When I was in college, my roommate would reclean the bathroom after I cleaned it. He didn’t think I did it right.
So I stopped. What was the point of me taking the time to do something that someone else was going to redo?
Have you ever done this?
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.
Be honest, no one is watching you read this.
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 we have such high expectations of ourselves and those around us that no one will ever live up to them.
Or society has conditioned women to believe that we’re the only ones capable of doing these tasks. And if they’re not done our way, then we’ve failed somehow.
What 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 have a friend who argued with his wife about their dishwasher. She was constantly reloading it after he loaded it. He told her he was going to stop loading it if she continued to redo it. What was the point of him doing it if it was just going to get redone?
What if our partners (and maybe even our kids) feel this way? They’re tired of being nagged, of having their work redone. Wondering why they even bother if it’s not good enough.
I’ve 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 in their own way. Didn’t remind them. Didn’t nag them. Let them do it on their own.
Instead of maternal gatekeeping (something that’s seated deep within women where mothers know best and should be in charge), what if others participated?
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 all.
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!
Think of what you can do when you’re not doing everything?
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.
Give someone ownership over a task. They’re not helping you, you’re working together.
Start paying attention to everything that you’re taking on. It’s not going to change overnight, but let’s start with some awareness.
Your future self will thank you.
Let me know the last time you redid the dishwasher! (I’ll keep it between us!)
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