Real Life

True Confessions Agony Aunt: My husband and kids take me for granted

Unhappy housewife

Image: Getty, posed by model

I am a housewife with three kids and a husband. I love my husband and my kids, but they don’t appreciate me at all. I’m an unpaid servant who serves up meals, tidies the house and washes the clothes.

I don’t have a life of my own at all – I’m just a wife and mum. My husband and kids do all sorts of activities and they just let me drop them off and pick them up.

When I say anything about it they just think I’m moaning. How can I get them to take me seriously?

This is a very common situation if you’ve been at home when the kids are young. It is reasonable for you to want to feel appreciated for all you do and to have some enjoyment yourself. The best way is to sort it out calmly and firmly.

First, stop picking up after everyone. List the chores and share them out, show them how each task is done properly but don’t complete shoddy jobs or do them yourself because it’s too much bother to protest.

You need to set clear expectations and be firm with them. Privileges such as pocket money and fun activities can be withheld from the kids until their jobs have been successfully completed. This stance has the added benefit of helping to teaching them the value of hard work and money.

At the same time try to make it fun – Sunday morning could be cleaning time for the family for an hour, maybe even give it a competitive edge if that would help motivate them.

Don’t forget to praise jobs well done and then arrange a nice family activity for the afternoon – with the extra time you have saved with the family clean-up, you can relax and join in.

Arrange your own activities such as an exercise class or an evening with a friend and if your commitments clash with theirs, some negotiating needs to be done, possibly involving public transport.

The house might not be up to your usual standards for a few days, but you’re changing some long-term bad habits, so make it clear what your expectations are and give it time.

If that doesn’t sink-in see if you can organise a weekend away and maybe combine it with a course looking at getting back into work or furthering your skills – make it something you feel passionate about.

Don’t organise anything for them before you go – let them do shopping, cooking and sorting out clothes and equipment for their various activities. This way they will get a better understanding and hopefully appreciation of all you do for them.

When you come back don’t let anyone make you feel guilty and rather than get mad at the potential mess you will come home to, take the opportunity to point out the chore list and suggest they get on with it.

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