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Sharing home duties once the baby arrives
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#1 ChickenRose

Posted 19 February 2012 - 05:33 PM

I'm expecting #1 in a couple of months, and I've noticed an ongoing theme on EB where posters seem disillusioned and disappointed in the amount of help they get from their partner. I'm hoping to nip this in the bud (if possible) by setting up some clear expectations with my partner, and would be really interested to hear what has worked well for others!

At the moment I do most of the housework as I've been home for the last few months with only a bit of casual work. DP helps out on the weekends if I give him tasks, but otherwise I do all the cooking, cleaning, shopping, finances etc. That's changing this semester as I'm starting some full time study, and DP knows that his housework free existence is ending wink.gif.

DP works full time (leaves home a bit after 8 and is back again by 6, no overtime or working from home) and is doing 1 subject this semester. He gets one half day off a fortnight for study leave, and really only needs 2-3 hours a week for his studies. Our workloads will be the same once the baby arrives, although I can cut back a bit in second semester if need be.

I'd like to take advantage of the next 2 months to kind of train him up in what our new routine will be. I know it sounds a bit horrible saying it like that, given he's an adult and not a labrador, but he's not naturally tidy or inclined to do housework so it's really the reality. Having not had a baby before though, I don't really know what assistance I'm going to find most helpful, so would love to hear suggestions from others!

#2 katniss

Posted 19 February 2012 - 05:41 PM

You can't really beat a roster system. It then gives everyone an idea what needs to be done and when and then one person isn't left doing the majority of work.

#3 statua angelam

Posted 19 February 2012 - 05:45 PM

I don't know whether your DP cooks, but one thing I was really grateful I did was to stock the freezer with lots of pre-prepared meals before DD was born.  That way she was something like six weeks old before I had to cook dinner (DH also had a lot of annual leave).

I'd suggest your get your DP cooking, and get your freezer stocked.  I think it's also a good thing for them to be used to doing, because if you breastfeed, in the early days you may well find getting some time clear in the evening to cook is quite a challenge.

#4 SummerStar

Posted 19 February 2012 - 08:35 PM

When each of my kids have been born my hubby has taken over everything. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, organising other kids, etc (he's actually a better housewife than I am, he would have washing out by 8am where as I always took until 10am to get moving with that!)
Then as I got more settled with the baby and healed from the birth I would gradually take over until it was all back to normal (although even when back to normal he is pretty good and does a good share of duties anyway)
I think if your partner is on leave after baby is born then they have the time to help out alot more (my hubby was just happy not to be at work so he didn't mind how much he had to do at home it was still a break for him!)

#5 peking homunculus

Posted 19 February 2012 - 09:30 PM

You need to sit down with DH and work out how you are going to run the house. I think you are well within your rights to expect him to do everything in the first couple of weeks. And then after that, you need to have things that are his jobs and things that are your jobs.

DH washes up, does the vacuuming and dusting and bathrooms
I cook, shop and do laundry
We both clean up child related crap at the end of each day.

We chose those jobs because they play to our strengths. I HATE cleaning and love food shopping/cleaning. He finds cooking stressful and dislikes laundry but doesn't mind cleaning.


#6 new~mum~reenie

Posted 19 February 2012 - 09:31 PM

DH is wonderful at a number of things, like cooking and being really supportive. He will be DS1's main carer for that first couple of weeks when Baby2 comes and I have no qualms about that.

Not good at: cleaning.... That is, after the cooking, doing laundry etc. Just not his thing. And I sure as heck won't be doing much!

No doubt MIL will pitch in biggrin.gif

Edited by new~mum~reenie, 19 February 2012 - 09:35 PM.


#7 Paddlepop

Posted 19 February 2012 - 11:35 PM

Good to see that you are planning ahead! My DH has always done all of our cooking and we have always grocery shopped together, and he does cleaning around the house like vacuuming so I didn't have to "train" him much.

Depending on how the birth goes you might not be able to drive for a few weeks (C-section) or push a shopping trolley (abdominal muscle separation or bad perineal tearing). I would be teaching your DP how to grocery shop so that if you are tired/in pain/unable to/don't want to he can go and get the groceries and will actually buy the right things. Also, perhaps he could start to cook a few nights a week so that he can confidently cook once the baby arrives and you are too tired to cook or too busy breastfeeding.

Since our DD was born my DH has done all of our folding and putting away, and I do our daughter's. I was too sore and tired to do it all. Her stuff was small and fiddly and he didn't want to fold it, and we've continued this way. I do all of the washing and drying of the clothes.

For regular bills, try setting up direct debits so that no bills are forgotten about.

If you bottle feed he could take one of the overnight feeds so that you can get some decent sleep. My DH did the 2am feed and I would do the 5am feed. That way we both got 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep each. Great sanity saver.

Get him to do his fair share of nappy changes.

My DH has always done our DD's baths, and still does at 2 years old. Initially it was because I had a lot of back pain after giving birth and couldn't hold her and bend over the baby bath. Now, I enjoy the break from her while she is being bathed, and they love their time together. Great way for dad and baby to bond.

If your partner responds well to lists perhaps you can create a roster of housework and responsibilities. Be prepared to change it once the reality of parenthood kicks in.

If anyone ever says anything like "You're so lucky that he helps you look after the baby" or something similiar please remind them that you BOTH wanted to have a baby, not just you. Drives me nuts when anyone says this sort of garbage. It's not just the woman who should look after the baby. For us, we both wanted a baby and we both look after her.

Best of luck with your partner, and the birth of your baby. Take lots of photos and videos when they are tiny because they are so great to look back on.

#8 Mummy Em

Posted 20 February 2012 - 12:09 AM

I don't think a roster would have worked for us, but I have a pretty domesticated bloke. The sort of things that my dh does include:

Dinner, particularly when we just had dd1 before she was sharing family meals, as I often wouldn't have even thought about it.
Dishes - he does some, I do some
Most of the major grocery shops while I have a newborn (another thing to consider is online shopping).
Floors and dusting on the weekend if I don't get them done
He checks the mail and takes the bins out, so I don't have to remember bin day.

If I offer him the choice between taking the baby or doing a job around the house, he usually chooses the housework, particularly if he is tired and stressed from work, and particularly with dd2 because she settles much better for me for some reason.

Make sure he takes as much time off as he reasonably can after the birth. Partly because you will need some help, but mainly for his own benefit, because this is a new family member and he will regret it if he doesn't take the opportunity to get to know his child.

Edited by Mummy Em, 20 February 2012 - 12:12 AM.


#9 Penguin78

Posted 20 February 2012 - 02:16 AM

It's a good idea to start now, getting him to do equal share in the housework. That way, when bubba comes it will be second nature to him.

Like PP have intimated, he will need to do everything for the first few weeks while u recover/get used to life with baby, so prepare for that.

For us, DH was the clean one and me the messy one! He has spent years training me, tho I still don't 'see' the things he does.

After DS was born, we realised how hard it was to keep on top of everything. We have settled into a routine of:

Me: washing dishes, cooking, laundry
DH: vacuuming, general tidy, garden
Cleaners do the rest! ( we both work full time currently)

OP, I know u didn't ask for this advice, but just a red flag went up when you said u were continuing uni once bubba was born. I hope u r st least giving yourself a semester off, because u may struggle to even do part time study. I was hoping to return to part time study by the time DS was three months old, but I did not have a sleeper, so didn't go back until he was eight months. Hope u don't mind my extra two cents worth!

#10 Lisy-lis

Posted 20 February 2012 - 06:01 AM

My DH is a farmer and has fairly traditional views on gender roles.  For me, the best thing ever was getting someone to come in, every day except Sunday, to help out.  She cleaned, tidied, did the laundry and prepared meals for the first 6 weeks, and now comes 3 days a week.

If you can possibly afford it, I would recommended you pay for as much help around the house as you can.  I did not want an au pair or nanny -  I can hold and feed and play with the baby - I wanted someone to clean the toilet and prep the veggies.  



#11 JustSmileAndNod

Posted 20 February 2012 - 06:37 AM

My husband just doesn't see dirt so he does all the clothes washing and hanging out. I do the cleaning. I found with a new baby if he got up early with her in the morning and entertain her so I could catch some more sleep. As I was breastfeeding I did all the overnight feeds though. I suppose I definitely suggest leaving them with the baby from early on otherwise you get to a stage where they have no idea what looking after a baby entails.

#12 lilsunniegirl

Posted 20 February 2012 - 06:45 AM

My hubby helps quite a bit with cooking, some light housework, hanging out washing (at first, now I do it - or he does) and lawns..

I highly recommend online grocery shopping.. we do Coles home delivery.. fantastic!

Maybe get a cleaner in once a week or so for a major clean?

We also set up direct debits for everything so I dont have to worry about it.

We both became alot more flexible with regards to routines, timeframes, the house - its clean, but sometimes messy now!

Good luck

#13 50ftqueenie

Posted 20 February 2012 - 06:49 AM

We've been lucky that DH has been able to take a month off when each of our babies were born.  During this month I care for the baby and DH does everything else.  My DD would feed for an hour at a time so I really wasn't able to do much more than feed and try to grab sleep when I could.  DS was a bit quicker at BF so I was able to cook the odd meal.  

As I started to get more sleep and DH returned to work things shifted back to me doing most of the housework as I am home all week.   When I return to work part time in 6 months then we will shuffle things around again so that the load is shared.  I think it's great that you are talking about this now because in the blur it would be frustrating if you both had different ideas about how you were going to manage.

Good luck with study and a newborn!  I could never manage that (and I have pretty good sleepers)

#14 ScarfaceClaw

Posted 20 February 2012 - 06:56 AM

Dh works part time, so it fell that he did most of the house work, cooking and general maintenance of things, the popping to the supermarket after work etc etc, while I did the washing (he couldn't be trusted with the MCN's) and the bulk of the 'parenting'.

Now I'm back at work 2 days a week, and I'm thinking that a cleaner once a week would be a reasonable investment, as the vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom is taking up time we'd rather spend as a family.

Good luck with a new born and study... There is no way I would have been focussed enough for that, and my baby slept through from about 5 months old!

I think it's important to sit down and talk through expectations, as tempers can get short when noone is sleeping well, and people are still trying to work etc etc.


#15 AryaStar

Posted 20 February 2012 - 07:00 AM

QUOTE (Penguin78 @ 20/02/2012, 03:16 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
OP, I know u didn't ask for this advice, but just a red flag went up when you said u were continuing uni once bubba was born. I hope u r st least giving yourself a semester off, because u may struggle to even do part time study. I was hoping to return to part time study by the time DS was three months old, but I did not have a sleeper, so didn't go back until he was eight months. Hope u don't mind my extra two cents worth!


I am glad that someone else was thinking this too. Before I had my first baby I had no idea just how incredibly time consuming they can be. That whole cliche about not even finding time to shower is true for a lot of people. Even if you get a good sleeper it is still emotionally and physically exhausting and I cannot imagine studying and having a newborn either. My brain turned to mush  original.gif

FWIW I think there will be a lot of pressure on you both if you are going to try and combine studying with work, a newborn baby and getting all the household duties done. If you and your DH have an option to defer your studies I'd seriously think about it.

Great advice from PPs though, and good luck!



#16 Sir Dinosaurus

Posted 20 February 2012 - 07:04 AM

You have some good responses here, I just wanted to add (assuming you can't get a cleaner and cook which would be the ideal for everyone!)

Work out what your expectations will be 3-6 months down the track. The first 3 months tend to pass in a blur of the shock of sleeplessness and exhaustion and first time parents find out that it really is possible to not manage to do anything (including shower, eat or pick up a dirty coffee cup) all day laughing2.gif

After this will you be home f/t with baby and DH at work f/t? Do you regard looking after the baby as the equivalent of f/t (or more) work - so cleaning, cooking etc should all be shared on top of this role? Does DH feel like this?

When #1 was born DH worked f/t, cooked every night we weren't having freezer meals or take away, did almost all the cleaning and I got an hour or so off to go grocery shopping (this was bliss!) by the time things settled down and I could rely on sleep and naps I gradually took over most things for the simple reason that after 10 hours with a baby (plus night feeds) I preferred cooking and cleaning to more looking after the baby when he was around original.gif

I think it's a very good idea to have a plan, but be prepared in case it turns out a couple of hours cleaning is actually a rewarding experience.

#17 heffalumpsnwoozles

Posted 20 February 2012 - 07:06 AM

Labradors are easier to train.

I find with my DH, even after 4 years, I have to ask him to do things. He doesn't see what needs doing - they tend to be incidental things with the kids, as I'm a SAHM so I still do the majority. Like if I'm trying to cook dinner and a 2yo is hanging off my leg, he doesn't see that and think "she could use some entertainment for DD2". He sees at that as me coping and would wait for me to spill a pot of hot water on her head before he thought to do anything about it. So training or not, it's still important to ask for what you need. I guess it's more about training him to respond to your requests immediately and with good grace, which is where my DH falls down.

Immediately after baby, having him do all the housework would be optimal. Everyone says you should sleep when the baby sleeps, because there won't be any other opportunities. All true, but it's hard to sleep in a filthy house, and it's hard to clean a house while feeding and rocking a baby. The feeding, especially if breastfeeding, takes an awful lot of time in the early days. Getting him to cook is also good, that's probably the best place to try and expand his repertoire (if he's anything like my DH, everything comes from a jar, and has a whole jar of minced garlic dumped in too for good measure).

I hope he steps up for you. original.gif

#18 AryaStar

Posted 20 February 2012 - 07:07 AM

QUOTE (Dinosaurus @ 20/02/2012, 08:04 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think it's a very good idea to have a plan, but be prepared in case it turns out a couple of hours cleaning is actually a rewarding experience.


Oh this is so true. I happily volunteered to clean the bathroom yesterday so I could get a leave pass from my toddler for an hour. Never would have expected that pre-baby biggrin.gif


#19 Crombek

Posted 20 February 2012 - 07:14 AM

QUOTE (Shady Lane @ 20/02/2012, 08:00 AM)
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I am glad that someone else was thinking this too. Before I had my first baby I had no idea just how incredibly time consuming they can be. That whole cliche about not even finding time to shower is true for a lot of people. Even if you get a good sleeper it is still emotionally and physically exhausting and I cannot imagine studying and having a newborn either. My brain turned to mush  original.gif

FWIW I think there will be a lot of pressure on you both if you are going to try and combine studying with work, a newborn baby and getting all the household duties done. If you and your DH have an option to defer your studies I'd seriously think about it.

Great advice from PPs though, and good luck!


This. DS now 5 months has been a generally 'easy' baby but your brain seriously tunes out. It is only now that I can start keeping track of movies let alone study, look after baby and get household tasks done, perhaps allow yourself a semester break? Plus babies have seriously short attention spans and you may need to be getting up from study every 5 minutes anyway!
The again I do know people who have done it, so it's not impossible. In our house DH dies the bulk of the outside work (we are improving our 5 acre block) and I do the majority of the inside stuff. We talked about it before DS was born though, so DH had plenty of warning that he would be needed to pitch in with dinner etc.
Do you have anyone to help? My mum comes over sometimes and watches DS while I duck down to the supermarket. Yes I could do on,ine shopping but even having that hour to myself is lovely at times!

#20 kpingitquiet

Posted 20 February 2012 - 07:18 AM

Mine is pretty good about tidying up on his own and doing more serious cleaning if asked, but struggles with cooking. Not lack of will but lack of knowledge original.gif After kiddo was born, he was home for two weeks, then back to work for two, then off for another two weeks, so we just kinda both went into survival mode and got done what needed doing.

Our big thing was, in pregnancy, I couldn't cook as much as I like to do. I had severe SPD and standing long enough to cook was a challenge. He muddled through but we didn't eat as well as we could've as he has a hard time just mentally creating a meal idea on short notice. Next time around (gods willing) we've decided to make up a meal notebook. I'm going to put together a couple dozen recipes of my favorite easy meals that are the right nutrition balance for pregnancy and breastfeeding, etc, and then he'll just pick out of the seven I choose for the week and cook each night, should mobility be an issue again.

For everyone's sanity, we made sure to (pre-baby) set all the bills to auto-debit, with dates marked on our google calendar. All transfers between accounts were automated, too. I run the finances, so this alleviated any worries of me forgetting and him not having a clue what day the bills were due. We started Aussie Farmers deliveries so we were never out of fruit, veg, milk, bread, etc, and did Coles online for the rest. I use Click-and-Collect option with Coles instead of delivery as it's cheaper and he can just pick it up on his way home from work. And it didn't require me to lift heavy bags when very pregnant and then post-c/s. Not all areas have that, though.

Over a year on, now, and we still struggle to fit in a lot of chores that were once pretty easy. Special projects don't happen with any speed, and the lawn never gets mowed enough lol but that's mostly because we prefer to have a bit of chill-time and play with kiddo rather than worry about the yard being perfect or building a shelf unit in a few days rather than a few weeks.

#21 meggs10

Posted 20 February 2012 - 07:26 AM

The main thing I found very helpful was having my DH cook most nights when the baby is very young. Badies are often unsettled around that time of the evening, sometimes from 3pm onwards, and it is almost impossible to do anything around the house from then onward. So my DH did the cooking and basic cleaning and our four year old DS's night routine for the first three months after the baby was born. I didn't actually get to sit down and eat at the table with everyone else for a couple of weeks and then it was really rushed.

The main thing is to be patient with DH. I often get frustrated not being able to do things that I would normally do, so it was difficult for me to just sit there and feed the baby while everyone else was doing stuff.

Edited by meggs10, 20 February 2012 - 03:37 PM.


#22 HollyOllyOxenfree

Posted 20 February 2012 - 07:43 AM

I'm fortunate that DH has never avoided housework, and before we had DS actually did more than me. I've become much tidier and more organised since having DS, and I can multitask and do things much quicker than DH, but we still share things at the moment (DS is only 3.5 months)

Our long term plan with me as a SAHM is for me to do the lion's share of the housework, and DH will do the things I can't do due to asthma (dusting & heavy bathroom cleaning) and the boy jobs (bins out, changing kitty litter). In the early weeks we just did what we could and worked to our strengths, and just discussed things that needed doing and who would do them. Dinners have been the biggest struggle - once we got through all the meals in the freezer it was generally up to DH to cook because I'd be feeding, and his cooking is ok but it takes him much longer than it takes me. We've actually ended up doing Lite n Easy for dinners at the moment because it just takes the pressure off in the evening, and once DS has settled we'll go back to normal.

We outsourced lawn mowing (our yard is huge and needs mowing every fortnight in summer) and everything else I just try to do as I go. What has helped is I have a whiteboard in the kitchen, and of an evening I write down what I want/need to get done the next day and cross it off as I go. When DH gets home if there's stuff still on the board he asks if I want him to do it, and depending on how much it's needed he either does it or I just leave it for the next day.

DH also does the bath routine which gives me time to eat dinner and have a little break. On the weekends we share the baby care, so I feed and DH does most of the nappy changes and settles. Gives me a break and DH gets to spend lots of time with DS, which they both love.



#23 Pupalumps

Posted 20 February 2012 - 07:51 AM

...

Edited by Pupalumps, 05 March 2012 - 02:20 PM.


#24 kpingitquiet

Posted 20 February 2012 - 08:03 AM

Oh yes, with bfing... husband was fantastic for this. He'd get the baby, change her diaper, bring her to me and help us get settled, then he'd go grab me a drink and sit with us (dozing off, a bit, usually) and put her back to bed. Eventually, I started expressing a few feeds worth and he'd do the night bottle so I could get some rest. If she wouldn't settle back down, he'd chuck her into the carrier and bounce around while playing Wii, so I could sleep. Win-win as we saw it. He got gaming time and I got sleep!

#25 statua angelam

Posted 20 February 2012 - 08:10 AM

Just on the study thing...

I'm going back to uni this semester with a three month old.  Based on how things have been so far, I think it can be done, but it does depend on what and how you're studying, how your baby is and what you prioritise.  I'm certainly not prioritising housework!

But I certainly feel up to the intellectual challenge, in fact I'm craving it.  I only feel "mushy" on the days I don't get to talk to an adult or read anything during the day.




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