|Photo from Dawn's Stamping Thoughts|
I’ve been floating in (and holding tight) a different world for the past few weeks. Weekend getaways, delicious homemade food, endless shopping sprees, tons of chai, conversations and irrepressible laughs. That’s right, my mom was here!
The party isn't over yet [a second helping continues in NYC next week]. But meanwhile, I've been chewing on a rather interesting phenomenon: the gr-attitude for household work. :~)
Growing up in a socially oriented family, and community at large was quite an endearing experience. Folks were around almost all the time – aunts and uncles, grandparents, neighbors, cousins, friends – it was a full house. Side effects: Lack of the do-it-yourself (DIY) mindset, at least in my case. Top of that, the availability of efficient and inexpensive labor for household chores made it harder.
Whatever the environment, one of the common reasons for conflict in most homes is about taking (equal) responsibility for the numerous tasks around the house. Thus far, living with my parents, grandparents, siblings, relatives, roommates and now husband, I’ve learned this one thing: Situations and people will be different each time, but there is a simple way of finding balance and joy in doing household work: using gratitude.
Engaging in chores on a daily basis, such as cooking, cleaning, throwing out the trash, and doing the dishes can sometimes feel like a load on yourself and a gift to your spouse/housemates. But it’s not just the division of tasks that’s important, it's how much the other person expresses gratitude towards the work being done.
I think one’s overall personality has a lot to do with this. For instance, some people are more driven to take action and usually have a lesser threshold than others who are not so easily disturbed by things around the house. The cause of conflict then, more often than not would arise from the fact that one person becomes the over-performer and certain jobs are labeled as “hers” or “his”.
Expressing gratitude can help in magical ways. Being thankful for the over-performer, and appreciating the under-performer (no matter how much he or she contributes) could have a mutually positive outcome. Generally speaking, after the first few years of marriage (after the fireworks!) most people typically take their partner’s work around the house for granted. Even if the tasks are well divided and carried out, expressing gratitude for each other’s work–however big or small–brings more sweetness and spunk into the home and the relationship. The same holds true among parents and children, siblings, and roommates.