Thursday, September 4, 2014

Moms, Husbands, Kids and Chores, Oh My!

Growing up, my brother and I had chores and we did not get paid for them. The whole family pitched in every Sunday to clean the house and each day we took turns setting the table, clearing the table, and unloading the dishwasher. My dad had a rule, whoever cooked dinner that night, the other people would clean it up after. I liked that rule and it probably had a bit to do with why I liked to cook. My brother was in charge of vacuuming and taking out the garbage. I was in charge of cleaning bathrooms and dusting. We actually fought over who got to mop - I know, weird, right? My parents split up the rest of the chores. It worked.

It was different for my husband, who did not have chores. His mom enjoyed and insisted on taking care of the home, the boys, the projects, the cleaning, etc. . .That was what she considered her employment and she took and still takes great pride in this work. She is also a fantastic baker and father-in-law is an absolutely stunning chef. But, for my husband, doing chores, cleaning and cooking were not really something expected of him growing up. In fact, he wasn't really allowed to do these things. So, he never really learned how to do them.

Now, this is not to say my husband has never done anything around our home. He unloads the dishwasher on his days off and does a good share of laundry too.  He, also, loves to try on his chef hat from time-to-time, even if he is not so much into cleaning up the mess afterward. In our house, it would seem the motto is "no matter who cooks, Mom cleans."

Ok, I'm not pulling any punches here, I hate the job of cleaning - HATE IT. I do not find it cathartic or pleasant or any of that, though more power to those of you who do! And, yet, I am also the type who does something right or not at all, I know I only shoot myself in the foot with that attitude. Still, it is hard to break. I might have a tad bit of OCD about germs and disinfecting, maybe, maybe just a little.

When living overseas, we were able to have someone help us with this stuff, which was wonderful. When my husband was in Iraq last year and I was "home" with the boys working on my MBA, I hired someone to come in once per week to help me out too. But, now we are at our new posting in the US, without Iraq pay, and hiring help just doesn't seem likely. I decided it was time for the family to "help." Again, this is hard for me in a way because I do like things done a certain way. But, I also know I need the help. My husband's lack of doing chores growing up became quite apparent during this "help." I made a list of chores, and let him choose those he wanted to do. He actually chose bathrooms (wow). But, of course, his idea and my idea of how this should be done were different. I don't really think he has ever cleaned a bathroom before. He is learning (after 20 years of marriage). Before he started, I told him to make sure any paper towel used to clean the toilet should not be used on anything else. He stated "that makes sense, wouldn't have thought of that." Ok, good thing I clarified ahead. After cleaning the bathroom, I said "thank you so much for cleaning the bathrooms, can I just show you two things, you must clean the fixtures of the sink too and when cleaning the toilet it is not just the seat area, but the whole toilet." Trying to let go, but I wanted him to know for next time. Oh, that pesky line of appreciating, not discouraging, but making sure the "help" is actually help.

And, so, more than ever, I know I want our boys to know how to do these things without having to be taught as adults. Sometimes I do believe that not seeing or knowing all the effort that goes into cleaning something, makes it much easier to be careless about keeping it clean. If they are responsible for helping keep it clean, perhaps they would try a little harder to not get things so messy in the first place. Perhaps take more care to aim at the toilet properly. Perhaps, when preparing something in the kitchen, taking a little more care to not be sloppy about it. Still, I see all the homework my 11 year old has and must admit, I totally understand why a mom would not want to further burden her child with more work. What to do, what to do, what to do????


The Story Chronicles said...

I am struggling with the same issues at our house. Over the last year, when I wasn't working, I picked up 99% of the slack around here. I tried to give Mac chores, which he sometimes did and sometimes didn't.

The Story Chronicles said...

Part 2! Now with the dog and especially if I'm returning to work, I can't do it all by myself. And I don't want Mac to go off to college not knowing how to clean his dorm room! So this week I made a list of tasks that Mac needs to do on a daily basis and another list of tasks that we as a family need to divide and rotate and do on a weekly basis. We'll see how this goes. Just know you're not alone. I'm fighting the good fight right alongside you! Xoxo

Anonymous said...

Did you notice that your husband at least wiped the inside of the toilets clean?