How Do You Do It?

Are you a stay-at-home mother or father? Does your husband or wife work while you stay home and care for the babies? Does he or she have to commute in order to get to a job, a job that your entire family’s livelihood depends on? How do you both fit in your own time? When does that happen? Does it?

Toby and I are finding it difficult to work in a daily workout or time for ourselves. We recently priced buying a treadmill for home and discovered that it’s impossible to have one in an apartment. There’s a track nearby that I could use—I should use—but I’m not really into running outside. (I know, that sounds absurd, but I much prefer zoning out and working out on a treadmill.)

But today, putting my petty, personal problems aside, I’d like to instead pose the question: how you manage your schedule in relation to your spouse’s.

In a nutshell: Are you a single-income family? Do you have a weekly schedule? Are you ever frustrated whether you’re the stay-at-home or the person bringing home the bacon?

Does my question make sense at all? Eh?

Edited to add: Thanks to commenter Joey, I got over my fear of meeting new people and went to Mighty Mommies this morning at McCarren Park. It was perfect—just what I needed. Em was totally well-behaved, he even clapped for us when we were doing our squats. But now I have to figure out where Joey lives so she can come over and help me carry my baby upstairs—I can barely move my legs!

Also, thanks to everyone who wrote me and left a comment. Your words are always very helpful. I know more and more every day what I plan on doing with this Web site. Sure, Em might be off limits regarding images and videos, but I’m not ready to let go of the mommy stuff yet. So, thanks for showing me that.


  1. I can’t wait to hear what others have to say on this topic. I have been a sahm for the last 2.5 years. We have trouble with resentment on both ends because when my husband gets home from work, I want him to take care of the kids because I have been with them all day. He, on the otherhand, feels like he has been “working” all day and needs a break. We argue over this all the time and both end up being frustrated and feeling that neither of us gets any time to ourselves!


  2. I left a high-paying, fast paced career to be a SAHM. My husband makes less $ than I did, but the gender roles took effect here and I am the one at home. Not that I mind it too much – I wanted to SAH. But it is entirely different than I thought it would be! Motherhood is really a 24/7 job…not just 40 hrs. a week.

    The first few months were super hard because I wasn’t sleeping and felt very resentful at being the sole caregiver. My husband had the added stress of becoming the sole wage-earner and now bringing in less than 50% of our previous income was eye-opening to both of us. By having a child, we both lost a lot of free time to pursue our interests. Our hobbies are set aside these days, as much of our free time is consumed by child-related activities.

    I think the whole change forced us to redefine our relationship and work through issues. I had some loss/grief issues to deal with. Some part of me really misses the adult interaction and the mental stimulation of work. My husband didn’t really appreciate that loss for me because his life didn’t/doesn’t revolve around work pre-baby. I also didn’t feel like he truly understood what 24/7 coverage was like. I think he gained a deeper appreciation for me when I took a weekend off recently and went out of town. Although everything was prepped for him, he had his hands full and I got several desperate phone calls in my absence. He survived and I came back to a man who had a greater appreciation for everything I do.

    Having personal time is also an issue. Just getting a daily shower or a chance to get dressed alone in the morning is a challenge for me whereas this is a regular activity for him. I think it all comes down to communication and finding something that works for the both of you. Like figuring out your non-negotiables (I must have a shower each day!) and the things you are willing to bend on. I am now getting my exercise by going for long walks with the baby stroller, a compromise from my previous runs. The reality is life won’t be like it was, but with some work you can find a semblance of normality.


  3. egirl: What type of stroller do you use to do long walks? I think about that. In the past I would work out during lunch hours. If I had to, I’d stay at work longer in order to fit a lunch run in at the gym. Now? It’s hard. i can’t go at lunch, which is the time I am most active and energize. If I were to go for a run it would have to be early in the morning or later—like after 8. I am not much of a night person. :]

    If I could find a stroller that might work for Em and I, it’s conceivable I could work out on the track during lunch hours. As long as it’s not too hot.

    Regarding the job. I used to complain about work like everyone else does. I always thought there should be more to it, that I should have been further along in my career. But now I love and miss working—even some of the bad days. Hell, I even MISS MEETINGS! I HATE MEETINGS! But, yeah, adult conversations? The most i get to have now are with women at the park in passing, the clerk at the grocery store, or on here.

    I won’t give up my role as mother to go back right now, but I miss it. I really do. It’s been a hard transition for me. Every day that goes by where I become further removed from all the design software, I get worried that I’ll never be able to pick it up again. Do I need to? Eventually, I gather I will. Once Em goes off to school, I’ll go back again. What if I’m no longer useful or wanted because stopped the daily grind for a while?

    There are great big questions I’ve been asking lately. And I think to some degree, we’re taking our frustration it out on each other—regarding the stress and our newly defined jobs.

    Either way, it’s nice to read/hear that you’re not alone. You know what I mean?


  4. A friend of mine emailed me recently and asked a great question, one I still have been unable to answer: did our mothers have it this hard? And if they did, how come we never noticed? If they didn’t, why? Perhaps they weren’t used to working and therefore weren’t forced to give it up.

    I am so full of questions today. haha! It doesn’t help that for whatever reason, Emory has decided that RISE AND SHINE! is now between 5 and 5:30 AM.


  5. Hi Mihow: I’m late here, but wanted to let you know that I will be one of your WW buddies! It’s been on my to-do list forever and I even almost signed up before Mem Day weekend but chickened out. Email me and maybe we can get a group of us going (wonder if they’d waive the sign-up fee if more than one joined at once?). I did it once about two years ago and lost 8 pounds (my goal was either 10 or 15, can’t remember). I actually ate a lot more than my alloted points but still managed to lose a pound a week (instead of the recommended two a week). I never felt better in my life and really didn’t exercise much (unless you count living in NYC as exercise—I did try to walk farther to subway stops and stuff like that, though). Anyway, I would have stuck with it but we were right in the middle of an overseas move and I was happy enough with what I’d learned from it, so I stopped doing it. Then I had a baby…

    Speaking of baby, I am home with her now but also miss my fast-paced high-paying NYC job. Of course, we are in sort of a different boat as I was on maternity leave when we left London (where I had already given up my fast-paced high paying NYC job for a lower paying, boring job in London in the same field) for Baltimore. They don’t have my current field in Baltimore, so I would have to figure out something else to do. I really want to but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. I figure I’ll do it when I’m ready. My other concern is that my husband works pretty much round the clock and I would hate for daughter to have two parents she never sees. And after doing some volunteer work from home while my daughter naps, I have definitely decided that I am not cut out for working from home!

    So, I stay home and feel pretty much I am in charge of all things related to my daughter. I do most of the work, make the majority of the parenting decisions, etc. My husband defers to me on everything. I wish he could take on more but just doesn’t have the time right now. He assures me that this will get better once he’s been at his new job longer. Fingers crossed.

    Other than that, I am surprised by how much I don’t hate staying home. I thought it would drive me crazy, but honestly, it’s not so bad. I might even kind of like it. Of course, I have a daughter that sleeps a lot. I know I was about out of my mind when she decided not to nap for several weeks running…


  6. I was a stay at home mom when my children were babies. I loved it, but my husband refused to help in any area when he was home from work so I never had any ME time. So I divorced him and I had ME time every Wednesday and every other weekend. :-) I’m not suggesting this unless, of course, you despise your husband as I did mine.

    Seriously, though… if you have relatives that can babysit maybe even once a month, take advantage of it.


  7. Ha! No, I don’t hate toby. He’s actually very, very, very helpful. Like, probably to a fault. So, I hope I don’t give that impression here.

    Next week he’s going to SF for a week. I am going to head to South Jersey and hand the baby to my mother. I think I’ll go see a movie and maybe take a walk on the beach. Or just sit in their back yard and not think. heh

    Kidkate: email me re WW. Also, how do you do it alone if your husband works around the clock? Are you ever just totally worn out? Do you ever get some you TWO time?


  8. Re: Stroller – nothing special. I use the Evenflo Journey Premier stroller that came with our travel system. Although there have been some reports of troubles with the wheels, we haven’t had any issues. It is lighter weight but has a lot of the features that make life with a stroller easier (sun shield, cup holder, under carriage basket). I don’t run with it though… and I live in an area without sidewalks, so our neighborhood walking conditions would be different!

    I’ve had the same issues re: the thought of returning to work in a few years. I know the software will be different and I won’t have the hands-on use that everyone else has had. I figure a class or two towards the SAHM time might help to get me back in the proverbial ballgame. Also, don’t discount the experience you’ve already gained. While we may not get back into the workforce at the same level we left, we will be better positioned than a lot of new grads because we’ve actually worked and have an established track record (albeit several years ago).

    And regarding our mothers – I guess my mom did have to make a lot of the same decisions although I was a kid and didn’t really notice. She worked part-time teaching until her third child was born and we had a baby-sitter come to the house those days. Since I was the oldest, she was around full time from about age 4 – 13. I really enjoyed spending a lot of time with her after school in the afternoons and felt lucky that she was so involved in school activities. But until recently, I didn’t really realize how many compromises she made and how much of her career she gave up to do that. I guess that is one of those things about being a mom – the sacrifices made aren’t really fully appreciated by everyone else until later, if at all! The struggle to find the right balance between mothering, working outside the home and working within the home is so individual and yet so universal…


  9. Hey Mihow—I will drop you a line about WW. Yay! A buddy!

    BTW, this week I am joining a gym. One with daycare. I have my doubts about my level of discipline but I will keep you posted. One nice thing about the gym is that they have a pool that un-potty trained babies are allowed in. So, I figure if all else fails (ie, if I am not together enough to plan for childcare and a workout in advance), I’ll just take the baby and go to the pool.

    I DO get worn out but we have an understanding that Saturday is a no-work day. We spend the whole day with the baby and he does a lot of the work then (feeding, bathing, putting down for naps). Unfortunately, he works most Sundays so we are still figuring that out. He tries to work from home but gets distracted b/c he’d much rather be spending time with the kiddo. On weekdays I have a pretty good schedule going so I don’t get too tired. Biggest problem is probably loneliness! :-( But summer is shaping up better than winter as there are a few other moms around who are also dying to get out of the house with their little ones. We take a lot of walks as well.

    We DON’T get a ton of time alone outside of the house. Baby goes to bed around 8 and he is usually home a little bit after that (if he’s in town), so we watch a DVR’d show together before bed. I know, SCINTILLATING stuff, ha. Our neighbor has two kids so we sometimes swap babysitting but we’ve only been on two dates, I think, since the baby was born. I laugh b/c what usually ends up happening is that if both husbands are home (my neighbor’s husband is a medical resident and works 80 hours a week), she and I usually end up going out for a drink! So I go on way more dates with her than I do with my husband. Sigh…


  10. “Back in the day” when I was a sahm with one kiddo home and the other at school, I joined the YMCA. Me and the youngest did the swim lessons where I had to get in the pool with her and then a “Mommy & Me” type thing where we learned exercises to do together. When Kiddo turned 2, I was able to do the swim lessons with her then get her dressed, etc. and drop her at the childcare room for a bit. She was usually so tired she would take a nap while I ran on the treadmill or the track for about 45 minutes or an hour. They usually let us keep the kids there for up to 2 hours at a stretch. It was part of the membership package. The childcare was usually pretty empty early in the morning since all the older/retired people tended to come in around 8:30 or 9:00.

    I met a couple of other mothers and a few times we did the swap babysitting thing. That worked out pretty well, too, but I always felt like I was rushing through the workout to get back to pick up Kiddo.


  11. I think my biggest challenge in all this is in feeling guilty for the privilege of going to work.

    This is especially true, given my job. Working at TBG is chock full of excitement, fun, stress, and panic. Very stimulating. Exhausting, for sure, but not without many perks.

    So when I get home to our cave apartment, dark, dusty, nuzzled in the armpit of the armpit of Brooklyn, and Michele and Emory are frustrated and bored with each other, the guilt really hits.

    Sure – I am out winning the bread, making stuff happen, and making progress in my career. But at least I get to leave the borough, eat overpriced sandwiches, and sit in my quiet office with NPR or music on while I work.

    Compounding the guilt is this simple truth: The only reason I live within 200 miles of NYC is because of my job.

    So every ounce of environmental misery felt by anyone in the family just piles up on me as absorbed guilt.

    We tried to get out and were slapped down pretty hard by the housing market. So what’s a young family to do?

    Emory’s thoughts on the matter:


  12. Dude, I probably shouldn’t have driven to Fairway to get groceries on a day like today. Almost kept going straight, headed East on the BQE, over the GW bridge and straight into Northern Pennsylvania. Doing anything in this city seems greatly difficult, except for getting shitfaced drunk or hit by a car.

    I am bitter right now. Must eat food.


  13. Michele,
    You know how I go to the track near us sometimes? Well, I have been once this year. ONCE. But not the point. When I used to go more frequently, I’d see this mom all the time who ran and just pushed her kid in stroller similar looking to yours in fact. The kid seemed to like it because he could look at all the people whizzing by and the mom got her workout in. You should try it! That track is still pretty new and I don’t think you’d have to worry about the stroller hitting any bumps, etc. and Emory or yourself getting hurt. That mom used to run really fast.
    Hey, so glad you go the lease extended! I’m glad we didn’t take your apartment. It all worked out. Yay.


  14. When it comes to SAHMs, I salute you. I do not mean this in a tongue-in-cheek manner, I really, really mean it. It is something I am not capable of doing.

    I’ve always known that I was a career girl, or at least a “really like having a job” girl. But this did not deter me from looking forward to my 12+ weeks of maternity leave with great joy. Lo and behold, I hated maternity leave. Hated it. Despised it. Talked about it behind it’s back and was rude to it.

    The day I went back to work, my world spun back into orbit, and all was well. Yes, this means that my son is in daycare. But this also means that when I drive into the parking lot every afternoon, I am giddy with anticipation at seeing him, at playing with him, at feeding him, at holding him, and at watching his smile when he first sees me at the door.

    I suck at being a SAHM. My hatred of it made me a bad mom. Period. Some people will probably say mean things about me because of that. That’s fine. It’s the truth. At the risk of sounding like Popeye, I am what I am. And the only way I know of being a good mom is for me to get out of the house and have a separate identity.

    I think that are some SAHMs who would probably be happier if they could spend a day or two a week at a job or volunteering or skydiving or what have you. I also know plenty of women (and some men) who derive great joy from being SAHMs or SAHDs. I envy that, and I think it is a wonderful thing to do for your child. But it makes me sad when I hear people put down those of us who don’t stay home 100% of the time.

    Sometimes I feel like the only so-called acceptable argument for not staying at home is, “I can’t be a SAHM because we can’t afford it!” Well, OK, but what if you CAN afford it, but you choose not to? Does that make me evil? I sure hope not, because I’m the only mommy my son will ever have.

    All right, I’ve rambled on for far too long. Sorry for the rant, just saying what’s on my mind!


  15. Sounds like you are getting good advice. One thing that helped me a lot was joining a gym that had a shower and in-house day care. It is a luxury, but combining free time with justification of exercise? Plus taking a real shower without having to keep one ear open? Worth it. Completely worth it. Plus, I can do it when my husband is at work, so it doesn’t cut into my time with him.

    As for the husband-wife time, we finally had to have a come-to-Jesus meeting about date night. It was two years before we had a single date night after our first was born. We were so out of shape, our first five dates were completely awkward – we just could not wrap our heads around the idea of relaxing and enjoying each others company. So we talked about how expensive babysitting was, and whether we were going to be late, etc., etc. We finally stuck with it long enough to have a real conversation. Boy was that worth it!

    PS: Sometimes our gym has ‘kids night out’ which is babysitting there for X hours. The best date nights are sometimes being able to lie around/ sleep naked in your own bed without locking the door or obeying the ‘no food out of the kitchen’ rule. Home dates might seem boring, but they can do wonders for cracking that nervous tension you get over a dinner out.

    TMI? Sorry.


  16. Joey (girl w a boy's name) June 2, 2008 at 11:44 am


    Joey here – long time reader, first time replier!

    I have a 5 month old (Henry) and we live in Greenpoint and I know that at Macarren Park there is a class called Mighty Mommies where you bring your stroller (any stroller) and your kid in it and work out under the instruction of a trainer (a mommy herself). Though I sound like I know of what I speak, I actually have not made it out yet – for a variety of reasons – and my own inherent hatred of all things exercise (and good for me!). I’ve heard the classes are amazing, from other go getter moms so I thought I’d pass it along. You can get more info on Baby Hui. :)


  17. I’ve been a stay home mum for six years now, mother to two beautiful girls, my partner works and I do everything else. We often argue about all the tedious house stuff, and like you I just want to hand the babies over when he gets home from work but I can’t, he now manages to get home more and more AFTER they are both in bed…
    I haven’t managed to find the answer and god knows I’ve been looking, our couple suffers a lot from lack of intimacy brought on by co-sleeping to begin with (euh, five years ago and I still can’t keep her out of my bed all night) and then I guess habit and resentment. I do all the girly stuff (waxing, plucking, manicuring) by myself when the baby sleeps and even though baby 2 is now 18 months old I haven’t been to the gym once and only managed to get my hair done once…jeez, I’m the voice of gloom and doom! I used to work for an international broker but now live in a foreign country and don’t have the support of family and friends, my only advice to you would be to make the time to talk to each other and get all those frustrations out, get naked and kick that little bundle of warmth and love out of your marital bed for a couple of hours…
    Our lives have improved (or least mine has!) since we made it a “rule” that he takes care of the baths on the weekend, he could/should do more but there you have it, a couple of days of changed routine and I’m a happy woman.


  18. No first-hand experience, as I don’t have kiddos, but it sounds like you’re getting some really great advice.

    As for our parents, I don’t know…I think they had it just as hard. My mother stayed home with my oldest brother until he was old enough to join the community school house (this was in rural Vermont). The parents got their kids together and hired a teacher to teach all of them…I think he was 3 or 4. My father was in grad school at the time, so was a little more available than most working dads, but they certainly didn’t have much $$. My mother stayed home when my second brother was born and she claims there was only so much of going to the library she could take before she got completely sick of it. She yearned for adult stimulation. Two years later when I was born and we were living in the big city, my mother gave up pretending she enjoyed staying at home. She would have loved to have been a true “Earth Mother”, but she wasn’t cut out for it, and she’s okay with that even now. My brothers and I spent our early years in daycare (early on my mother would even come to breastfeed me during her breaks) and my mother earned her PhD when I was 13. So, I always think about what I got in exchange for my mother choosing not to stay home: a strong, independent, motivated, intelligent role model of a woman. And she doesn’t love me any less.


  19. I have been a SAHM for the past 6 almost 7 years….I had a great job and was entering grad school when I got pregnant with my first daughter. My initial plan was to go back to work and do school part time and balance my daughter too. Yeah, right. Luckily both my bosses were stay-at-home moms with their kids and they convinced me to do the same I was was able to. They said you could always come back to work later. That is essentially what I plan on doing. Not long after having Isabel we moved to San Fran. Talk about a change. I knew noone and was stuck in a city with no car and had a just-turned-two child. What did I do? I went on long walks, checked out ever playground out there, visited ever cafe and the like. I also did get to finish up my last two classes I needed for my degree but the adult interaction I got from that was few and far between.
    My husband and I have had many a “discussions” if you want to put it that way about my role as a SAHM and his in bringing home the bacon. It hasn’t been easy by any means. I plan on going back to work in a couple of years but only if I can find a position that will allow me to be home when the kids come home from school. My second daughter will be 2 in September so I have about a year before she starts pre-school.
    As far as things I do for myself? well, I find time when Aubrey takes a nap. I am also a night-owl so I tend to stay up late doing the things that I want to do. I am starting my own non-profit company so I do that in the spare time too.
    The SAHM position is the hardest job in the world, but missing life on the outside (a real paying job) can be just as hard.
    In my sister’s family the roles are reversed. Her job pays more so she works while her husband stays home with her daughter. Although now her daughter is in a pre-school/ day care situation a couple days a week because where they live there are no children around. (They currently live in Nigeria for the State Department.) From what I understand from my mother, she believes that if my sister had it any other way, she would stay at home with Sonia if she could.
    I have another friend in Malawi in a similar position and she told me she would drop her job in a heart-beat if she could to stay at home with her son Zane.
    Then there is my sister-in-law who had three kids. The both work and all three kids were in day-care since 6 weeks. And she has talked about maybe having another! I personally would not want to do that with my children but hey, to each their own.
    Anyway, I am getting off on a tangent….So, yeah, SAHM life is hard but you kind of get around it and find what works best for you.
    You might want to check out some classes that Em could join. Some are really annoying but I found that helped a lot when I had Isabel when we first moved here. I really met a bunch of people that way.
    You can always e-mail me if you ever want to connect with a SAHM on the West coast! :o)


  20. There’s a very good book that addresses exactly the questions you’ve raised about staying at home versus going back to work. It’s called ‘Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety’ by Judith Warner. It’s very well written and provides a historical context about how we’ve now come to where we are: faced with the dilemma of work or SAH. It also has an extensive bibliography so you know Warner has really done the research. My husband and I both read it when I was pregnant.

    I’m a SAHM but my husband is also a SAHD. I feel ridiculously spoiled because of it. That said, it’s still hard! I’m a SAHM partly because I have not yet found my career path. I don’t know what I might be missing, but I’m pretty happy. My husband works from home when our baby is sleeping.


  21. When we got married, it was always with the goal that one day I would be a SAHM. My husband focused on advancing his career and I worked with the goal of using my income toward saving for our first house. I never expected MY career to take off the way it did. We also never expected that I would have 10 years to build a career (fertility problems). I “retired” when we adopted our first child. After working for so long (pretty much non-stop since I was 11 years old) it was a relief to stop.

    We’re lucky in that my husband has a high tech job, but his office is located at home. He splits his time between being here in the house and being out at meetings and conferences. So he is home more than the average guy and he can sometimes take a break during the day to play with our second child (the first is in school now).

    The point is…I get some time for me, he has time for him; but we rarely have time for US. We’ve used his mother maybe twice to babysit (she is elderly and not in the best of health). My parents live too far away. Even tho we’ve lived in this town/house for 15 years, most of those years we were both working full time (with a buttload of overtime) and didn’t really have the chance to make friends in the neighborhood. Now that I’ve been home (for the last almost 7 years), it’s only since my oldest boy started school and I joined our town’s equivalent of the PTA that I’ve started to meet other mothers with kids my son’s age.

    I still wouldn’t call any of them “friends” yet. But I have hope that one of these days we’ll get out of the house together, using a babysitter that friends recommend. After all these years, we are finally feeling the effects of not having enough quality time together. Right now we have an hour or two after the boys go to bed, but we spend that time catching up on email, blogs, yadda…he has his laptop and sits on the sofa. I have my PC on my desk behind the sofa. We send each other email and IMs. Heh.

    I miss him. :-/ I think we’ve forgotten how to be just “us” without the boys. We’re just too tired to make any effort. But I think it will get better soon. The youngest is finally getting more independent. Maybe in another year once he starts preschool. We can sneak in some quality time during the work day. Nobody home but us…what a foreign concept!


  22. Funny thing about being a SAH, when the kid finally goes to sleep or takes a nap, the last thing on your mind is what probably should be. Instead, for me, it’s one or all of the following:

    I have to wash the dishes.

    Oh my god, the laundry!

    I haven’t showered in three days.

    The floor needs to be mopped.

    I have to move the car.

    My eyebrows. Yikes!

    We need to pay the bills.

    I owe her an email.

    I can’t think anymore. Gimme my DVR and a glass of wine.


  23. I finish up my 6 lousy weeks of maternity leave this thurs, and then it’s back to work on fri (i would probably be less reluctant if I didn’t hate my job, but there you go. the lucrative and unrewarding work is a necessary evil for now.) my husband will be the sahd, finishing up his dissertation from home (ha! we’ll see how much he can get done!) In the longer term, eventually we will both work full time but as professors with flexible schedules, juggling child care between us – that’s the goal anyway. But for now, it’s 11 hour days away from home for me, and loooong days at the home office with the beab for him. And yes, I find the prospect of this very frustrating. I’ll have very little waking time with my baby son during the weeks, and I anticipate I’ll feel guilty about spending any second of it away from him – and thus, where’s the me time?

    I’m staying optimistic about how things will work out (might as well, right?) Like somebody up there said, at least this way seeing the baby and spending time at the house will be a treat for me, instead of a relentless reality (as I can imagine it becomes after a while). I’m also in a band that practices once per week, and husband’s in a bowling league that meets once per week, so we’re good on our alone time. The “us” time . . . that’s the tough stuff, right? I’ll see – luckily I do have some friends and a sister within an hours’ drive, and I haven’t been shy about asking them to babysit for an hour or two so Patrick and I can get out. I hope to meet some other mothers – somehow – how does one meet other mothers?? – and maybe get some babysit swapping going on. And we have two eager out-of-town grandmas that will surely come visit and provide built in babysitting. These are our planned solutions to the “us” time problem. I guess time will tell if they actually work . . .


  24. I’ve mentioned before that I work full time from home. It can be the best and worst of both worlds. I have my two kids home with me everyday while bringing home a salary, but I am stuck in the house everyday with two kids while I have other commitments. My husband commutes 20 miles to work everyday. He is very involved, but sometimes I just wish he could take the kids with him to work, ya know? One of the best deals we ever made in the beginning was I would change the REALLY dirty diapers, and he would give the baths during the week. He also changed the not so dirty diapers when he was home to give me a break from being on call. We keep some household chores exclusive, too. I hate doing dishes so he does them, and I do the laundry.

    I think I’ve blocked out some of the first 18 months of my son’s life. Some days I was just barely hanging on. Sticking to a regular schedule helped keep my sanity, and he took really long afternoon naps (especially after we let him cry it out for two nights.) I think I used to take him for walks when it was nice, but we didn’t get out much during the week. Cooking dinner while my husband played with our son was my mindless, therapy time. So was my shower time, every other day. I should have joined a gym/mommy & me class/ANYTHING, but we didn’t have a 2nd car at the time & we’re stranded in suburbia.

    Things did get better. I spent almost every night in a neighbor’s backyard during my son’s 2nd summer. My husband got some downtime at home, and I didn’t have to be my son’s center of attention. Things also get better as kids get older. The kids start to play independently. They get more self sufficient and can even help around the house(sort of.) Now my kids are in pre-school where I get to talk to other moms during the day who are becoming my friends.

    My husband and I went through a lot of stress in the first year or two. We tried to keep the lines of communication open so we knew when the other needed a break. We both had time to work out at home or a gym, we alternate bedtime duties, etc.. In the beginning we scheduled ‘date’ night once a week at home with wine and a movie. It definitely gets a lot easier to have couple time as the kids get older & sleep better, too.

    So, find your own routine, get out & meet people, and squeeze in some small things that make you & TJ happy now. You’ll be able to expand on those as time goes by.



  25. I’m a little late to the conversation, but I wanted to delurk and chime in.

    First, I want to say to Milissa above that I salute you for your complete honestly. If more women would make the right choice for themselves and their familes—rather than worrying about what others think—well, then, all of this might be easier.

    Mihow: you asked about how our mothers did this and was it this hard for them. I just started an interesting book—I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids (Reinventing Modern Motherhood)—and early in the book the authors suggest that motherhood is harder because, as women, we have (thankfully) far more choices (about EVERYTHING) than earlier generations. They go on to say that these choices have led to unrealistic expectations that we put on ourselves (and peers) as mothers. Is this a bit off-topic? Sorry if it is but I thought it was an interesting idea.

    Anyway, my boys are 4 and 7 and its just in the last few years that I believe we’ve found what works for us. Critical to our sanity to individual time for ourselves, time alone with each other, and time as a family. My husband is able to bike to work and workout (run or do yoga) during his workday. And, fortunately for us, he has a pretty self-directed career (as a clinician-researcher) that provides him with a pretty easy 8 to 5 work schedule. I HAVE to workout for my sanity, but wasn’t making myself get to the gym, so I signed up with a trainer and I work out with her twice a week. You can bet I’m there now. I know this isn’t an option for everyone, and I’m extremely grateful we’ve been able to work it into our budget. My gym has free childcare, so that also makes it easy for me to do.

    Also important to us is ‘date night’. My husband and I have a sitter come over about two or three times a month so that we can escape the (sometimes) chaotic dinner-bath-bedtime routine. We don’t need fancy clothes, furniture, cars, vacations, etc. Instead, we’ve decided what we DO need and made them a priority. We’re all happier because of it.

    Last, I totally relate to what you said above about all the OTHER things you feel like you should do before doing something for yourself. It took me a long time, but I finally realized that sometimes laundry, the dishes, the catbox, etc. can wait (hell, they’re not going anywehere) and I must take time for myself—even though at first I felt extremely guilty about it. Once I started making my workouts (and girls’ night outs, etc.) a priority, I became a much happier person.


  26. Joey (girl w a boy's name) June 2, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Awesome! I’m so glad you made it out to Mighty Mommies! You’re doing it for the rest of us (well, me, at least!). Now I feel like I have no excuse but to go sometime – if only to help you carry Em upstairs afterwards. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I’m off to Canada to stalk Leonard Cohen one last time (I’m not creepy!), but hopefully I’ll turn up w bells on to the Mighty Mommies sometime soon!


  27. Hi, Michelle. I haven’t been around for awhile, but I really wanted to comment on this. My husband is a photojournalist that works 40-50 hours a week at his regular job. He also does wedding photography on the weekends, and is gone all day and night on Saturdays. I am in nursing school and currently work as a nursing assistant. Adeline is about 2 weeks older than Emory.

    I got SLAMMED by post-partum depression and anxiety when Adeline was less than two weeks old. I hauled myself to the doctor and immediately started anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, and therapy. I am so happy I did that.

    I went back to work when Adeline was 3 months old—I only work for medical benefits. Working at a hospital, my benefits are free and very good. Benefits through Andy (my husband) are expensive and crappy. Since I only wok part-time, after taxes, union dues, retirement plans, etc, my paychecks are…cute. True story, I once received a paycheck for $4.19. Really!

    If it weren’t for the fact that I need to have health insurance, I would not work. Andy is currently looking for a higher paying job with benefits so I can quit my job. When I become a nurse, Andy will then quit his job and be a stay at home dad.

    We rarely have time to ourselves. Most of it consists of 9:00 at night after Adeline has gone to bed, and we are both so exhausted we can barely drag our asses off the couch. We do not have a weekly schedule, since my schedule changes all the time. We decide who will do what (like feeding Adeline, giving her a bath, etc.) based on who is less tired.

    We both get frustrated that we don’t have more time together, but the chaos in our lives doesn’t make us frustrated with each other. There are times that I am studying for my exams and I’m crying, because Andy is playing with Adeline and I am so jealous that I don’t get that time with her like he does. (He does most of her feedings and baths after his already long days.) Instead of complaining about how much he does, he thanks me for working so hard in school. That makes me cry more, because I would give anything to just be able to spend time with Adeline for more than 1-2 hours at a shot.

    On the rare days that I get to stay home the entire day with Adeline, Andy comes home, takes her from me, and tells me to go out, and do whatever I want to do to have some time alone. I try to do that, but then feel guilty that I’m not spending time with both of them, so I either stay home or I leave and just think about them the entire time.

    When we need a night alone, we have to schedule it ahead of time and bring Adeline to my MIL’s house (she lives 45 minutes away).

    The whole point of my rambling is that we need to give ourselves a break and stop beating ourselves up because we’re not being the moms we imagined we would be when we first saw those two lines on a stick.

    Do you think when our kids are older they’ll think, “My mom and dad sometimes left me with a baby-sitter so they could spend time alone?” Or, “My mom stayed home to raise me, but I really wish she worked all the time and I rarely saw her?”

    I doubt it. They’ll love that their parents were there for them, and they’ll give us much more credit than we ever give ourself.


  28. I am a SAHM, and one of the best decisions I made after my daughter was born was joining a couple of Mom and Baby classes. One I found through my hospital, and one is through a non-profit group called PEPS (I don’t know if it’s just a Northwest thing, or if it’s all over the country). I’ve met a lot of new moms in my area that have kids around the same age as mine, and a few of us have really clicked. It really helps to have people nearby to do things with during the week, because I know I’d go crazy sitting in the house all day by myself. Having these other women to spend time with has been a savior for me, and I’d totally suggest joining some groups to any SAHM’s who feel lonely at home. I know it can be hard to put yourself out there and make new friends, but for me it was worth it. I think because I have interaction with people during the day that I’m less needy for attention from my husband when he gets home, and then am not hovering over him when he wants to spend time alone, or with our daughter. I didn’t realize that I’d need “new” friends once I became a mom, but most of my friends work all day, don’t live close, or don’t have kids and can’t relate to some of the things I’m going through. I know for me, feeling the support of friends is huge, and it also helps that they’re going through a lot of what I’m going through as a mom.


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