While work-from-home jobs are not a new arrangement, they became much more well-known during the pandemic, including the struggles of juggling other obligations, like home chores and childcare.
But some people have continued to struggle with balancing these responsibilities even after the world got back to somewhat normal, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Still working from home most of the time, Redditor HelplesslyPuzzled tried to help their wife as much as possible with their five-month-old baby while their toddler was at daycare.
When they had to work and were unable to help their wife when both of their kids were at home, the Original Poster (OP) was surprised by how angry their wife was with them.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for not helping my wife with the kids when she wanted to keep them home from daycare while I have to work?”
The OP and their wife were balancing work and childcare.
“My wife and I have two kids, one who is a bit over two years old and another who is five months old.”
“I work Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, from home and occasionally go into the office.”
“My wife is on maternity leave and taking care of our five-month-old. I take care of the baby for overnight wakings and feedings.”
“Our two-year-old is in daycare.”
The OP didn’t totally agree with their wife’s chosen pick-up time each day.
“Whether I send my kid to daycare one day or five days a week, for one hour or eight hours, it costs the same.”
“My wife likes to pick up our toddler from daycare around 3:15 every day instead of letting me go when I finish work, because she doesn’t want our kid to be there so much during the day.”
“The problem is, I am left watching the baby for 45 minutes while she is gone. And then for the hour that she is taking care of both of them while I finish my work day, she gets overwhelmed, stressed, and very annoyed at me and our kids. It’s just not a great situation overall.”
“Every day my wife tells me that she is exhausted, she has no time to herself, she doesn’t get things done that she needs to, she’s overwhelmed, and she just wants to relax when the baby naps, etc…”
“I try to help out with the baby during the day when I can, like feeding and putting him down during my lunch break. I just try to be available throughout the day if my wife needs me.”
The OP’s wife then made a plan that took them by surprise.
“Anyways, on to the main point of this post. Last night my wife told me she wanted to keep our toddler home from daycare today.”
“I told her that I didn’t think it was a good idea. How was she going to feed and put the baby down for a nap while taking care of the toddler? She already gets stressed and overwhelmed just looking after the baby. Why put herself through more stress?”
“I told her that I could not take the day off of work, and she would be alone taking care of both kids.”
“She said she really wanted to spend time with both kids and felt like she doesn’t see our toddler enough.”
“Fine, no problem, if she wants to do this, it is up to her, but I reiterated that I would not be around to help.”
The plan immediately backfired.
“Cut to this morning, I got up at midnight and 4:00 AM to take care of the baby. I got both kids ready and made breakfast for everyone.”
“I started work, and sure enough, 20 minutes after I started, I heard my wife trying to tell our toddler that she just needed to go in the other room to put the baby down for a nap.”
“Of course, the toddler didn’t want to leave her side, so the toddler starts crying. I could hear my wife getting frustrated.”
“My wife finally left to put the baby down and came back. She then had to juggle going back and forth trying to settle the baby by putting the pacifier back in (we are starting some sleep training) and caring for the toddler who wanted all of her attention.”
The OP’s wife lashed out.
“Finally, the baby got settled, and my wife was obviously stressed and tired, and it was only 9:45 AM…”
“She came into my office where I was working and said I heard her struggling, so why did I not come and help.”
“I basically told my wife I told you so. I reminded her that I had said I would not be around to help. I said this is what you get and that she should have let me bring our toddler to daycare.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some were worried the OP’s wife didn’t respect the boundaries of the OP’s workday.
“NTA. WFH (Work-From-Home) is work and you told her beforehand what your abilities were.” – SherIzzy0421
“OP may need to go back into the office. The wife neither understands nor respects work time. Not a peaceful environment to work in coupled with the wife coming in complaining or asking for help.” – Used_Grocery_9048
“So many regard WFH as being able to include home responsibilities. It doesn’t. Going into the office would force mama to take care of herself more. AND NAP.” – Doenut55
“I work from home, and I have a coworker who watches his baby during the day. We have a very lax and casual work atmosphere, but he still ends up working to the wee hours of the morning to meet deadlines because he can’t really keep up with work and a baby at the same time.” – AITAthrowaway1mil
“NAH, OP needs to work and he is right that they should use childcare if the wife is struggling. Wife is suffering from guilt for leaving her eldest child in childcare when she’s at home, she isn’t doing it to be an AH to OP.” – Playful_Pause_7678
Others were worried about the OP’s wife’s mental health.
“It’s not like it’s 2020 again and there is no childcare and it was okay to have to deal with kids. OP’s wife is the AH here or has PPA (Postpartum Anxiety) or PPD (Postpartum Depression). She should be screened for these.”
“For the most part in the US, women have to go back to work at either six or twelve weeks, so this inability to cope daily five months in, is concerning.” – PotentialDig7527
“I mean… I agree on one level that she has to figure out how to juggle two kids. It just has to happen because, well, she has two kids. Buuut that’s easier said than done. Sometimes it makes it harder when we tell ourselves, ‘Women I know do this all the time! It’s easy for other people!'”
“It’s hard. But it’s temporary. It will take more time and adjustment and plenty more days where she will struggle and want to pull her hair out or scream into a pillow. It’s just not easy. It’s not weird that she struggles.”
“BUT it is not okay that she can’t respect the boundary of working hours for her husband. She is going to have to find a way to accept the chaos of life with very small kids.” – hurray4dolphins
“It’s not weird that she finds it difficult, true. Because it is.”
“When I had a baby and toddler, my husband was gone on business trips for several days sometimes, and we didn’t have daycare at the time or any family nearby, and yes it wasn’t easy, but I just did it, because I’m the mom and I wanted a second kid, and it’s just normal parenting.”
“But it is weird that she can’t manage on her own at all. That is not normal. A parent should be able to look after all their own children on their own for several hours or days.”
“And if she really is unable, then she needs to organise help, not ask her working husband. He is at work and not available for child care, who does all the night shifts as well, which I also find to be too much. She can catch up on sleep during the day, he can’t, so she should be doing at least half the nights.” – VirtualMatter2
“I also find this situation weird and feel bad for the toddler who seems to be pushed to the side since his mom can’t figure out how to take care of both. Sometimes you have to just jump into the water head first and realize that you can in fact manage.”
“The fact she can’t drive with the baby to drop off the toddler is extremely strange, in my opinion. I had several kids back-to-back, and I can empathize with its difficulties, but I also think she’s a bit coddled that she doesn’t mind inconveniencing her working husband.” – TheCookie_Momster
While the subReddit could understand the concerns the wife had at home, they were concerned about the wife’s expectations. It was clear she needed more help, but expecting her spouse to help her while they were working was not the appropriate solution.