Monday, April 11, 2011

Stay Home, Stay Happy - Chapter 4: Share the Load

Here's the 4th installment of my Stay Home, Stay Happy blog. I know it took quite a long time to finish but it's here now and I hope you will learn something from it as I have.

This chapter talks about....

Fostering a Meaningful Partnership

"If we are together nothing is impossible. If we are divided all will fail." - Winston Churchill

Yes, you should have expectations

Times have changed, and men are more helpful and far more agreeable about pulling their weight around the house than in previous generations. However, one thing has not changed: unless women expect their husbands to help out, they won't. It's simply human nature!

A truly successful marriage depends on true partnership. A partner who shares the load is right up there with a happy sex life - and I daresay that there is probably a direct relationship between the two.

For those moms who have zero expectations of their spouse, chances are they still undervalue their own work at home or believe their husband will never agree to help out.

If you were raised by a supermom, you may be having a hard time letting go of the guilt too. More than likely, though, you suffer from my "disease" - the one that tells you that your spouse will never be able to do it as well as you can, so you just do it yourself. You think, "Why bother? I can do it faster and better myself."

Expectations need to be reasonable - not too low and not too high - if they are to ever be fulfilled and make us happy. This I totally agree with. I am still in the process of "recalibrating" my expectations because I realized it has a direct effect on my happiness (or unhappiness, for that matter).

If you both have reasonable expectations dealing with the unpleasant yet necessary jobs that come with living and running a home together, then you are statistically more likely to have a mutually satisfying partnership.

Communicate your expectations

If you don't ask, you don't get.

If you are doing the chores without asking for help, you're probably building up unnecessary resentment. Guilty as charged!

More often than not, your husband is willing to help, but has no idea that you want something done. Communication is imperative

Talk about what chores you each prefer to do. In our case, I usually do most of the house work during weekdays. But when hubby sees that I am in a not so good mood, or that the kids need help in reviewing for exams, he volunteers to do the dishes. There are times that he is also preparing his own breakfast (yeah, I know, I do feel guilty about it) when I sneak back to bed after sending the kids off at 620am. Weekends, on the other hand, are the days when he does the mopping and bathroom cleaning. And I have to say, he does a good job at it.

Discussing and accepting our strengths and weaknesses and our differences are a huge step in understanding and avoiding unnecessary conflict.

Always remember that no one likes to be nagged, and no one enjoys being criticized. The main reason men don't like to do housework is because their wives criticize how they do it!

Humor keeps things in perspective. The ability to laugh about our differences keeps things focused on the task at hand rather than on inherent character and personality differences that are not likely to be resolved.

In the long-run, it's important to the parent-child relationship that Dad is comfortable as you are caring for the kids, and that includes providing for their emotional and physical well-being, not just keeping a roof over their heads!

Switch roles so he'll understand

Some spouses don't understand that you were BOTH at work all day and that in fact your day was probably a lot more challenging and tiring than his. I couldn't agree more!

If he doesn't get the message after talking it out, then you should try to switch roles. And do it on a regular basis. You may be shocked at the outcome! I always tell my husband that he wouldn't last a week (or even a day) if we were to switch roles. I think he knows, as some or most of the husband do.

With role switching, husbands gradually become more aware and appreciative of a mom's work. We may also discover that giving one full day of home responsibility to husbands is a key to getting more help and appreciation out of the marriage.

No marriage is perfect, and some men may never become full partners when it comes to domestic duties. But by switching roles, at least he can never claim that he "had no idea"!

Sit down and talk about your expectations and how he can make your life easier.

Get over it: Get hired help

If it allows you to have more quality time with the kids, your husband or yourself, and if your income permits, never feel guilty about getting outside help for cleaning, laundry, yard work, or any other mundane task.

It can be a monthly expense that makes your marriage more harmonious, and therefore it's worth it! (as Rachel's personal experience suggests)

Put the kids to work too!

Partnership doesn't start and end with your husband. Your family will be stronger if everyone pitches in.

A child psychologist determined that the primary reason the children (in a 20/20 story on families struggling with bratty kids) were so ill behaved was that they lacked responsibilities (chores) at home.

Children want and need to contribute, and it is up to their parents to give them age-appropriate ways that they can feel personally invested in their family. 

Starting children out early with small tasks that they can feel good about doing is the best way to nurture a bit of helping out. You will reap long-term benefits for your effort!

A clever mom can always convince little ones to help out.
  • Try framing the task as a "big kid" thing.
  • Set a kitchen timer (start with 5minutes), and your child will work feverishly to beat the clock.
  • You can also offer reasonable rewards - a "natural" reward. If the playroom is a huge mess, and no one claims it, I might point out that if the room gets cleaned- up soon we'll have time to bake cookies afterward. Psychologists do not recommend tying allowances to the completion of chores as it promotes the idea that tasks are strictly for the employer's (mom's and dad's) benefit or that helping comes at a price. Rather, chores are for everyone's benefit, and we all do them to contribute to the community that is our family.
So, what can they do?
  • 2-3 years olds
    • bring mommy diaper/put in the trash
    • help make bed
    • put away/sort toys
    • put laundry in hamper
    • take items to various rooms in house
    • help wipe messes
  • 4-5 years olds
    • set/clear table
    • dust furniture/clean mirrors
    • help feed pets
    • help sort dirty clothes
    • unload groceries
    • help load and unload washer and dryer
    • write or draw own thank-you cards with some help
  • 6-8 years olds
    • load and unload dishwasher
    • vacuum and mop
    • take out trash
    • fold/put away laundry
    • clean out inside of car
    • pull weeds
    • put away groceries
    • take care of pets
    • sweep walkway
    • water plans (on schedule)
    • make bed daily
    • hang clothes
    • help mom with younger siblings (read, feed, dress, etc)
    • write own thank-you notes
  • 9-12 years olds
    • wash/put away dishes
    • help prep meals or make simple ones
    • rake leaves
    • help babysit siblings
    • clean inside fridge
    • completely responsible for upkeep of their room
    • help prepare for and wait on guests
I'm proud to say my kids have done the tasks in bold italics! In fact, the boys (including dad) just mopped the floor yesterday).

In the long run, your whole family will benefit when the kids help out. 

You can feel good about raising kids who will be better roommates and better spouses for knowing how to clean. Although for sure they can learn "on the job" when the times comes, it is better if they are way ahead.

More important, they learn that relationships, marriages and families function better when everyone cooperates and collaborates in the day-to-day functions of a household.

We impress on our children how important their contributions are to our household.

Husband's support is imperative to the success of an at-home mom, not just by sharing the load but also by working with moms to enlist support of the whole family. Husband's true partnership sustains daily commitment of at-home motherhood, allowing us to feel even more satisfied and empowered.

What could me more satisfying/empowering than to know that your husband is there to support you in every way he can?

Source: Stay Home, Stay Happy by Rachel Campos-Duffy

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to leave your comments, as your questions, share parenting tips and tricks, a book title or two.


milestone moments | Desenvolvido por EMPORIUM DIGITAL