HOW TO GET MORE HELP FROM YOUR PARTNER AND BE A BETTER TEAMLisa
A common complaint I hear from people is that they feel their partner doesn’t do their full share around the house. The majority of families today are pushing themselves to their limits and often our personal care gets sacrificed in order to get everything done.
So how do we make time if we have a never ending to-do list and a partner that isn’t pulling their weight? I can’t speak for your personal situation, but here is what I’ve found helpful for me to carve out time for myself and work with my husband as a partner so we have a good balance.
- We all feel overwhelmed and in need of a break, which makes it difficult to see what your partner has on their plate. Take a step back and objectively look at what they have going on each day and the demands put on them. Be realistic and honest about how that compares to your schedule. This isn’t meant to diminish your needs; it’s meant to be more compassionate about what is expected of this person in their daily life. If you can recognize what may be hard for your partner in their schedule, they’ll likely be more aware and respectful of what is hard in yours.
- Have a conversation about your perspective on how the chores are being divvied up. Try not to accuse or berate; it may be possible that they weren’t aware of how you felt. I have a habit of having conversations in my head that never happen in real life! Be clear about needing help and outlining what is difficult for you. Make sure your partner understands that your goal is for both of you to find some much needed downtime and that will only happen if you work it out together. This is a good time to reflect on some things you have going on that aren’t necessary and eating up your precious time. Downsize where possible!
- Planning ahead may not be your strong suit, but it’s critical when you are living in a hectic household. Just like planning your meals in advance, you need to plan out household duties so they don’t pile up and become an issue. I find cleaning a little as you go along prevents you from needing to spend half your Saturday cleaning your house. Nobody wants to do that. Examples are doing one load of laundry each day instead of 5 loads on the weekend; clean up the kitchen at the end of every day. Talk with your partner about how you want to divide and conquer to get it done quickly. This is a chance to be sure they are aware of everything that goes into running your household. In our house, the goal is to have no outstanding chores by the time the kids are in bed, leaving that time for us to recharge and connect before starting over tomorrow. Each family dynamic and work schedule is different so you need to work out what is best for you.
- Once you have unloaded some work onto their shoulders, suppress any criticism that might come up. Let them do it their way! Nobody enjoys being criticized, especially not about how they are folding laundry. And while you are going through your workload, make sure the kids are doing their part! This is another situation when you need to let go when things aren’t done your way.
- If you’ve found a way to work better together, you can carry this over into what you do with free time. For many of us, weekend time gets eaten up by our many obligations. How do we find time alone? It can be very difficult when you have small children. When possible, my husband and I try to give each other an hour alone on Saturday and Sunday. It’s a give and take – be fair. If you want to get to a yoga class to recharge your batteries, let your partner know that you need it. And then ask what he or she would like to do for themselves. When you come back feeling better, it will be noticeable and your time with your family will be more enjoyable.
- If you are the person that takes on the role of “kinkeeper” (defined by the American Psychology Association as the person that promotes and protects relationships between family members) don’t forget to account for the emotional labor that goes into this. It takes up a lot of brain space and creates stress when we are busy. This includes organizing birthdays, buying presents for parties you attend, hosting and/or preparing for holidays, keeping in touch with relatives, managing doctor appointments, doing your part for school activities, etc. This work can go unnoticed but needs to be addressed for the energy it may suck from you.
Remember to keep the communication open. This needs to be a team effort and not something that turns into “me vs. you”. If you have children, be an example of how adults work together and that household duties can be done by anyone!