This came up in a comment thread on Corporette last week, and I think it’s an interesting question: How do you handle the things that neither you nor your partner want to do? I can see three ways forward:
- Decide the Thing Isn’t Important.
- Decide to Delegate the Thing.
- Decide to Accept a Lowered Standard.
So, for example: We haven’t had a cleaning service on a regular schedule since March 2020. (We tried to reconnect with our old ones after we got vaccinated, but it turned out that they “didn’t see themselves getting vaccinated anytime soon.”) Then we hired a service recommended by a mom friend, and while they did a stunning job cleaning, they “organized” way too much (I still can’t get over the neatly folded pile of new-with-tags clothes to try on, and my husband’s painting clothes.) So we chose not to work with them, and then Delta hit, and now Omicron. Whee.
This is a long way of saying: Our floors haven’t been mopped regularly since March 2020. I don’t want to mop. My husband, as it turns out, also does not want to mop. (We’ve both done it once, and we have a new appreciation for the people who do this on a regular basis!)
So we had a few options here, as noted above:
- Decide it’s not important — it’s not like we’re eating off the floors, riiiight? And we’ve obviously been spot cleaning if there are big messes, as well as sweeping up the dry stuff.
- Delegate it — go through the process of trying out a new cleaning service, yet again (or convince one of our kids to do it).
- Accept a lowered standard — which is what we’ve settled on for the moment by buying a robot mop.
I suppose there are other ways forward — splitting or trading the undesirable task, or agreeing to take sole ownership of Undesirable Task A only if your partner takes sole ownership of Undesirable Task B — but in my marriage I tend to stick with those three responses.
Anyway, I thought it might make an interesting discussion — where has this come up in your partnership, and how did you handle it?
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We’ve been more cautious than most people we know about the pandemic, but we brought our cleaners back in May 2020 as soon as our state’s shelter in place order was lifted. It doesn’t seem like a very high risk activity if everyone is masked and you stay in a different room while they’re cleaning (we are normally in the basement, which they don’t enter) and having a cleaning service is really essential for our sanity. You could add additional layers of safety by opening windows or requiring them to be vaccinated (although the latter probably has limited value now), but we didn’t do either. Even my elderly parents with multiple health conditions brought their cleaners back before they were vaccinated.
To answer the question posed, I don’t think there are any tasks we both hate except deep cleaning, which we outsource. Generally I do more emotional/unseen labor (like managing doctor’s appointments, clothes shopping, reading parenting) and he does more physical/visible labor, including cooking dinner most nights we don’t order in, although I definitely do more tidying up because I care more. It aligns with our interests and abilities pretty well.
I need a way to do this because my DH and I both suck at vacation planning… anyone have tips on how to outsource? (travel agent?)
Travel agent. Steal a great travel planner’s ideas from their previous vacations. Vacation lovers love sharing their tips and plans, and you just copy all the good ones! Plan less for vacations. Look into a condo/time-share rental near you — one where you can ideally leave some essentials/spare clothes, and just bring a small bag for a weekend trip, preferably one with a nearby grocery store so you can just buy food there, cook for yourselves, but still get a change of scenery! I’m in the midwest, and someone we know has a time share/condo at a ski resort. Beautiful beach and pool access in summer, winter skiing/hot tubs, etc. Seems easy, and has no maintenance like a cottage.
Yep, travel agent if you want a professional. I second the advice about asking friends whose vacations you envy if they will share planning details. We have had my parents and some friends copy several of our trips and I find it flattering and am always happy to share planning spreadsheets. I also agree with keeping it simple. To be honest, since kids, our vacation “planning” mostly consists of choosing a destination and a hotel and buying plane tickets. We rarely book any tours or museums or anything in advance because kids are unpredictable. I will read a guidebook and get a general idea of things we might do if we have time, but I’m also ok with just relaxing and soaking up the city or nature. In the Caribbean we try to choose resorts with on-site restaurants within walking distance of nice snorkeling beaches and often don’t leave the resort. In Europe, we don’t spend nearly as much time in the hotel, but we do a lot of just walking around the city, enjoying parks and playgrounds and trying new food, and not nearly as many museums or day trips to surrounding towns as I did in my pre-kid days. I’m ok if I don’t hit every touristy must-see in the city or country – that’s just not the phase of life we’re in right now.