21 July 2009

Princess Stacey

When John died, the best gift I received was from my mom's sisters, who pitched in to give me the gift of cleaning. They both—although it was really one in particular—paid for my house to be cleaned twice a month. It was heavenly. It gave me the gift of time, and, even better, it took a load off my mind. I never had to think about housekeeping. If I noticed that something needed cleaning, I could either choose to clean it or know that I only had to live with it for x amount of time before it would be taken care of. It was unbelievably freeing.

But all good things must come to an end. My aunt is feeling the strain of the current financial markets just like we all are, and she can no longer keep funding my cleaning lady. Boo-hoo, woe is me, right? I know.

So last night I sucked it up and cleaned my own house. Some of my own house. The bathroom and the kitchen parts. Woo, boy, cleaning is no more fun than I remember it being! Plus the dust I stirred up gave me a wicked allergy attack. Post-cleaning, I was forced to curl up on my couch with ice cream and watch trashy TV.

Here's the thing about cleaning: it's not so much the cleaning itself that's irksome, although Swiffering my floors is not the first way I'd choose to spend my time. What I really find annoying about cleaning is the brainspace it takes up. While I don't spend much time during my day thinking about cleaning, per se, I do expend a good deal of brainpower on life scheduling, of which cleaning is one component. Breaking down the tasks that make up keeping a house tidy and fitting those tasks into available time in the cycles of days, weeks, and months is not easy, especially when I also have to fit in work and doctor's appointments and grocery shopping and time with friends and cooking and laundry and etc. etc. etc. Putting together the puzzle of life's events is exhausting, especially when I'm soley responsible for both the scheduling and the execution. It was lovely to be able to take one element of that scheduling process off of my plate for a good long while. My plan is to give myself a just reward when my condo in Boston sells by using some of the money I will no longer be spending on that mortgage to finance a housekeeper here in Portland.

So while we're on the subject of scheduling of life events, I'm curious about the experience of married folk. In my personal experience and from what I've discussed with friends, this task of Life Scheduling falls almost exclusively to the woman (in heterosexual couples; haven't really discussed this with my gay/lesbian friends). I was always the one keeping track of when we needed to be where, when we last washed the sheets on the bed, whether or not we had flour in the pantry, and when one was due for a dental cleaning. I considered my marriage one where John and I were on equal footing, and I'm not a proponent of divvying up labor in some kind of tit-for-tat, strictly 50/50 kind of way. But I do think that this Life Scheduling task is underappreciated, time consuming, and thankless. Even if you have a master calendar or some other kind of big-picture system for keeping track of things, I find that there's one person in a couple who ends up as the de facto Family Brain Trust. In my marriage, that person was me, and I confess that there were times that I resented the role. I shared that resentment with John, but we never found a good workaround.

Have others found this to be true? Have you found solutions to the problem? I'll file away creative solutions in the event that I should ever get remarried.

65 comments:

Roads said...

Pretty accurate, although it's always me that changes the sheets. Apparently I'm the only one big enough to fight manfully with the duvet.

LauraC said...

Yep, I am the Life Scheduler even though we are in an "equal" marriage. My husband travels so it's generally me who notices the stuff around the house.

Our compromise is that he can NOT argue when I say something needs to get done. And if he doesn't complete it in the time allotted, then I hire someone to do it.

It doesn't work all the time but I have often complained it takes up a lot of my mental energy to be in charge of the list.

mary said...

Totally totally agree with you. I frequently yell at my husband, "I'm not your secretary!"

I do resent it too but am now accepting, or trying to, that we have different responsibilities and I need to appreciate what he does and not be always bitter about what I do.

I think one thing that may help is to be very specific and clear about who is doing what. For example, you can have the dad be responsible for the dentist appointments, and the mom be responsible for doctor's appointments... and have the dad do the taxes, and mom do the bills or something. but yeah, it's a constant struggle

Nicole S. said...

OK - I'm totally going to generalize but I have yet to find enough examples to prove it wrong. Men are not good at this. If Billy were not married to me (or some other woman, I guess) he would never send cards, buy gifts, celebrate holidays, clean out the fridge, get his teeth cleaned, see a doctor, give the dog her monthly "medications", etc.

I think men are fulfilled enough by their jobs and are fine letting someone else take care of the rest. I'm not sure I would want to relinquish control of my home/life to someone else, even if that someone else were my spouse.

Goddess in Progress said...

Totally, M sometimes calls me the "scheduling coordinator." He has a terrible sense of time, both in small increments (15-45 minutes) and in the larger sense (everything was "a few days ago"). I, on the other hand, am anal-retentive about timeliness and remember the date on which I saw a U2 concert more than 15 years ago (it was September 15, 1992).

But yes, it can be really exhausting to be the cruise director around here, always keeping track of the whats and whens. Alas.

Sarah said...

Ha! I feel sort of lucky because I married a guy who likes to cook and is less indifferent to cleaning than I am. It also helps that he's "livin' the dream" AKA unemployed while I work full time.

This will probably change when we have kids but right now we definitely divvy up the Scheduling tasks. It helps that he does most of the cooking - so he is responsible for the grocery lists and pantry maintenance. On the other side I am responsible for making sure the bills get paid on time. I think that, like all chores, this sort of mental work can be divvied up if both parties recognize that it's necessary. The problem is that most of the time in heterosexual relationships, women are responsible for getting the physical chores done.

jen said...

yup, this is the way it works in our house, and I have yet to hear of a straight marriage where it's substantially otherwise (e.g. the guy does most of the mental work), esp with kids. What annoys me more than the responsibility is not getting credit for the labor. (the idea that appointments magically get made, gifts bought, etc.)

Angela said...

I don't know if it makes a difference that I am married to a French man who is 10 years younger than me, but he is pretty much the scheduler, coordinator - he makes sure everything gets done. I have to be so organized at work that at home I've always been a procrastinator and had a laid back attitude about getting things done. We've been married for 2 years, and basically from the moment we moved in together he took over the reins and it's been great. Sometimes he gets frustrated with me because I do still have the same laid back attitude, but I think this arrangement works pretty well for the both of us.

Megan said...

I do a vast majority of the life scheduling, though I leave it to my husband to take care of his own dental and doctor appointments. He does a pretty good job with that. I also don't remind him of what to do when he's on duty with our daughter - he's really good at taking care of whatever she needs, etc. I take care of all home maintenance tracking and scheduling, social events, babysitting arrangements, etc. He takes care of the finances (b/c I prefer him to) and the travel / vacation research and arrangements. Listing it out, it seems like we're pretty balanced even though I perceive myself as doing a lot of the stuff. All this said, it struck me that a commenter above said she's married to a Frenchman. I'm married to an Englishman. I think the European influence definitely affects things.

Jess said...

This is so true for us. And then sometimes my husband wants me to be his Personal Scheduler instead of just our General Scheduler. And so far I have resisted, telling him that I just don't have the energy. Which he respects, thank god.

Allegro said...

There is good to come from cleaning - really there is. Although I'm lucky enough to have help. I just posted on this very topic last week. http://hypenhaven.blogspot.com/2009/07/cleaning-day.html

And ya - I'm responsible for life scheduling which made scheduling cleaning day all that much easier. lol Next cleaning day is this Friday.

Melissa said...

That's about how it works at our house, too, and my husband is the one at home with the twins while I work full time. He just doesn't "see" the same things that need to be done as I do, so I'm the one who schedules. He does housework, he just doesn't do it when I think it needs to be done!

Anonymous said...

Yes, and it is me, the woman. And, like the others, I work full time out of the house while my husband works from home. I can count the number of times my husband has noticed the bathroom needed cleaning on, well, no hands, because he never has.

I have a great husband who does lots of work around the house, changed diapers from day one, takes turns with baths for our son, and takes care of several other items that we have sort of divvied up without really planning to. But I also find myself sometimes resenting that the extra stuff always seems to fall to me. For example, we're moving house in a few days, and he has packed one box. A single box. I have packed about 50. He says I haven't asked him to, and I say - You have a PhD. You are a smart man. Notice that I am packing my tail off here, and help without me asking. Nobody asked me to!
It's one of those gray areas. You pick your battles, and I don't know if battling with him over this will help at all. But I also get mad that simply because I CAN do this, I DO do it, and thus end up overloaded. Is doing this work a "gift" to my husband? Or am I a slave? Depends on the day you ask me!

- Gillian

albe said...

I actively strive to change this and not be the only one who does all that mental work in our marriage, but yeah, it's hard. What I have found is that I have to be willing to accept the consequences of not taking on all of the mental work. For instance, I do the gifts and cards for my side of the family, and I leave it to him for his side. Before I came along he was supposedly responsible for remembering his mother's birthday, so why should I take on that responsibility now? But the downside is I have to be willing to sit back and let him be lame about it or forget those things all together, and I'm sure his family thinks I'm totally rude.

I do almost all of the mental work with the kids (appointments, clothes, toys, food, etc.) but he takes care of the cats. We were traveling up to his parents' house a lot and packing for the twins was a pain in the butt, and I realized, wait, why is it my job to do their packing? So now when we travel to his parents, he packs for the kids, and I have to sit back and accept that some things might get forgotten.

What I've realized is that it's just assumed (by both of us) that I will notice what needs to be done and take responsibility for doing it, and he will not. We are 50/50 in our child care so why do I find myself doing so much of that mental work? And it is SO easy to stay in that pattern, even though I hate it. So we pretty regularly reassess, and decide to shift responsibility for certain stuff onto him. I'd say it's sort of working, so far, but it's far from perfect.

(The biggest irony is that I am the one taking on the mental energy to make sure the mental energy tasks are fairly divided!)

Watercolor said...

Until you get your cleaning lady, make a daily plan for cleaning. 15 minutes a day in each room. Monday is living room, Tuesday is bathrooms, etc. Set the timer. That way there never is a marathon cleaning session to dread. And everything is fairly clean all the time. flylady.net is a great resource.

orbgirl said...

I definitely think this stuff falls on the woman's shoulders and I think the reason is - we have a lower tolerance for when things 'need' to be taken care. I shudder to think of how long my husband's sheets would go between cleanings prior to getting married! It was definitely longer than 2 weeks (my max threshold.) And although I'm sure they appreciate how refreshed they feel after a cleaning at the dentist, it's not enough for them to stay on top of it and that appt. may get pushed to once every year or so instead of every 6 months. Sad but true I'm afraid!

Pam said...

So, so true! I keep track of everything. My son see several specialists and I always keep track of who he needs to see when, call and make the appt. Make sure we all have food, basic things, bills are paid. Luckily I have a husband who happily washes our son every night and helps some with cleaning, but I can promise you he has no idea how much work it is to keep up with everything. We are getting ready to go on vacation and he is all "oh it's not hard, just toss some stuff in a bag and go!" Yeah right...with a 3 year old? Sure it's easy for him-I do it all!!!

amber said...

This is true for me, too. I'm the scheduler in the family. Although, I will say that for working 60+ hour weeks and regularly working nights and weekends, my husband does an inordinate amount of house cleaning. He runs the Roomba and cleans it out afterwards, will clean the bathroom, etc. The laundry and kitchen are primarily my domains (I like it best that way), but he really is a huge help with cleaning. I think it's rare and not something I take for granted in the least.

Lyndsay said...

Hubs works long hours at least 5 days a week, and I work normal hours 3 days a week. So I am the Life Scheduler/Domestic Goddess/Ruler of the Homefront.

At times I do feel resentful - I agree, those domestic tasks do tend to be underappreciated. However, I'm much happier spending my 2 at-home weekdays doing "house-stuff" as opposed to income-earning work-stuff so I try not to complain too much.

Cloud said...

Hi, I've been lurking for awhile and finally feel moved to comment. Odd that it would be housecleaning and chores that pushed me over the edge. It could also have something to do with how little I want to tackle the next item on my to do list right now...

Anyway, I do the "life scheduling". My husband would just suck at it. This doesn't bother me, though, because we both recognize this as a chore and so it counts in "my column" when we balance out the chores we do. I would suck at some of the chores he does. I think we have a very equal marriage and routinely list that as one of the reasons I'm a fairly happy working mom- Hubby does his fair share around the house and just thinks that is how it should be. This means that I don't waste mental energy dealing with an unequal situation, which to me is just as important as the fact that I don't have to do all of the chores.

We have a house cleaning service come every four weeks. We set up a schedule for the "in between" cleanings and stuck to it until I got pregnant again. Its been a rougher pregnancy than my first one, and I'm having a hard time keeping up with my share of the cleaning. I'm currently lobbying to increase the house cleaners to every two weeks. However, the schedule thing worked really, really well while I was still able to do my share. Maybe it would help you to write yourself a schedule? The best part is that once you've done whatever chore is on your schedule for the night, you can stop cleaning WITH NO GUILT. Also, once you write the schedule, you don't have to think about when to clean what ever again.

mlg said...

I have found in all of my relationships, with men and woman, that this is the role I fill. I don't think it comes down to the "wife" because it is a wifely duty, I think it just always comes down to who is best at it. I have always been best at keeping the flow going.

Like me, you are bringing children into the next potential relationship. In every case I have had a child, but my partner has not. I find that as the parent it was important for me to keep the schedule for the family because it meant keeping the schedule for my kid. Not sure what happens when both parties come with kids.

Funny story.. My husband was delighted to let me be this person 2 seconds after we got married. Among the usual duties, it also included buying holiday cards and presents. One year we were on a plane flying to my folks house for a big family celebration. I had the cards on our tray table and was writing and signing them. I passed the first card to my husband, who signed without looking. As fast as I could I passed the cards to him and he signed them, without even taking the time to read them or pay attention to whom. I was a little miffed that he didn't take the time to appreciate my work. So I pulled a fast one.

Well, Christmas morning rolled around, and he opened the very romantic card from me, read the front, opened it, and looked at me with a puzzled look. Then he asked me "why did I sign my own card?"

Sadia said...

My life has two modes: single mom (husband deployed/overseas) and couple (hubby home). We switch between the modes every 12-15 months, which means that I've just gotten into the swing of things when we change.

Single mode: well, you know that goes. I'm in charge of planning and execution.

Couple mode: I tend to identify the infrequent things like well child checkups and sealing the countertops, but we split execution evenly. When it comes to ongoing maintenance activities, whoever is bugged more by something being undone does it. This means that I wash the laundry, hubby folds it, I mop (okay, I run the Scooba), he tidies and I clean. I weed, and he waters.

We both love to cook, so we do that together, but we've learned that someone needs to be the boss per cooking session, because we argue otherwise.

To be honest, some fixing tasks just stay undone until my father-in-law visits, and that's okay with all of us.

Anonymous said...

In my house, hubby does much of the scheduling. He does cleaning, laundry and finances. I do groceries (well, we often shop together, but I'm responsible for menu, list etc), cooking and social life. He's a neat freak and I"m completely not though, so it just makes sense. I suspect it will change in November when our first child is born though since I'll be home for at least the first year.

NotCarol said...

First of all, I think this whole 'divison of labor' thing is a 21st century problem. Sadly its the woman's problem because it was, for so many centuries, the "woman's jobs" that are now being delegated as mostly everyone has paid positions in the world too.

We break ourselves in half trying to keep all the balls in the air in a way that men, traditionally have not had to do and does not, as a result, generally come natrually to them.

That being said, I manage the calendars (which include his son's school schedule and my daughter's joint custody). Google lets me have all four in one place which is handy, although not terribly printable. And for whatever reason i have taken over bills and household stuff too. Part of it is that I work half time, so I am in the house a lot more. Part of it is totally annoying though (like, he gets the "Fun" jobs like mowing the lawn and using the grill - - - while I am the one who cleans the toilets). He does, to his credit, do a significant amount of the laundry when he is home and dishes. And he takes the dog for a walk at 5:30 in the morning when he is in town.

When I go back to work full-time, I will definatly hire a cleaning person. No question. Also, I will probably spring for the Roomba. This is true whether I am working full-time from an office or get to live my own little dream and be a work-at-home mom.

Why is it that we put a higher value on our "work-work" time than "house-work" time. Isn't my personal enviornment as worthwhile as my profession?

God, the 21st century is complicated.

teki said...

Okay, this isn't what you asked, but as you're in a college town consider getting a student to clean. I'm a single mom of 1 and I HATE to clean. Yes I can do it and when obligated, do a great job, but I LOATHE cleaning. Yet, I adore a clean and fresh house. So, I hired a student to clean weekly. She doesn't do the picking up, just the actual cleaning (mopping, dusting, vaccuming, tubs..etc). She is cheaper than eating out. At this point I'd rather eat mac and cheese for 3 meals a week than give up the cleaner! Consider it!

Anonymous said...

Totally accurate. Although I wouldn't trust my husband to do the job, I would be more of a nag if he were in charge of it, and no matter what he did I would think I could do it better. So really, it's better I do it. Even though I sometimes resent it. It's an under-appreciated role because if it's done right, no one ever sees the work behind the magic of a smooth schedule.

Anonymous said...

I second the flylady.net recommendation... she is really loving and gentle and encouraging all at the same time. It really has changed my life.

Anonymous said...

In my marriage I plan the master schedule. At times I resent it, but it also allows me a bit of control -- which I suppose I need. However, my resentment abates because my husband does ALL of the cleaning. I do my "chores" but I will gladly schedule, cook, do laundry and run errands over cleaning any day...

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

My husband and I more or less share the task of keeping the Life Schedule, and it's amazing that it doesn't crash and burn more often than it does.

I keep track of cleaning tasks, medical appointments, and our extremely limited social calendar.

He keeps track of when bills need to be paid, when the trash needs to be taken out, watering plants, grocery shopping, calling insurance companies and all the icky administrative tasks I abhor.

Every one in a while there's some task so odious neither one of us wants to attack it, like planning and executing a major remodeling project or finding child care arrangements. That's when we can fall to counterproductive bickering. But we're getting better at it lately.

Generally we get to a 50/50ish split by each one taking care of whatever we mind taking care of the least. For some reason, even without any master plan or anything more complicated than an abbreviated grocery list, this works out.

Gaby said...

haha I think it's hilarious that most women end up being the scheduler. I think that Orbgirl has it right when she's states that it's about thresholds. Whoever has the lowests threshold ends up being the scheduler because that's the person most likely to get annoyed at the lack of schedule.

In our house there is no one scheduler. We each have different tolerences for different things so we each do them as those tolerances come up. He dislikes running out of food and dirty dishes so he makes the shopping list and the he washes the dishes. He will never ever ever notice dust or that the tub needs scrubbing so I do that when I feel it needs to get done.

I go by the rule that if I feel that something needs to get done then I do it. If I need help I ask. And for the most part he does the same thing. Our house isn't going to make it on the cover of good housekeeping weekly but at least everyone like being at home. Mind you we don't have kids and that I'm sure would make things a bit more cumbersome.

Sharon said...

I've been thinking about this a fair bit lately. For me, it's not just about "Scheduling", it's all the lists and reminders floating around in my head at any one time: Next Tuesday is "wear green day!" at day care; we need to get more applesauce; kiddo needs to see a dentist; hmm, when was the last time he had a haircut?; what am I going to send for lunch tomorrow; should I scrub the shower or live with the mildew; a week from Saturday is a birthday party and we need to buy a present... etc.

Some of it is scheduling, some of it is just other stuff, and I'm not sure what to call it.

But it does take up a huge amount of mental energy, and I do resent being the one responsible for all of this "track-keeping". My husband does a ton of stuff -- probably more than me now, since I'm pregnant and grouchy -- but he relies on me to remind him of what to do, and we both know it.

It's self-perpetuating, too -- when I don't remind him or keep track of something, it often doesn't get done, and then that makes me be more anal about this kind of stuff for a while -- so he gets even less interested in keeping track for himself, since he knows I'll do it anyway. Don't know a solution, but it's there, and it weighs on me a bit.

Devorah Dumes said...

I once had a religious experience while waxing my parquet floor and listening to John Lennon's "Imagine", so I'm apt to consider housework as a potential avenue for enlightenment. That said, I'll happily acknowledge that I hate housework and don't much care how many books are piled on the floor as long as we can navigate from room to room.

My husband and I both lived alone as divorced people and were responsible for our own places before we were married. He's a better housekeeper than I am but never complains if I fall short. We have our divided chores. He cooks, grocery shops, vacuums, dusts. I clean the kitchen and bathrooms, change the linens, and handle the garden. We share laundry and do it together.

My teenage sons do their own laundry, clean their room, and have chores like table-setting and emptying trash.

If I could afford it I'd have a cleaning person come in once a month to give us a cleaner base to start from, but that's not going to happen anytime soon thanks to the collapsing California economy and pay cuts. Instead I lower my expectations. If I have a choice between a chore and a book, the book will win out, and I'll feel more enriched. It doesn't hurt to be a hedonist sometimes.

OTRgirl said...

As with many things in our marriage, we don't fit the norm. Jrex is much better about remembering what we've committed to do. I've never been great at remembering dates & anniversaries. I do most of the cleaning, but now that he's driving while I'm bike commuting, the grocery shopping is on him. Which means he's thinking about meals and what we need to finish in the fridge.

I think he gets frustrated at having to keep track of things I forget.

Much of this has occurred in the last four years of our 12 year marriage. Residency and Fellowship consumed all his energy, but now that he's in the lab, he's got time to look around and pick up some slack.

Kristen said...

Seems so unfair, so true...my husband does attempt to keep the house upkeep fair, but I think it took the whole house remodel that we have been doing for two years to even the playing field.

As for the cleaning dilemma, there is a website www.flylady.net that really helped me get organized after the birth of our second. She helps break it down to little tasks that you can do a little at a time so that the job doesn't take a whole evening away from the kids. I love that she reinforces that it doesn't have to be "prefect". So now I arm my 6 & 4year old with one of those disposable dusters and let them go to town. (Youngest has done it since she was 2!) On our rotation, I figure the whole place sees a duster once a month. Good enough! And those disposable floor dusters are light enough for the kids also (maybe 1 more year for your gang though). Maybe that will help you get through until your condo sells...because I agree that if you can afford the cleaning person after the condo sells - grab that extra time for you, your kids, or whatever you desire!

k

New Kid on the Hallway said...

I don't think I have a particularly lower tolerance for household clutter/dirt than my husband does - in fact, I probably have a higher tolerance for mess than he does (though it doesn't translate into him cleaning very much, because he claims to be afraid to deal with my stuff, which he often considers to be the problem in the first place). We don't have kids, though, so we still each take care of a lot of our own stuff and don't bug the other person with it. We each do our own laundry. I never ever make appointments for him. He'll clean the toilet more frequently than I do, I think (but is less likely to do the tub than I am). We both deal with dishes pretty regularly. I think the biggest issues I have are that he doesn't mind leaving dishes around the apartment (I always at least stack them in the sink) and he has a much higher tolerance for stuffing the trashcan overfull without emptying it than I do. (But there's a logic to it: we have a small trashcan, but put big bags in it because we find the small bags a little too small. He gets bothered by not using up the space in the bags and tries to cram more in; I get bothered by not being able to shut the trashcan!) I'm sure he has a million issues with me. :-)

ann ominous said...

my husband and i are kind of funny....if it werent' for me, we wouldn't eat. but if it weren't for him, our house would be a wreck, the flowers would die and i would never have clean underwear.

i think it has a lot to do with how we were brought up...the scheduling part...

my mom is a type A personality to the point of OCD. she has a calendar that is pre-scheduled for months in advance. If you want a weekend w/her or my dad...you better consult the "black book" to see if she's free. husband's family...well, they make plans the day before. I have a very hard time functioning in my inlaws house...I ask "what're you doing for Thanksgiving" they tell me roughly a week before the event which city or even state they'll be in. Husband's the same as them....and...it is even more annoying that it WORKS for them. They are always put togehter, coordinated and on time.

So, i guess my point is, half the time we split things evenly...and then the other half I try to make plans and keep us on track....but, I often find that my plans get thwarted because his spontaneity is often a lot more fun! (when it works with my schedule that is).

Mark said...

Yeah, I'm ashamed to admit that the Brain Trust duty falls to the wife. Of course, my wife is uber-organized so she relishes the role. I would pay the bills and keep the schedule...but I don't have to.

In my defense (and perhaps the defense of other husbands) I would wash the sheets myself if my wife didn't always do it first. It isn't that I'm lazy -- I do a ton of work/cleaning around the house. She's just grossed out a lot easier than I am. Thus, the sheets.

BTW, I've followed your blog since last year, and I love your writing. :)

Sinda said...

Yep, that's my job. I love it, of course, or I wouldn't do it, but I'm also compelled to keep it up. My husband is a teacher, so he doesn't have the time during the day to think about home life that I do, as a desk-jockey. When his schedule permits, I can plan for him to do doctors visits, but I usually schedule them, and I certainly always know when they need to be scheduled.

To be fair, he does most of the cooking (I plan the menus and shop), and he is much better at spending one-on-one time with our children, to my shame. Also, during the summers, he takes on more responsibilities and I slough them off - thus, I am frivolling on the computer, and he made dinner and is playing canasta with the girls.

I'm a new reader - Google Reader recommended you - and I'm enjoying your words. Plus, totally wishing I was in Portland lately.

Nancy said...

oh yes, that's my job. I also view our marriage as equal...although, I'm fairly certain that Mike does more than his fair share of housework. (*grin*) But yep - I'm the keeper of the schedule.

...but I'm such a control freak, that it's good I have SOMETHING to have control over rather than trying to control Mike's life ... works well that way. :)

Anonymous said...

I have a fabulous husband, always willing to help, but I'm definitely the 'Family Brain Trust" in our family. I know all the details of the house and its maintenance, act as the secretary for Christmas cards and thank you notes, buy the gifts for the whole/extended family, remind him to call his family on birthdays, know everything about the kids' school/health care etc. etc. I've often thought that I'd like a wife too!!!! I don't know anyone in a hetero marriage where the wife/female isn't the CEO and executive assistant in one.

We got a cleaning lady last winter when I was really sick during my pregnancy. The original plan (or the one I agreed to back then - fingers crossed behind my back) was that we would 'reassess' the cleaning lady in the spring when I went off on mat. leave. He asked me last week when I thought we should let her go. My answer? NEVER. If it comes up again I plan on sticking my fingers in my ear and singing "lalalalalalala"!

Anonymous said...

The administrative kaka to which you refer -- almost exclusively me. I'm also responsible for most things kid-related, like the state of her wardrobe. I am also, apparently, the only person in the marriage who is capable of noticing when the cars' oil needs changing.

However, HOWEVER: he does all the cooking and all the grocery shopping. That, to me, is huge. We too have a cleaning lady every other week, and that is also huge -- so he does cooking/grocery/grass mowing, and I do administrative kaka/deep cleaning/laundry/social niceties (cards, phone calls, gifts etc.).

It really does balance. But without the cleaning lady, NO WAY.

Shelley

Brainy girl said...

Another wifely scheduler here. I do pretty much everything there is to do, with respect to cleaning, tracking stuff, cards/gifts (though I've started to back off on that for his family), all finances, taxes, all appointments, all kid-related stuff, yada yada yada. BUT, he does basically all the cooking, including the menu planning, and most of the grocery shopping. He also does lawn mowing and snow clearing. Considering how much I hate cooking, and especially, having to think of WHAT TO HAVE every single day... well, it's not exactly "balanced" but I still feel lucky.

Susan said...

Hmmm....you gotta go with what works and considering the divorce rate....it ain't working =))) I've been married almost 20 years and we had to "make" it work. It was hard to figure it all out....determining who was doing what. I have found, I'm a controller so I do best to manage the "schedule" per say. But my hubby is awesome to fulfill it meaning getting Kid A to this and Kid B to that, etc... As far as housework, if I could afford a housekeeper I would but hence I can't so I don't whine about it and do it. I'm pretty particuluar anyways and would probably be too hard on someone coming in and cleaning. I'm with whoever said the 15 minute a room schedule. However, with all boys in my house but me, my bathrooms get a once over every day. Doesn't take long and makes me feel better =)

Anonymous said...

I am totally the planner, scheduler and executioner of 'life' (changing sheets, dentist appts, etc etc etc). Most of the time I don't mind this role. However there are times that I think my husband truely doesn't understand or appreciate how much time and energy this role takes.

This was a good blog question... I'm enjoying seeing others responses.

Tammy

Shmo said...

I often tell my husband that I sometimes feel like the stock exchange - I have a constant "ticker" of information running at all times across my brain. I'm definitely the scheduler in our relationship, which has admittedly annoyed me at times. We both work full-time, have a 2 1/2 year old son, and I'm about to start grad school next month, so things may get even more interesting. He's in charge of getting the boy dressed and taken to daycare every day, and brings him home most days, but then again - the daycare is literally the next parking lot over from his work, while I'm clear across town. I manage the cleaning for the majority of the house and he is master of the outdoor domain. While he may never volunteer to mop the floor, I will never volunteer to weed-eat the yard, so I guess that evens things out.

After reading some of the comments, though, I realize that I'm also the designated packer of myself and the boy for trips, the keeper of gift/card lists, the scheduler of all medical and other appointments, etc.

That ticker stream gets longer every day.

Anonymous said...

I was sent an e-mail about 10 years abo from my Dad, kept this because it is so truc...



Why I love my Mom...

Mom and Dad were watching TV when Mom said, "I'm tired, and it's getting late. I think I'll go to bed." She went to the kitchen to make sandwiches for the next day's lunches, rinsed out the popcorn bowls, took meat out of the freezer for supper the following evening, checked the cereal box levels, filled the sugar container, put spoons and bowls on the table and started the coffee pot for brewing the next morning.

She then put some wet clothes in the dryer, put a load of clothes into the wash, ironed a shirt and secured a loose button. She picked up the game pieces left on the table and put the telephone book back into the drawer. She watered the plants, emptied a wastebasket and hung up a towel to dry. She yawned and stretched and headed for the bedroom. She stopped by the desk and wrote a note to the teacher, counted out some cash for the field trip, and pulled a textbook out from hiding under the chair. She signed a birthday card for a friend, addressed and stamped the envelope and wrote a quick note for the grocery store. She put both near her purse.

Mom then washed her face, put on moisturizer, brushed and flossed her teeth and trimmed her nails. Dad called out, "I thought you were going to bed." "I'm on my way," she said. She put some water into the dog's dish and called the cat in, then made sure the doors were locked. She looked in on each of the kids and turned out a bedside lamp, hung up a shirt, threw some dirty socks in the hamper, and had a brief conversation with the one still up doing homework. In her own room, she set the alarm; laid out clothing for the next day, straightened up the shoe rack. She added three things to her list of things to do for tomorrow.

About that time, Dad turned off the TV and announced to no one in particular, "I'm going to bed." And he did...without another thought.

Sandy said...

Yes, I schedule things and keep our lives organized. I don't mind the mental work of scheduling and tracking maintenance. Rather my problem is that I haven't discovered an acceptable way to communicate to my husband which jobs I would like help with. He seems to interpret the kindest requests as nagging. Most often I choose to do the work myself than have that conflict. Some jobs just don't get done, 'cause I don't want to do them - car maintenance, for example. We ended up paying $1,500 to replace something we could have maintained for $200.

Mandy said...

This is definitely true of my relationship and sometimes I get tired of it, although to be honest, I'm way too much of a control freak to give it up even if my husband wanted to take it over. One thing that's gotten ridiculous: my husband doesn't even open his own MAIL anymore. I'm apparently supposed to open it and interpret for him whether it contains anything important. Jeesh!

NanarocksWeen said...

yep,even at 61 (hubby 64), on the weekend days, he STILL asks me "what are we doing today?" He does do the cooking when he's home, but he always asks ME "what are we having for dinner?" I can't get him to get a physical, though I did manage to schedule him in for a dental visit (when his tooth started to hurt). In my experience, and looking at my daughter's lives as well, it is the woman who does the "life management." If I don't tell him, several times, to do something around the house, it won't get done. Oh, he says "I'll do it." But you can bet that I'll have to go behind him to "babysit" as I call it, to make sure it's actually DONE.

Anonymous said...

I have no advice, other than a big, fat YES vote on getting yourself a housecleaner ASAP. I am honestly starting to believe that a housecleaner could save our marriage. I spend 3/4 of every weekend cleaning, bossing people into cleaning, or fretting about getting the cleaning done. We have so little downtime together as a family, I'm actually grieving the loss of what I'd always thought family life would be.

Dramatic, much? (-:

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

I'd say my husband and I are actually 50/50 on this. While I do most of the indoor cleaning, he is generally always willing to do what I ask. He's always on top of the outside work though.

When it comes to the scheduling, we are also pretty even. Because my husband keeps track of his own schedule as a physician, he works his patients around stuff he needs to handle at home or those inevitable appointments. He writes everything down and I just sort of wing it being too sleep-deprived to care.

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

We have not figured out division of labor yet, but we will have to, as I just "laid off" our cleaning lady due to being unemployed.

I recommend you check out the FLYlady who, though gimmicky, has the right idea to motivate one into keeping house as part of respecting yourself. Not that it's worked on me yet... but she says "take baby steps" and I guess I am.

X

Supa

Kristi said...

My husband took over Life Scheduler responsibilities when our roles shifted and I got a real job and he took up freelancing from home. He made a few mistakes and I learned to let go of it. Really, I was amazed by how quickly I relinquished the responsibility and how freeing it was. And he didn't sweat that stuff like I did, so it was better for everyone.

Holly said...

let us know when you find a good solution:)

I am the family brain, even with no kids I still find the task daunting.

Meika said...

Yes, I am in charge of all the Life Scheduling/clean-up stuff. That is why our house is perpetually trashed. The husband is much better at it, but... well. Somehow I fell into this role. And I resent it also, and share this, and have no solution - except that the bulk of my marriage is very good, and as much as I hate the cleaning/figuring bit it's just not worth ruining my marriage over. Not to say I've given up the conversation, but that I do try to suck it up when I can.

tmarie said...

Hear, F@&%ing hear! All hail Princess Stacey!

:x

jbondsgirl said...

I'm the Brain Trust in this family although I wonder how much of that would be different if there wasn't Sarge's brain injury to cope with. I resent it more when things get forgotten so I don't really mind being the schedule keeper, the grocery shopper and the cleaner. It's okay with me. Sarge does the budget and that more than compensates in my mind.

xo
Flicka

jbondsgirl said...

I'm the Brain Trust in this family although I wonder how much of that would be different if there wasn't Sarge's brain injury to cope with. I resent it more when things get forgotten so I don't really mind being the schedule keeper, the grocery shopper and the cleaner. It's okay with me. Sarge does the budget and that more than compensates in my mind.

xo
Flicka

deb8able said...

I'm the life planner. I enjoy the role - and he enjoys me enjoying the role. It's almost impossible to have two planners - schedules get overlapped and then trouble begins. I have my calendar and everything goes on it - we all live by the calendar.

As for cleaning - I found it's all in the frame of mind. I look at the piles of laundry and most of the time smile because it means that I have my wonderful husband and two beautiful girls to dirty clothes and towels. I love the sense of accomplishment I feel when a cleaning project if finished. While I don't enjoy cleaning the bathrooms, when it's over I stand back and feel so good that it looks beautiful and smells good. Now I admit that my husband rarely notices when I've been on a cleaning binge, but that's ok because he rarely notices when I haven't been on a cleaning binge so it works out lol

Anonymous said...

Ha - my marriage started with "Tell me the time and date to be at the church and what to wear and I will be there." 11 years later, we have briefings on Sunday night to go over the activities for each family member for the week. If I don't tell him about it, he never finds out. He is really good about being responsible for just about everything else, but I am the Life Scheduler. If I died tomorrow, he would have no idea what to do for the rest of the week!

Victoria said...

I'm the woman, and I'm the scheduler, but that's mostly because I'm the one who cares about schedules. If I left it up to him, I'd get whiplash from being yanked all over with no idea when to do what or go where... You know those Myers-Briggs personality terms? I'm an INTJ, and he's sweet, but an I-don't-care-at-all.

Colleen said...

OMG, I schedule pretty much everything for my husband and i, and if he does it's usually because I'm sick of doing it and I tell him he needs to do it. I do 80-90% of the chores, all the bills (which is a constant argument in the relationship... I wish it were a bit half and half), write all the thank you cards, do all the food shopping/errands, and buy all the cards and gifts. Sometimes I wish he'd help out more with these little everyday things (which take SO much time out of the day!) but then again, he brings in more moolah than I do, so I figure part of it is me helping out and doing my end of the "providing"... just in another way. But he does need to help out more, because you do get resentful after years of doing all these things for yourself, for both of you, for the family and get no help. Or, as many others put it, just a simple thank you every once in a while!!

OTR sister said...

I'll put another vote in for the man of the house being our scheduler/planner. (Proving, like a couple of other commenters, that straight men are capable of this.)

I recommend the Who Does What checklist in Gottman's Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. It has hundreds of items and is pretty eye-opening for a couple to see all of the little and big tasks and who actually does them. For those of you who feel unappreciated it can really wake your partner up. Might not change what he or she DOES but at least they'll realize that someone is doing it.

Anonymous said...

What were you complaining about all those months, then? You had a HOUSEKEEPER? I would guess you'd realize everyone had similar opinions, especially for who you were taking advantage of - ever think maybe you should offer to discontinue it? And yet you still griped you didn't have time? You'd leave the kids at daycare, you had a housekeeper to clean at home - what is your problem?

Nicole S. said...

Judging anonymously - how brave of you!