...because we all have our motley moments!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Criticism Gets You...More Housework

Saturdays are great for getting housework and yardwork done. Much as we'd love to go into our weekend with a clean house, we just haven't figured out how to achieve it during the work week. I always end up with a pretty messy house by Friday. So now you know what we're doing today.

But there's something I'm not doing today. Maria’s post on Wednesday inspired me to share a little secret with my Motley friends: My husband does all of the laundry around here. All of it. Occasionally, I will surprise him and move a load from the washer to the dryer, or even from the dryer to our bedroom where we sit and fold at night (while watching TV). But I rarely have to do a whole load, from start to finish, myself. It’s wonderful.

It wasn’t always, though. A few years ago, maybe even before we had children, if Paul did a load of laundry, I always had some criticism, or, as I like to call them, “help points.” As in, “I think there are too many clothes in the washer. If we put too many in there, they won’t agitate properly and they won’t get clean.” Or, “It helps to check the clothes before they go into the dryer. If something stains them in the washer, the stain will just set in when it dries" (this usually as we folded a load of pink socks, underwear, and towels, plus a red sock).

I also had a lot of rules about what could be dried in the dryer and what could not: bras need to hang-dry, my wool sweater lays flat, and that nice shirt with the diamond buttons is dry-clean only.” Funny thing is, I ended up doing most of the laundry when I criticized and nit-picked.

These days, I’ve learned that I’d rather wear only the things that can be washed AND dried and let Paul handle the laundry. I also try to be very cautious about criticizing when he helps around the house. Sometimes it’s hard because I know how I like things done. I’ve developed systems over the years since I’ve been lucky enough to stay home with our children. Sometimes stupid little things grate on me: I open the bag of diapers from the top so I can pull them out of the bag by the fold. He opens the bag (without fail) by ripping open the bottom so that the diapers have to be yanked out by their tops, usually pulling several others along with them and/or tearing the little tabs off in the process. Will I say anything? NO WAY. He’s doing it his way and he’s getting the job done. It’s worth a few casualties along the way (I’m talking diapers, not kids). And I love that he’s pitching in and giving it his best.

He knows I appreciate the help, and now I can even gently remind him (at the beginning of sweater season) which sweaters dry flat. Offered as information, rather than criticism, he takes it in stride and tries to remember before it all goes in the dryer. And again, if I end up with a doll-size sweater from the Gap, my kids will be thrilled and I will gladly stow it in the doll case with minimal grumbling (I'll try really hard to supress it!)…a small price to pay for never having to do the laundry.


Maria said...

Wow! I would not complain either. Mark will do the laundry too... when he runs out of boxers and socks!

Pam said...

How funny! I had to learn the lesson of complaining too. My biggest nag - my husband's vacuuming. He would get so close to our fringed throw rugs. We finally agreed that I would not watch him vacuum. It was best for everyone!

Donna said...

That's funny, Pam! It's probably better to just appreciate the finished product and not question how the end is achieved! The fringe may end up frayed, but you'll have clean, dust-free carpets and one less thing on your to-do list!

Liz said...

I'm sorry Donna this has nothing to do with your post but I have to tell Karly that I just ran into your MIL and nephew in Times Square! Small world indeed.

Karly said...

Unbelievable!! What are the chances!! I hope you are staying warm on this very COOOOLD weekend in the City! Have fun!

Donna, You are a lucky lady!! You definitely shouldn't complain! Although I have a hard time not correcting my husband too. This morning my husband dressed our two year old. He put on short sleeves. The high today is 30 degrees. I made a comment. He said, "I never do it right. I guess I won't help dress the kids." I should have just said thank you, honey. And let our son be the one to complain if he was cold.

Jason and Fawnda said...

My husband also does the laundry, but it was because he was criticizing me and I wasn't washing his dress shirts right. Finally he took to whole thing over and we have never gone back. We have an agreement that he does the laundry and I do the dishes and so far it works out great! It is wonderful that he is so helpful!

Donna said...

Unbelievable coincidence, Liz and Karly!

As for the criticism: Sometimes I have to bite my tongue so hard I swear I taste pennies...but I'm always glad I held back. You're right, Karly, the situation will often present itself if there's a problem. I mean, that's how we have managed to figure everything out. If we deprive our guys of that same trial and error process, it robs them of the opportunity to develop their own way of doing things and leaves them at a disadvantage.

Fawnda, it sounds like you two have a great arrangement going. I do the dishes throughout the day, but my husband will do them after dinner, since I've already spent the evening in the kitchen creating the meal. Every few days or so he gets behind and I'll have a mess to clean up in the morning, but it usually works out pretty well.