Jun 26The Honey Do List

We’ve all heard the jokes and seen the bits on sitcoms about men and the “honey-do” lists that their wives give them. “Fix the roof” “Clean the garage” “Put gas in the car” etc. But lately I’ve noticed a shift towards women having a never ending list of tasks instead. And yes, I know, it’s not news that a lot of women complain that even though they have a full time job outside of the home, they still bear the brunt of mommy and household chores. In fact, in most two working parent homes it is the woman who returns home first at the end of the day, to take over primary care giving duties from the grandparent/nanny/daycare or school that assumed that role between nine and five (or eight and six, seven and seven …. )

In this day and age, I like to think most men are stepping up to the plate and partnering in a way they might not have say, ten or twenty years ago. My husband for instance, is an amazing partner and co-parent and does as much as he possibly can. But the fact still remains the fact: I physically am in our home during the day and so I have more to do. Laundry needs to get done? Even if he puts it in the machine before he leaves, I am the one who moves it along its journey back to our drawers. Make sure we have food for dinner? Me. Food for Sara? Me. Arrange for the AC guys to come and investigate that strange noise? Me. Snacks and diaper bag packed for the outing to the park? Me. Again, I am not trying to bash my sweetie in any way – he does a lot when he is here, and does what he can from his office. But my “honey do list” contains items that MUST happen, even if it is at the expense of my own work. Pressing deadlines aside, how do I balance an average work day with the demands of the house? Especially on the food front. It’s one thing for Gary and I to order take out if I don’t get a chance to get to the store, but for Sara it’s not so simple.

Some of it is a problem of my own making; if I was a better meal planner, perhaps I would have menus for the entire week determined early enough to go grocery shopping on Sunday and be set, except for a few items here and there. This would help, and is something I am working on (more on this effort in a subsequent post).  I suspect though, that there would still be numerous items on my list taking me away from work, or god forbid, a rare moment to myself (and those groceries aren’t going to prep and cook themselves, are they?). Between my wife/mom duties and work, I feel guilty taking time to, for instance, go to the gym. I know intellectually this is crazy, that a healthy mom/wife is a better mom/wife, but still, with such limited hours in the day, things for me inevitably are the things that get sacrificed.

A typical day can go like this: drop off at preschool, pick up coffee (grounds, not a cup) and stop at the dry cleaners, home to check emails and do some work for Client A, back to school for pick up, Sara’s lunch and nap, off to a meeting with Client B, pick up some groceries, back home for a little more work time, sitter leaves so play with Sara and make her dinner, then do our dinner prep while Gary and Sara play, her bath and bed routine, take a quick breath then make our dinner, finally collapse on the couch. Whew. The result is that I end many days feeling like I did a little bit of this, a little bit of that, but that I am not spending enough time on any one thing to feel like I accomplished something. And my head is spinning!

Some moms who work in a corporate environment, who are in an office all day and must get their “chores” done in the evenings and on weekends likely don’t have much sympathy. I get that, but I would answer that my choice about my working environment is just as valid as theirs, and each choice has it’s pros and cons. Yes, I have the “privilege” of arranging my time so that I can grocery shop at 1:00 in the afternoon, but I don’t as often get the satisfaction of really having done something work wise. Don’t get me wrong, I get my work done, and it’s good stuff, it just tends to be done more disjointedly than if I was in an office, working in a more focused fashion for the bulk of the day.

Am I alone in this struggle? And if not, anyone have any great ideas on handling the work from home mom’s to do list while still staying sane?