5/6/09

How to share the chores equally



Wednesday~May 6, 2009


On Saturday morning Ryan and I buckled the boys in the van and we went to a neighborhood garage sale. We even got to follow a little map, it was a like a real treasure hunt. But anyway, that's not the moral of this story. It's not even really a moral at all, but it's not the point either.

The point is, I took the opportunity of a confined space to discuss the day's plans with my husband. You see, Saturdays can be tricky for us. If we don't have daytime plans like a birthday party or a tennis match or a gala...

(Yes, those last two were jokes, we hardly ever exercise play tennis anymore, and when we do, it's not scheduled. And we hardly ever go to galas anymore either.)

What I'm trying to say, is that if Ryan and I don't discuss what we have in mind on an open Saturday, we fight. Because I'm thinking it would be a good day to clean and catch up on laundry, with his help, and he's dreaming of a round of golf and a nap yard work. So if we don't communicate openly, we go in opposite directions and confuse each other.

That's why, while we were in the van, I let my loving husband know what I had in mind and made a mental note of his enthusiastic agreement to help me clean.

After the boys got up from their naps, I could see that Ryan's enthusiasm had waned. I knew I needed to make this whole cleaning thing more exciting. That's when it hit me. Boys love competition! I could make this a competition!

So I said, "OK people, break into teams!!! One of you small people goes with Daddy, and one of you goes with me!! Daddy's team will start at the front end of the house, Mommy's team will start at the back end of the house!!!"

(All three stood staring at me as if I were a crazy person, but I saw the glimmer in Ryan's eyes and I knew it was working.)

I went on, "We'll clean as fast as we can, and whoever gets to this line (I pointed to the hallway past our kitchen) the fastest WINS!!!"

And that's when it happened. Ryan turned and headed for the living room, his end of the house, Asher following closely behind his heals to "help." (Yes, I gave him the most distractable teammate.) I could see by the way he was carrying himself that my plan had worked. He was on a mission. To win.

That's when I headed to the back bathroom, threw open the window and chatted with Neighbor Bob for a while. After talking for a few minutes, Miles on my hip, I told Bob we better get going, after all, we were in a race. He laughed with me about how Ryan must be frantically cleaning the living room right at that moment. And he was, I took a peek when I went to get my supplies.

You see, I was in no hurry. Of course I was going to let him win! That's the only way we'll ever have this productive of a competition again. So I took my time a little, don't judge!

Every once and awhile, Ryan and I would bump into each other, fighting over the vacuum, talking smack, and actually having a good time cleaning. In the end, he did win, and he and Asher were quite proud. I hope he remembers that feeling.

Sure, I feel a twinge of guilt as I write this, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to do it again.

The lesson here is two-fold: 1. Communicate your Saturday plans openly. 2. Have fun!

For more Works-For-Me Wednesday excellent tips, visit We Are That Family.



47 clicked right here to comment:

MommyTime said...

This is hilarious! I do something similar on Saturdays. I set the timer for 10 minutes, and I assign dad + 1 kid to one room, and me and the other to another room. The game is to see who can get the most cleaned in 10 minutes. When the timer rings, we switch kids, or switch rooms, or trade supplies, or something. After 3 sets, we usually have the downstairs pretty well done. The winner never seems to win anything, though. I'm thinking that if there were prizes, this might go even better. Hmmm...maybe the winner gets to choose the activity for the afternoon? And you lose points for whining? Hmmm... have to work on this.

Heather of the EO said...

Oh, MommyTime...you're BRILLIANT...

PRIZES! Losing points for whining!!!

I'm totally doing this.

Pam at beyondjustmom said...

You are so funny (and smug!). Love the "glimmer" in Ryan's eyes. I'll have to try this with my crew. Sounds like a good way to survive the summer with my kids.

Less Toil Traci said...

Great idea! Our question that we ask each other is "What is your expectation for the day?" This gets us talking so we don't get annoyed with each other as the day goes on. It works great!

Anonymous said...

I am completely and utterly offended that I never have been (and now, apparently, never will be...) invited to any of the Saturday Galas you previously attended.

Call me chopped liver and stick a bow on my head.

xo, crock
:)~

Melanie J said...

Sadly, my husband would probably have to be the one tricking me.

3 Bay B Chicks said...

After reading this post, I am adding you to my list of brilliant people that I know in real life. It is a very prestigous and short list. And yes, you should feel honored to be included.

My favorite part of the story? The part when you hung out with your neighbor chatting. Hilarious.

Does Ryan read your blog?

-Francesca

Kristina P. said...

You are awesome! I will definitely try this with my husband.

Shantel said...

Thats so great! We need some motivation around our house!

charrette said...

This is brilliant. Both the communicating part, and the turning it into a game part. Far too often I expect Jeff to read my mind (especially about how we spend a Saturday) and we both end up disappointed.

And a little aside...We used to go to galas all the time when we lived in L.A. And frankly? At this point I'd rather clean!

Amanda - The Mom Job said...

You are an evil genius. ;-)

T & T Livesay said...

i wish this would work for our family - everyone here would do to me what you did to ryan. :(

Sabrina said...

Heather, you are so cool!! I love the competition... How about next saturday you bring yourself and your boys over and we can have a competition at my house? :)

Im so glad you guys had fun and got stuff done! How perfect!!!!

P.S. Now that the snow is melted the lil' bird house you gave me is sitting outside waiting for birds to make their next. I always think of you and the boys when I see it!

Jillene said...

You ROCK!! I am SO going to do this!!

The Three 22nds said...

you are so right about the Saturday thing. I always ask Noah what his "weekend" goals are (he usually has 1, I usually have 20). and then I share mine. We are both much happier when it is worked out ahead of time :)

Elizabeth said...

Brilliant! Now that my big kids are older, when I put them against each other it's even more brilliant! They each want to win so badly that my house is shining in no time at all. Unfortunately, my usually competitive husband has no drive when it comes to housework. At least I can challenge the kids!

Becky said...

Darn it! I always knew having a husband who isn't competitive would come back to bite in the rear.

I have to play the guilt card. I list ALL the things I did during the week, then sigh dramatically and mention that I just didn't have time to get around to scrubbing the tub. Works like a charm.

Lara said...

You are an absolute genius!

Saturdays have been a very sore point in our household for the last three years, since I had to work most of the day. By the time I got home and saw the disaster that was our house, I would just want to clean, but the husband only wanted to have fun. Or take a nap. Or go golfing with friends.

Annette Lyon said...

Dang--you're a genius! I don't think this would work on my husband, but it might on my kids.

Debbie said...

Brilliant. I bow before you!
But, if I did that, the quality of work from the other end of the house would not please me:)

Keyona said...

Oh Heather that was such a cute story and the rest of you have such great ideas!!

Jessica said...

Brilliant! We are usually on the same page when it comes to weekends (because we do communicate). We both work so we split housework.

The Mom said...

This is awesome! I will have to try this with my boys. Except we clean during the week so we can play on Saturdays!

Jen said...

Heather,
I is a totally awesome idea. I can so see it working for us especially when the kids get a little older.
I this post right here is one of the reasons I love blogging, you just get so many good ideas from people.

Kimberly said...

Once again I wish my husband were the competitive type... =P

Amen on the communicating Saturday plans thing though. The number of times we've butted heads on that issue! Oi!

Growin' with it! said...

moms: intuitive, creative, and so daggone stinkin' SMART! you rock.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

You are a genius. Trying to get my husband to clean is like dealing with a teenager. I have to ask him to do something over the course of several days, until he gets exasperated with my "nagging" and finally complies. His half hearted attempts are generally sub par - but every once in a while he'll really throw himself into it. AND THEN I have a whole new job of planning a parade to celebrate his small accomplishment of doing something that was supposed to be done weeks ago (and not even all that well - if you ask me). Sometimes I think it's just easier to do it myself...

Lee of MWOB said...

Holy crap. My husband is not a typical dude. He's not that competitive. He would say no way to the race.

But congrats on the clean house....I need one too.

And did you really used to go to galas? What's up with that? I'm not sure I've ever been to a gala in all of my life? Actually what IS a gala?

:-)

Sara@i.Sass said...

This happens every weekend over here...
Well not THIS exactly but the part about discussing our thoughts on how to spend the weekend.
And yes, 9 times out of 10 we are on completely different pages!
And now that I have a one armed gimp living with me, chances are I'll be handling the brunt of the grunt work!

wendy said...

Oh, Heather --- you were putting the "smack down" were you. Good plan and good way to get the family participating.

Mylestones said...

While this is a positively brilliant idea, it would have to mean that my hubs is actually home on a Sat, which is generally not the case. But to motivate myself, I could pretend my MIL is coming or something like that. :-)
As for the tip to TALK ABOUT EXPECTATIONS FOR THE DAY at the beginning? PRICELESS. When hubs has one day off in 2 or 3 weeks, I generally have it all planned out, and so does he, and Lord help us, because our plans are ALWAYS different!!

Abra said...

FANTASTIC!!!!! I do this with myself... only I try and see how much I can get done in a commercial break when I'm watching tv by myself at midnight... wow, could I make myself sound any more pathetic... probably.

JustRandi said...

Love that!
and it might even work better than my traditional Saturday Cleaning Tantrum.

I'll have to think it over! ;)

Kim said...

Genius, pure genius.

Heidi Ashworth said...

My goodness you are brilliant! Roy and I used to fight on Saturdays a lot for the same reasons. Now we chat about it or just fall onto the sofa and watch TV. That usually puts a damper on the fighting pretty fast. ;)

Jules from "The Roost" said...

I love this wicked plan! :)

Cynthia said...

Brilliant!

Of course, I did this with the hubs when we were first married except instead of cleaning I hid upstairs and read a book. I got busted when he saw the reflection of me reading instead of cleaning in a mirror. Dang it!

We often use a timer to clean so everyone will go fast and get it over with.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

You've developed a genius mother sense about you. :) And that whole communicate-your-plans thing is HUGE for me. It's the trick to avoiding disappointment and the path to bitterness. I'm obviously talking about me here.

Bonnie said...

You are one smart cookie! I'm going to try this one. My boys are competitive so it would be perfect. My hubby and I finally learned the whole "talk about the day" thing. We went years with miscommunications about what we had planned.

Tiaras & Tantrums said...

okay - now I am totally swiping this idea! I dont' know if it will get my husband out of his lazy boy - but the competition thing with the kids is genius!

Peanut said...

That's genius! I'm SO stealing that idea. I'll definitely have to remember to lose though, because I can be pretty competitive.

And Saturdays can be pretty miserable around here too unless the hubby and I come up with a plan ahead of time. Holidays can be even worse.

Eowyn said...

I'm so stealing this idea! It's brilliant!

Maria said...

I had so much fun reading this. So clever and briliiantly written. I speak your language,sister....who ever said manipulation was a bad thing? After all.....it's helping the family to function more effectively.

Kristen said...

I think we are married to the same person! Brilliant tip. Thank you. :)

Carrie said...

Oh, my goodness, this is hilarious. What a great idea. I think my husband would see RIGHT through me. :)

Tooj said...

What a genius plan. Seriously. I am going to try this. Only problem? My Hubs might not care to win. I'm the one who's so competitive. Grrrr.

Jessica said...

this is brilliant, great idea! And my husband and I have the same problem, Saturdays seem to be for fighting if we don't have a plan.

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