It is funny that Valerie from The Babywise Mom chose to write a post about chores from a few suggestions I sent. I had already written today’s post, and it follows beautifully. As always, Valerie has some great ideas for making chores a daily part of your family’s routine and offers specific suggestions on how to include your children from a very early age. I want to shift slightly to the topic of household chores between the parents.
One thing that is bound to test most every marriage is the division of chores and feeling like you’re partner isn’t pulling his/her weight. You run around the house picking up, cleaning up, organizing, folding, washing, folding…all the while watching your spouse sit down and relax for a few minutes. Or you ask five times just for one little detail to be done. Or each of you remembers a task and the timeline very differently.
I wish there was a simple solution to equally divide or magically see eye to eye on who does what. I think there may *possibly* be a simple solution for each couple, but what works for me may very well not work for you. To confuse matters even further, work schedules and part-time vs. full-time can throw a wrench in everything. For us, we had a huge shift in responsibilities when we moved earlier this year. My husband actually works from home now and his day is filled with major 3 year old drama and keeping an active 5 year old occupied. Some months are smoother than others, but it has taken us most of the year to find a good balance…and it’s still very much a work in progress.
What I can tell you is that communication is KEY just like most major marital issues. Days, weeks, and months that go by with us silently resenting or wishing for things to be different are so much harder than the times where we sit down and ask for feedback, opinions, suggestions…genuinely listening to the other. There are months he keeps everything on task. There are weeks I am so ready to pull my hair out over the way our house looks. There are times I feel like we are closer than every and mutually respects each other. There are days I come up excited and joyful and praising of him. There are seconds I cut him down to the quick with one look or comment.
The times that we accomplish the most are those when we are willing to hear what is working and what is not working. We ask how we can each improve for the other or make things easier. We compliment. We prioritize spending time together. We talk.
The times things go more sour than old milk in the back of the fridge are the times we turn our focus inwards. We start keeping a mental tally of what he or she has not done…and all that we have.
I do think things should be divided up but it is almost never “equal.” There are things that we as mothers and women are just built to accomplish. We do great at the little details and keeping things running behind the scenes. I believe guys are great at seeing the whole picture and not being bogged down with all of the small things. They pick a few of the most important things to focus on and knock them out…the rest is just not as important to them…and that is okay much more of the time than we admit! My kids are almost always clothed and fed when I come home :))) And, I *never* have to worry about the nanny quitting!
Some of the things that have helped us are to sit down monthly for “check-ups.” Is the other happy? Are there things that need to be addressed by both spouses? What few things could each of us do for the other (without any interrupting or justifying from said other person)? We also make sure that no matter what the house looks like we sit down several nights a week for “us” time. Yes, sometimes it is watching a show. No, we don’t have as many date nights as we should, but we do sit down a lot after the kids are in bed and spend time together. So I do think one of the biggest things you can do is to simply talk about what your expectations are and what is or is not getting down.
Next, look for things you can do to help your spouse. This always seems counter intuitive when things are not getting done the way we want them to be done, but I *promise* that going out of your and above and beyond to make your spouse valued and appreciated will have huge rewards. The trash will miraculously be taken out when you’re not looking or his pile of t-shirts seem to jump into his drawer. Also look to see if your expectations are unfair or too high. Does the laundry really, absolutely need to be folded tonight? Is it okay for him to sit down tonight after a super hard day when he has the day off tomorrow?? Do you need to find another way to do the laundry a day earlier if it’s really important to you to have it folded and put away at a certain time/day?
Re-organize the list of chores. I really enjoy cutting the grass sometimes. Just because most husbands are cutting the grass in their yards doesn’t mean I don’t cut it a lot (before it gets really hot 😉 in our yard. My husband is an amazing cook and does almost all of the grocery shopping and some weeks almost all of the cooking. Reversing of typical roles is completely fine in my book!! Do whatever works for the two of you, and if you have it in your budget, decide what you can afford to hire out. If cutting the grass or ironing or dusting is the absolutely most mundane, draining, time-consuming task, see if you can possibly have someone come starting once a month.
Most of all, don’t simply sit and wish things were different! Find out what your spouse needs from you first! Then start with 1-2 things differently that you would like from them to help divide some of the household responsibilities. Look to see if there is anything you can do to pick up the slack or if your mentality just needs to change. You can also look for ways to think outside of the box or divide them up in less traditional ways. Most of all, have fun with it. Maybe set some goals or a small reward for checking everything off for the week. Or schedule a small *fun* get together to inspire you to knock out those last few projects. Lastly, don’t be afraid to teach your children early. Don’t save all of the chores for naptime or after they are in bed. Involve them in cleaning windows or sweeping things into a masking-taped square on the floor or dusting coffee tables. Take advantage of these early years where they want to be just like you and think chores are fun