(ThyBlackMan.com) Are you and your mate at wits’ end about how to accomplish everything your family needs done each day? Do you irritate each other over housework and parenting duties? Are you dropping balls because there just aren’t enough hours in the day? Maybe it’s time to bring in some reinforcements.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. My brother would argue that having a village is useful for all sorts of things. He has always been quick to hire someone to do whatever he needs done – at home, at work or anywhere in between. If he could, he would pay someone to exercise for him. Until recently, I would have vehemently disagreed. I believed that raising my children and running my home were my responsibility and that this “do it
While I am capable of doing whatever needs to be done at home (e.g., cooking, washing dishes, helping the children with homework, mowing the lawn, etc.), I don’t always have the time or the desire to do all of these things. This is an issue that plagues many relationships. There never seems to be enough hours in a day for everything that we, as individuals and as couples, want to see get done. So, when we’re busy or don’t feel like doing something, we often try to motivate or guilt our mates into doing it. It’s manipulative, sure. But I have done it, had it done to me, and watched other couples do it to each other – often leading to frustration, bitterness and even fighting.
Finally, it dawned on me that if I don’t want to do something, and my mate doesn’t either, I have three options that are not manipulative or unfair to her. I can suck it up and do it myself, without giving her any attitude about it. I can be forthright about my disinterest in performing this chore and ask her to do it, without making up reasons why she “should.” Or I can get over my pride and bring in a third party.
I recently took my first step towards letting the village help when I hired someone to tutor my three-year-old son – a bright, young man who spent too much time watching TV and playing on the computer. So, rather than waiting for him to start school, I began teaching him for an hour every evening. It went well, over all. I had to curb my frustration at times when presenting a concept and I had to be patient with him when he got irritated with Dad for interrupting his TV time. But he loved the praise for doing a “good job” and really benefitted from the basic, at-home instruction.
At some point, I became less enthusiastic about this routine. I was regularly working late, and my plan wasn’t coming together as I wished. I asked my wife to help, but she does most of the cooking in our home and was already very busy during the evenings. I considered playing the guilt-card and appealing to her maternal pride, pointing out how she could make a difference in our son’s academic life. But having realized that this is not how a Powerful Person in a Partnership behaves, I instead suggested that we brainstorm about how to keep his mind churning without killing ourselves.
We decided to enlist the help of an older student in the neighborhood. He is fourteen years old, and we pay him to come to our home each evening, sit with our son for an hour (while the missus is cooking), and go over the lessons I plan for them. The money that we pay him each day is a small price to pay for improving our son’s education without adding additional stress to us … or our marriage.
So far, my son’s tutoring is the only family responsibility we have outsourced, but this strategy would work just as well for other household tasks. If money is an issue, consider bartering. Pick up your neighbor’s kids from school in exchange for him cutting your lawn when he mows his. Or let a friend who doesn’t have a washing machine and dryer use your’s in exchange for doing your laundry too. You might find yourself amazed at how your needs align with those of the people around you … if you inquire. Get on Craig’s List; pass out flyers in your neighborhood; send out e-mails; put an ad in your local newspaper. You (and your relationship) may be very glad that you did.
Staff Writer; Frank Love
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