Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Scheduling Woes

Moxie had a post today about work schedules for freelancing parents. This is absolutely not relevant for us, but got me thinking about some scheduling issues we've been having lately. For the most part, Hubby and I have a pretty equitable division of labor around the house. We both have chores that we tend to do more than the other one. I, for instance, almost always pack Pumpkin's food for day care. Hubby almost always takes out the trash. I try to do some baking so that we have homemade bread for Pumpkin (from the breadmaker, so don't get too impressed) and some other homemade goodies to try to get her to eat (so far, she like oatmeal cookies, but is unimpressed with scones). Hubby does the yardwork, because I have allergies and asthma and would be sick all weekend if I tried to do it. I also like to bake, and Hubby likes to garden. So it all sort of works out.

No one really likes to clean, so we try to split those chores. The parent who is not doing Pumpkin's bath and bedtime routine cleans up the kitchen. Periodically, one of us cleans the bathrooms while the other cleans the floors.

We also have a big shared "to do" list for the bigger chores. We keep this in Google Docs, because we are geeks and because I often add to it at work if something comes to mind. Every now and then, we look at the to do list and divide up the most important items. For instance, right now, my number one priority is figuring out our estate planning needs, and Hubby's number one priority is creating a space for a compost bin in the backyard. This also works relatively well.

What hasn't been working so well is the scheduling of the chores. Our cleaning routine has led to some seriously dirty floors and annoying weekends in which we spend all of Pumpkin's nap times cleaning, so we are now going to try a new system where the non-bedtime spouse does some chores two nights a week (one for each of us). We'll see how that works. We were going to start it last week, but postponed it when I got so sick.

The scheduling of the big chores is even more of a problem. Hubby's chores tend to involve physical labor, and need to be done during daylight hours. My chores tend to involve researching things on the internet and/or filling out forms, and could theoretically be done after Pumpkin goes down for the night. This has led to an arrangement where Hubby does his chores during the day on one or both of the weekend days, while I watch Pumpkin. I enjoy the time with Pumpkin, but it is tiring, so by the time she is in bed at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is think about my chores. The end result is that Hubby's to do list is getting shorter, but mine isn't really budging. We had a big talk about this a couple of weekends ago, and we carved out some time for me to finish the research I needed to do on wills and trusts (I basically learned enough to decide we needed to talk to a lawyer, which we did today). So my list is mobile again. We'll see how long that lasts.

I think the fundamental problem is that we haven't really accepted how much less we can get done now, compared to our super efficient pre-Pumpkin days, so we are both striving to meet some unrealistic ideal level of to do list clearance. We really need to let that go. I'm hoping that by coming up with a set amount of "chores" time each week, we'll free ourselves to enjoy some of our weekend time a bit more. Pumpkin likes to go to the zoo and the bay, and we want to try taking her to the beach, too. We need to include these fun things in our schedule, too!

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