We are simply his slaves

September 17, 2008

I do not pull my weight in the house.

There are several reasons for this, some rational and some bad.

My flatmate, V, is much cleaner than I am, for example. She minds when the kitchen is dirty, and I don’t really. So she cleans it more often than I do. QED.

She is a natural-born cook and I am a learner. So she cooks more often than I do.

She has always done for herself, and I had a cleaner until last year. So she is conscious of chores that need to be done, and I still expect someone else to do them for me. I am quite happy to empty the bin and clean out the litter tray if reminded, but I do not remember on my own. So quite often she ends up doing them more than half the time because it’s easier than reminding me when I get home.

She does the garden. That’s not actually out of order per se, because I said when I moved in that I was not going to do the garden except for the odd bit of hired manual labour, so I am not reneging on the deal here. But it still adds to the imbalance.

I’m rather tidier than she is, but the problem with tidying is that you can only really do it for yourself, not for someone else. I don’t know where all her things live, and if they’re not in their places then there’s probably a good reason for it and I will muck up her system by putting them away. So I keep my stuff pretty tidy most of the time, but this is not a major contribution to the smooth running of the household.

There is one job that I do much, much better than she does, however. You guessed it. Laundry.

My endless passion for clothes is well documented. I’d write here more about it if it weren’t for the fact that (a) I am not sure SJ would approve, and (b) I can’t really convince myself that anyone else is interested in my wardrobe.

V does not look after her clothes very well. She leaves them all over the floor. She forgets to zip her lingerie into the protective bag before it goes in the wash. Sometimes she leaves her clean laundry in the washing machine for too long, and it has to be washed again. I am too narcissistic to do anything like that.

So, as of tonight, I am taking over the laundry. It kills three birds with one stone. Firstly, I will be closer to pulling my weight, which would clearly be a Good Thing. Secondly – and most importantly; we’re making a big deal about this at the moment – washing will be more environmentally friendly. No more half-loads. Finally, I will no longer have to be offended by the mess that V makes of her tights I will be able to contribute my particular expertise to the smooth running of the household.

I’m most interested in strengths. I am doing a lot of coaching around strengths right now, asking my clients: How could you use more of your strengths to get what you want? The answers are fascinating, and so is the energy around the question. People want to use their strengths. They are happy using their strengths.

Clothes is a strength of mine. I’m happy to do as much laundry as needed (although I draw the line at matching Hano’s socks). I just walked into V’s room and picked up all the clothes on the floor and folded them and I felt energised and cheerful doing it. I don’t feel like that when cleaning the bathroom.

This is a good way to divide up household chores. I probably have other strengths that can be brought to bear in this arena, although I’m not immediately sure what they are. We could maybe work on this.