If you want help around the house, you might have to compromise
My kids were never super excited about taking on household tasks. I know, it’s shocking.
And frankly, I didn’t always have the fortitude to watch them do things slowly and badly. Because I am an impatient human.
There's a flavor of cognitive dissonance that goes like this: I'm resentful of the people I live with because I have to do all the [insert: cooking, loading the dishwasher, folding laundry, bill paying] myself.
BUT - I want to have control over the process or the outcome, so I keep the task and don't hand it off.
I see this with overworked parents All. The. Time. They want things done the way they want them done.
And this isn’t just a parent problem. Lots of people get itchy watching the humans around them complete tasks in a style that is clearly inferior to their own.
And honestly, who can blame them? It’s not like the politicians or the corporate overlords or even the delivery drivers are doing things the way we’d choose; can’t we at least enjoy a properly loaded dishwasher?
Alas, if you really want help, you have to accept that it's not always going to look the way you want it to.
Therein lies a choice. And an opportunity!
You can continue to beat your head against this immoveable conundrum, or you can let go. Just a little.
So the towels are folded in quarters instead of thirds. Maybe some of the glasses have to go through a second cycle. What’s more important, having everything just so, or having a little more breathing room?
This is not a trick question!
You may prefer to do things yourself and live in a home that runs smoothly, according to your ideas of How Things Should Be. There is absolutely no shame in that.
But if you’re a parent, I’d encourage you to think about the end result. Which might be a kid who doesn’t really know how to do anything because you snatched each task back once it started to go sideways.
And if it’s your partner whose antics are making you nuts, it might not be improving your relationship for them to see you tapping your foot and rolling your eyes as they chop onions into unforgivably uneven chunks.
But you’ve got to pick your battles.
Allowing others to act imperfectly gives them validation. It’s a reminder that no one is good at everything. And that one’s ability to properly clean the bathroom isn’t the sum of one’s worth.
This is true of children and adults.
I like to blame HGTV for this idea that everything in our houses should be just so. I’ll double down on Instagram for making us believe that everything in our LIVES should be just so.
Do what you want – I’m not trying to preach. But as someone who straddles the line between wanting things to be tip-top and feeling like I’ll never do householding well enough, I think there’s a happy medium.
Also? I’d like to spend more time winning the NYT spelling bee and less time doing anything resembling housework, so if you want to do a so-so job of cleaning my bathroom, I’ll forgive your reluctance to line up the toothbrushes.