How to Share the Work and Joy of Your Household
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2010 12 Oct
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Kathy Peel's book The Busy Couple's Guide to Sharing the Work and the Joy, (Picket Fence Press, 2009).
The business of running a household - from doing laundry and dishes to paying bills and planning a family's schedule - is too much for any one person to do alone. If family members don't share the work fairly, unnecessary stress will result and destroy the healthy family life God wants them to enjoy. Everyone who lives in a home should share the work of running a household so that they can also share the joy of experiencing a peaceful life together.
Here's how you can share the work and joy of your household:
Don't keep score. It's unrealistic to expect that your family will ever achieve a perfect balance of with your household's workload, where you and your spouse do an equal percentage of the work while each of your kids also contribute equally. Since life is dynamic, circumstances will change for each of your family members during various seasons, and some of you will be busier than others at different times. Plus, older kids are capable of doing more household tasks than younger ones can do. So instead of trying to achieve an equitable balance of work, aim to simply do the best you can to contribute well to your family's life together at home. Ask God to give you a loving attitude that motivates you to give as much as you can to your family through household work rather than keeping score about what others are or aren't doing to help. Keep in mind that everyone who lives in your home is on the same team, so you all should work together for each other's benefit.
Assign tasks according to giftedness and availability. Housework can be unpleasant, but it has to be done regularly in order for your family to enjoy a healthy home. None of your family members may be interested in tasks such as cleaning floors and toilets and mowing the lawn, but some may be better able to do certain household tasks than others. Also, some family members may have more time at home than other family members do. So rather than assigning household tasks arbitrarily (such as along gender lines), assign them according to who can do what best, and who has time for each task that needs to get done regularly. Someone who suffers from allergies may not be able to mow the lawn well, but if he or she has a talent for dealing with numbers, that person could pay bills and balance the family budget. Someone may not be home often enough to do the grocery shopping regularly, but could help plan menus for family dinners.
Be positive. Ask God to help you stop negative behavior like nagging and criticizing that can undermine the teamwork you're hoping to achieve in your family. Then pray for help to develop positive attitudes about each of your family members and their contributions to your household. Every day, try to catch the people in your family doing something right, and encourage them by letting them know how much you appreciate their work. Stick up for each other during both good and bad times. Be willing to do whatever it takes to serve each other well, demonstrating that you're committed to helping each other succeed as God leads you.
Set goals. Assess what your home environment is currently like, including what household tasks are causing your family stress because they're being neglected or because too much of the work is piled onto one person. Ask God to help you each determine what kind of home you'd like to create and maintain, and why that's important. Keep in mind that different people in your home may have different priorities about what they hope home life will be like and different standards for what constitutes a clean and organized home. Discuss all of this together and then set goals that reflect how your family can best work together to achieve a healthy and enjoyable home environment.
Manage your time and schedule well. Make sure that your family's schedule reflects your priorities. Say "no" to activities that aren't important so you can say "yes" to what matters most. Don't let what's urgent distract you from pursuing what's important, since very moment is a gift from God. Limit the amount of time each of your family members spends with technology at home -such as searching the Internet, plugging into music, watching TV, or texting friends - so you all enough face time with each other to maintain healthy family relationships. Pay attention to the rhythms of your life as you go through various seasons, and prepare yourself for times of extra busyness by planning for them and adjusting your schedule so your family won't suffer too much stress.
Manage your home and property well. Aim for a home that's clean enough to be healthy but dirty enough to be happy. Clean to your family's standards while still maintaining a spirit of fun in your relationships. Simplify by refusing to accumulate more material possessions than you truly need. Teach your kids to do whatever household tasks they're old enough to do rather than acting as their personal maid; responsibility helps them learn valuable skills that will prepare them for living independently.
Manage your menus and meals well. Work together to be able to enjoy nutritious and delicious family meals. Divide up the work of menu planning, grocery shopping, cooking, and cleanup. Arrange your family's schedule so you can all have dinner together at home as many nights as possible, since that's crucial to your family's health.
Manage your relationships with family and friends well. Design your family's schedule so you can protect and nourish important relationships. Devote time regularly to spend with your spouse, each of your kids, and close friends so you can stay connected, care for each other, and help each other do God's will.
Manage your finances well. Develop a financial philosophy to guide your household budget after praying and thinking about what you and your spouse value most in life. Work together to keep track of earnings and expenses regularly. Spend conservatively to avoid debt, and give, save, and invest generously. Model healthy financial practices for your kids.
Manage special events well. Carefully plan special events such as birthdays, Christmas and other holidays, and vacations. Use these special times to enjoy life together and build positive memories.
Manage yourself well. Make time regularly for self-care and personal development so you won't be too depleted physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually to care well for others in your home.
Adapted from The Busy Couple's Guide to Sharing the Work and the Joy, copyright 2009 by Kathy Peel. Published by Picket Fence Press, an imprint of Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Ill., www.tyndale.com.
Kathy Peel is founder and CEO of Family Manager, a company that trains women in the art of family management. Her 21 books have sold more than 2 million copies - the latest of which are The Busy Mom's Guide to a Happy, Organized Home (winner of the 2009 Gold Mom's Choice Award) and Desperate Households. Besides her weekly Family Manager blog on ParentDish, Kathy is AOL's Family Coach, a popular social media guest expert, and on the board of experts for Parenting and InternetSafety.com. You may also find her in FamilyFun, All You, Woman's World, Real Simple, and HomeLife. A keynote speaker and media personality, Kathy has appeared on programs such as Oprah, The Early Show, The Today Show, and HGTV.