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At the risk of losing friends and inviting a whole bunch of hate mail, I just have to be honest. My husband does our laundry. He also does the dishes, cleans the bathrooms and takes care of the kids. I am fully aware of just how lucky of a woman that makes me. But it wasn’t always this way.
When we first got married, we realized just how different our expectations for the division of responsibilities were. My husband, though he is insanely cute, tackled housework maybe once a month as a bachelor. I can still remember the first time my dad dropped me off at his apartment, walked in and saw the dishes piled up in the sink. These dishes may or may not have had mold growing on them. I tried to divert his attention elsewhere but elsewhere was covered with laundry. I figured this wouldn’t be a problem once we got married because I just assumed I’d be staying home raising babies and taking care of household duties like my mother did. I was wrong.
When God finally did bless us with children, it was my husband who got to stay home with them. I still remember coming home from a full day of work to a house that looked as if a bomb had exploded. I would then spend as much time with my boys as I could while making dinner, doing laundry, grading papers, etc., while my husband would run to the nearest TV, kick his feet up and promptly fall asleep. Okay, maybe it wasn’t always quite that bad but I did quickly develop some resentful feelings towards him. Were my children taken care of? Yes. Should that have been all that mattered? Maybe. Either way, though, I knew that we quickly needed to come together and devise a plan to tackle responsibilities in a way that made us both feel valued and equal before it ended our marriage. Here are some suggestions that may get the process rolling in your house as well.
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1. Communicate which chore or duty you prefer and start there. I despise cleaning bathrooms. My husband tackled this chore first when I was pregnant because I couldn’t handle the smell of any bathroom or bathroom cleaner. Then when both of our boys were learning to effectively hit the toilet instead of the floor, wall or other random area in the bathroom, it just made sense that the oldest male in the family (my husband) would continue in said duty and teach the younger males in the family to also clean up after themselves.
2. Balance the load. My husband now commutes for work, and that means that he often doesn’t get home until late in the evening. I make dinner, take and pick up boys from their various activities and start homework. When my man gets home, he finishes homework, gives baths and handles the bedtime routine. I see this time as their “man time” and both boys really look forward to this time with their daddy.
3. Don’t keep score and don’t criticize! There are many times when my husband will do the dishes and laundry and there are many times when I do the dishes and laundry. None of these duties are set in stone (except bathrooms!) and we make it a point never to say, “I did this last time!” If it needs to be done, one of us does it. Period. On the same note, my husband hates the way that I do the dishes. Apparently, you’re supposed to scrub them before you put them in the dishwasher. Who knew? And I’m not a fan of his laundry duties. Several of my bras and underwear are now speckled with green marker because he didn’t check pockets before starting a recent load. Instead of criticizing, we just accept that each other’s way may not always be the exact way that we’d do it and we move on. A Victoria’s Secret gift card from him didn’t hurt either (in the case of green speckled underwear).
No matter how you decide to tackle family responsibilities together in your house, the most important thing is that you tackle them together. Your children learn by example and watching you model what a healthy relationship looks like will benefit their future relationships. So, who wants to do laundry?
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