Do you ever redo a task that someone else has done because you didn’t think it was done well enough? Maybe it’s the dishwasher, maybe it’s folding laundry, maybe it’s something for work.
And how often do you complain that others in your house don’t help? Do you spend your time with friends complaining about how you do it all around the house? How your partner just doesn’t see all that you do or even know that you do it?
You’re exhausted, overwhelmed, tired of it all?
I wonder if we bring some of the chaos on ourselves.
I wonder if by redoing a task that someone else completed, we take away their power and motivation. Thereby starting a cycle where they stop doing it and we get mad because now they’re not doing it.
I had a college roommate who would reclean the bathroom after I cleaned it because he didn’t think I did a good enough job. So I stopped cleaning the bathroom. Maybe he got mad and now he thought I was lazy, but I’m not going to do something that someone else is going to redo. It’s not worth my time and effort.
What if our partners (and maybe even our kids) feel this way? They’re tired of being nagged, of having their work redone. Of wondering why they even bother if it’s not good enough.
Last week I talked about how men and women have the same level of messiness. But women are conditioned by society to care more, to get to it quicker. So we expect tasks to be completed on our timeline. Not allowing others to have their own agency.
I wonder what would happen if we set the expectation of when something needs to be done and then let our partners do it on their time.
It can start with a conversation. With our partners. With our families. With a counselor.
Remember that half the population wasn’t raised to see all the work it takes to run a household and raise kids. It’s not that they’re ignoring it, they don’t know it exists. And, as women, when we take it all on, our partners still don’t see it because we’re doing it.
These changes require patience and time. We’re not going to change these deep-seated tendencies overnight. But we can start.
Let’s start by making it more visible. Stop doing all the housework after everyone else is in bed. Stop redoing something someone else has already done. Even if you can fit more dishes in the dishwasher or think something should be folded differently, stop yourself. Try celebrating that someone else did it and now you don’t have to. That’s one thing off your plate!
My kids don’t fold their clothes. The clothes get sorted by item and shoved in drawers. They know how to fold, but I’m not going to spend a bunch of time folding their clothes or nagging them to do it. We sort them, play a game of basketball as they toss their clothes into the drawers, and call it a day.
Ask for help and give the other person ownership over the task. They’re not helping you, you’re working as partners. Buy the cards from Fair Play and use them as a discussion around household work.
We aren’t going to solve this problem with a conversation, but we can start shifting it with a conversation.
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