Splitting up home chores

A friend of mine was recently talking about how she splits up various household chores with her husband, and so I’ve been thinking about it myself. I thought I’d share it here because it’s interesting to me how different things work for different people. To give you an idea of how long we’ve been working on our own balance of chores: Husband and I have been living together for 3.5 years but have only had our own apartment and the chores that go with that for 2 and a half years. And we’ve been married for a year and change :-D.

For Husband and I, it’s always a bit hard to tell if we’re splitting work equally, because we both tend to consider not only effort but pleasure or nuisance level as well, and our individual perceptions of that are not straightforward. So instead of just saying “You spend x hours and I spend y hours and they’re even (or not)” we look at how much we like or dislike those hours.

With cleaning, this has led to an imbalance in hours spent because Husband has a much lower cleanliness threshold than I do. It’s hard to make him clean a room constantly and in a timely manner when I can tell the disorderliness doesn’t disturb him at all. So I settle for asking him to help clean up sometimes, when it reaches a level that I dislike, and he doesn’t mind, although sometimes he’ll ask to do it later in the day. It’s like that for lots of chores – I can get him to split cleaning the dishes (no dishwasher) with me, but it requires that I not mind them sitting there for up to a day. Sometimes, I just feel like I don’t mind it as much – I don’t always see it as a nuisance (sometimes I even find it a bit relaxing), so why should I make him do it when it’s clear he really dislikes it? So I guess we maybe split the dishes like 10% him 90% me in the long run, unless I’m going through a stressful time and ask him to help with it more.

However, he does help out with things that he doesn’t enjoy doing. We don’t have laundry in our building so we drop it off a few blocks away and pick it up the next day or two. We agree for him to do it because neither of us likes it but it requires lugging a heavy cart up two flights of stairs on the way back.  He always makes the phone calls (deliveries, bill pay issues, troubleshooting, etc) and takes the trash out (down the stairs and around the building into the alley…fun).

He never cooks dinner for us both (maybe once a year he’ll make a tortilla pizza that he gets into), but I don’t cook when I don’t want to. He either makes himself something simple (his menu options are usually: ravioli; beans, cheese, tortillas; cereal and milk) or orders food. He’s a creature of habit so this is good enough for him. He never asks me what’s for dinner, and genuinely treats it as a special thing when I do make dinner, even when I do it as often as 2 or 3 times a week. But the rest of the time we just take care of ourselves for food. Sometimes if he wants something and I only sort of want it, I’ll agree to make it if he keeps me company in the kitchen, but he doesn’t help cook. We just talk while I do the work.

So our cake-cutting algorithm has led us to this, for most household chores: It likely won’t get done if I don’t ask for it to be done. Sometimes it’s done better and faster if I do it myself (cleaning bathroom, floors, dishes; cooking). But, he always acknowledges the work that I do, and would never, ever ask me to do any of it because he wanted it done. He says thanks when I do different things around the house, and I make sure to do the same for him, even when they’re small things. (i.e. Thanks sweetie for remembering to refill the ice cube trays!) This definitely helps us to avoid feeling unappreciated.

My point is, if you just look at what he does and what I do with regards to cooking and cleaning, it would seem uneven. But, we talk about it often enough, and he takes on some chores I don’t enjoy and runs various errands for us both. We’ve tried out arrangements where he did higher amounts of housework, but I was constantly being the household manager and it just didn’t feel right to me because it was adding stress. He always appreciates when I do do things and never minds or asks about them when I don’t do them, so up to now, this has worked for me.

A big thing is we don’t have kids yet, so who knows what will happen then?!

What is your household chore split up like, or if you live alone, what would you think is acceptable?

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Safety….or lack thereof

There is now a sign on the outside of our apartment building bearing the symbol of the NYC Police Dept, with a clip-art picture of a cat burglar, warning us that there have been numerous apartment break-ins recently in the area and that tenants should be extra careful and reported any suspicious activity to 911.  We found this sign the day after one of our packages which had been left outside our apartment door (which they are NOT supposed to do) was opened when I found it.  Good thing it happened to be the package with the $10 cake caddy instead of the much more exciting video games that we are expecting to be delivered.  This was not the first time a package had merely been left on our doorstep – even those that require a signature are sometimes merely left outside our door or with a random neighbor whom we’ve never met.  But this was the first time that our suspicion, that this wasn’t safe here, was confirmed.  And then the very next day I see the sign on the building’s door. Lovely.  Perhaps we’d better start looking for some renter’s insurance, so at least we’ll be insured against theft.

A strong desire…

So lately I’ve really been wanting a baby.  I’ve written about this before; it’s been particularly strong this month.  I think one reason might be because they refilled my birth control prescription with a different generic brand, and even though it’s supposed to all be the same, they do have different effects sometimes.  I’ve been having various unwell feelings all month (like nausea, sweating, and headaches) that can be explained by hormonal changes, so I suspect that this brand is affecting me.

In addition to the feeling that hormones are really affecting my body, a new couple-friend whom I met last spring and kept in touch with all summer is having a baby.  Like right now, as we speak.   I visited their apartment earlier this week, and when I walked into the bedroom and saw the empty crib and the baby swing and other stuff all ready for the baby’s arrival, I felt so emotional that tears came to my eyes.  Lately I think about what a wonderful father Husband will be and what a wonderful mommy I will be, and I just can’t wait to bring a little being into the world, our little being.

We are, of course, far from being able to afford it right now, as we are in more debt than just credit-card at the moment.  I get a stipend payment in September, and I shall be using it to pay overdue rent and rent for the whole semester too, so that will eat up most of the check.  Still, as depressing as it is to barely see the money, it’s good that it is enough to pay both our back rent and our rent through December, so we will feel much better once that is taken care of.  Living in NYC and a fairly minimal life, the rent is by far our largest expense.  All week I have been visiting and talking to new students who have just moved into apartments through the campus housing office, and although their apartments are cheap for the neighborhood, I can’t help but feel that since we struggle to pay our rent out here in our burrough of the city, we just couldn’t have afforded a one bedroom on campus.  Our rent is only 2/3rd that of the average rent for a one bedroom through campus housing, which in itself is probably only 3/4 of the rent of a one bedroom in the neighborhood that isn’t through campus housing.  Ah, to live in NYC.

Painting

Well, the bedroom is almost finished painting. Yesterday I painted a lot – I finished the trim, but ran out of trim paint for the last 3 cubic feet on the door. Then I got to painting the walls – 1/4 of them were still white, the rest needed more coats of paint. So now half the room is completely done, with 3 coats of the paint. We used Raspberry Truffle from Benjamin Moore. I actually used the new Aura paint, but that was because when I first went in, the salesperson told me that it was so good I didn’t need primer and I only needed one coat. He also sold me only one gallon even though I was sure I’d need more, because he said it goes on the walls so thin. I was skeptical, but he assured me, and so I took it and left. Well, 2 more gallons later and I’m out of paint and need more again. Moral of that story? Don’t believe salespeople when they make outrageous claims about how good the new paint is. One thin coat? Hah. Took 3 coats on each wall, and as I’m about out of paint again and not finished, in the end it’ll be about 3.5 gallons of paint for the whole room. My original calculations were that I’d need 3 gallons of paint plus tinted primer, so I guess in amount this isn’t that different, but the Aura is expensive and it’s been annoying that they keep telling me “No, you’ll only need this one gallon, more than that would be overkill” and then I have to make another trip to the store to get more paint, and if I had bought it all at once, it would have been mixed all into one container to ensure that the paint color exactly matches for the whole thing.

Here’s a picture of a corner that is finished, with part of the door in the picture, which is just about finished:

One thing to note, however, is that the amount of light in the picture is not the same as is naturally in the room; I had the lights on AND the flash, so the paint looks brighter than it actually appears in the normal lighting in the room. Still, you can see the walls are nice and even now. Once the furniture and other decorations are added, I’m pretty sure it will look awesome! (I was going to say it’ll be the best room in the apartment, but as this is a 1-bedroom, that’s not saying much.)

Painting

Well I haven’t posted in a few days, including over the weekend. One of the reasons is because I’ve been very busy painting the walls of our bedroom. I had never painted a room before so it’s been an interesting experience. I’m not done yet though, because I’ve been taking only a little at a time – like 3-5 hours a day. I did the ceiling, the walls above the above molding, the upper molding, and the window frame. Now all that’s left is the walls and the molding by the floor, and the door and door frame. It should be easier now though because I won’t need the stepladder nearly so much, maybe only for cutting in by the top molding. So far it looks pretty good, but I am looking forward to the whole room being done and getting the furniture, so we can see how it looks when it’s not so empty.

It’s been a rough week overall. Not that things have been going badly; they are about the same. But I’ve been very down. Yesterday I cried like three times, and it’s basically for no good reason. But it was really emotional crying, like I could have just choked on the depth of emotion, the depth of sadness, that I was feeling. It really hasn’t been much fun, but Husband has been a great companion to help me through the feelings.

I won’t be posting much this week as I’m going to visit people for the 4th of July and the rest of the week. Happy 4th of July to my American blogging friends!

Cleaned some more

So I took Saturday to try and finish more of the cleaning that I had on my list of things to do. Last weekend after my post I did finish cleaning the bedroom, moved everything out and washed the floor – went over it multiple times, because hey, how often do I bother to remove everything from the room before washing the floor? Then I put things back in the room in a neater, more manageable manner. It looks so much better, and Husband and I agree that the room seems more relaxing now. Even the cat thought so! Fluffy was found napping on the mattress shortly after the room was cleaned, which wasn’t her favorite place to nap before. I had finished cleaning the kitchen as well, so there were only two rooms left. I did all the dishes in the sink and began the unpacking of some of the boxes of things we had from the last time my mom visited when she brought wedding shower gifts from last fall. One of these was a box full of dishes, matching the other box we’d gotten earlier, both as gifts. I registered for two boxes of these dishes because a) I wanted a set for at least 6 but it was for 4, and b) I know I’m a clumsy person and pieces will break. I’d rather not have the whole set be lacking when I break a piece or two, so extra matching dishes seemed like a good idea. The box, which had been shuttled around a lot through multiple states, had not been enough to protect all the dishes, and some of them were broken in the box. Kind of a bummer, but we still have 6 total small plates and all 8 big plates, so really it’s not so bad. And it was nice to have the extra space back!

This past weekend I emptied out the remaining boxes of things, and I moved the stuff around in the living room and cleaned the floor. There was so much dirt! It looks a lot nicer in here now as well, but I still need to clean the curtains and blinds. And of course, in the whole apartment, I want to add more decorations. In particular, I take a LOT of pictures, and I’d like to have some printed and framed and decorate the apartment mostly with art and photographs that were done by me or my Husband. This will be fairly cheap but I would like to use nice frames, etc, so it won’t be the cheapest thing I could do.

Another note: I’ve discovered washing things by hand in my bathtub and hanging them to dry in my living room. As it turns out, this is really handy for when we haven’t gotten to the laundromat and don’t have the cash to have it all washed anyhow. I’m out of the necessary clothings and so I washed a handful by hand, and they are drying now. Problem solved, and for no money at all!