A Task or a Favor?

Unless you live alone, you probably have tasks or chores in your home that are divided up as to which ones get done by which person, and those may or may not vary.  In some households, certain chores are considered women’s work while others are thought of as a man’s job, and some people have difficulty crossing the lines.  In other households, there is not as much of a distinction.  I know a few stay-at-home dads and other men who are not hesitant to clean bathrooms, mop floors, do laundry, or cook, and I also know women who do more of the handy work around the house and are not afraid to use power tools, snow blowers, or drive tractors.  However you divvy them up, you may or may not be seeing tasks or chores the same way as others in your household.

What I mean by that is that some people like myself see dishes, laundry, raking, shoveling, taking out the garbage, and so many other things as tasks that need to get done, and whoever is available or capable of doing them is free to and should chip in and help whenever they can.  I do not have tasks that I claim as mine that I don’t like other people to do.  I’m happy to have the help if anyone else is willing, and I am happy to get whatever done that I am capable of doing, with few exceptions.  I prefer to not cut the grass, not because I think it’s a man’s job, but because I very much dislike the smell of freshly cut grass, especially when combined with sweat and gasoline.  I do, however, enjoy raking and don’t mind shoveling.  I do all of the indoor tasks (with some help doing dishes and cooking) and will do some of the outdoor stuff such as pruning bushes, watering the lawn, and weeding.  I like to paint as well and always help with those projects, sometimes doing much of the work myself.

Perhaps you see tasks the same way I do, or perhaps you view some as not your responsibility and if you happen to do them, then you are doing someone else in the house a personal favor by doing their job for them.  I believe my husband sees certain tasks in this manner, and I know others who do as well.  I think that’s fine as long as when you do them, you are doing them to be helpful without being resentful and are not expecting a favor or a big fanfare in return.  Otherwise, unless you are lucky enough to live with a really thoughtful and appreciative person, you are just setting yourself up for frustration and more resentment when you don’t get the recognition and/or reward that you are expecting.  I would hope that if you see tasks in this fashion and someone else does something that would be considered your responsibility, that you are not stingy on showing your appreciation and reward that person in the same way you would expect to be.

I do think the best model to set for your kids is a team approach where everyone chips in either with or without assigned tasks and without defining things as women’s or men’s work.  And I believe that should include the kids as they get old enough to help with smaller tasks such as setting or clearing the table or helping with garbage and eventually moving up to bigger responsibilities such as raking and shoveling or mowing the lawn.  Whether or not they receive an allowance for doing these things is a whole separate topic.  Learning a variety of skills will only be helpful later in life, if and when you live alone, so you don’t have to depend on too many other people to do things for you.  And I think you will have a better chance of not getting into disagreements with a partner later in life or feel resentment towards them if you don’t have such rigid definitions of who should do what tasks, should you end up with someone who does not have the same expectations.  The more flexible and open minded you are, the easier it is to work together.

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2 thoughts on “A Task or a Favor?

  1. Actually in our house all of those “tasks” had become my job. One day, though, I decided that I wouldn’t “pick up” the kitchen table (where everything gets thrown) and the living room (where everyone sits). Sadly, the experiment proved what I already knew. That I was the only one who was willing to pick up/throw out any “mess” that I encountered (whether it was my own or not). I’m not sure I’m quite happy with that….but it is what it is. One day my kids will be on their own and either they will live in squalor or they will “eventually” pick it up.

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    • Yes, it’s too easy to get used to having someone else do these things for you and take that for granted. I understand kids having that mentality, but adults should know better. All the more reason to have both parents model the “everyone should chip in” scenario. Hopefully, the kids learn it eventually and take that into their relationships.

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