Where Logic Meets Love

Domesticities

Friday, March 30, 2012

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Domesticities | Faith Permeating Life

After Wednesday's heavier post, I thought I'd talk about something a little lighter.

This is the time every month or two where I pretend like I fit in with the rest of the blogosphere as I talk about domestic-like things going on around our home.

But then it ends up being reflections on my marriage anyway because, hey, that's what I think about.

First, now that I've really gotten into the swing of doing meal planning, it has saved us a ton of money. Like around $100 a month. I used to think Mike's approach to meal planning (make something out of whatever's on hand) was more economical than my approach (make things from recipes that we have to buy ingredients for), but I figured out that's not the case for two reasons:
  • When you cook solely from leftovers, there are going to be things that never get used. Like maybe we cooked a chicken and ate the wings and legs and still have a giant hunk of chicken in the fridge. There are still things we could do with the leftover chicken, but we might not necessarily have the other things we need on hand, so it would just not get eaten. Now, when I'm planning, I first say, "Hm, we have to use up this chicken... Let's see, we've got a can of black beans and an onion. How about I buy some vegetables and taco seasoning and we make this chicken chili recipe?"
  • Now that I've built up my repertoire of recipes, I have a lot more ingredients on hand already. My problem initially was that every recipe I chose needed several spices or other ingredients that we didn't have on hand. Now that I'm reusing many recipes, we already have "herbes de provence" or whatever and I don't have to buy as many things. (Or scramble to find suitable substitutes.)

I've also taken over most of the grocery shopping. I plan meals on Sunday and we usually need at least one thing for Monday's meal and at least one thing for my lunch. Because I've pared my shopping list down so much by using up leftovers and repeating recipes, I can get in and out in 15 minutes and under $50 every week. (Plus I remember to bring coupons. Mike could never remember coupons.)

I think it's a good idea to revisit the division of labor in your household every so often. Remember when I first decided to take over meal planning because I was so frustrated with Mike never having a plan for dinner? We had another one of these conversations recently, about the dishes.

The dishes are Mike's domain because he likes doing them and finds it easy. (Did I luck out or what?) But he had promised to do them every night before bed so I would have the use of the counter and sink when I got up to pack my lunch and make my breakfast, and he had stopped doing that most nights. So we had a conversation about why this was going on and figured out that it was because the pile of dry dishes was stressing him out because they all had to be put away before he could wash.

I had been putting away dry dishes sometimes, but I would get frustrated when Mike would get lazy and just stack the newly washed dishes on top of the dry dishes so then they were all wet again and I had to wait to put any away or else dry them all by hand...

Anyway. It's now my job to put the dry dishes away every morning when I get up. And Mike is back to doing the dishes every night after dinner and said this new setup has made it infinitely less stressful for him.

Mike also took over getting the mail each evening. This wasn't exactly necessary, but I appreciated that he offered to take over more things around the house, and this was something easy to hand over.

As we discussed things last night I found that I need to be better at asking for help with things. I'm perpetually stressed out with things that need to get done, while Mike wants to spend more time doing useful things. I thought we'd already reached the limits of our division of labor, but he said he was willing to help out with my blog and other personal projects. I really appreciated that because I kind of felt like my blog was something he tolerated and read occasionally but wasn't necessarily invested in, so I'm happy to know that he recognizes how important it is to me.

So I asked him to help me figure out what I need to do before all Facebook fan pages switch over to Timeline at the end of this week, and maybe to make me up a cover image. It's one of those things that isn't important enough to get top priority on my time, but that I care enough about to cause a low level of anxiety whenever I think of it.

I'm finding I have a lot of things like that on my plate. Maybe I'll get better at handing them over or letting go of them altogether.

So that's where we are right now. I appreciate having a partner who is willing to revisit our division of labor as often as necessary to make everything go as smoothly as possible for both of us.

If you live with a partner or roommate, how do you figure out how to divide things up? When's the last time you checked in to make sure things are still working well for both of you?

4 comments:

  1. Dishes and cleaning are a never ending battle with me and my roommate. Part of it is because we are on such COMPLETELY different schedules. She works night shifts at Wal-Mart and is a full time student- so usually during everyone else's awake hours she's either asleep or in class. So we are on our own for meals- which is fine since we have VERY different tastes in food. However, the kitchen is NEVER clean. I tend to do most of the work, because even if she does try to clean she doesn't do it well so I'll pull out silverware from the cabinets that are still dirty (gross!) and have to wash it again. Sigh. She's getting better and I try to talk to her about it, but she never acts on our conversations.

    Sorry... sore spot there. lol

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    1. That sounds really frustrating! I had a roommate in college one year who would leave messes everywhere all the time; it drove me and my other roommates nuts.

      Have you thought about possible ways to reframe the situation? I know it's a little different with roommates than with a spouse, but the book Spousonomics talks about why trying to split everything 50-50 isn't the most efficient solution because each of you has different skills and different ideas about what's important. If it's just a situation where she's taking advantage of the fact that you're there to clean up after her, that's one thing, but maybe you could take over responsibility for the kitchen if there's another chore you dislike that she doesn't mind doing? One thing I've found with Mike is that if he promises to do something over and over and never does it, then we either need to find a way to make it easier for him or just make it my domain completely. I don't know if that would work in your situation, but maybe! It paradoxically causes me less stress if I know something's completely my responsibility than if I'm constantly hoping Mike will do something and getting frustrated when he doesn't.

      Good luck... sorry you're in a rough spot there!

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  2. Wow, the power of compromise at play. That is really awesome. What's even more awesome is that he likes washing dishes! I mean who likes washing dishes? LOL. I love the fact that you said you need to ask for help. So many times I get caught up in wanting to take care of everything so my husband doesn't have to worry but then I just get stressed out. Recently I've allowed him to help when he offers because hey, I can't do everything.

    Vonae Deyshawn
    www.myvirtueplace.com

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    1. I know, I am very lucky to have a spouse who likes cooking and washing dishes! The blessing of having a spouse who works in food service :) He started out at his previous restaurant as a dishwasher and then moved up to kitchen prep, hosting, and finally serving, but occasionally they'd ask him to cover for a dishwasher for the day and he loved how relaxing and mindless it was compared to something like serving.

      Good to hear I'm not the only one who has trouble asking for help! My struggle is that Mike sometimes doesn't follow through on things, so I end up having both to manage my own to-do list and to stay on top of the things I've delegated to him. Letting go and trusting him is the biggest thing I have to work on.

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