Mom Locks Herself Away to Play Video Games for Her First Parenting Break in 2 Years

A mom of four shared on Reddit that after being denied a breather for so long, she decided to just take one, requiring her husband to finally pitch in with parenting.

Stay-at-home parents everywhere feel overwhelmed by the societal expectation that they not only handle most, if not all, the responsibilities related to parenting and running their household but that they do it nonstop and with a smile. Without the occasional break to recharge, many find themselves suffering emotionally and mentally.

That's likely why one mom of four on Reddit decided to take a stand. Writing under the handle u/ClassroomLonely, the original poster (OP) wondered if she was wrong to spend a day locked in a room playing video games, leaving her husband to step it up as a father and actively parent their kids.

The OP shared that her kids are 10, 9, 6, and 2, and she's a stay-at-home mom whose partner works every weekday from 9 to 5. "His Saturdays are pretty relaxed, he hangs out with the kids, then goes out with the boys that night," wrote u/ClassroomLonely. "Sunday is church and a family dinner. My weeks are the complete opposite. I don't relax. I'm 100% overwhelmed and 150% stressed to the max."

Woman sitting on couch, having fun, playing with a gaming console
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A typical day for the OP involves waking up at 5:30 a.m., setting out clothes at 6:30 a.m., cooking and tending to her toddler, making her husband's lunch, getting kids logged on and set up for school (her post was penned at the height of the pandemic, when many families did remote learning), helping her kids with school while entertaining the little one, feeding the kids, deep cleaning, doing laundry, making dinner, running errands, doing bathtime and bedtime, more cleaning, and then going to sleep by 10 p.m. in order to get up and do it all over again the next day.

She shared that the previous Friday, she complained that she was tired, and her husband got upset with her. "I asked him what he did every day that he's too tired to help out, and maybe that's why I am exhausted, that I do everything," wrote the OP. "I haven't had a break since my 2-year-old was born. He told me I didn't need a break, that it's easy to do my job. I ended up screaming that the next day, he is tending to the house and kids and that I was locking myself in our room and playing video games all day."

The OP stayed true to her word. "I refused to unlock the door Saturday or do anything," she noted. In turn, her mother-in-law called "pissed," saying she couldn't do that to her family and that the mom of four was an ass*** for "ignoring" her family to play games.

"I told her that maybe if she raised her son better, it wouldn't have came to this," recalled the OP. "My husband is angry, my MIL is angry, and I feel like the ass****."

She then added an edit to clarify that her husband is a web developer, noting, "When he gets home, he sits down and relaxes for the rest of the evening. He doesn't entertain the kids, he doesn't help with the house. He relaxes, because he's worked so hard and is exhausted."

And to explain the work she puts in on meals and other to-dos, the OP explained, "I make everything from scratch because it's healthier. They get 30 minutes to one hour of screen time a day. They do have small chores that help a little, but I do all of the big stuff. I have tried to talk to him about this before and have laid out exactly what can be done to help me. I get ignored."

She then turned it over to the community, asking if they thought she was in the wrong.

Many Redditors sided with the OP. One writing under the handle u/Deliquate shared, "That was a baller move, and I salute you. If your husband can't acknowledge that being a stay-at-home mom during a pandemic is a tough job, then he can learn the hard way."

Another named u/Cdifl noted, "If the kids are at home, you have a full time job. What does your husband do? It's probably less energy intensive than taking care of your kids. The general rule is, when your husband comes home, it's a division of labor. He was working during the day as were you. He picks up half the load when he is home. And one day break in the past two years? You need some more holidays. Maybe your MIL, who seems happy to give you her opinion, can pitch in and help too."

Still, others urged the OP and her husband to find a way to successfully communicate and rework their arrangement. U/Pleasureiswonder observed, "There are deeper issues here. Why are you doing all of these things? Your husband is free and available from 5 p.m. at night. Two of your children are old enough to help out, log themselves into computers, and at least feed themselves during the day. Find ways to get the work done without burning yourself out. What ways could you lighten the load? Do you really have to tend the garden every day? Could you and your husband cook meals on a Sunday so you have them easily available all week? Relax, communicate, and have a better life."

But given the OP's edit, Redditors sympathized with the mom's inability to connect on this with her spouse. U/Sparrow5 wrote, "Since it sounds like he's not taking you seriously about what you need and not respecting what you do, I also suggest couples counseling. If he refuses, go to therapy on your own. Something needs to change, and it sounds like you need help one way or another."

The OP agreed, noting, "I think couples' counseling might be the best course for us."

With hope, speaking to a therapist will help this couple clarify their needs and come up with a more equitable approach to parenting. Still, the OP's struggle is one that continues to be felt by all too many parents. Clearly, it's not only on individual couples to do the work. Society as a whole needs to do better when it comes to promoting gender equality in the home and offering support for families—like universal child care and preschool—that will make it possible for parents to "relax, communicate, and have a better life."

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