Help me cheer up my unemployed husband!

Mr. Smaje has been looking for work (to no avail) for about 6 months, and it’s starting to take its toll. He’s mopey and unmotivated, and his extreme negative attitude (as in, everything sucks) is driving me (eternally optomistic) up the wall.

A little background: I gave birth to our first child last December, and Mr. Smaje worked out a great arrangement with his company – he took a month of paternity, and then started working from home. Once I went back to work, he stayed at home with the baby, working part-time freelance for his company. But this summer, the company folded and he was left without any work at all.

Baby Smaje is in daycare 3 days a week now, so he has 3 full days which he can spend looking for work, watching tv, playing video games, working out – all things I totally encourage him to do. He watches the baby 2 days a week, and he’s been complaining about it a LOT. We can’t afford to put baby in day care full time, so he’s just got to suck it up until he finds full time work, at which point we can put baby in day care full time.

Mr. Smaje has supported me through not one but TWO periods of long-term unemployment during our marriage, so I’m completely sympathetic to the suckiness of being unemployed, which is why I encourage him to go out and enjoy his time off. Right now is a terrible time to be looking for full time work (and he’s not interested in part time work, which I can understand) because it’s the holidays, so I’d rather him enjoy the holidays than mope around about his inability to get a job.

Anyone else in this situation? I feel like maybe it hits his masculine pride a tiny bit that I’m the one bringing home the bacon right now, but like I said, he has supported me through the exact same situation. The fact that all three of us have sick with a never-ending cold can’t be helping either. We’ve talked about all of this, and he says he’s fine, and he recognizes that he’s been kinda mopey, but I’m still concerned.

The worst thing about being unemployed is being asked about it, so be sure to avoid asking him things like “Did you apply for any jobs today?” “Any leads?” etc. Of course it’s your business to ask, and he should be looking for work, but those kinds of questions can really wear on you quickly.

He needs to suck it up about the daycare situation and he should be thankful it’s only 2 days a week and not all of them.

When I took time off from work after my kids it was hard because I enjoy being productive and it was difficult to view my childcare activities in that light. Honestly, what made it better was taking some of those ‘baby & me’ classes. Like music, dance, etc. I don’t actually think they do anything for baby but it gave my days structure, got to talk with other people & (at least at the time) convinced myself I was making an impact on the kid.

I’m not sure how your husband spends his days with the baby but we had one born in late October of late year so he’s about the same age as yours. Just staying home with him all day starts to drive me batty, partially because the baby is going batty as well without near-constant interaction. Days with him are much easier when we go out and do… anything. Even a trip to the grocery store means he’s sitting and looking at me and I’m talking to him without spending all day sitting on the floor with noisy plastic bric-a-brac. Or mine loves making a brief stop at the pet store to see the fish swimming around and maybe watch the Doggy Daycare through the window.

When we get home, he tends to be more relaxed and takes naps better because he was stimulated which means more “down time” for me while he sleeps and I’m more inclined to feel good about spending that physical “floor time” with him as well.

It’s a taxing age because the baby no longer stays where you put him and no longer wants to nap the day away but rather looks towards you for entertainment (and learning of course). But that’s part of the job, huh?

He’s complaining about taking care of his own child?? It’s your own fucking kid, it’s not babysitting when it’s your own fucking kid. I don’t know what to advise you to do, other than getting your spousal unit some counseling. Because I’d be sincerely tempted to smack him in the face for having this attitude, even without the added whining. And I’m not prone to violence at all.

I can totally relate to your husband. It is an incredible amount of work applying for jobs (filling in work history, personal info, etc) over and over again and then not even have a rejection email to show for it. You do all this work, and then 3 weeks later, their website has “position filled” in the status column.

It is great that you’re still able to provide for the family, though. It is also good that he’s allowing himself a little recreation (exercise, video games, etc.) Focusing on the negative too much will only bring you down. I agree with Bob Ducca when he says not to ask your husband about it too much. If he brings it up, engage him, but saying “have you looked for anything today” won’t help his situation. Also, if you see something he might like/be qualified for, just mention it to him casually. If he likes it, he will pursue it. It stinks when your SO is super-excited about something that you wouldn’t be that in to.

As for him watching the baby… watching a kid is a lot of work, especially if it’s your first time doing it. He pays so much attention to the baby to make sure it’s not doing anything dangerous, or just keeping him/her from crying requires a lot of focus. It can be draining. Just be encouraging. Commend the fact that they’re able to spend time together bonding, and the fact that the child has somebody like your husband to watch them.

Just continue to be supportive and reassuring. There’s not much other than a job that will get him out of this funk for good, but as long as you’re supportive, he’ll get through it eventually.

I was in a very similar situation as your husband. When our daughter was born, my wife took 3 weeks off of work. Three days before she was going back to work - and our daughter was going to go to daycare, my company had a 25% reduction in workforce. I was one of the many laid off.

My wife and I had both considered taking time off of work to avoid daycare, but we both liked our jobs and neither of us wanted to quit.

But, the decision was made for us and I was thrown into full time stay at home daddy.

I really hate to be harsh here - but he’s got 3 days a week to himself? I just can’t work up much sympathy for him. I’m not being judgmental here - it’s up to you guys how you work daycare and what not - but I would have killed for 3 days to myself a week when I was staying home.
More to the point of the question. What really kept my spirits up was my wife reminding me of how happy she was to have me raise our daughter instead of daycare. Made me feel more like I had a very important full time job that just didn’t pay worth a crap and less like I was unemployed.

I see the problem. Instead of looking for work, he is spending his days screwing around. If I were out of work, I would be spending over 90% of my time looking for a job.

There is no such thing as “not having a job.” If you find yourself no longer employed, you still have a job, and that is to find a job. He should be getting up early every morning and spending at least 8 hours a day looking for one.

If I may be so frank, it sounds like he’s simply lazy.

Perhaps he’s easily discouraged. But yes, it doesn’t sound like he’s fully applying himself to finding a job.

Eh, depending on how big a town your in, there’s only so many hours a day you can spend job hunting before your just spinning your wheels. And it doesn’t sound like the OP is in a particularly stressed financial situation, so its not like the husband needs to sign up to dig ditches for minimum wage if he doesn’t want to.

When I’ve been in similar situations, I’ve tried to find hobbies or activities that might lead to getting a job. Teach myself a new programming language and work on some open source projects, that kind of thing. That way I feel productive, up the chances I’ll run into someone who might have a lead on a job and get some new skills that might help expand the types of jobs I can apply for. And it helps keep one sane to have a longrunning project going that doesn’t involve cleaning up baby-vomit.

I also kind of want to smack him for not considering himself blessed that he has this time with his little one. I sympathize with him on the job issue, but not so much on the baby thing - it’s his kid. If you were staying home with the kid while he worked I’m sure he’d think it was no big deal. :rolleyes:

Most parents kvetch about having to watch toddlers, I don’t think its a gender thing. Its boring and repetitive, you have to spend literally years doing it and its not like you can complain to the kid. So you vent to the spouse and whoever else your close to. And its presumably worse if your unemployed and don’t have a lot else going on to vary things up.

Just because he’s complaining about it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love his kid, or is going to stop taking care of him or anything.

Easy. Having had a long term unemployment myself, (9 months), there is only so much you can do until you reach the point of diminishing returns. Most jobs refer you to an online application nowadays and after that there is little you can do proactively to help yourself out. You already applied to everything, there are only so many new posts available each day that you are qualified for, etc…You can only bug your friends, and their contacts so much. While I don’t have children, i know exactly how the OP’s husband probably feels.

Here is what worked for me to get me out of that funk. First off, Limit the job search to no more than four hours a day. Structure it like a real job. Get up, have your breakfast, see to the kid and get to work. When it’s time for lunch, the workday is over, (unless that means leaving an application or something unfinished). After that, his day is his own to use as he sees fit. The real helper though, is structure. When at work he will spend 8-10 hours a day in a structured environment. Structure helps a lot; having a routine that limits the amount of time spent at home being bored is key. Additionally, help him find ways to feel useful and competent. If he is handy, ask him to take on a small project. If he is a foodie, have him plan out meals and learn some additional cooking skills. Consider paying to take, or audit a few classes at the community college in whatever he may be interested in.

As to taking care of the kid, babies can be difficult and boring. There is little to do at home to keep him amused while having to cater to a baby. Suggest trips to the zoo, parks, or other cheaper days out for them. Perhaps he might be interested in photography, a great way to get him out and about with the kid while allowing him to show the results of his day.

He may also want to consider volunteering somewhere a few days a week. That can lead to jobs later, and can give him the satisfaction of being useful.

Acid Lamp beat me to the volunteering suggestion.

Among other benefits, it will look really good on a resume, especially if the volunteer gig is somehow related to his profession or skill set. If it’s something he can parlay into volunteer teaching or tutoring even better - job banks, community college, VA centers and so on.

If you’re a recruiter or the person who’s hiring, all else being equal, who are you more likely to hire - the person who basically has nothing to show for his time unemployed, or the person who’s exhibited some get up and go by volunteering their time doing something useful?

I recently spent over a year unemployed and I too became depressed etc. A big factor in that depression was that for the first several months I was going straight into my west-facing study onto the computer to look for work. Coupled with it being winter then spring, this meant that I did not get any direct light until past midday. Big mistake. And I was alone. A big problem too. Make sure that when your husband gets up, you both have a leisurely cup of coffee / breakfast / whatever in an east-facing room with time to talk. Well, time as the baby allows.

I’m told sex is good too, but have no experience there.

Thanks for the interesting advice, Dopers. I like the idea of Mr. Smaje and the baby taking a class together, or going to the library for story time, or something like that to get them out of the house. With the temperatures dropping and winter coming, I think they’re both getting cabin fever.

I’m also pretty jealous of his situation, but keep in mind he’s been watching the baby for a full year now. He’s been an absolutely amazing caregiver – much better than I ever could have done, for honest and realsies. But we never planned on him staying at home with her for so long. I think he’s lonely for adult human contact, which would be another great reason to encourage him to get out of the house. He’s been studying various computer programs that will help keep him up to date on his profession, but it’s just him sitting alone in a room and working on his computer. I’ve offered to pay for any class he might want to take – maybe it’s time to re-explore that option.

And we’re doing ok financially, but we’re going through our savings, which sucks, since we were saving up for a down payment for our first house. But I don’t mind budgeting and renting for another few years if it means him finding a great job. I’m so lucky, 'cause I have like, the best job in the entire world. And so I want him to have a job he truly loves, too.

I’m actually taking a day off tomorrow to stay home with him (just the two of us) and have a day of ahem intimacy. I’m thinking this will be an important first step in cheering him up. :smiley:

I have no solutions, but I hope things look up for him very soon.

Wishing both of you the best of luck.