“Island In The Sun” – Weezer
“It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” – REM
You might recall that on one of the not-so-good days of my recent Moab trip, I had the opportunity to do some hard thinking about my stress levels and the life responsibilities I carry that are major contributors to my stress. I realized that I regularly shoulder the burden of four main areas of responsibility for our family (outside of my career).
Financial Management (balance the accounts, budgeting, pay the bills, plan ahead)
Dependent Management(manage Bart schedule and schooling affairs, supervise activities and transportation, discipline, animal care and feeding)
Food Management (cooking, meal planning, grocery shopping)
Housework (cleaning, maintenance, laundry, entertainment planning, garbage)
If you do the math, this is how my 168 hours (24 hours/day) in a week are divided:
56 hours sleeping
40 hours working
72 hours living life (ie: the four areas listed above)
For the sake of argument, let’s say the 72 hours is divided evenly. That’s 18 hours a week that would be freed up – 2.5 hours a day. It’s doesn’t sound like much but it so is!
I asked Homer to take over just one of these areas when we returned from vacation. It wasn’t me asking a favor, it was a desperate plea for sanity and health. In a bid to overcome my need to control everything, I gave him the choice of whichever area he wanted. Whatever his choice, I would be supportive and encourage him to take full responsibility for it.
He made his decision and settled on Food Management. It was the logical choice since the finances are complicated and a big potential risk, dependents are not very forgiving, and housework just sucks. So he took on the food – planning it, buying it, cooking it. It’s his baby now.
Remember when I cleaned the fridge? Well, that was my last grocery trip. He’s been in charge for eight days now. The cooking has been going well even if variety has been a little challenging, he’s only just starting to think ahead (ex: what should I thaw *today* for dinner *tomorrow*? or what kinds of groceries will I need for an entire week’s worth of dinners?). Letting go has been easier that I expected. I learned quickly to make myself scarce while he’s fretting about what to make for dinner – mainly because it’s hard not to laugh when we have this conversation.
“Babe, what should I make for dinner?”
“Eh, food would be good.”
“Anything in particular you had in mind?”
“Not really. I’m not that picky. Bart has to take a bath in a little while though so soon would be good.”
You see, the shoe is on the other foot now. I don’t have to get involved with the food planning, just the food eating. I only offered some input when he wanted to make pasta for like the 4th night in a row. He’s figuring things out better all the time now.
Today was his first adventure in grocery shopping. Not that he’s never done the shopping before, it’s just never been completely his responsibility. I made him the grocery list (I offered to do it just this week as a part of a fair transition) and I sent him off with two $100 dollar bills and a budget of no more than $175. It was more than he needed for the list but I knew he was likely to buy a lot of things not on the list too. The list was +/- 30 items (some in multiples) and left some things up to his discretion (ex: “dinner meats” and “snax”).
He returned home in a wonderful mood, obviously proud of himself. He handed me a receipt and a $100 bill. Wow. According to the receipt, he bought 54 items (including everything on the list) for a total of $107.49 including $8.35 in savings from his discount card. As he carried in the bags (he remembered to get paper!) and put away the loot, he regaled me with tales of the deals he’d found.
Cloud nine, people. Totally cloud nine!
* Puebloan symbol for Mutual Responsibility