHY there is more here than being a SAHP. She is being deliberate in her ways. When I was a SAHM I would do dishes and such left over from dinner, but the dishes made it to the sink, I never had to go get them. The clothes made it to the hampers, I never had to go get them. A little picking up after him here and there was okay, but if he was being a deliberate slob because he thought I should be his cleaning lady? That is a whole different story. Being a SAHM was a full time job as well, I didn't need to be a maid on top of it.

DCHY said...

Heather - thank you for reading through everything. That's how I see it. Should I still clean up after her anyway? That's the question.

Elaina said...

DCHY: the answer to that question is, which is more important to you, keeping the peace, or sharing the burden? For me, it's usually keeping the peace.

Elaina said...

(I forgot to add this) But, I usually feel like I have my husband's support and gratitude, so it's easier to grit my teeth and pick up after his little messes. I think if I got the feeling that it was "expected" of me, it would be a different story.

TisforTonya said...

DCHY - garbage? if ANY of it's garbage that is actually attracting any sort of critter then you have my full support in losing your patience. Best of luck tonight.

And no, don't pick up after her anyway! I know I said not to treat her like a child BUT when my kids leave their dishes laying about I start doing the dishes that are in the sink and say to the offender "hey, I'll do the dishes if you'll run get me the ones I saw sitting downstairs"... it is starting to make a difference... and if teenagers can learn - so can a female adult.

I SWEAR my piles are things that I know have a home (need to be filed) and they eventually get that way... Do not feel it necessary to report me to that hoarders show (ugh, I saw an ad for that once, enough to make me lose my appetite!)

~DokterKenny said...

What the hell is a SAHP..and Shelle this blog is a mess when the frig are you are you gonna clean it up?

nitebyrd said...

Alex, Elaina & Shelle ~ I'm at a disadvantage here because I never was a SAHP. Oh, I wanted to be but circumstances didn't allow me to. Being a SAHP is definitely a full-time job. Just being a parent is a full-time job with lots of unpaid overtime! I do think that the adults in the marriage/partnership need to act like adults - be responsible for their actions. In a case where a formerly working parent is now home, they should take on the majority of the household duties. I doubt I could think any other way. As for the working person's "messes", again, everyone has a different interpretation of "mess". If the "piles" are batches of junk mail, magazines, coupons, and useless bits of "stuff" and the person either refuses or just can't "get to it" in a reasonable amount of time AND the piles keep growing and/or multiplying, then after logical, calm discussion about such "piles", I still say - THROW IT OUT! The person that has made the "piles" has been asked, begged, cajoled, etc. I'm not saying toss out important or valuable items. As for disrespect, the person who is making the "mess" and refusing to handle it is disrespecting the partner that wants to keep the house neat and tidy for the family.

T ~ You've set deadlines for yourself, no problem. Piles of paper of whatnot that sit around for a few weeks and are in a constant state of flux are not the same as "piles" that continue to grow over months - even after the pile maker has been asked, begged, cajoled to PLEASE clean them up. This is lazy, childish behavior and I think should be treated as such. (Then again, I'm a bitch!) Since I've worked full-time since God was a boy, I've always said, "I need a wife."

Alex ~ Since I'm the "Seat Of Power" in my house, I make all the decisions because my ex won't/can't/doesn't. I came to realize that because he accepts no responsibility he can never take blame for the consequences should they turn out badly. Not that he will heap praise upon me when things turn out well, either. Therefore, my tossing the shit won't cause me any more problems then I already have.

Heather ~ I think that DCHY has the whole childcare down pat. And I guess that really isn't part of it. At least I assume that because it wasn't brought up originally. His children are seeing a poor example of responsibility from his wife but that is something he can change by being a SAHP. Housework, laundry, shopping, getting the kids to school and activities, helping with homework, etc. are going to be the bulk of the SAHP responsibilities. And they should be. Getting the working spouse to be responsible for his/her own messes that are hindering the ability of the SAHP's to do a good job for the family is the problem.

Anonymous said...

I think the SAHP should do the houseowrk.
If the deal is one works and one doesnt then there ya go, its no brainer.

The one that stays home tho can make rules. Rules of the house. And the worker should abide by them!

UP said...

I've usually worked 60 to 70 hours a week. TLW stayed @ home with the spawn for years. I made the grevious error of asking "what do you do all day?" A seriously stupid question. She told me, I never asked again. TLW isn't a house cleaner, she's an amazing cook, and a wonderful mother. I brought home the bacon, she made me bacon, egg, and arugula sandwiches. I had four heart attacks, go figure. Marriage is a partnership; if you get it out, put it UP, if you spill it, wipe it UP, and if you don't like it but can live with it, shut UP.

(shameless self promotion is my forte!)