Tuesday, August 13, 2013

a question for you

Here's a question from a friend whose husband is busy with full-time work / study (no personal details here!).

I thought you might like to help me answer her, and she's keen to hear your thoughts too.
I was wondering if any of you have any advice, or could recommend a talk or book, that could encourage me in my role as homemaker.

I have been becoming increasingly irritated and resentful about doing all the housework lately (as well as finances, admin, handy man stuff etc). I'm also the one who is training the children to do it. Maybe I need to share it with my husband more, I don't know. 
(My friend has several young children, and every week she has 2 child-free days that theoretically free her up to do housework. She says, "I am hesitant to add more to my husband's workload when I have 'extra time'.")
 We'd love to hear from you. You can respond by clicking here.


Catherine said...

I'm not attempting to address all the concerns for your friend, but I "have been there, done that and do that"!! I find it hard, while we benefit from being passionate and committed to our roles and responsibilities I frequently have to challenge myself to hold my perceptions of my roles a little looser - in so much as to prevent myself from comparing my situation to others, it is so easy to become resentful, legalistic, judgemental etc. I have only read "Feminism" by K Birkett once or twice but the lasting and helpful message to me -that homemaking is significant - has been a great encouragement when I am tempted to resentment and despondency, feelings of failure etc. Even this morning I was reminding myself that I have much to be thankful for, a husband who is willing and enthusiastic to work and study and my opportunity to do my part. In my experience I think I have to realise the need to regularly challenge my train of thoughts. I have found approaching my husband in a respectful way and asking for a particular chore to be done has given me a sense of relief knowing he will take responsibility for that task most of the time. The book "Feminine Appeal" by C Mahaney has also been encouraging, although I found so many great suggestions a bit overwhelming.

Sbeck5 said...

Oh yes, I remember this feeling very very well. You didnt mention how old the kids were so i am guessing they might be all under 5. I was exhausted and worn out caring for 3 young boys (no one had reached school age yet) and my husband would arrive home late from work with nothing left in his tank either. It was a perfect recipe for arguments and resentment :) things I wished I had learnt earlier- take a 5 min pause/break just before crazy time hits (mine was bath time/dinner prep at 5pm). Get the kids busy with something, anything!, and spend 5 mins breathing slowly or listening to a quiet hymn or staring blankly at the ceiling. Also pray an arrow prayer before you go back to the kids. Also I started to book a fun morning every Friday where possible for myself like a cuppa with an easy friend as a high point and something to look forward to through the week. Sure I still took all 3 kids with me but I made sure we were hanging out with someone who refreshed rather than drained me. It's a hard season and I'm not going to pretend that these things will fix it all but know that this season will pass, as children head to school, the season really changes. Be kind to yourself :) lower your expectations :) Tell your husband what you need :)
If the children are indeed over 5, get them helping around the house. We have job lists for everyone and after 2-3 years (yes it really does take a while) the kids are doing great jobs at cleaning etc. and now their help makes an enormous difference to my workload. But it's a long term thing, short term it's a total grind! Be encouraged that you are training up future men and women for God and that your role is vital!

simone r said...

Yeah. I remember too. It does get a little easier as the kids get bigger. I'd encourage her to not spend both of her child free days at home doing house work. If Thursday and Friday were the child free days, she could spend wed night tidying up so that she wakes up feeling good on Thursday. After the kids are gone she could quickly vacuum the floors, go to the gym, do the shopping and pay some bills etc. Then on Friday she could spend the whole day doing something that energises her - for me it would be sitting in a coffee shop reading and writing.

Regarding her husband, I think they should talk and everyone perhaps she should suggest that he take responsibility for one thing - e.g.. washing, bathing kids, unpacking the dishwasher, washing up after dinner. Note - 'take responsibility' not 'help out'! There is a difference.

Part of the problem with housework etc is that it is so monotonous and so lonely. No one sees what you do and by the end of the day you have nothing to show for how busy you've been. Perhaps hubby just needs to listen and communicate that he values her hard work and effort and recognises how painful it can be.

Karen Ko said...

I liked 'Creative Counterpart' by Linda Dillow. Haven't read it in a long time but I remember it really helped me think about some of these issues.

Jean said...

Simone, you made me smile. I have the very same recipe for mental health: take a day off once a week to go to a coffee shop, sit, read, write - and go for a good long walk. I am learning I need a full day off (hey, God was right!) to get me through the weekends - they're more a continuation of my week's duties than time off.

Loretta said...

Hi Jean,

I suspect that the heart of the problem is not that your friend is having difficulty getting the housework done, but that she resents the fact that her husband doesn't seem to be pulling his weight. And husbands who are studying are extra annoying because they often just lounge around in their pjs, reading, drinking tea, and staring at the computer. What luxury! What bliss!

But whether the husband is genuinely stressed (deadlines and footnotes are super draining), or just plain lazy, the solution is still the same: Keep being patient, keep letting your hubby sleep in while you do the crazy morning school run, keep giving 100% to the marriage, keep being thankful for the blessing of family and the opportunities to serve. Looking after a family is God's great way of growing us women into selfless, efficient, capable multi-taskers who need very little sleep. And when your child-free days increase, you can use these superpowers to do lots of ministry outside the home (scripture teaching, bible studies, hospitality...heaps of stuff!)

Personally, I wouldn't trade my job as a mother and wife for any other (not even my husband's job, and he hardly does any housework!) In my line of work, I constantly feel needed and loved by those around me. The neediness can drive me a bit insane, but this opportunity to train up children to know and trust Jesus is valuable beyond measure.

Alison said...

My thinking on this is that your friend has some unmet needs at the moment (hence the resentment). I'd be asking firstly are the expectations of the work she has to get done reasonable for her to complete, and is she getting sufficient rest to be able to joyfully complete her tasks. I've reached the point of burn out a few times with the pressure of managing a household with young kids, and I'm slowly learning I have to look after myself as well!, which means getting in some help where I can, making rest a priority, and sharing the load with my husband instead of taking it all on myself. In terms of books, Shopping for Time is a good one for reviewing priorities, Gospel Centred Woman for how Jesus bridges the gap between our expectations of ourselves and the reality of a challenging life, Finding The Hero in Your Husband for using your influence in marriage wisely, and I've had The Hidden Art of Homemaking recommended to me but haven't read it. And Karen, I agree re Creative Counterpart!!

Cara said...

I'm not a wife/mom yet, but a book I loved was Passionate Housewives by Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald. It's a very encouraging read. :)

April Swiger said...

Hi! I wrote this comment on your other post before I realized there were more responses over here. I apologize for the repeat comment.

I came across your post through Tim Challie's website. I so appreciate the honesty expressed in your friend's question. It can really be difficult to find joy in homemaking. I struggle with that often!

It's quite a (divine) coincidence that I came across your post as I just wrote about "Finding Joy as a Homemaker" yesterday. Here's a link to my post for some thoughts about this topic - http://redemptivehomemaking.com/2013/08/finding-joy-as-a-homemaker.html

-April Swiger

Rebecca said...

"First things first" by Stephen Covey is a good (non Christian) book to read together to help you work out what is important to you, and how you can structure your days/weeks so that in practice your life reflects those priorities.

Talking about it together will help your husband see how he can show his love in meaningful ways (assuming that loving his wife is one of his top priorities!).