Do you feel like you’re always on and never take off that parent hat? Do you often feel burnout, angry, overwhelmed, and unseen? Do you feel like you are constantly nagging and having to remind your partner to do things? Do you feel like the boss of the house and your partner is an unsatisfactory employee? If the answer is yes, you are certainly not alone.
It’s important to remember the first three years of becoming a parent are the most stressful, 66% of couples admit they are less satisfied in their relationship. It’s so important to acknowledge the tremendous amount of work it takes to run a home and a family. Work that often we hadn’t anticipated when we were romanticising the idea of what is a magical time in our lives this would be.
The invisible burden: Mum guilt
Our capitalist society values time at work where we make money far higher than the work we do at home as it’s not paid. Research shows that the job of a full-time mum is two and half times more hours than a normal job but very often we still treat mum’s like they don’t work and think of maternity leave as a holiday. We still live in a society where men are applauded for taking their kids to the park and women are criticized for working too much or being too focused on their careers.
There is a reason mum guilt is a term and dad guilt isn’t. We expect mums to put themselves last from the moment they give birth, we literally lose our identity the moment our child is born and have to find it again. Mothers also spend far more time comparing themselves to other mum’s on the internet and at NCT classes. We definitely can be our own worse enemies putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves to be able to do it all and that often puts huge pressure on our partners to live up to the same expectations. The invisible load is a burden generally women take on which leaves us feeling unappreciated, unseen and often even doubting ourselves what we have done all day. I've just spent a week in isolation while my husband has had to lone parent and I think it's the first time he has realised how exhausting really looking after two kids is. Earlier he said" I just want to sit down but the baby won’t sleep" and it’s taken every bit of willpower I have not to say “Hallelujah! It just took about of covid for you to understand what I do”.
Sadly it has taken a mild bout of COVID for him finally to live a day in my life, and I can't really recommend that as a tool to restore some sort of balance in your home, but I do have a few tips.
How to split the load and balance your home
1. All tasks require time and energy: Stop disregarding the work you do at home because it is not paid Imagine trying to work out the salary for someone who worked the hours of a new mum. Don’t forget you need at least double time for unsociable hours and weekends and holidays - mums don’t take Christmas day off they work double time. If your husband comes in from work and says he needs a rest take a deep breath and have a conversation at a better time about how your working day doesn't finish until way past the children going to bed. Look at options for how he can help with dinner and bath time or making the kids lunches if that's not something you already do. We all know that time between dinner and bedtimes is always the most exhausting so acknowledge how tired he is and make it something you work on together.
2. You are a team: Make sure you have a team meeting once a week Takeaway or a date night sounds a bit sexier but schedule in time to discuss things you are struggling with each week. It's so easy for our relationships to get really transactional when we have really busy schedules so we have to work to make sure we are still connecting and having fun together. If you don’t make time to communicate I can guarantee you will reach boiling point and end up screaming at each other in front of your kids.
3. Stop trying to multitask: You are no better at it than your husband. Doing multiple things at once uses multiple energy and just means you end up doing lots of things badly and feel burnt out even quicker. I know it's annoying but men have got the right idea of doing one thing at a time. Example: I used to cook dinner with my toddler was moaning she was hungry and my baby pulling at my ankles. It was pure hell by the time my husband got in I was just waiting for him to say he was tired so I could let rip on how much harder my day had been. Now I feed them first (probably too much pasta but dinner goes in the bin a lot less often) and we have a calm dinner when they're in bed. I highly recommend Gousto as my husband is able to cook and it also takes away the invisible job of thinking about what's for dinner.
4. Don’t compare yourself with other couples What works for your friend or your sister will unlikely work for you that’s why you are not with their partner. We all have different, jobs, different, stresses, different priorities and different kids so the only way to know what works for us is to talk about it.
5. Talk about gender roles in your childhood: How your household was run is a blueprint for how you thought life would look You may have thought more about how differently you wanted things to be but assuming your partners knew that too can often cause a lot of disappointment and resentment. In my house, my Mum did everything and complained about it all the time. That is my default when I'm overwhelmed, and it creates the most terrible atmosphere. My husbands Mum was a single mum and liked to do everything, still does so he was not domesticated at all. I knew that when I met him but it just didn’t bother me until we had kids, I liked looking after him.
“The greatest gift a couple can give to their child is a healthy relationship.”
Don’t feel guilty about making time for your relationship. There are no quick fixes. Couples who communicate and make time for their relationships rather than ignoring problems and hoping they will pass live much happier lives. Relationships and raising children are both hard works but they are both worth investing time in. Support each other, this journey is hard enough so remember you are both on the same team and the best teams work together and play to their strengths.
Please click the link to see ordinal article published in Happifulhttps://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/memberarticles/is-hating-your-partner-after-becoming-a-pare