April 01, 2008

Give Them a Chance

Tired of your spouse not helping around the house? In our house it is apparent that Anny does most of the traditional housework, and I do most of the traditional repairs/major housework. It is also apparent, though, that the work is more shared today than it was a year ago. What precipitated the change? We changed our attitudes.

Rather than deal with one another huffing and puffing about how little help we are getting, we have put systems into place that set each other up for success. You may remember that from Puppy Training School, but I am here to tell you that it is a great method for keeping your sanity.

For the first two (or so) years that we were married I was on a drug that, mixed with poor sleeping habits and my disease that it was supposed to fight, made me constantly exhausted. Now that I have changed drugs I have more energy, though I will still admit to one or two really bad days a month. I used to think that I was just being lazy, but that was not giving credit to the fact that, like it or not, I'm sick. Since then, though, I have picked up my fair share.

Here are some things that we have done to maintain sanity, especially through 9 months of parenting:

The big problem that I have with laundry is the sorting. I never learned it and it did not make sense to me that one shirt was cold and another was warm. Once things were sorted, I got more confused because I could not remember which pile got which load. When we were still in VA Anny made three post-it notes, and put it on top of the respective pile. That was helpful to us all.
Laundry #2:
In the fall we were dealing with two laundry baskets, one for us and one for Abby. This made my sorting issues even more frustrating, because there are more colors and varieties now. We made a purchase that has helped to save us both from killing each other: three hampers. Nothing expensive ($4 at Ikea) and nothing big. This has helped me to understand why things go in which basket. The BIG BONUS to this method is that you don't have to wait until the weekend to toss a load in the washing machine. When I see that one basket is getting full, I will grab it when I get home from work. Very nice system in place.

Grocery Shopping/Meal Preparation:
I can not stress enough how much meal planning has helped our budgeting and sanity, all at once! On Friday we decide what we want to eat for the week ahead. Hopefully this is done as a team, because one person deciding what the family wants is not helpful to everyone.

The big advantage is that everyone has a say. If you don't feel like chicken next week, it's your job to come up with something that you DO want. I also don't get to be authoritarian about what we should eat, and it gives us assurances for variety. (Yes, I would like pizza Monday and calzones Tuesday. Just some garlic bread on Thursday would be cool too..) Once Abby is old enough to help in the kitchen, she will be included in making the lists and helping all around.

It also makes grocery shopping a lot easier. If I have had a hand in figuring out what we're eating next week, it makes it easier for me to go to the grocery store on the way home. (which is much better than Anny detouring with Abby in tow.)

These are two examples, but this post has been sitting as Draft for weeks so I'm publishing. What other ways have you figured out to set up your significant other for success around the house?


  1. A man helping with housework and grocery shopping? This is the best April Fools joke I've read, yet! ;)

    Amy @ http://prettybabies.blogspot.com

  2. The best son-in-law in the world!
    The longer you keep your sanity, the better!

  3. I have a 3-bin laundry hamper too but I make life even simpler on the sorting by washing nearly everything in cold water. Detergents are so good these days, that cold water will work just fine most of the time. And you stand less of a chance of colors fading that way too.