Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Hour of Power

Amazing things can happen in our homes when we all work together for the good of the family. I wrote yesterday about our weekend date and the cleaning overhaul that proceeded it. For the purpose of this post, I'll refer to it as the "hour of power."

Maintaining a relatively tidy home takes a lot of discipline and concentrated effort several times a day, several days a week. If your husband is home on Saturday, as mine is, you can talk in advance about the idea of taking an "hour of power" on Saturday, where everyone works hard for that hour, finding things to do and doing them. When the hour is up, you're all done. Work stops, Saturday fun begins, and the house is more enjoyable for the rest of the day--maybe not perfect, but definitely better than what it was before.

A few tips for getting your husband on board:
First of all, stress that you're only asking for an hour--not the whole day. Help him imagine all the positive results from having everyone in the family work together to clean for that hour.

Second, I love what Sheila Wray Gregoire writes in To Love, Honor, and Vacuum. She says,
"The way we phrase our requests can go a long way in determining whether they will be honored. When asking for help, be brief and very specific...When we women ask for something, we tend to justify our request to show that we are not being selfish in our asking. This works fine with other women, but for men it may backfire."

For example, you say "The faucet's leaking again. I don't know how to fix it, and it's driving me crazy. Can you fix it before the weekend?"

He hears, "Why didn't you fix it right the first time? How could you even imagine you could go out with friends and leave me and the kids here this weekend with a leaky faucet?"

Solution: Say point-blank, "Would you mind fixing the faucet tonight?"
So don't give all the reasons and extra information, like "I'm just having a real hard day with the kids, and I'm really tired, so I would really appreciate if you could please load the dishwasher for me tonight after dinner." I think our husbands sometimes tune out all the extra information (or they think it sounds whiney, which is a turn-off). Just ask directly if your husband could please help you load the dishwasher after dinner. If you ask sweetly, with a smile on your face, I'm sure he will be much more inclined to help (especially if he thinks his hard work will pay off later...)

With kids, it's similar, but also different. We have got to be training them from the youngest of ages that when we work on chores, their help is expected. That way they grow up understanding that when the family goes to work, they work alongside Mom and Dad.

Time for the kids and I to take a power hour in the kitchen!

Do you already use this idea in your family? If not, do you think it could help?

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