Home > childcare and second income/no income question?

childcare and second income/no income question?

May 11th, 2020 at 10:55 pm

So I'm going to tell you what it's like being a parent trying to work even part-time and have kids at home who aren't able to self-sufficiently do work on their own. My kids are in 2nd and 4th grade. I have to sit with them and do their work. I have to troubleshoot any problems. I have to help my 2nd grader with a pretty in depth schedule because she has a lot of anxiety.

My 4th grader is independent learner but this week has started off poorly and we had a problem with OneNote. She lost all her previous work and everything she was building for her writing narrative for the past month. I spent about 4 hours this morning trying to figure it out until Lunch. I then called the tech support and they started a ticket. This is after another hour sitting together looking through everywhere we thought it could be, going through help, etc. So now we have to start again.

Then I made lunch. Then I helped her record her band video for upload to flipgrid. In between I snuck in reading a couple of pages of SA and now this blog at 3:30 before they have class at 4-6 pm. During that time I need to get dinner ready and then tonight after dinner at around 7 pm I might be able to finally squeeze in work. I might do it now and feed everyone something lazy like leftovers.

I also spent time this morning walking/feeding dog, organizing and scanning in kid and our docs, and pulling my docs and reading my work email. I also made a couple of calls to pay some bills while I washed dishes, folded some laundry, and cleaned up after the weekend (i took a break sunday.....well it was mother's day...).

But seriously that's how it is, whether you work full or part-time. The person with the crappier pay/job pulls more weight at home. They do the cleaning, cooking, kid stuff, grocery shopping, etc. I've felt it more during this pandemic than ever. My DH has commented that I do a lot more than him and he says "I don't feel like I"m being productive enough at work. I need to work at night. Lunch and dinner and breakfast he eats and runs to work downstairs and says sorry can't clean." Unless I'm desperately needing him to really be with kids, which usually I try to shop before 9 am, he is busy. I get it.

Yes working at home there is no commute. But it's harder to focus. Harder to be efficient. There is more pressure to produce because you want to stand out and not be called out that you are "child rearing" intsead of producing.

But then what? It leaves the second parent in a difficult place. I speak from experience. My job is important for my mental health. I like it. I like stimulation. But at the same time it doesn't pay the bills, have health care, etc. So I am the one doing grunt work more. Maybe my DH should pull his weight at home more.

I mean I do everything. I don't mean like those stay at home mom's whose husbands pay bills and manage finances. I do all that. I do the insurance, will, investments, talking to banks, trip planning, etc. My DH doesn't care nor does he really mind. He signs on the line and I even order and pick up food and even if he has to pick up food "on the way home from work...I'd have better paid and order it for him so he stops and does nothing else."

Us at SA whether you are male or female we need to be the OCD alphas when it comes to finances. So it's something that just happens.

But I wonder do others with kids and lower second incomes or no income feel the same? Do you feel like you do more than your half the work? Has it gotten worse during the pandemic? Do you do more work because the primary "breadwinner" feels pressured to work more? Are they pressured to work more?

I think it would great if we were both home without our kids. But this insanity of trying to homeschool but to the school's specifications is horrific. Maybe if I had my own curriculum then it would be less stressful and I could relax. Or if the kids were fully self sufficient. Or if the kids were super small and not needing any schooling that would work. Then it would be physically exhausting.

What do you think?

8 Responses to “childcare and second income/no income question?”

  1. Petunia in a Flower Garden Says:

    Well. . . when Daisy was a baby & toddler I worked half time from home with no child care. My job was an IT job and I was on call so I could get called at any time. I basically had two 24 hour-per-day jobs, plus all the regular household stuff. DH was. . . not helpful. By the time I finally left my job I felt completely nuts. I can appreciate where you are now.

  2. Lucky Robin Says:

    Having your own curriculum makes it a lot easier. Your husband is not pulling his weight around the house or with the kiddos. Sounds like he is used to being waited on hand and foot. There needs to be a more equitable distribution of tasks and helping with the kids.

  3. ceejay74 Says:

    I don't know if I've lowered my standards for the kids' work or if they've gotten more self-directed, but somehow we're all finding it possible to get our work done. Lots of interruptions, sure, but it all kind of gets done. The first couple weeks it was much tougher to focus on our work-work.

    But to Robin's point, we all have to do more than our work. Maybe there's a day or even a week when your husband can't contribute, but at some point he has to. Our parental contributions ebb and flow around the work, but I wouldn't be able to tolerate one person completely recusing themselves from everything but their job. I know it's also important to keep the peace, so it's a delicate thing, but it seems like you should bring this up to him.

    If he absolutely refuses, I feel like your last resort should be drastically lowering your own standards about, well, everything. It's no use killing yourself. You need to take care of yourself if no one else will.

  4. VS_ozgirl Says:

    Definitely lower your standards for a little while. It won’t be forever remember. The pandemic will hopefully ease soon and there is no sense running yourself into the ground because you are expected to keep your work up to scratch, all your usual motherly and wifely duties as well as become a schoolteacher also.. what about getting DH to watch kids for a couple of hours on the weekend while you meal prep? Maybe he can do some dog walking? Maybe the house doesn’t need to be super clean for a while. Takeout a couple of extra nights? Looking after yourself is necessary for you and your family and they will probably enjoy it if you can spend some relaxing downtime with them. One of my friends had a DH who seriously did next to nothing but he was always ok with watching a kids movie with the kids which gave her downtime or time to do stuff. Good luck! You can do it! It’s not forever.

  5. Lots of Ideas Says:

    One thing your husband might be able to take over is laundry. Enforce strict standards for sorting as clothes are put into hampers. The work to wash and dry is then pretty passive, and clothes can be folded during telephone meetings. Your kids should be able to put away, maybe even fold/hang up their own clothes. A fourth grader is old enough to load/unload the dishwasher. Both should keep their rooms picked up.

    You need to be honest with them that these are not normal times, and everyone needs to help.

    Time is like money - there is a finite amount not, an you need to ‘budget’ it with a schedule just like you do money. And apply the ‘wants/needs’ rule. Your kids might ‘want’ you to sit with them, but do they ‘need’ this? Does the teacher do this?

    I don’t think any of this is easy, but I think it will strengthen your family if you are honest with them about the situation and your needs. Where I live, despite a nine week stay at home Order, our numbers aren’t dropping - 150-250 deaths a day - and I think we are in this for the long haul and you can’t suck it up forever. And you shouldn’t make all the sacrifices.

  6. rob62521 Says:

    As a retired teacher, I'm going to say this. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to your children's education. But, you may need to give yourself a break and realize that you may not be able to live up to the district's requirements. One's mental and economic health are important as well. I know that many of the teachers in my former district are grappling with the fact that only about half of the kids in their classes are even online and doing what they are sending out. So, please don't beat yourself up. You are doing your best! Thank you for your hard work.

  7. LivingAlmostLarge Says:


  8. Bluebird Says:

    LAL, if you feel like you're doing too much and don't have enough help, you may need to hire someone or change your standards a little. DH and I both work full time. He is self employed and has a very flexible schedule. I work for a private company and now have some flexibility, but for many years, I did not. I earn over five times what DH does. I work a lot more hours than DH. I always did 90% of the child rearing, etc. I do all of the cleaning, laundry, finances, dog feeding/care, household stuff, kids school stuff, some grocery/supplies shopping, manage the household, manage our rental business. DH does most grocery shopping, 95% of cooking (he is a fabulous cook, I clean up), lawn maintenance, lawn maintenance at one of our rentals, takes dogs for runs, trims nails and drives them to training a few times a year. DH also does some very minor home repair/maintenance items. We both drive boys to their sports practices/games but DH does more because he has more flexibility. The things I do are more man hours and constant than DH's. Yes, sometimes it bothers me and we talk about it and he'll step up and help more. But I guess I really choose to do those things and we are a really great team together. I don't want to hire someone to clean and do laundry, but I could. If I feel like I need cleaning help once in awhile, I will hire someone. We do the things we are good at. We don't keep track of each others' hours to make sure it's 50/50. We just trust each other that we will work it out if the other person is having a hard time. Our boys are older now, so they are helping more but it's usually with outside stuff. I have several working/non-working mom friends, whose husbands earn more or are the sole earner and most of those husbands do not do much at all in terms of chores. It's still kind of like the old standard of the working husband in the 1950's. I don't mean to offend any men out there. I joke to my DH that he should hand me drink when I walk in the door! He does sometimes!

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