Question: Mental health?

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-23-2009
Question: Mental health?
47
Fri, 07-10-2009 - 1:11pm

I know that different women have different strengths and weaknesses, and what works for one woman may not work for another. And this board has devoted lots of energy to what's best for the children. But what about what's best for the mother?


I'm asking this because it's been a major concern in our family lately. Our children will be fine regardless of where they end up, and it's always been my opinion that happy parents = happy children. That said, have there been any studies done on depression and mental illness in SAHMs vs. WOHMs? My DH says that when I was WOH, I was always WAY more stressed out than I am as a SAHM, but that I really seemed to greatly enjoy my work. So that made me wonder... which group is more prone to depression and so forth? The bored SAHM or the over-stressed WOHM? (Yes, I know those are stereotypes!)


And on a side note, would you rather be calm and relaxed (if a bit bored at times) or would you rather be always on-the-go (even if it led to more stress)?

Avatar for rollmops2009
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2009
Thu, 07-16-2009 - 9:14am
Yes, good example. Sometimes it pays to sit down and really think through priorities carefully, then analyze what drives you most bonkers in your current set-up and then take steps to streamline your life in a way that will make you less stressed. Even if you can only do a little it can make you feel more in control and better able to cope.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-23-2009
Thu, 07-16-2009 - 11:17am

In my case, my DH is in retail, so his schedule is utterly unpredictable. He either works 8-5 (which are the good days) or 1-11 (which are the bad days). I've always had to deal with husbands who had crazy schedules. My ex-DH was active-duty military, so his schedule might change daily and he would often be sent away for weeks or months at a time. Perhaps that's why I find WOH to be so stressful. I've always wondered what "normal" people go through, where the husband and wife both work 8-5, M-F, and have weekends and holidays off. Or where, when the daycare or school calls with an emergency, the parents are able to take turns leaving work to manage it. To me, that's a fantasy on par with a white picket fence and a purple minivan and a husband who fixes the family car.


And perhaps I'm reading too much into it. I'm thinking that if I'm WOH, I'll have to do everything I do now PLUS adding 40 hours a week of working. But maybe the house won't get so messy if we're not home as much, or maybe the kids will help out more with the chores and cleaning up their messes. It's just that right now, I'm so completely overwhelmed with what I have going on already that it's hard to see how I can add another 40 hours a week into my already packed schedule.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-17-2007
Thu, 07-16-2009 - 11:33am

"In my case, my DH is in retail, so his schedule is utterly unpredictable. He either works 8-5 (which are the good days) or 1-11 (which are the bad days). I've always had to deal with husbands who had crazy schedules. "

I am not sure why a crazy schedule precludes someone from doing household work. It's not like a bathroom requires itself to be cleaned at 11:00am on Tuesday.

Of course a spouse who is gone for weeks and months at a time wouldn't be able to help out in the home on a day to day basis - but when they are home- they can do it.

"Or where, when the daycare or school calls with an emergency, the parents are able to take turns leaving work to manage it. To me, that's a fantasy on par with a white picket fence and a purple minivan and a husband who fixes the family car."

Yes, sometimes it is same parent who is usually the one who can go pick up the sick kid. It was for me too. I don't mean that each parent needs to do 50% of each task. In our case, DH did the laundry and I did the shopping and cooking - we both picked up, swept and vacuumed; I tend to take care of the yard and the cars; he pays the bills. Since I left early with the boys, DH would pick up the house and clean up the kitchen before he left for work. Things like that.

"And perhaps I'm reading too much into it. I'm thinking that if I'm WOH, I'll have to do everything I do now PLUS adding 40 hours a week of working."

Besides, earning a paycheck, what does your DH do now to be a part of the household?

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2000
Thu, 07-16-2009 - 12:05pm

I didn't find it more stressful when I went back to work ft or when we added a new baby into the mix. But then dh and I have never had the proverbial 9-5 M-F with an hour commute and an hour for lunch that is so prominent in this debate. We both had short commutes (for the most part) and short lunches. Dc was on the way to work. And our days off were during the week. On the other hand, life with Dylan could get stressful at time on the days that he didn't go to dc. He thrived on the controlled chaos of other kids in the house. And he didn't get that at home.

Chris

The truth may be out there but lies are in your head. Terry Pratchett

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-06-2009
Thu, 07-16-2009 - 4:55pm

Well said. Society tells us to be mombies and then blames us for losing our own identities in motherhood.

Sigh.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-06-2009
Thu, 07-16-2009 - 4:57pm

It's certainly been trickier getting all the house stuff done in less 'home time', but I think you've got to balance that against the reduction of money-related stress as the household income increases.

Avatar for rollmops2009
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2009
Thu, 07-16-2009 - 5:28pm
Also a serious decrease in the stress of dealing with small kids. That may be one of the differences in perspective here. For me working was way, way, way less stressful than a small kid. For others it may well be the other way around.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-23-2009
Thu, 07-16-2009 - 6:41pm

I have two fears that keep me up at night worrying: 1)that my children are going to get into lots of trouble in school again and I'll end up getting fired because I get called by the school three times a week to deal with yet another "crisis", or 2)being overwhelmed in the evenings while DH is working.


There's no way around the first, but with three kids in school (and pregnant with another), it's a major concern. If each kid gets in trouble once a week, that's three times a week I'll get called up to the school. When you add in my own doctor's appointments from the pregnancy at once a month, that's quite a bit. Then after the baby comes, it'll be in daycare while I'm working, so then I have to worry about getting phone calls from the daycare. I'm honestly worried that I won't be able to keep a job because the schools have a habit of calling me down there at every minor hiccup, which means that I've spent a LOT of time at the school.


Then the second issue is also a major concern. The job I'm looking at would be 9-6, so by the time I get everyone picked up from after-school care and get everyone back home, it'll be 7. I know I can't trust my kiddos to do their homework at daycare, so I'll have to go over the homework. Last year, it wasn't at all uncommon for my middle child (then in 1st grade) to have to spend 2 hours a night on his homework, but I'll go with his average of an hour. So that means dinner won't be served until 8 and probably everything all cleaned up by 9. Then it's baths and bedtime rituals, which means the kids won't get into bed until 10, if everything goes according to plan (which it won't--it never does). All of that sounds manageable (if a bit frightening) until the new baby comes. Then all of that will be interrupted by a fussy baby wanting to nurse, be held, be walked, or whatever. Plus I'll have to add in the work associated with emptying and storing my breastmilk for the day and getting all the baby's bottles and diapers ready for daycare the following morning. By the time that's all done, I'll be lucky to get in bed by midnight, and of course with a newborn, there's no way I'll be able to actually sleep for that time. Which means I'll probably be waking up at 3 to nurse and then at 6 to nurse and start getting ready and getting everyone ready. Yes, DH can do some cleaning, taking out the trash, etc., but he won't be able to help me during crunch time when I'm trying to check everyone's homework and backpacks, inspecting everyone's clothes for the next day, getting baths for everyone, making sure teeth are brushed and hair is combed, packing lunches (or supervising the lunches that they pack to make sure they do it right), organizing backpacks and diaper bags and pumping bags, etc. That's what has me terrified. How will I find the time to do all of those things by myself? All of those things now (with three children and no daycare stuff to worry about) take me about five hours each night! And it takes a lot longer when my kids don't cooperate with me (which they seldom do)! I'm afraid that if I'm working, I won't be able to get it all done.


My DH helps out now that I'm home, but he just helps out. Since I'm the SAHM, I'm the one primarily responsible for keeping the household running smoothly. DH & I have talked about it, and he's all for helping out as much as possible whenever he can, especially when I go back to work. He's going to specify a preference for the day shifts (8-5) whenever possible, although it might mean that he loses hours at work. He's also a really good cook, so I feel no fear about having him do dinner whenever he can. We've decided that whoever gets off earlier (i.e., if he has a day off or works 8-5, he'll be the early one; if he's working late, I'll be the early one) will be the one to pick up the kids and do dinner, and the three kids will be assigned to clear the table, rinse the dishes, and load the dishwasher on a rotating basis. When we get the "emergency" calls from the school or daycare, I'll take off work to go deal with them unless it's on his day off or his lunch break or something--he's not allowed to leave work unless someone's bleeding--but that if it's a sick child that needs to be out of school/daycare for more than a day, he'll take off work to be home with the child the second day.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-17-2007
Thu, 07-16-2009 - 8:29pm

I am a little confused. I thought that you were a sahp who was having some trouble adapting to being a sahp. Now you are talking about being a dual wohp.

To be frank, I only know of one family that are dual ftwohps that have 4 kids. The family had a live in nanny to help during the younger years and now has an au pair since the youngest are entering 5th grade. They also have a housekeeper once a week. Their jobs have far more flexibility than your DH's or your proposed job. The rest are woh/sah families or woh and very ptwoh families.

The job you are considering along with your DH's current job requirements sound like a recipe for disaster with 4 young children (who are prone to being sick and in trouble at school and one a newborn) and no outside help. Both parents being gone 11 hours a day is tough (I assume your DH has a commute).

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-06-2007
Thu, 07-16-2009 - 9:41pm
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