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Posts Tagged ‘Housework’

Hair

Are you doing your hair as you normally do? I have STOPPED. There is absolutely no point in spending 30 minutes drying my hair and straightening it. Well. I could see how it MIGHT have a point, at some time in the future – if I need to feel Normal, somehow. Or if I have a super-important Zoom meeting (unlikely). This is a time for the least possible exertion, hairwise. My hair is not cooperating, though – instead of settling into beautifully air-dried curls it is still doing what it did in The Time Before, which is drying into drab frizzes that are vaguely curl-adjacent on the right side of my head and straightish on the left side. Very disappointing, hair. We should all be Stepping Up in These Unprecedented Times.

What I have been doing is braiding my hair after I get out of the shower. Usually, I part my hair to the left, but when I separated it into two braids, I parted it down the middle. And immediately remembered that I part my hair left for a reason. Hoo boy do I already have a LOT of grey. Well. It can’t be helped and it isn’t so extreme that I am ready to try an at-home coloring process.

I also remembered why I normally do my hair very simply – braiding is probably one of the easiest hair styles on the planet and yet I can barely do it. I am not talking about French braiding or fishtail braiding or anything fancy. Just a simple three-strand braid. It does not look good, folks.

Clothes

I am not nor have I ever been one of those people who gets fully dressed to work from home. No. Comfort is king. But at least when I had to pick up Carla from school and go to Actual Places like the grocery or Target or Carla’s ballet studio, I would get dressed in real clothes every day. Now… Well, my wardrobe is divided into three primary sections: pajamas (leggings and one of my husband’s old t-shirts), exercise clothes (leggings, a sports bra, and a tank top), and inside clothes, for after I’ve showered (leggings and a sweatshirt or long-sleeved T-shirt). Yes, I have different leggings for each category, and, even though they are all black, I can tell them apart. (The pajama leggings are the softest and loosest.) There’s a seldom-worn forth category: outside clothes (jeans and a shirt which immediately go into the laundry upon returning home). I found A HOLE in one pair of leggings recently, so I may need to expand my attire options at some point. But not now.

Homeschooling

We are on Day 4 of homeschooling – or whatever it is when you are trying to cajole your child into following the lesson plans her teachers have given you – and I am already having to step away and take deep breaths every few minutes. HOW are people doing this with multiple children? And while WORKING? I am ready to walk into the sea.

Shopping

After stalking the online ordering app for four days, I was finally able to get a timeslot for curbside grocery pickup. I haven’t tried this before, and I am expecting that only part of my order will be fulfilled, but I am kind of anxious about it. Will something essential, like milk or taco sauce, be missing? If so, I’ll have to go to the store which I am obviously trying to avoid. Of course, ordering wine is not an option so I will have to go to a store EVENTUALLY anyway.

Passover

In an effort to keep Carla’s Jewish heritage alive and part of her life, I want to observe Passover. But… I feel so out of my element. I am NOT Jewish and a lot of the books we have don’t really explain things in depth. Plus, I don’t really know anything about how to hold a proper Seder and certainly don’t have the right food on hand. Well. I still have a couple of days left to figure things out.

Easter

I found an art supplies kit and a leftover rainbow leopardfrom Carla’s sixth birthday in the gift closet. Plus I have a very small amount of Easter candy I picked up from the grocery store. So I think I can make up a decent Easter basket for Carla. (We have actual baskets, fake grass, and plastic eggs in the basement, because I reuse them year to year.) But I am still FRETTINGabout it. Sure, I could explain that the Easter Bunny is practicing social distancing and so asked me to round up what I could… but on the other hand, I want Easter to be Extra Special because so little is special these days. I have filled my virtual Target cart with candy and books and toys that I can pick up curbside… but I am hesitating. Partly because my husband thinks we have plenty of Easter-y stuff. And partly because I feel really guilty about shopping for non-essentials.

Housecleaning

I think I have come up with a rough housecleaning schedule.

  • Daily: Making beds, unloading/loading the dishwasher, wiping off tables and counters, disinfecting high-tough areas, using the dustbuster to eradicate crumbs, tidying up main living spaces.
  • Near daily: Laundry
  • Monday: Toilets and counters
  • Tuesday: Showers and tubs
  • Wednesday: Break
  • Thursday: Windows and baseboards
  • Friday: Dusting
  • Saturday: Bedding
  • Sunday: Floors

Last week, I taught Carla how to clean the toilets. Yesterday, my husband vacuumed all our carpeted surfaces while I scrubbed the kitchen and bathroom floors. I hate cleaning but it does make me FEEL better. It also makes me feel better to think about my housekeeper returning someday.

Books

I finished all three books I mentioned in this postand have moved on to Jessica Simpson’s memoir. I wish my library had more Agatha Christie books available via ebook – they have a good number, but not all, and so many are already checked out. I want to read them in order and that is nearly impossible to do. I put MANY of your suggestions on hold through my library website, but none of them have come through yet.

Socializing

I have been very pleased by the amount of socializing I’ve been able to do even while quarantined. Two high school friends and I had a happy hour via Zoom the other day that was really enjoyable. And then my husband and I had a FaceTime date with family friends who were supposed to come over for dinner. I was surprised by how satisfying it was to chat with them – it was nearly as good as being with them in person. Not as enjoyable was the family meetup we did with my husband’s family that lasted for WELL OVER AN HOUR. That is too long.

Exercise

Getting “proper” exercise has been a real challenge. My preferred method is walking on the treadmill for an hour, but when I do that, our internet goes out. So no one in the house can do anything requiring an internet connection, which means I can’t even walk on the treadmill while Carla is “at school” because so many of her “assignments” require her to be connected to Google classroom. (This is completely ignoring the fact that, so far, I have to be IN THE ROOM with Carla the entire “school day” or she wanders completely off track ARRRRGGGHHHHHH.) I have done a few Barre3 videos via YouTube, but it’s not the sameas being in the studio with my favorite instructor. I suppose I should resume using exercise videos, but I am resisting for some reason. Carla’s daily schedule has two hour-long blocks set aside for exercise, which mainly consists of us walking over to a nearby school parking lot so she can ride her bike. I walk back and forth a million times across the parking lot, occasionally sprinting. It’s not FUN but it does a mediocre job.

Food

A lot of people seem to be making new and interesting things during this pandemic, especially bread. My own mother has made two types of bread in the past week and my father made a lemon cake. I have made… my typical rotation of dinners. Carla and I are going to make cupcakes for Easter – she wants chocolate cakewith these bunny decorations. We did a Sprinkle Inventory and do not have pink sprinkles – but we do have purple and gold, so I think we’ll be okay. I have flour and yeast, so I COULD make bread. But I am kind of waiting until we NEED to make bread, you know? Right now, we have a loaf of bread in the freezer and I ordered a loaf of bread to be picked up later this week. Maybe if bread doesn’t make it into my actual shopping bags, I will make some. I have been kind of waiting for an opportunity to make focaccia… maybe this is my chance.

Mood

Friday was pretty rough. Saturday, I wanted to drive my family into the woods and leave them there. And I have been waking up at 4:00 or 5:00 every morning, which is unpleasant. However, I had a pretty decent day yesterday, slept without waking all night last night, and am feeling fairly balanced today. I will take the good days as they come.

 

There you have it. Now give me the updates on how YOU are doing.

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When it comes to a big, multi-room tidy, I have a strategy, which I will pass on to you in hopes that it works just as well on your children (I have not tried it on my spouse, so no promises there). My strategy is setting up a Cleaning Challenge. Carla LOVES a challenge, especially if there’s the potential of besting me. And it makes cleaning into a game, and games are fun.

What I do is I get out a big colorful sheet of construction paper. At the top I write Cleaning Challenge! in big cheerful letters. Beneath, on one side, I write out a list of things I need Carla to do (make her bed, pick up stuffed animals, tidy the living room, put her socks and underpants away, etc.) and put little boxes for checkmarks next to them… and on the other side, I write out a list of things I need to do (unload dishwasher, clean toilets, vacuum stairs, etc.) and put boxes with checkmarks next to them. I have found that it helps if my list is longer than Carla’s, because she likes to have an obvious advantage. (To her, it is not obvious that “washing the floor” is much, much more time consuming than “picking up the crayons scattered all over the counter.”) Then I masking tape the Challenge to the kitchen wall, masking tape a marker to the wall as well, and set a one-hour timer. Then we RACE to complete as many of our tasks as possible in the allotted time, checking off each task as we complete it. This is Carla’s favorite part, I think – making a checkmark on the page, while loudly proclaiming, “Checking off another one!” – and taping the marker to the wall makes it extra fun for her for some reason.

Anyway, I haven’t tried a Cleaning Challenge! lately, but I will do so today because it desperately needs doing. (It’s my normal Day Before the Cleaner Arrives technique, and it’s worked well for many months.) (By the way, being surrounded by mess has been making me feel incredibly extra wistful and thankful for our housecleaner, and I am writing her “paid leave” checks with gratitude and hope that one day she will be able to clean for us again because I miss her SO VERY MUCH OMG.)

The Cleaning Challenge! is a good strategy for the type of clutter that accumulates over time, between housecleaning appointments for instance. But I am struggling more, lately, with the HUGE VOLUME of day-to-day messiness. Everything is so much more messy than it was prior to self-isolation. Don’t get me wrong — the tendency of a child to start one project, abandon it, and begin another project while the first is strewn about a different room is, shall we say, a familiar concept. As is the concept of piles gradually accruing on every possible surface. But it turns out that my little whirlwind can make SO MANY MORE messes when she is at home for an additional 35 hours a week. Plus, I am guessing I do a lot more of-the-moment tidying when I am not staring despondently at the news 400 hours a day.

I think the utter relentlessness of the mess is what has begun wearing on me. It was simple enough at the beginning, to breezily say things along the lines of, “Of course it’s going to be messier than usual around here! You have double the people at home all day and one of them is a tornado, so mess is inevitable! But you can live with a little mess!” And this is true. I never claimed to be The World’s Tidiest Person, not by a long shot. But it turns out that a little messiness, while endurable for the short term, over time begins to feel like NOTHING IS EVER CLEAN. And, after a few days of enduing “a little mess,” the mess balloons into a LOT of messiness and then it begins feeling like I am living in squalor and there is no point in anything anymore because we are drowning in a sea of clutter. I am already walking around in a constant state of irritation/distress/anxiety and the added mess is NOT HELPING.

So I am starting to lose it, messwise. I need a new system. Otherwise I may as well lie down on the living room floor and be layered over with magnatiles and board games and construction paper and stuffed animals and remnants of pillow forts and Barbie shoes.

I had to have The Talk with my husband last night that I need more help with the housework… But man, I feel guilty about that. He is working all day, and putting his health at risk to help other people, and he is exhausted and anxious all the time, so I WANT to be able to take the pressure off at home. But also I am here ALL DAY EVERY DAY, doing nearly all the childcare and housework and meal planning/preparation, with maybe five minutes to myself at a time and… it sucks.

For those of you who have multiple children in your care all day every day… for those of you who have multiple children AND spouses who are now ALL at home with you nonstop… for those of you who are working from home WHILE your children and/or spouses are at home with you… well, you have my deepest, most sincere sympathy and compassion. My one cheering thought is that we are ALL dealing with this right now, with our own varying levels of tolerance and manageability. Additional people in our spaces, additional maneuvering required, new levels of irritation and stress, new strategizing and planning and letting things go.

I asked a fellow parent what she was doing to keep the mess down, and she said she was trying to clean a bit every day. Well. Yes. As am I. This is a tried-and-true strategy. Every single day, I do the dishes and wipe the counters and straighten and try to get Carla to move things off Obvious Surfaces. Every single day, I try to do at least one Other Thing — a load of laundry, moving all the collected water glasses from my husband’s bedside table to the sink, moving a bundle of precious artwork from the overcrowded craft cupboard to the trash. But it’s NOT ENOUGH. The mess is a rising tide and our house is a leaky boat.

If you, too, are just trying to clean a bit every day, what does that MEAN? Do you have a checklist? Do you have a rotation of Big Items? How are you enlisting the other members of your household? If you have young children, how are you helping them get into the habit of cleaning up after themselves? I am TRYING, believe me, but a) I don’t have the energy/patience to supervise all the cleaning that needs to be done and b) it feels like just one more source of potential tension between me and Carla when we are already getting on each other’s nerves and c) sometimes the ONLY WAY I can get a few minutes to myself is to ignore what is certainly a HUGE mess in the making.

So. What are YOU doing to Keep the Clutter at Bay?

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We had been stepping over it for DAYS (two). My daughter and my husband had each mentioned its falling – and finally, I was able to swoop in and do The Job That Only I Could Do! I applied two circles of masking tape to the back of the fallen artwork and pressed the art firmly into the cupboard/gallery space. Voila! Fixed! Alas, no one was around to see my heroic act. No doubt they will throw me a parade when they notice that the hall is now clear of artwork and the art is once again properly displayed!

Okay, okay. I tend to get irritated and snarky when I tackle the household work that Only I Can Do. But when I really think about it, I KNOW there are many jobs that Only My Husband Can Do. So it’s not like it’s a one-sided thing. It still rankles, though, because it FEELS like I am overloaded with tasks that could so easily be shared by one/both additional members of the family.

When I begin to feel put upon and beleaguered, it helps me to list all the things that my husband DOES do. And, once I have regained my sense of equilibrium, I can think about how fascinating it is, that housework can be divided in so many ways. There are the things that we both do – laundry, dishes, caring for the human – and the things that one of us does FAR more often, but not always, and then there are the things that one of does so often that I am going to say “always,” even if there have been very, very, veryvery rare exceptions.

Like cooking. I make dinner almost every night. On the nights I don’t make dinner, we go out or fend for ourselves with leftovers/cereal. But that’s not to say my husband doesn’t EVER cook. He does, but it is (now) very very rare. So I would feel comfortable putting “cooking” on the “Only Me” list.

A similar task on my husband’s side of the list would be sorting mail. I do it very occasionally, but really, I think of it as His Task. If he were to get fed up and shout at me that he hates sorting the mail and I never ever do it, I would have to concede the point. “Never ever” except for maybe twice a year doesn’t count as a shared task.

The things Only My Husband Does are really his and his alone. He is the financial supporter of our household. My freelance income is so vanishingly small next to his that it doesn’t really count; if he expired suddenly, I could not support our family on what I currently make from freelance work. (Aside: This is a hard topic for me. I know many, MANY people make it work, but for me, I always feel… inferior. Like the lesser contributor. Maybe if I had more children I would feel less so? I don’t know. But I feel hateful for feeling frustrated by all the work I DO have, which is menial and so EASY compared to what my husband does each day. He finds CANCER. He improves people’s QUALITY OF LIFE. He works SO HARD. And yet I STILL get frustrated and Oh Woe Is Me and feeling I’m-the-only-one-who-does-anything-around-here-grumbly. I don’t have any Soothing Thoughts or Coping Mechanisms to apply to this mental difficulty, I just wanted to note it.)

He pays all the bills. I have offered, but (to my great relief) I have never once taken over this task. He also researches Big Purchases – washer and dryer, new car, new whatever. The only time I’ve ever taken up that mantle is with the window situation, which proves that a) I am fully capable of researching major home expenses and b) I hate it.

Tasks that are firmly in the Only Me column include bafflingly simple things like making sure Carla’s rest blanket and pillowcase (and, in the winter, snow clothing) are laundered over the weekend and folded in her backpack by Monday. Occasionally going through her backpack and removing crumpled artwork, rocks, leaves, sticks, plastic “gems,” contraband toys she smuggled to school from home and forgot about, and so much dirt. Washing/filling her water bottle each day. Making sure that the guest bathroom hand towel gets changed/laundered on a regular basis. Wiping down the counters. Replacing the toilet paper (how, just, statistically, does this always fall to me?). Periodically cleaning out the fridge. Decorating for holidays (aside from some help with the Christmas tree). Planning/hosting/attending playdates. Making probably 99% of appointments and other phone calls. Managing our social calendar. It feels like ALL of these are dumb/frivolous which makes me cranky.

I am primarily the grocery shopper, but sometimes my husband will do it. My husband is primarily the person who researches and makes plane reservations, but sometimes I will do it (if FORCED to). The trash used to be primarily his job, but he made some frustrated noises about that a year or so ago and so I do it more than he does on an even split. Most mornings, I make Carla breakfast, but my husband takes over probably on average once a week. School stuff overwhelmingly falls to me, but my husband joins in on drop-offs/conferences/pickups when he can; okay, upon reflection “school stuff” probably belongs in the Only Me category. We split bedtime duties (teeth brushing supervision, reading, tucking in) although I help with clothing choices more often than not. I made my husband promise, when we decided to have a baby, that he’d take care of vomit; he’s been pretty good keeping up his end of the bargain, although I’ve been on Vom Cleanup twice in the past year which is an acceleration of my duties that I’m not comfortable with. We both participate in giving gifts to other family members, although I am most definitely the initiator. I’d say we refill the kitchen soap dispenser about evenly.

It is so very easy, in a marriage, to feel like you are doing ALL THE WORK. Especially, I might (with great bias) add, if you are in the homemaker role. I am reminded of my mother’s wise words, that in a marriage, you must give more than 50%.That’s just part of it. It SUCKS sometimes. But, for one thing, maybe you aren’t giving 51%. Or maybe you aren’t seeing the invisible things that make up your partner’s 51%. Surely, there are many times when you are only able to give 30%, or 10% or even 0%, and your spouse makes up the difference. And probably there are YEARS when one person is giving 70% and the other is giving 30% and that can still be a fair and good way to split things up. There are so many ways to make a marriage work. But I know feeling malevolent and resentful because I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO DOES DISHES AROUND HERE AND NO ONE APPRECIATES IT is not the key to longterm happiness. Not that I’ve FOUND the key to longterm happiness; I am just muddling through, day by day. I just know that listing out all the things that my husband does helps when I am feeling like my More Than 50% is endless and unmatched really, truly helps.

I would be very interested to know the things that Only You do in your household, and, likewise, the things that Only Your Spouse does as well. And, if you have it, the key to longterm happiness.

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This post is about that most controversial of marital subjects: division of chore labor.  Well, a sub-category, at least. So prepare for some boredom and talk of folding.

As the person who, for most of our relationship, works from home, I am typically the Main Laundry Person in our household. Over the years, we have developed a pretty solid laundry routine, wherein I have no trouble washing the clothing but then when it’s dry I leave it stuffed in the laundry basket or on the guest bed for months on end I fold Carla’s clothes and my own clothes, but only some of my husband’s clothing (underpants, socks) and then leave the rest of his stuff in neat piles so he can deal with it the way he wants to.

He’s not being weird. It’s just that there are specifications that I can’t meet.

For instance, he keeps all his undershirts in a specific drawer and he folds them in identical rectangles so that they all fit in the drawer.

Back when we were first married, I tried desperately to fold the shirts for him. I would go so far as to grab an already-folded shirt out of the drawer and try to use it as a folding template. Seriously. Is there anything more pathetic (or anti-feminist???) than a grown woman fretting over the perfect way to fold her spouse’s T-shirts? Picture me, setting a neatly-folded white Hanes T-shirt on the bed and then placing a recently (yes, we’ll go with recently) cleaned shirt on the same bed underneath it, and then trying to bend each sleeve into the center of the collar until the width matches the sample shirt, and then turning both shirts ninety degrees so I can then fold the bottom of the shirt up in such a way as to meet the desired depth and then triumphantly turning the newly folded shirt over to admire my obviously perfect work only to discover that I’ve somehow folded one sleeve in so far that the collar is not so much centered as all the way to the right, and the act of turning the shirt over has untucked the bottom and the finished product looks nothing like the template AT ALL, they are not in the same universe, this is a Picasso rendering of a folded shirt, maybe a raccoon wandered into the bedroom and tried to make a nest in it, it’s unclear. Certainly the raccoon could have done a better job. So I shake out the “folded” shirt in frustration and begin again. Ad infinitum.

Listen, it is no secret around here that I am terrible at things like folding. Anything that requires precision and straight lines is beyond my capabilities. Whatever. I am good at other things. I type pretty fast. I can load a dishwasher. I’m good with knots.

What I’m saying is, even though I used a template, back in those heady days of trying-to-please-my-husband-in-impossible-ways-early-marriage, the shirts would be too square or too thin or not look in any way like a shirt or whatever and my husband would end up refolding them.

I don’t really blame him. They were ridiculous. Sometimes I’d bury my worst attempts at the bottom of the pile and top them with the one shirt that looked somewhat like a folded shirt should look and less like a deflated smear of whipped cream with a “tagless” tag.  So I knew they weren’t up to his standards.

But I have to tell you something, and that is that I have my own drawer of T-shirts. T-shirts that I folded, all by myself. And they all fit in the drawer. Maybe not perfectly, maybe there’s some squashing. But my T-shirts are for exercise and sleeping, and his T-shirts are for wearing under other shirts, so an errant wrinkle here and there shouldn’t be a big deal. What I’m saying, I guess, is that while I understand his T-shirt folding preferences, I don’t think that they are necessarily any better than my own. Or… maybe they are better, but not so much better that they should require their own individualized folding process. And that maybe he should have just let me fold the shirts and be done with it.

I’m not saying that he’d chastise me or anything. He wouldn’t. Probably, in his infinite patience slash kindness he would thank me. But when he’d inevitably refold the T-shirts, I would feel such a mixture of emotions. Shame, for the horrid failure of my fingers to assemble his shirts into something resembling folded. Frustration, for spending time and energy trying to do something that he felt compelled to redo. Irritation at my husband for being so particular (as though I don’t have a specific way I fold, sort, and hang my own clothes). Wounded exasperation, because I was doing something NICE for him, and he didn’t APPRECIATE it. And despair, because certainly this was an indication that my marriage was bound for failure and also did I possibly have some sort of neurological disorder that was impairing my ability to fold.

I mean, seriously. If you go out of your way to do something nice for someone else, shouldn’t they APPRECIATE IT? So what if it isn’t perfect? It’s the THOUGHT, right? Whatever happened to not looking a Chore Horse in the mouth????? This Chore Horse is SAD!!!!!!

You may wonder why my husband continues to live in my home with me when I tell you the T-shirt thing is just one example of many. The only other example I can come up with is also laundry related: I wash the towels at regular intervals and, because I enjoy being at Towel Zero, that usually means that they are all in the wash at once. And sometimes I forget to, you know, dry the towels. Or maybe if I do dry them, I forget them in the dryer. And then my husband gets mad because he inevitably gets in the shower and then turns off the shower and realizes not only are there no towels hanging helpfully off of the towel rack but there are NO TOWELS AT ALL in the linen closet.

And when he gets annoyed at me, I get petulant. I WASHED THE TOWELS, MAN. Is that not enough for you? (I mean, I also apologize and go get him a towel. Obviously. Am not a sadist.)

Well.

When I get beyond the stage of exasperation, I completely understand where he is coming from. I am not so morally superior that I don’t have preferences for how I do or like certain things. I can’t think of any examples now, of course, because that would cede too much ground, but I am sure they exist. And I do, really truly, understand the rage that comes from exiting a shower, cold and wet and shivery and possibly late for work, and finding that all your towels are placidly soaking in OxiClean for the twenty-third consecutive hour. Let’s be honest. It’s a wonder he hasn’t divorced me and taken all the towels.

What I’m trying to say is that I get where he’s coming from.

And he is, or at least has been on multiple occasions, right that sometimes there just is a BEST way to do things.  The towels, right. I mean, obviously the Best Way is to dry them and put them back in the closet and maybe even hang one on the towel rack for easy post-shower access.

And, why not, let’s talk MORE about towels. For years, my husband would refold the towels that I’d just folded. Shame, frustration, irritation, wounded exasperation, despair. He claimed there was a Best Way. I maintained that my way got them done and folded and in the closet, therefore it was Good Enough. But then he taught me how to fold them (somehow what I cannot achieve with undershirts, I excel at with towels) and he is right: when a stack of towels is folded exactly the same way, it fits better in the closet and it’s easier to fetch down a new towel when you need one! And the rest of the towels don’t slump all over the shelves in desperation! So I acknowledge that there is a Best Way to do some things. Maybe many things. But not all. NOT ALL. Sometimes DONE is good enough.

Have I established that I understand a) there can actually be a best way to do some things and b) when I don’t/am incapable of the best way, my husband is justified in being irritated?

Okay. So let’s go back to my frustration. The frustration of doing something – perhaps not best but done – and having it rejected.

At what point do you say, I love this person and will exhaust my body and soul trying to execute a task to his exact specifications and when do you say, Spouse, love of my life, accept it the admittedly inferior way I do it as Good Enough, or do it your frogspam self?

The towel thing is something I have to work through; it’s mean, to leave a person dripping and towelless with no recourse. Doing towel laundry half way is most definitely NOT the Best Way OR Good Enough.

As I mentioned above, we have evolved a workaround for the shirts issue. I just don’t fold them. I don’t like it, because it makes the task seem unfinished. And it reminds me of my Folding Weakness, and no one wants that shoved in their face week after week. But it works. I don’t have to not-fold his shirts for endless hours. He doesn’t have to refold the Dadaist art I’ve presented to him as a pile of folded laundry. And his shirts are all meticulously rectangled and fitted into their drawer. Everyone wins.

But there are probably oodles of OTHER things where the specificity of the end result is less critical. Like the loading of the dishwasher. Does it really matter that my husband insists on putting the bowls on the top rack of the dishwasher when I would put them on the bottom rack? No, not really, as long as they get clean and don’t prevent other dishes from being included in the wash cycle.

Does it really matter that I leave a puddle of water on the counter next to the sink, when that space is reserved SOLELY for dirty dishes, and when it is washed each night before bed anyway? No, not really.

Does it really matter that I believe the washer can, as it claims to, hold laundry up to the “top row of holes” while my husband believes I am overfilling it and preventing it from agitating properly? (I ask you, when have I ever prevented something, including my own self, from agitating properly???) Since neither of us has ever unloaded the dryer and found a still-dirty item of clothing, not really, no.

My personal opinion is that there is very rarely a Best Way to complete a chore. The person doing the chore should, within reason, have freedom to complete it in his or her individual way. Complete it being the key term; I would be the first to agree that washing a towel and then NOT DRYING IT is not “completing” that particular chore. And if someone is kind enough to do a chore – by it’s very nature a thing that few people actually want to spend their time doing – the other person should be grateful and not nit-picky. And if doing it in some perceived Best Way is such a big deal to the other person, well then, he or she can take it on him- or herself for the future.

This is where I want to hear what egregious errors your own partners have made under the auspices of Doing A Chore. And I want to hear your examples of which things have a clear Best Way and those that can be completed successfully in many ways. And your squabbles about Best vs. Good Enough. Tell me all of them!

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