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AZRIELA JAFFE

9.29.99  
This Can't Be Women's Lib at the Millennium!
My business lets my husband work part-time, and I still do all the housework

Here is an excerpt from a letter sent to me by a newsletter subscriber: "I am the mother of five children, ranging in age from 5 to 16. We used to have a live-in nanny. When my business started to bring in six figures, my husband began working part-time, and we let the nanny go. When we had the nanny, the house was always tidy. Now, when I come home after working all day, it's a mess, and I have to start making a meal. I feel like my second job begins when I come home. I've thought of hiring a live-in nanny, but that lets my husband off the hook. What do you suggest?"

We could go on about how it's not fair and your husband should do more around the house. That's usually not very productive, though. It seems that you expected your husband would become the new nanny once his schedule changed. Instead, he has become one of the kids, and you're the manager of the household. Chances are that he's rebelling against the change of roles. You've become the breadwinner and the boss of the house. Since he doesn't take the initiative to straighten up around the house, I imagine you leave him instructions about what to do and that he ignores them. If so, that's his way of resisting your efforts to get some control of the situation.

It's clearly time for you and your husband to talk about needs and expectations and to map out who does what in the house, daily and weekly. You need a formal plan that you both agree on.

You mentioned that you have five children. Why is the housework and meal preparation falling on you? Most, if not all, your kids are old enough to pitch in. It sounds as though you have trained your family to depend on you for everything. You are giving your family mixed messages -- complaining about working so hard at the office and at home, then doing it all anyway. It's time to set limits and ask for a change, though you may have to lower your standards a bit and let the kids and their dad make meals and clean up their own way.

You mentioned that you are earning a six-figure income. How far that goes depends on where you live -- especially with five kids. Still, if you can, hire someone to help. What, after all, is a successful business for if you can't benefit from it personally?

On the positive side, your children see their father more than most. Maybe your husband should do more, but it's impressive to create a successful enough business that he doesn't have to work full-time and can be available to the kids. Once your husband doesn't feel that he has to fill the nanny's shoes officially, he may be more helpful.


Have a question on how to handle the pressures of running a business and the impact on your personal life, marriage, and family? Contact Azriela Jaffe at AZ@azriela.com. Please put "BW Online question" in the subject field. Your real name will be kept confidential if you request, but please give an E-mail address, phone number, and your hometown so she can contact you for more information. Because of heavy volume, Azriela cannot guarantee that she will answer every query.

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