Today is the first day I’ve been in my house, alone, since March 2020.
Both kids are in school (in person!), for now at least. (And maybe if vaccinations are approved soon for the 12 and under set we might have a fighting chance of keeping them there.) And my husband is off looking for office space.
So begins a new era in our house. And because the circumstances are changing, the workload involved in running my household is also changing. And what does that mean? It’s time to renegotiate the division of labor, of course!
What’s changing so much, you ask?:
- Today marks the first day in a year and a half where we won’t have a full sink of dishes by lunch time. While we were all home, there were so many dishes that our kids were responsible for cleaning the kitchen twice a day. After school and after dinner.
- But now I’m the only one who’ll be making messes in the kitchen during the day time, so I’ll take back responsibility for mid-day kitchen patrol.
- My kids will take back responsibility for packing their lunches.
- I’m taking on driving duty for one kid, while one will be taking responsibility for getting himself to school.
- And, I realized that there’s a task that’s been in my system, recurring weekly, for 17 months (creating a weekly visual schedule) that I’ve, finally, checked off for the last time.
Now, maybe you don’t have kids going back to school, or maybe you’re not returning to an office just yet, but taking stock when situations change is something worth thinking about anyway.
When the situation changes, so does the workload. But often we simply try to absorb it instead of intentionally recalibrating. If you’re able to be just little more intentional you reduce the likelihood of your workload slowly creeping up without your noticing. When you find yourself asking, in a pleading voice, “But why am I working this hard?”, it’s often a sign that workload has changed without equitable redistribution.
So, let’s talk about options, because I don’t know which camp you’re in:
If now is a transition point for you:
If circumstances are changing in your household, take stock of what’s changing.
- Is there more of one type of work and less of another?
- Are there new tasks?
- Is there any work that’s going away?
If there are changes, get them out in the open. If you live with others, take a look at the whole shebang and ask yourselves “Is the work distributed equitably?”.
If you live alone, do the new circumstances change your outsourcing plan? (Maybe it made sense to cook a homemade lunch for yourself because it was convenient at home, but it makes more sense to buy lunch in the office? Maybe it was easy to throw a load of laundry in between meetings, but a wash n’ fold situation makes more sense now that you’re not at home so much?)
And if you’ve just been winging the distribution of labor, but might benefit from a bit more structure, feel free to download my Catalog and Conquer exercise to help you take stock and navigate the conversations around household labor.
If nothing’s changing (yet):
If now is not a transition point for you and things are just carrying on, business as usual, then how about making a list of potential transition points so that you can stay ahead of the curve and redistribute before it’s too late and you’re edging towards burnout. Here are some options to get you started:
- When kids age (and can take on new chores)
- When you, or your partner, get a new job
- When you, or your partner, return to an office (even part time)
- When summer starts or ends (for kids)
- When a new member enters the household (new baby, new partner, new roommate)
- When a member leaves the household (kid goes to college, roommate moves out, relationship ends).
- On a vacation (Seriously. There’s still labor on vacation, most of the time. Who does the planning, the packing, the cooking or the dishes when at an Airbnb?)
And, since a little self reflection never hurt anyone, even without an impending transition, it’s worth asking yourself:
- Is there anything I should make sure to keep doing, because it’s working so well?
- Is there anything I should start doing?
- Is there anything I should stop doing?