Why is that? I said he was busy. Are you paying attention? :-)
Last time we went through the magical layoff experience, there was much that wasn't discussed beforehand. It came suddenly. This time, since we had some warning, we were able to reflect on the past, figure out what worked and what didn't, and attempt a plan for this time around. After C started working again, we went right into "let's buy a house," and we never looked back much on what could have been different, because we figured that we'd never be in this situation again. Ha, WRONG!
What needed to change? It all boiled down to this: I couldn't think of C as my personal manservant. Last time, I had the idea that just because he was home all day, he could do 100% of the chores around the condo we were renting, plus the grocery shopping or any errands that needed to be done, ON TOP OF job searching (and later, interviews) and having some personal time to do things that interested him. ALL IN ONE DAY!
That was a huge mistake, and a valuable one to learn early on in marriage. We hadn't even been married 6 months before he got laid off. I shouldn't have done it then, and I could NOT do it this time. For starters, it wasn't fair to him then and definitely wouldn't be fair to do it again. I didn’t realize this until much after the fact, actually until C went back to work, and have since apologized. Another difference is that we have more stuff to care for now, versus then. A house twice as big as the condo. A YARD. A garden!
With the lay off on the horizon, I didn't feel that it was right or fair to work hard all day (and praying that I didn't do anything stupid to either get fired or get hurt and need to take a leave of absence), to then come home and have to do tons of chores when he wasn’t working. I also didn’t want to fight or to take advantage of my husband. I was willing to do work too.
So we set up a new way of doing things. We divided up the chores and errands, cleanly.
- grocery shopping
- meal planning
- trash from house to garage (as needed), then garage to curb on trash night
- laundry--he washes and either puts things in the dryer or hangs them up.
- feeding the cats (he also orders more food when they are low & picks it up from our vet)
- garden master--he is in charge of the garden; I help when needed.
- being home for service people (sort of obvious)
- the triple B's: budget, bills, and banking. Anything to do with money is my turf. I've always done it and I'm better at it ;-) (C will agree!) For us, it makes more sense for one person to have "control" but the other person is still knowledgeable about what's going on.
- making sure all clothes are dried, folded and put away.
- ALL cleaning--except for messes that are made by one's self.
- litter box cleaning
- errand running--Target, post office, wherever. He hates Target and Walmart, and I don't mind doing those things. Plus, I tend to notice more when we're low on something.
- arranging any service appointments, including our cars
- taking our cars in for service. Yeah, I'm sure this is more of a "man" thing to many couples, but the dealership we use is 1 mile from my office. It makes more sense for me to do this.
- Don’t have super high expectations for yourself or for each other. I shouldn’t have crammed in as much work as I was doing before—running to the grocery store after work, coming home, unpacking, throwing a load in the washer, making dinner, cleaning up, then collapsing into bed. I shouldn’t have treated my husband as I did the last time around. It wasn’t intentional, it just sort of happened. Probably because I know how I would be if I was in his shoes. But that’s me—the rabbit who runs around crazy to get everything done. He’s not like that.
- Never take the other person (or their schedule!) for granted. Layoffs are not a vacation, true, but the other person does not suddenly become your slave.
- Don’t assume. Again, just because they are laid off doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a day of fishing or going out with friends. This includes double checking with them before you schedule repairs or appointments.
- Talk about things before you run off with your ideas. This might sound repetitive of “don’t assume” but it’s still a good idea to talk about EVERYTHING. Even if it’s as silly as “I’m going to wash my car on Sunday afternoon.” Maybe the partner who is home all day wants to take you on a fun day trip to spend more time with you :-)
Here’s how things went, most of the time.
- dishes—mostly me
- cooking—depended on the day, but mostly me.
- grocery shopping—either of us, whoever felt like it or had the time, sometimes we’d both go
- meal planning—we’d try to do it together
- trash from house to garage (as needed)—mostly me
- trash from garage to curb on trash night—mostly him, although sometimes I’d do it
- laundry—mostly me
- feeding the cats–him
- being home for service people—we’d try to schedule things on the days where he didn’t have to leave the house until 11. Otherwise, I’d take the day off.
- the triple B's—me
- ALL cleaning—me, but sometimes C would vacuum or clean the bathrooms when he thought it had been too long
- litter box cleaning—me
- errand running—depended on what, but mostly me
- arranging any service appointments, including our cars—me
- taking our cars in for service—me