A year ago I stepped away from a high stress/high paying job, and took a lower paying “day job” with some flexibility. My wife works from home, but her job grinds them into working long hours for no additional pay. Once I made my professional change, our weekly routine would involve: me taking our oldest child to school; coming back and taking our toddler to school; going to (and rushing through) my work day; picking up the toddler; taking her to a park, or the food store if needed; making dinner; cleaning up from dinner; tidying the toys and vacuuming; and then finishing any work I put off through the day. Since I was typically up late catching up on work, I would normally catch the first crying post bed time for the toddler, and would lay on her floor, holding her hand until she fell asleep if needed. My wife tended to notice the 3:00am crying if it happened, but I would soothe the toddler any time I heard her. I worked every other Saturday, but on Saturdays off and Sundays I would come down with the toddler once she was up so that my wife could catch up on sleep/get a shower/whatever she needed. I would make breakfast and clean up from breakfast.
This cycle can be pretty draining, but I don’t mind at all. My wife has started to complain that I don’t come to bed with her, but I explain that I am finishing the work I didn’t finish during the day due to our schedules. She will also complain that I fall asleep too early for her on the weekends, but I can’t keep my eyes open some nights.
Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much, and should scale back so I’m more awake when my wife wants me to be? This is a juggling act, and I am trying.
Thank you in advance.
Aw, you sound like such a wonderful husband and father. My heart goes out to you for how hard you’re trying to be there for your wife and kids. It sounds like you are burning the candle at both ends and are utterly over-worked and exhausted.
When you speak of scaling back, I assume you mean scaling back on your job? Or do you mean scaling back on what you do for the kids?
Scaling back at work would mean a lower income.
Scaling back with the kids means putting more on your wife’s plate.
You need to ask your wife the questions that you asked me. If you scale back on work and have less income, what will that mean for the welfare of the family? How would she feel about your scaling back on work and income?
Or how would she feel if you do less for the kids so that you are less exhausted at night and can stay up with her? If you choose this option, that means she will have to do more with the kids. How does she feel about that idea?
To devise a plan that works for you both you are going to have to have a lot of loving and patient conversations in which you share your feelings.
When you talk with her, I suggest that you lead with the feeling. I say this because I sense that your wife is feeling unloved by you going to bed before her. I sense that she needs a verbal reassurance of your love and she needs to hear that you would love nothing better than being able to go to bed with her at the same time. When you lead with these feelings and tell your wife that you love her and want to be responsive to her request that you stay up later to be with her, you will be going a long way toward resolving the conflict.
After you lead with the feeling, ask her for her ideas on how you might be able to allocate the work so that you aren’t so exhausted.
I would also tell her that you don’t want to put more on her plate so that you are less tired and she is more tired.
This conversation is going to take some time. So long as you both are open and flexible and patient, you will come up with a solution that embraces everyone’s needs.
Let me know how you make out.
I understand your impasse. The resolution to this issue requires more in-depth focus than can be managed via posts. If you wish to consult privately, I’ll make time for you and help you solve the issue.
I missed your follow-up and am only seeing it today. Sorry for the late reply! It’s hard to solve this kind of issue in writing. If you are still feeling stuck, feel free to reach out to me in private consulting.
Unfortunately we have had those conversations, and she seems a bit rigid on all points. I already scaled back work and income, and as I handle the vast majority of the bills, I cannot afford to step back work any more. I have asked her to help a little with the toddler. As of now she just gets her dressed in the morning, and bathe her while I clean up the downstairs, or swap and I’ll bathe the toddler if she wants to clean (but when we do that, I come down and nothing is cleaned up). I think she just wants me to magically have more time and energy, but without it impacting her. I don’t mean to make that sound like she’s being selfish, but this lack of “options” is why I reached out.