Yesterday, I picked my daughter up after school, stopped for a few things at the grocery store, got home and asked my BF to take the dog for a walk while I started dinner. I prepared the chicken, put it in the oven and then, while it baked, took the dog for her walk.
Now don’t get in a tizzy, huffing that he is so selfish and inconsiderate. Asking my BF to take the dog out was simply a formality. Part of the chore dance we do. I knew he wouldn’t do it but I had to ask.
Later, my daughter called me on it.
. . . you asked him to take the dog out and then you did it anyway. Why?
Aaah! Chore lines. The time has come to explain chore lines to her. An important life lesson to pass down to my young Grasshopper.
When you start living with someone, a chore chart is generally created. When it’s roommates, the chore chart can (and should) be discussed and an agreement is reached as to who does what. Like who takes out the garbage, who cleans the bathroom, who vacuums etc.
The chore chart creates expectations, fosters responsibility and helps to maintain the order of household.
When you begin living with a significant other – a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, partner – the same kind of chore chart is created but it’s created silently, organically.
As each of you move around the new 2-person environment, territories are marked and chore lines are drawn. It’s a dance.
For example, my BF does all of the laundry. He started doing it the day the new washer and dryer were installed. Personally, I think it started because he likes to play with new toys and he did the laundry accidentally. How it happened doesn’t matter, what matters is that he now owns “laundry”. Of course, it also means that I now own “folding” so I’m not sure I won that one.
But I did win “dinner”! I make all of the meals but he does all of the clean up. Yup! I am able to – nay, I am expected to – finish dinner and then go lie on the sofa in the great room and play with the dog while he cleans up. There is no discussion, no argument, it just happens.
As far as the dog walking goes, it’s not quite as concrete because sometimes it falls to whomever is home at the time it needs to be done.
I explained to my daughter that I take the majority of the dog walking because there are other chores that he does – like taking out the garbage by 7AM and buffing up the stainless steel appliances, things I don’t want to do – that balances it out.
I have also taken to “banking” my dog walking. Yesterday, I walked the dog in the morning and at suppertime so guess who takes the late shift, the 11PM walk? You got it! And there generally isn’t an argument.
Or if there is dog walking and another chore on the table, I will always choose walking the dog. He will do just about anything to get out of walking the dog so he is always positioning it as a bonus that I “get” to walk her.
I’ll shovel the driveway while you walk the dog . . . um, okay!
I’ll put away ALL of the groceries if you want to take the dog out . . . um, okay!
I’ll pack the car if you think she needs one more pee before we go . . . um, okay!
It’s a dance and it’s a win-win most of the time.
The important thing to note, I told my daughter, is that the chore lines are drawn early and usually last for the life of the living arrangement or at least until you move into a new residence when new chore lines need to be drawn. So choose your chores quickly and wisely because it is difficult to negotiate changes later on.
Unless, of course, you get a second chance like we did – a second chance at love and a second chance at chore lines!
I feel it’s important to point out that my BF LOVES our dog. He feeds her, gives her treats, plays with her and cuddles with her all of the time. And he really does like to walk her, he just HATES to stoop and scoop which is why he “encourages” me to do the walking.
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