His, Hers, and Ours: Who does what in your house?
Twenty years ago, on a beautiful warm day in San Diego, Secret Agent Man and I, joined our lives together as husband and wife. Every day since, we have marched lock-step together on our journey through life, work, home, and family.
Before we were married we talked about the kind of life we wanted together. He knew my life’s ambition was to be a wife and mother. I wanted to take full responsibility for the proper care and feeding of him and our children and the upkeep our home. That was our understanding and that was our plan. Then…the twins were born.
What I assumed would be a one woman show turned into a tag team effort to keep our baby boys fed, diapered, burped, and bathed.
By the time our daughter, “Mini Me” came along, Secret Agent Man and I settled into our traditional roles of provider and homemaker. He brought home the bacon and I fried it up in a pan.
Being a single-income family is not easy. We’ve had to make sacrifices and endure lean times in order for me to be at home.
Between the travel, intrigue, and third world government toppling, Secret Agent Man works long hours. I never complain. I consider it a blessing to have a husband that loves to work. I like going out to dinner, I like buying a new pair a shoes, and I’m not going complain about how he provides those things for me.
I try to make it easy for him to do his job by doing mine. I’ve taken cues from my hero, Jaqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis,
"I think the best thing I can do is to be a distraction. A husband lives and breathes his work all day long. If he comes home to more table thumping, how can the poor man ever relax?"
We have a clear understanding of what each of us will do around the house. He doesn’t know how to start the washing machine and I don’t know how to start the lawnmower and that’s the way we like it.
No matter what your situation is everyone who lives in the house needs to have responsibilities for its upkeep.
In a family where both the mom and dad are winning the bread, there needs to be equity in the household responsibilities.
Some of the working moms I know will do the cooking and shopping, while dad and kids do the cleaning and laundry.
Kid’s responsibilities could include: feeding the pets, cleaning their own rooms and bathrooms, and helping with the dishes.
At our house, everyone pitches in and cleans the kitchen after dinner. It’s a wonderful change from the time when I would make dinner; the family would take 15 minutes to snarf it down and then disperse to their different corners of the house. Now we are together more, the kitchen is cleaned quickly and the family has learned to appreciate me more.
Even the tiniest member of the family can help out. If a baby is old enough to dump out their toys, they are old enough to pick them up and put them back. It would be easier for mom to just pick up the toys herself, but teaching your children life-long habits of tidiness is worth the time and effort and they’ll be better people for it.
If you are having trouble getting everyone to help out around the house, sometimes it’s just a matter asking for more help and making your expectations known. Chore charts, honey-do lists, and scheduled time for cleaning can help get everyone on the same page. Don’t forget to celebrate and relax together for a job well done.