Family Friday: Shape Sequence Sorting Set

This game is one of our favorite puzzles, and both boys have gotten a lot of play out of it over the years. It takes a little bit of maneuvering and figuring out, but they’ve enjoyed it. The good-quality, brightly colored wooden blocks help teach the shapes and colors — so you can play with it at that level, too. It can run the gamut from just putting the triangle shape in the triangle space to actually figuring out how to use the short, medium, and tall blocks. It’s $12 at Nordstrom Rack and also available at AmazonShape Sequence Sorting Set

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  1. Leatty says:

    Thanks all for your thoughts on pumping at work. I will be pumping in a shared lactation room, so I will be able to use the fridge in there. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to store my pump at work, so I will need to transport my pump each day. I bought a cheap tote to transport it since I couldn’t justify spending $180 on a bag I may only use for a couple months. Now to just mentally prepare myself for being away from my daughter all day. . .

    • Cornellian says:

      I don’t think I commented on the original post, but I’ve been very happy with a hand pump at home and leaving my pump at the office. I also found that nursing exclusively at home became necessary when I was pumping at work in order to avoid blocked ducts/etc.

      A bunch of my mom friends that recently went back to work were all pleasantly surprised at how easy it is the first week or so back at work to be away from the baby. Hopefully you have the same experience!

      • BTanon says:

        Agree with this last bit – it was definitely not easy to go back to work, both mentally and logistically, but it was also not as bad as I had feared. The period of anticipation leading up to my return was way worse than reality of being back. Best of luck to you!

      • PregLawyer says:

        I just got two pumps. Is that wasteful? Yes. Does it make life easier? Yes.

    • AwayEmily says:

      This is probably totally unhelpful since you just said you can’t leave your pump at the office but if there is ANY WAY you can leave it there (maybe even in, like, the way back office supply cabinet or something?), it really does make things 100x easier. Keep in mind that you JUST need to leave the pump, not all the accessories –so it basically just looks like a little anonymous box. I started leaving mine in the office halfway through pumping and it was awesome.

      • I kept mine in a desk drawer (& also just commuted with parts). Agree that it makes a HUGE difference.

        • Anonymous says:

          +1 bottom drawer of file cabinet in one office. Banker box on the floor also held a pump when I was in a temp office situation. Just bringing flanges back and forth everyday is so much easier.

        • Anon in NYC says:

          Yep – same. Stored pump in a desk drawer and just commuted with parts. It was so much better – the pump is heavy!

    • lucy stone says:

      I eventually bought a second pump to use at work and had a lot of friends who did the same.

      • AwayEmily says:

        If you’re comfortable using a hand-me-down pump (I was), that’s also a good way to obtain a second pump. There are a LOT of people giving away their old pumps.

  2. SSRIs and TTC says:

    After months of worsening symptoms, my husband finally admitted he needed to seek help. He had had several appointments in the past two weeks with a psychiatrist and a psychologist – the initial diagnosis is OCD and anxiety and he’s started taking lorazepam and prozac. I can already see improvements and am super proud of him for taking hard steps to get better.

    But i am also devastated bc we decided less than 2 months ago to start TTC and he told me last night he thinks we need to push pause. And rationally, i get it and agree. But we are also 37 and waiting makes me scared. And i am concerned about the effects of the drugs on his fertility.

    Stories from the trenches, please?

    • bluefield says:

      I have no direct experience with this, but would he be OK with not using any protection, but also not actively trying? Realistically it could take several months to conceive, and then it’s 9 months until the baby shows up.

      • No, sorry, but this is nonsense. If you are not using protection, you are trying. Period. There is no such thing as magically having unprotected sex but not “actually trying” to get pregnant. The sp3rm don’t care if you really mean it or not!

        • Katala says:

          I disagree. “Actively trying” is different than “actually trying.” Yes, you are actually trying if you’re not using protection. But “actively” trying can indicate an approach that may be very stressful, with tracking cycles, pressure to perform at specific times, etc. Just having s*x for fun when desired, with the awareness that pregnancy could happen at any time, is certainly a legitimate way to approach it. Not saying OP’s husband needs to feel that’s OK for him right now, but it’s not nonsense to scale back the degree to which TTC is proactively approached.

          • Anonymous says:

            But it’s wrong to approach it with the assumption that it means there will be several months before pregnancy.

            Pregnant on my first cycle have actually trying only two times (DH had a business trip that month). It only takes once to get pregnant.

          • Katala says:

            I don’t think anyone is assuming it will take several months, just that it could. And that it will certainly be 9 months before a baby arrives. I took the point of bluefield’s suggestion to be that there could be space to compromise between “we’re tracking ovulation and must try on these exact days” and going back to birth control.

            Believe me, I’m quite aware that not actively trying can still result in pregnancy. Ask me how I ended up with 2 under 2!

        • bluefield says:

          Well, that’s just not true, as anyone who does not have fertility issues but has tried to get pregnant for more then one month can tell you. Yes, pregnancy can result from any unprotected s*x – but practically, it’s kind of difficult to get pregnant. Even if everything works perfectly there’s only a handful of days every month that you can get pregnant, and many couples need to put some thought & effort into timing it correctly. And if OP does have fertility issues, she can use this time to determine that & figure out next steps, so she doesn’t feel like she wasted this time.

          • Again, no. Those statistics you hear about how 50-60% of couples conceive in the first six months of trying are based on the clinical definition of trying: i.e. having unprotected sex when the mood strikes. That’s it. No OPKs, no charting, no calendars. That is all the majority of couples need to do. It’s not what everyone needs to do – and in fact I could have had unprotected sex for years and never conceived, it turns out. But the notion that there is some way of “trying less” by not paying attention to scheduling and not, like, telling the universe you want it to happen is simply untrue. And in cases like OP’s, it’s a potentially dangerous idea. An appropriate response to being told one partner needs to put a pause on TTC is not to say “okay, well we’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing but we’ll just pretend we’re not.” See here for more

          • Rainbow Hair says:

            We pulled the goalie, and I got one period and then was pregnant. I was super shocked, having mostly heard from friends who struggled to conceive. Husband, who wasn’t familiar with those stories, was shocked that I was shocked: “uh, what did you think would happen!?” I think the safe approach is to assume that if you’re not NOT trying, you’re courting pregnancy.

          • Anonymous says:

            It’s really not that difficult for a lot of people. I got pregnant the first month “trying” twice and we weren’t actively trying, just not using any protection. And in fact one of those months DH was out of town during what I’m pretty sure were my most fertile days. Sperm can live inside your body for the better part of a week. My mom my sister and my two best friends all also conceived very quickly (all of us were over 30, some over 35), and the statistics support that a pretty large percentage of couples conceive within a few months. I know someone who got pregnant from a one night stand (literally, only did it once with the guy) at age 42.
            This isn’t a Q about a guy who’s nervous about the idea of “trying” but has no reason to delay children – in that situation I think pulling the goalie but not “actively trying” would be a fine solution. OP’s husband has a serious health issue and isn’t in a position to become a father. If they pull the goalie, there is a very strong chance (probably 50-75%, even factoring in her age) she’ll be pregnant within a few months. That’s a gamble they can’t take right now. Her husband has to take care of himself before he can take care of another person, and he’s communicated that to her. Put on your own oxygen mask first and all that. It’s one thing to suggest that OP get a fertility checkup from her doctor, so they’ll be ready to go when her husband is healthy again, but I can’t believe people are saying “have unprotected s*x, it’s ok because it’s not going to result in a pregnancy.” Regular, unprotected s*x results in pregnancy very quickly for a LOT of people.

        • I haven’t been on bc for three years and after a year of trying (charting, temping, and crying every month) I had to tell myself we weren’t “trying” just for my own mental health. Now if it happens it will be a lovely and welcome surprise.

    • Boston Legal Eagle says:

      No direct experience but I am taking an SSRI and my psychiatrist advised that it was the most studied drug out there for pregnancy/breastfeeding and that I could continue taking it when we TTC again. I’ll probably have a longer discussion about this with my OB then, but I’m comfortable taking it while pregnant because my anxiety was pretty bad with my last pregnancy.

      Is his concern that it will negatively affect the baby? Or is there some reason? I would think it would have even less of an effect from men passing anything on to the baby, but I am not directly familiar with the two drugs you mentioned.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      As someone who conceived with a spouse going through significant mental health challenges, I second his concern about TTC right now. He is going through a lot, and reducing other stressors (like, for instance, a new baby or pregnancy complications) is a good idea. He will be a better dad and better spouse if he can stabilize on a good combo of meds and therapy (and lifestyle changes, if needed). I would absolutely never, ever recommend conceiving a child while either spouse is dealing with the beginnings of a mental health treatment plan. There is also research showing that a new mom dealing with a spouse who has mental health issues has a much higher risk of PPD.

      As far as the drug combo affecting his fertility…I don’t know? But the side effects can significantly impair someone, which isn’t great for a new parent. My ex occasionally went on lorazepam as a rescue med for significant anxiety attacks, and it often knocked him out for several hours. He would deal with ongoing drowsiness for 24 hours after. It was really hard to handle the overnights with a new baby that he couldn’t do because he was incapacitated, and then have him bail so he could take naps the next day too.

      I would take this opportunity to strengthen your own mental health; living with someone who has OCD and anxiety did a lot of damage to my self-confidence and self-esteem. It was bad news for a new mom. If you haven’t already started therapy for yourself, you should do it now.

      • PregLawyer says:

        For a bit of good news – I went on lorazepam and prozac when I was dealing with acute work-related anxiety. It was amazing, so helpful, and I was able to get to a healthy place pretty quickly (made a lot of life changes as well, to deal with the actual causes of the anxiety). I no longer have to take anything. So, don’t be too stressed about the timeline. This might resolve itself in 6 months.

        • NewMomAnon says:

          Oh, I should have said that clearly too – for my ex at least, the lorazepam was a short term thing (maybe a couple months to let the daily drugs build up?), and the combo of long-term meds and therapy helped him tremendously in short order. It is worth waiting for the treatments to kick in, and it’s probably a 6-12 month thing, not a 5-6 years thing.

    • Turtle says:

      I can’t speak to his mental well being and whether that’s a reason to hold off on TTC, but I do have a story from ‘the trenches’ for you…

      We were in fertility treatments for 18 months because of me – he checked out completely clean. In month 19 he went on an extremely light dose of SSRI for an unrelated reason. His sperm count dropped dramatically (30+ mil to 2.1 mil) from when we started infertility testing to the most recent semen analysis and doctor said it’s directly related to the medication. We were doing IUIs and the doctor wanted at a minimum 3 million, but decided to proceed anyway. Miraculously, even with an extremely reduced count, our most recent round worked and I’m now pregnant. If it hadn’t worked, DH agreed to stop taking it for a period of time (likely 6 mos, because semen builds up over a 3-6 month time frame) so that the next round would go back to normal.
      We’re fortunate that he has other coping mechanisms he would have been able to lean on during that time.
      We’re thankful it didn’t come to that.

      You are right to be concerned about side effects and it’s impact on male-factor fertility. The moral of my story from the trenches is you can still get pregnant, but you should also make sure your doctor knows and opines on the impact they’ll have on your unique case.

  3. dc anon says:

    I am two months postpartum and found out that I have diastasis recti, about 2 fingers worth (I learned about the condition on this s i t e!). I see that there are many programs to choose from online: MuTu, Restore Your Core, One Strong Mama…on and on. Which one would you recommend?
    I also would like to get in better shape in general and have about 25 lbs to lose. Are the dia programs compatible with normal exercise? I know I should check in with a doctor – I did – and they have little info. Basically, at my 6 week check up my midwives said that I am good to go and thats about it. I hate postpartum care, because there really isn’t any!!

    • Agreed that there isn’t any postpartum care. The good news is that you figured this out quickly. My friend says that none of those worked, she needed to go to a physical therapist that specializes in women’s health issues to fully fix her DR. Her PT said those programs usually do more harm than good, because you have to do the moves in a very specific way (likely with oversight) to avoid further separating the muscles. Once she was cleared by the PT, then she did the fit2b program and saw great results.

    • Could you contact your midwife and get a referral for physical therapy? I don’t have any experience with other programs, but I am currently in PT for my knee and my therapist is also giving me some diastasis exercises that have been great.

      • +1. My midwife said I was fine at the 6wk check, but I asked specifically for a referral to PT. She referred me to a great therapist who has helped a lot with pelvic floor rehab and core strength. Some exercises are counter-indicated with DR (or other pelvic issues) so it’s worth getting a pro involved if that’s possible for you.

    • Cornellian says:

      pelvic floor physical therapy may change your life! I’m in NYC so have no recommendations, but look in to it!

    • Blueberry says:

      +1 to get an rx for PT with a pelvic specialist. Once I had PT, it was actually super simple to fix my diastasis.

    • I saw a PT after both of mine and it was helpful to learn proper form. Now I use Mommastrong to keep it up and because I had the in-person help with form, I think it works great.

    • Anonymous says:

      Keep in mind that it also can resolve on its own – I had about 1.5 fingers worth at 2 months PP and by 4 months PP it was resolved. I went to a post partum pilates class (with someone who specialized is diastis and actually told me that I had it) once a week for 45 minutes but did not do any exercises other than that so I doubt it helped at all.

      But doing PT is not a bad idea!

  4. So tired says:

    I’m just so tired. I work full-time and have a 1.5 hr commute each way. I run our household and help my parents often with my grandmother (who has ALS). My husband helps clean and will generally do what I ask, but honestly, I’m just tired of asking. We are TTC (#2) and my husband implied (and apologized later) that I won’t be the best mom if we have another because I’m already at my limit.

    I feel that I’m always taking care of someone and I want someone to take care of me. Am I alone in feeling this way?

    • POSITA says:

      No, this is a totally normal feeling. I felt this way during my entire pregnancy with no. 2. I felt like I was drowning. I was so so tired. I’ve only gotten relief recently by (a) switching to a job with fewer hours and (b) switching from daycare to an au pair. Switching to a job with few hours made a big difference (still full time but not Big Law), but life was still a frantic. Switching to an au pair has made a tremendous difference. She keeps us from having to do daycare pick up and drop off, removes the crazy scramble to get kids ready in the morning, and even sometimes makes dinner. She also helps with unloading the dishwasher, kid laundry and picking up toys. It’s been nothing short of miraculous.

      I really think if you want to fix this, you need to look at larger life changes–living closer to work, different childcare, substantial help in the home, less intense job, etc. Anything less isn’t going to really make it better.

      • Agreed. You also likely need to dial back your grandparent support – this is a “put your own oxygen mask on” type of situation, and there are many options for your parents to get help that isn’t you. I understand they need help, but so do you.

        Also have a talk with husband. Explain he’s right, kids are a shared responsibility and to be the best mom, you need him to take full ownership of a couple things. List the 5 things that make you craziest, and have him pick 2. Like, he’s totally in charge of clothing – buying for kids, doing laundry, putting it away, changing for seasons, etc. Or he’s totally in charge of food – planning meals, packing lunches, buying groceries, doing dishes. Have him own the whole thing, so he has to own the mental/ emotional labor associated with those tasks. That’s the exhausting part that most men don’t realize exists, since they’ve never had to do it. He’ll complain and he’ll act like a helpless baby, but remember that you figured this stuff out and he can too. It might not be to your standards for a while, but that just means he need MORE practice to get it right.

        • +1 to all of this. After #2 I went on a flexible work arrangement (still full time but working from home 3 days per week) and it made a big difference. But the biggest difference was writing down every little thing that needs to be done around the house and making an equal split with my husband. I made it clear that he completely owns his categories. So right now he is in charge of yard maintenance, medical (making appointments, filling out forms, health insurance, paying bills), and food. There have been bumps, but it was about making it clear that he 100% had those things. I shouldn’t have to remind him, ask him, etc.

          So make the changes that you can right now (hire more help, give DH more responsibility, get 8 hours of sleep, etc) and start working towards the other changes (living closer to work/working from home more/different childcare/etc).

    • Anonymous says:

      You’re not alone in struggling with the balance but you have a particularly high mountain to climb.

      3 hour daily commute plus husband that is not on the ball at home is incredibly hard to deal with. DH needs to step up his game. An appropriate response from him would have been “You seem at your limit, how can I help more or do more or take on more responsibility for the home front?”

      Is there anyway you can move or change jobs before #2?

    • CPA Lady says:

      You’re not alone. I went through a difficult extended family health crisis situation last year, and it was so dreadful. I got really angry at anyone who told me to do “self care” because what I wanted more than anything was to have someone to take care of me. I needed that so badly. I got no such thing, but managed to get through it by leaning on some of my best female friends, and now I’m okay. My husband was useless in the crisis because he truly did not or could not understand how horrible things were for me and how much I had on my plate because it looked like I was managing it pretty well. To add insult to injury he was mad that I wasn’t paying enough attention to him and that I was tense and grumpy all the time. Our marriage hit a really rocky patch for months that we’re just now fully recovering from almost a year later.

      I think your husband is pointing out, rightly (though not worded very well), that you are stretched way too thin right now. Something has got to give. You either need to find a job with a shorter commute, stop helping your parents as much, or stop TTC and decide you’ll try again once you’re in a better place. Adding a newborn to this insanely stressful situation is not going to help you magically be more rested and more cared for. It’s only going to add another layer of logistics for you to manage on top of sleepless nights and the physical demands of pregnancy and breast feeding.

      Have you ever talked to your husband about picking up more slack in terms of “taking initiative”? It really helped my husband understand what I needed from him– not to do what I say, but to look around and see what needs to be done and then do it. What worked for us was him taking over an entire segment of related emotional labor- meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. Trade off is I don’t get to complain about what we’re eating, I just eat it. It’s been great. I still do everything else, but it’s been so wonderful to have an entire segment of running the household that I don’t have to worry about.

      I promise, eventually, things will get better. But if you keep doing the same thing over and over, you’ll get the same results. Something has got to change.

      • So tired says:

        Thank you for this. Your experience really resonated with me, and I do need to step back on things. Meals are probably a great place to start. Honestly, I don’t even care what I eat at this point. I’ll have cereal every night as long as I don’t have to think about it and it’s set in front of me.

        • Anonymous says:

          Meals are also a really good area for husbands to step up. They get the concept of needing to eat every day. And that grocery shopping needs to be done so there is food in the house. Our split involves DH doing grocery shopping from a set list, he does dishes after supper everyday (7/7 days)and cooks on the weekdays for dinner. I cook weekend breakfast/lunches and dinners.

          Last night was chicken fingers, fries and bagged salad. I didn’t care because it was hot food and fresh vegetables. But the mental energy of not having to figure out what to eat every workday is huge for me.

    • Definitely not. More on emotional labor here:
      Husband needs to step it up at home.

    • Spirograph says:

      Hugs, of course you’re not alone with this. Sometimes you just have to look at your life when it is overwhelming you and ask “where can I cut back.” Everything is on the table for potential cuts, look at it objectively without emotional judgement, if you can.

      1.5 hour commute each way is brutal. That was my situation after baby #1 was born, and that’s where I made the first change. Are you able to move closer or find a job closer to home? Or exercise a telework option occasionally? I am not exaggerating when I say that going from a 1hr+ commute to a <30min commute was life-changing in the best way.

    • Boston Legal Eagle says:

      Agree, this is not sustainable. Does husband want #2? Because, honestly, it doesn’t seem like he’s willing to do all the work required with one and seems to expect you to continue being the lead with 2 as well, and also work outside the home full-time as well.

      If he really will not step up, then you should have a discussion about how two kids will be taken care of: either you switching to a less demanding/less far away job to be able to manage being the lead at home and accepting the financial hit this will cause (unless you find an equally paying less demanding job, i.e. win at life :) ) or outsource a lot more and also take the financial hit there. You will go crazy trying to do it all yourself.

      • Anonymous says:

        +1. Please think carefully before proceeding with having a second child. My best friend was in your exact situation – long commute, sick relative, stretched way too thin – when she conceived her second. Many conversations were had with her husband about stepping up, doing more, etc. He was in-theory on board with having another child and doing more but wasn’t enthusiastic, really, about either thing. Baby #2 is born. Dad stepping up did not happen. They’re still together and she of course does not regret the second child, but she had to take a demotion at work, plus she spends a pretty good percentage of her take-home income on a meal-delivery service, laundry service, housekeeper etc. just to keep their lives going. What your husband said may hurt, but it also may be the only way he can think of to say – let’s hold off on #2 for right now. I don’t think that’s the worst advice in the world.

        I think this is one of those situations where – unfortunately – you cannot have it all. Something has to give. One idea, is there any way your job will let you work from home a couple days a week to avoid the commute? That may be an easy ask if they think the alternative is losing you. Having a couple of days a week not commuting and being at home could make a world of difference, with everything. I feel for you, friend. Good luck.

    • avocado says:

      You are not alone! I have felt this way myself many times. I will echo the others in saying that it sounds as if you are stretched to the breaking point and something’s got to give, whether or not you are going to add another child to the mix.

      I would first set clear boundaries on elder care. That can be a source of constant stress and worry. Decide what you are really willing and able to do, whether that’s nothing or ordering groceries once a week or visiting for an hour once a month or just FaceTiming your grandfather when you have the chance. Then stick to that and if your parents ask for more, be firm in reminding them that this is all you can do. Your first obligation is to your own family, which is you + husband + child.

      Your husband also needs to take ownership of certain domains of housework and kid stuff. In our house, dad is in charge of laundry, the yard, most transportation, and cleaning floors. I still end up spending more time and energy on household management and kid stuff than he does, but at least I can count on “his” things getting done without much input from me.

      The commute is also going to be an even bigger issue once you have an infant. My commute is an hour each way, and I can’t even imagine how hard a 1.5-hour commute would be. I would explore all your options, including changing jobs, working remotely 2-3 days a week, or even moving to be near your office and letting your husband commute if he is not going to step up at home.

      Hugs. Sadly, I think it is very common for modern husbands to expect their wives to work outside the home while also doing all the things their mothers did as SAHMs, partly because they just have no idea how much work really goes into parenting and running a household and partly because the pattern gets established during maternity leave. If we don’t educate them and get them to step up and do their share, we will all drown.

    • POSITA says:

      I think it’s always tempting to look at the husband and think that he should do more, but I’m not sure that’s always the solution. I really think you have to look objectively to determine how much capacity he has remaining. Maybe there is enough, but maybe not. His 100% capacity may also not be equal to yours. You also have to consider whether it’s worth your time, emotional energy , or potential marital strife to make/convince/cajole him do more.

      Life with young kids is overwhelming. It does sound like your husband could probably take on more emotional labor, but it still may not be enough to get you to a sustainable place. Whether or not he steps up, you may still need to make substantial life changes.

      • October says:

        Agree, we don’t know what the husband’s situation looks like (his job, his commute, etc.). I think the only solution is for your whole family to do less – less commuting, possibly fewer hours at work, fewer chores (aka more outsourcing). Go into bare-bones survival mode for a bit until you feel more rested/back on your feet, and then figure out what big changes can help you all feel more fulfilled.

        I also want to say I really admire you, OP, for how you are helping your parents and grandmother in the face of everything else going on. I’m sure they all really appreciate it, and tough as it may be, you are a very caring person to make time for those relationships.

      • Husband says:

        I disagree completely with this. It really doesn’t matter what his outside capacity is; he is not doing half the emotional labor of running their home. Unless they specifically agreed that wife would do more, he is not pulling his weight. That’s independent of what else he has going on. He has to do his half at home. Even (especially) if that means cutting out external obligations.

      • So tired says:

        Our situation is really a mix of all these things. We chose for my husband to have a short commute (2o min) because he is in BigLaw and works long hours. I feel bad because he works so hard both in the office and at home, but his hours at home are limited so I pick up the slack. He is currently trying to find an in-house role to help with all this.

        I love my job, make more money than my DH, and wouldn’t want to quit despite the long commute. I think it’s just a hard time for our family, and I need to outsource even more help. I wish we could put off TTC but we both would like a 2nd baby, and I’m unfortunately too old to wait.

        Thank you all so much for your comments and opening up to share your personal experiences – it means more to me to understand that I’m not alone in this. It’s an isolating feeling because I barely have time to connect with anyone outside of work.

        • Anonymous says:

          Do you have money for a part-time housekeeper? It might be worth the investment to have someone come from 4-9pm everyday to make supper, grocery shop, do laundry and other errands/light cleaning. Might be cheaper than all those chores separately. Depending on your living arrangements, if you have space, you might be able to find a college student willing to take on that role in exchange for free room and board and a small salary. Or an aupair.

        • Coach Laura says:

          So Tired- if you are making more than your DH and he is in big law (even if you live in a HCOL area) then given what is going on, I would think you would have extra cash that you can free up. You’ll need to throw money at the problem. Your sanity depends on it as does your health and the future of your family.

          My suggestions:
          -Hire a full-time nanny or an au pair – this will keep you/DH from having to go to/from daycare or replace day care all together. If you already have a nanny and the hours aren’t sufficient, hire a second nanny part-time. If you want to keep your child’s day care, an au pair might nicely fill the gap by taking to/from day care and providing an extra set of hands. If you don’t have space for an au pair, then a part-time nanny is a good idea.
          -In addition, hire a housecleaner/cook. Have this person do all cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping (or order/have delivered), load/unload dishwasher, make family meals and make/prep toddler lunches, pick-up/drop-off dry-cleaning, get prescriptions, sort mail, give away/store outgrown baby clothes.

          You want everything off your plate (and DH’s) other than eating, sleeping and playing with your baby. You’ll still have to pay bills (set up auto-pay) and clothing shop for baby but otherwise outsource it all. You want a “homemaker” 3-5 times a week who does everything. If you don’t care what you eat, give cook a general list (spaghetti & meatballs, chili, chicken stir fry, chicken fingers, BBQ pork, pot roast, roasted veggies) and have it on repeat. The cook can leave things in the crock-pot so all you have to do is serve, or they can be served cold or re-heated. Have cook make your lunches too if you don’t want to buy your lunch.
          -Don’t neglect your self-care.
          -I’m not sure what support you’re providing to your elderly relatives but depending on how much you outsource you may or may not still have energy for that. You may feel like you have to be “present” for your grandparent and that’s admirable but stepping back to just visiting and not providing care or assistance may be needed.

          Getting these people in place might take effort but it will pay off. Good luck and write back.

          • Katala says:

            I agree with this, especially because if your DH is in big law, it might not be realistic to have him take on entire spheres (unless that involves being in charge of the outsourcing). I’m in big law and the schedule is just so unpredictable, I can’t be in charge of meals even though I wouldn’t mind that job. Too many nights when I have no idea until 4:45 that I’ll be working until 10:00. I try to do all laundry except for DH’s, but unless we’re home all weekend there’s not enough time to get it all rotated through and folded. I feel like I should be responsible for more, but really don’t see where I would get the time.

            Also to echo others, your oxygen mask comes first then your immediate family’s. If you want a second child and that time is now, you may need to step back from providing assistance with your grandmother. And that’s OK! Even if you’ve agreed to help, things change and adding a child to your family is one of the reasons other obligations will need to be reevaluated.

            Hugs. You are absolutely not alone.

    • CPA Lady says:

      Oh, I just had another thought about something that might help you feel very slightly better right away while you’re in the process of making whatever big changes you decide on (if you decide to do that)– Listen to comedy podcasts on your commute. I do this and it is such an easy small joy that requires no effort on my part. I like the Dollop (bizarre stories from American history) and My Favorite Murd*r (true crime comedy).

    • I quit my 1.5 hour commute job when I had baby #1. It was pretty terrifying, as I didn’t think I’d handle being a SAHM well (I didn’t). But I went to every local professional lunch/meeting/picnic I could, was very open about how I was looking for something nearby because the commute was not sustainable with an infant, and started found a job with a nice raise and two mile commute on the day my kid turned 10 months old.

      All of which is to say, your commute is not sustainable.

      • Anonymous says:

        +a million. I am the poster above who suggested the OP ask for WFH days so she doesn’t have to commute that far every day. If that’s not doable, she needs a new job.

    • In House Lobbyist says:

      Can you order groceries/household supplies online and have them delivered or pick them up? I could not survive without Amazon from everything from fish food to shampoo. My husband and I have “spheres” and it works pretty good. When he tells me I need to get my tires rotated I can gently remind him that all car related items are his sphere just like putting all the Cub Scout and ballet stuff on the shared calendar is my sphere.

    • Anonymous says:

      Make your husband a chore chart (seriously). Sunday is the first, which is nice for starting some tracking. Go buy a cheap notebook (or a super expensive sparkly one! You do you!) this weekend and a pack of multicolor pens. Stick them together (in an expensive purse or a quart ziploc! Whatever!)

      EVERY thing you do for the next month, just write down. Try to use a different color for different activities (like Green=work, red=house, blue=kid, purple=parents/grandma, black=you, orange=Halloween[becaue there is always another holiday/birthday/something]). Even if it’s stupidly small like, “put husband’s underwear in laundry” (which I did this morning, after I put his kleenex on the kitchen table in the garbage). It will slow down your life and be a pain. Do it anyway.

      Then, because your husband is good at “doing what you ask” make a list of all the tasks you did for him, the kid and the house. His tasks need to go back to him and the kid and house tasks need to be divided/outsourced.

      Or put him in charge of “areas”: You husband, are now in charge of dinner three nights a week and your laundry and kiddos weekend laundry and cleaning bathroom. Then he can make his own chore chart.

  5. On day 5 of a month-long solo parenting stint, work is piling up and crazy right now because of giant conference next week, and toddler decides to wake up a zillion times last night and be awake from 4-5.30 (but needing to be touching me the entire time). It’s Friday and I’m looking at a weekend full of work at naptime and at night.

    I have a lot of sweet SAHM friends with similar-aged kids who’ve offered to take the kid for playdates. But I actually like hanging out with my kid, he’s sweet and funny and active and has a great sense of humour. I don’t get to see him awake enough during the week. It’s all the other sh*t – having to clean the house, do laundry, do dishes – that stresses me out. But I can’t really ask them ‘can you do my laundry?’…

    • Assuming it is available local to you and you can afford it, now is the time for fluff and fold! And paper plates! You are a champ.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you can afford it, can your regular cleaning service come more often to do laundry and dishes for this month?

      Toddler may be perfectly happy to watch Sesame Street on an Ipad next to you while you do some work. I’ll generally try to do this while sitting on the couch as being able to snuggle toddler toes under my leg or other touching, seems to keep toddler happier.

      And take out + prepared meals are your friends. Use paper plates if you have to.

      • I LOLed at regular cleaning service! My regular cleaning service consists of husband, whose specialty is dishwashing, deep-cleaning, trash, bathrooms, and folding the laundry. (My general role is tidying, actually putting the laundry into washer & dryer, and food management.) Definitely doing paper plates and disposable flatware, though.

        • Anonymous says:

          OMG – definitely hire one time service part way through the month if you can afford it. Would likely only be $100 approx to get your bathrooms and floors done at least.

        • Also just remembered that husband’s other specialty is the garden. Which we have to winterize soon. Crap.

          • NewMomAnon says:

            Gardens are a thing that family and friends will help with. No shame in asking for help there.

    • avocado says:

      Are there local grandparents who could take toddler overnight and deal with the 4:00 a.m. wakeup for at least one night?

    • anne-on says:

      Is this something you can throw money at? If so, I’d hire a mother’s helpers (or college kids) to come unload/reload dishes, run some laundry, run errands, etc. I’d also start seriously simplifying dinner (hot food bar at the local whole foods, frozen “healthy-ish” meals from Trader Joes, or even a meal delivery service. Heck, pbjs and pasta plus cut up raw veggies sounds fine!
      If it isn’t possible to throw money at it – do you have family or close friends who can come stay and help you for a few nights? Just so you can get caught up on around the house stuff.
      And ALLLL the sympathy – my husband was gone for 10 days and it was SO hard.

    • POSITA says:

      I’d do real work while the toddler is sleeping and do housework with the toddler “helping.” My toddler loves to do laundry and play in the sink while I do dishes. It’s never as fast as I can do things myself, but better than trying to do real work with an awake toddler. I also find that things go better if I spend as much time out of the house with the toddler as possible. Less to clean up that way.

      And a huge +1 on the cleaning service. Totally worth it.

      • NewMomAnon says:

        My preschooler learned how to put shirts on hangers!!! It’s glorious. It isn’t always the neatest or straightest hanger application, but it’s still wonderful.

      • Spirograph says:

        My 2.5 and 4 year olds love to help with laundry. They actually can fold things like washcloths and underwear pretty well (not that most underwear needs to be folded… but it keeps them occupied!). Shirts tend to end up in a neatly arranged ball, but whatever. At least if they’re folding things they don’t UNfold what I’m folding.

      • Haha, he can ‘help’ with laundry (though he tends to leave it in piles and I once found underwear in the Duplo box). And it’s supposed to rain tomorrow so I might set up a movie and do work…

    • NewMomAnon says:

      I have a small circle of working moms whose husbands travel frequently, or who are single working moms. We get together regularly after daycare pickup; one of us hosts, the other one brings dinner. When I go to the other family’s house, I usually offer to monitor the kids while the other mom throws in laundry or does some other chore.

      But – you really deserve to hire help. It may be a budget pinch, but it’s a good investment to avoid resenting your husband/kids longer term. Dial back the 401(k) contributions for a few months, hire a cleaner or laundry service or meal delivery service or mother’s helper (or all of them!). My house would be an epic disaster if it wasn’t for the twice-a-month cleaning service. I’ve found that it costs more like $130 a session if you truly throw all the cleaning to them (which I do; they scrub glitter off surfaces, take out the trash and recycling, make the beds, etc).

  6. I’d like to do the Teal Pumpkin thing this year, although I don’t know much about it. I can paint a pumpkin teal and have non-food treats available – is that all I need to do? I’ll keep them in a separate bowl from the food so they don’t cross-contaminate. Any recommendations on what is a “good” non-food treat?

    • avocado says:

      I have tried offering non-food treats in the past before the teal pumpkin became a thing, sometimes in lieu of candy and sometimes as an option, and the kids hate all of it. They only want candy. Perhaps people looking for a teal pumpkin would actually be happy to get non-food treats, but after having too many kids complain and throw the toys on the driveway I wouldn’t bother.

    • Anonymous says:

      Pretty sure that’s all you need to do. Non-food treats like pencils, stickers, and temporary tattoos are popular.

      But, as a parent of a child with multiple allergies, I find the whole Teal Pumpkin super confusing. It’s Halloween! My kid wants candy, candy, chips and more candy just like every other kid. So she’s taught to say thank you for whatever she gets at the door, and then I swap out her treats 1-1 for candy/chips she can eat once she gets home. We go to the store a few days in advance and pick out what types of candy/chips she wants to use for the swapping.

      Food allergies require a lot of accommodation by other parents in other settings like daycares and schools. I feel like the whole Teal pumpkin thing just creates more work without any tangible benefit for kids with allergies. But I do super appreciate the thoughtfulness of others in taking it on.

    • anne-on says:

      We tend to default to non-chocolate candy for Halloween because of multiple nut/egg/dairy allergies on our street. I read labels very carefully, but usually lollipops, gummy candy (Swedish Fish, Sour Patch Kids, Haribo, etc.) is allergen free. We kept a stash of it at home to trade our son when he trick or treated with allergies. I SO appreciate anyone who had allergy free candy but absolutely did not expect it.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      Huh, I didn’t explicitly do the “teal pumpkin” thing, but I always keep a bowl of non-food items and offer them to everybody. Lots of very young children (and their parents!) prefer stickers especially if they are the cool kind with googly eyes or scratch and sniff, or similar. Usually my sticker stash is wiped out by the end of the night. I also kept a special reserve of Target dollar bin things/toy cars/$5 iTunes gift cards that I could give to the kids who had actual allergies.

    • I would totally love for my toddler to get stickers! He hasn’t really ever had candy so Halloween will probably just be a walk around the neighborhood and we won’t actually go to any houses.

      Oh, btw, I saw teal pumpkins at Target if you don’t want to have to paint one every year.

      • Glow sticks are extremely popular in our neighborhood with trick or treaters! We printed out a picture of a teal pumpkin with a note “Non-food treats available here!”

  7. Has anyone done those personalized melamine plates with their kids, where the kid’s drawing is made into a plate? Where can I get one of those?

  8. Tfor22 says:

    The thread above mentioning a mother’s helper reminded me of a question. My twelve year old would love to be a mother’s helper and has taken the Red Cross babysitting class online. He has cards that say “First name’s household help”, which we have given to the neighbors and my colleagues, and no one calls. (Well, we did get a lot of calls for snow shoveling during our one big storm last year.) How do we get more business for him? He is super with younger kids.

    • Anonymous says:

      Can you be more specific about what services he is offering? I got most of my jobs in my teenage years after my dad put up a sign in his office lunch room bulletin board with a little paragraph about me offering babysitting (evenings or weekends or days during school holidays), pet sitting/dog walking, and light household help (laundry, meal prep). I was closer to 14 though.

      One challenge may be that parents often need help with younger kids (babies/toddlers) and I think 12 is a little young to be changing diapers/chasing toddlers. I would definitely hire a 12 year old to watch my five year old but probably not the 18 month old. But I don’t need as much help with my 5 year old.

    • Spirograph says:

      I’m sad you don’t live in my neighborhood!!

      Do you have a neighborhood listserv? Is your neighborhood the type that does block parties or neighborhood events? Also, you say “we have given them to neighbors…” Do you mean that he handed them out, or that you did? I think it would be great if your son just walked around and knocked on doors to pass the cards out. I know people hate solicitors, but I don’t think that extends to a polite 12 year old who wants to introduce himself as a potential mother’s helper. It would be great if he did this sometime when he was able to stay for a half hour or so on the spur-of-the-moment and was able to say, “I’m offering a free trial if there’s anything I can help you with right now!”

      • Tfor22 says:

        That is a great point. I suggested he hand them out personally right before the big snowstorm, which did generate a lot of calls. I’ll encourage him to walk around with his cards more. And in regards to the above comment, I agree that 12 is young to handle babies and toddlers alone.

        • I agree but wow I started babysitting (not being a mother’s helper, but being alone with the kids) at age 11! And the family I sat for most had four kids, ages 9 months to 10yrs (yes, the 10 yo totally resented my presence). I know I was babysitting alone at night by age 12 because I was babysitting the night Pres Bush I came on TV and announced we’d sent bombers in the beginning of the first Gulf War. (Yeah, I’m old.)

          It’s so bizarre. Why was that okay in 1990 but so not okay to us now?

          • I remember what kind of babysitter I was at 12 and resolved never to hire someone that young. I made some pretty dubious decisions.

          • Anon – that would be a great funny thread. Worst things we did as babysitters or worst things we remember happening while we were being watched by a babysitter.

          • Anonymous says:

            I started babysitting at 12. But I grew up in a Mormon town and that was the age when kids switched from little kid church to basically teen Sunday School. So, it’s still okay in places like Utah, Idaho, parts of CA and AZ. Because it’s the community standard.

            An yeah, you started with watching sleeping babies and four year olds.

      • avocado says:

        If you have a homeowners’ association, check whether it maintains a babysitter list. Ours does.

    • anne-on says:

      Is there a popular local supermarket/coffee shop/starbucks that you can post a flier at? I see those types of postings all the time (a paragraph or two about skills, rates, and contact info) with the little tear off things at the bottom. I’d definitely try that – especially now with school holidays and other holidays coming up – maybe add a note about ‘available to babysit during school holidays, or to help prepare/clean up before family get-togethers, lend a hand during your young child’s birthday party’.
      We have seen A LOT of teenage mother’s helpers supervising the 5-6-7 yr old at home birthday parties recently and I think its a fabulous idea – the little kids love playing with the ‘big boys/big girls’ and it lets the parents relax!

      • If you can get your 12-year-old a “helper” gig at a birthday party, it’s a great way to get exposure. There’s nothing more effective than having other parents actually see that you’re engaged, great with kids, polite, and helpful.

      • Yes I think the key is to be as specific as possible to give people ideas on how to use him. I have a 4 and 2 year old, and I just never think about hiring a mother’s helper. But man, when I had to do a big garage cleanout last Saturday, I could have definitely used a mother’s helper to play with them and feed them a snack, just to get them out of my hair for a couple hours.

        And oh man I love the idea for birthday party help.

        One other idea – does his school have a preschool or K-3 component? If you can get an “in” through a friend or friend’s parent, who can mention him to other parents as a trustworthy local kid, that would be a great client base. Maybe someone on the FSA or a room parent or a local SAHM – the one who knows lots of people and loves to help out?

      • Artemis says:

        This is just what I was going to mention. My 11-year-old neighbor is a great kid and wants to start being a mother’s helper. So I hired him for his first job as the “party helper” at my 5-year-old’s party at a local park. He came 30 minutes early and helped with all the set-up; he ran the piñata; he took my 2-year-old out on the playground while I was finishing set-up and she was getting antsy; he ran some of the games we brought; handed out party favors; made sure everyone got pizza and cake, etc. etc. SO worth the money I paid him and, honestly SO worth it to see his own sense of accomplishment! Tons of parents saw him helping and I told him to give my name and number to anyone who asked for a reference.

  9. au pair/nanny vacation says:

    For those who have an au pair or nanny, how do you handle their vacations? Do you just take leave yourself while they’re away? Or do you have some sort of back-up you can use? My MIL usually can watch our kids while our au pair is on vacation, but she has some health issues and it really tires her to have two little kids full time for a week at a time. I just am not sure how to find someone to fill in just for two weeks a year. Do we just have to s-ck it up an use our vacation time to stay home with them?

    • There are nanny agencies and backup care places that can cover gaps like this. Not cheap, though.

    • Anonymous says:

      Aupairs are generally happy to have holidays around the school holidays so you can hire a local high school student to cover. I spent three years in high school babysitting for the second week of my Christmas vacation M-F 9-5. The parents split the first week and I covered the second week while the aupair went home to visit her family for two weeks.

      • au pair/nanny vacation says:

        Great idea! We have neighbors with twin teenagers who I hear are interested in babysitting. I’ll see if I can get next year’s vacations scheduled around their school vacations.

  10. Chi Squared says:

    I just need to vent! I was so grumpy yesterday because the burden of being the primary breadwinner really hit me hard. My husband hung out his shingle on a part-time consulting business about 6 years ago. His business ebbs and flows unpredictably, so we have a nanny Mon-Thurs. the whole day In my more rational moments, I appreciate how the amazing flexibility he has working for himself makes it easier for me to be a BigLaw attorney. I don’t have to worry about covering nanny sick days, my own travel days, and getting home in time to cook dinner, etc.

    But yesterday, I had to work from home due to commuting issues, and coincidentally he decided to take the day off to pursue one of his hobbies. It made me SO. MAD. to realize that my personal fantasy of having a day off work while not being on kid duty is basically any given Monday – Thursday for him. I get practically no me-time or free time to pursue any hobbies of my own, other than reading before bed, and it just really got to me yesterday. I wish I could kick back and give myself days off, and get to spend more time with the kids while HE goes and works full time and worries about billable hours, and does the emotional/mental labor for the family.

    And today he decided to take the kids to a pumpkin patch, and is texting me complaints about how the place is tiny and the food sucks, etc. All I can think is: gee, I’m so sorry your outing isn’t turning out to be as fun as you had hoped while I am here at work.


    • Can you take a PTO day for a me day or a day with the kids day? If he’s handling kid sick days and nanny sick days you probably have some PTO to spare.

      That said, I get super grumpy when I’m at work and anyone I know is doing something fun!

    • I understand exactly how you feel. I’m in a weird position because in the past 2 years, since Kiddo was born, we have gone from (1) DH and I both working crazy hours, with a nanny, to (2) DH working crazy hours, me unemployed, with Kiddo in daycare, to (3) me employed working sane hours, with DH unemployed/doing contract work, with Kiddo in daycare and a lot of financial stress.

      So, I’ll just say that parts of every single one of those situations suck for both parents. A fun outing to the pumpkin patch can easily seem like trying to kill time with two cranky kids and terrible food. He may be thinking, “She gets to go into the office and use her brain and have adult time and buy herself a decent grown-up salad for lunch.”

      We’ve communicated a lot about how the person at home couldn’t just take an unplanned day off from contributing to the household. We could build in time to relax and take care of ourselves, but we couldn’t just pursue a personal hobby all day. It’s funny that we’ve both chosen different projects and have different priorities (I mean, it’s obvious that you would, but it’s funny how it plays out).

      • Chi Squared says:

        So true about different perspectives. It’s easy for me to think of his time with the kids as “play” when really dealing with a melodramatic 4 year old and cranky not-yet-verbal 1.5 year old is not fun and games.

        And I definitely appreciate DH more when I’m busy at work and he takes up my slack.

    • Katala says:

      Are you me? My DH does part-time consulting at home, both kids in full time daycare. I was so mad this morning because I had to work past midnight and he set his alarm for 6:00 then hit snooze, so it woke me and the baby up. By the time he took the baby I was fully awake and it was too late to try to go back to sleep. This happens even though he agrees that I should get to sleep until 7:00 if I’m working that late. Ugh. I’m so jealous he gets to go to the gym 4 days/week, has more time with the kids, actually has hobbies.

      It could be worse in many ways, but I feel you.

    • Rainbow Hair says:

      I’m in a similar situation. I cannot tell you how much I would love to be at home alone — ever! even once! (We’ve lived in this house for over a year but I have not been alone in it for more than an hour.) But on weekends I want to soak up time with Kiddo (or want to help calm down her nonsense) so sending Husband out with her doesn’t seem right…?

      Of course, when I’m sitting at the hotel bar answering emails without worrying even a tiny bit about how my Kiddo is doing, or how logistics are panning out, because Husband is definitely taking good care of her and has it all under control… then I’m grateful. Or I should be.

  11. I’m your husband. I went solo (not law) two years ago with the expectation that it would be part-time work and I would be the SAH parent- with childcare. So I work/bill 10-30 hours/week. We have 20 hours a week of standing childcare and a flex arrangement for when things pick up.

    It’s hard for DH, who is always at work and who is the primary breadwinner and insurance carrier.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I came across this article (link to follow) and I could have written every word of it. No matter how many times I explain that when he doesn’t do housework I feel overwhelmed, unseen, abandoned, like my time isn’t valuable, and like he doesn’t love me, he continues to think what I care about is clean dishes. It is so not about the dishes. And his defensive response — spot on! But every working married woman I know (every single one…well, except my one friend whose husband is a SAHD, but all the others) has the exact same complaint. The exact one. So what’s the answer? This article basically throws up its hands and says well let’s train the next generation better. But I know that I wind up resentful, b—chy, angry, and unloved *now*. Does anyone have an answer?

    • Anonymous says:
    • Blueberry says:

      I’ve said a couple times here — my answer has been lots of heart-to-hearts with my husband about this, plus, finally, working a billion hours a month for a fairly long stretch (also in biglaw) with two little kids so that I basically stopped doing any housework and kid coordination for months at a time. I’m still frustrated that when I have free time, the house gets magically nicer and we finally make progress on housework things that had been lying dormant, while when he has free time, he stops when things are good enough for him, and I’m frustrated that we always have crap lying around that we wouldn’t if I were the one taking the lead, but… I’d say we are in a pretty good place in this respect, at least compared to many other couples. Not sure the answer of billing a billion hours a month is really the best answer, but…

    • Maybe this is a late Gen X/ early millennial thing, but my husband got it after a couple of heart-to-hearts. I’ve also said it a couple of times here – one morning when I was running late, dealing with baby and also prepping daycare food and bottles/ telling him what to prep, I snapped ‘Why is this MY job?’. Since then he’s pretty much got it about how women tend to get the short end of the stick re: default parenting and emotional labour.
      I’m also primary breadwinner – not biglaw and sans biglaw-type salary in HCOL area! – and have had short bursts of high-intensity weeks at work, during which I get absolutely nothing done at home. Before he left for this current monthlong fieldwork stint, he took the kiddo for an epic grocery shop, cooked about a week’s worth of freezer meals, and left me sticky notes on what’s in them and how to access his digital info in case of emergencies.

    • I think this is a five love languages kind of problem. My love language is quality time. My husband’s is acts of service. So, he really cares about cleaning the house. He feels insulted when I leave out a dirty dish right after he cleaned. He feels unloved. I feel unloved because I don’t give a [email protected] about the dishes in the sink and I just want to go for a hike with him. After reading the book we have come to appreciate each other’s love languages more and respect that a hike to me is like cleaning to him.

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