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Dear Carolyn: My partner is great at doing his fair share, or even more, of the three daily tasks: dishes, laundry and the kids’ bath time (toddler and preschooler). He sucks at cleaning up after himself and the kids and all nondaily tasks. All the little things necessary to keep a household running fall on me, like play dates, haircuts, vet appointments, finances, calling service people, refilling paper towels. Also, we would never spend any time alone together if I didn’t plan it.

Sometimes he thanks me and recognizes some of the things I do, but it hasn’t sunk in that it actually takes my time and brain space to do all of the things. I spend all my time dealing with those things, my share of the daily stuff, doing child care or working on my master’s degree. If I’m lucky, I get 30 minutes a week to talk with my sister or dad while chasing kids, but that is all the socialization I get. I don’t even have time to shower every day. I’m so tired.

My partner has time for playing on his computer and watching shows because he spends his non-child-care time on himself instead of the stuff that needs to get done.

How can I get my life back? How can I stop resenting that he gets hobbies and I don’t? How can I reconnect with my family and friends without time to actually do so? I’m drowning.

Tired: If you don’t “get” socialization or hobbies or a life under current conditions, then you have to take them. You both need this.

I say this knowing there are times we can’t just take things for ourselves in good conscience, sure. When both parents are scrambling full-time-plus to keep things running, for example, or when taking them would deprive your kids of something essential, or when you’re the solo parent, you can’t just peace out and leave.

But if your husband has time in his day for TV-and-computering, and if some of your corners are cuttable — and if the advanced-degree timetable can stretch — then you can take some hobbies. And a shower, I swear.

The magic bank from which you are withdrawing this personal time has three sources: 1. A shorter and more efficient household to-do list. 2. A longer schedule for non-urgent tasks. 3. A more balanced redelegation of responsibilities.

You refer to your share of the daily stuff. You say your partner is great at the daily stuff. Great! Then he can do more of it, lessening your “share” to account for the nondaily stuff of which your share is apparently 100 percent.

Don’t just declare this to him, though. Plan your way to it, together. Start by having each of you write down all the jobs the other does. Go over them together, fill in what you missed. Discuss time requirements. See the scope of it, don’t just feel it.

But first, both of you read this comic so you’re both awake to the costs and nuances. And this one, too. They are gendered and you don’t indicate yours, but they hit the bull’s eye on unbalanced domestic workloads.

Then discuss whether anything on the list can be dropped, streamlined, postponed, automated, outsourced, stretched out on a longer schedule.

Then talk about who does and doesn’t mind each chore, what aligns with whose interests and talents, who is realistically available, who can knock them out while enjoying some pleasant something else, like music, TV, calls. Talk about things you can split: One of you schedules the vet/haircut/service appointments, the other follows through. Etc.

With your now I-certainly-hope-mutual understanding of what is fair: Distribute all the chores onto his-and-yours lists — and agree each of you is the CEO of each item. No waiting to be asked/told/reminded.

Finished? Great. Look each other in the eye to make sure neither of you walks away from this session with hard feelings or unexpressed frustrations.

Then: Agree to a daily hard-stop time — one hour after kiddie bedtime, say — where you roll unfinished items over to tomorrow, or into a last big push you do together. After which you both take breathing time and/or cry in the bathtub.

Any surprise free time in the day is yours. If only one of you ever has free time, discuss, rebalance.

And: Declare one night your date night, as soon as the CEO of sitter-finding finds the weekly sitter. Alternate weeks as the date planner.

For all this to work, you’ll need deep trust in each other to: have matching definitions of necessity, work efficiently vs. slow-walking chores, communicate, take personal time without abusing it, address anger vs. venting it through chores, and never be comfortable watching the other overwork. Never again, at least.

The rut you’ve described reaches society-wide and generations deep. If you’re able to blame the rut more than you blame each other, and work together to get out of it, and commit to rebuilding your tattered intimacy through mutual unselfishness, then that’s the best chance you’ve got. Not to mention great for your kids to see.

#Advice #Carolyn #Hax #Overwhelmed #parent #resents #partner #takes #time

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