I went walking with a friend to get my mind off my worries: divorce worries, money worries, lack-of-job worries, children worries, custody worries, attorney worries, parental evaluation worries – you name it.
Halfway through my walk, I found the answer to all my worries: I need a house manager.
And what is a house manager?
House managers are the new thing for certain people. If you already have a nanny and a cleaning lady, and a tutor and several college-aged babysitters on call, then you will probably find yourself needing a house manager. My friend’s friend apparently needs a house manager because her cleaning lady doesn’t FOLD HER CHILDREN’S UNDERWEAR NEATLY ENOUGH.
I was informed that the house manager is working out quite well. He makes sure everything is working smoothly in her home, no staff members are slacking off, all sheets are ironed, and all underwear is folded properly. I am happy for her, really I am, though I secretly wonder what this mom (with two children in school full-time) is really doing all day while the house manager manages everything.
Sadly, my post-separation home works a little differently. I have no staff to manage. I have never ironed a sheet in my life – isn’t that why Target makes no-iron sheets? And I throw my children’s underwear into piles and dump it into their drawers. Sometimes I even throw my son’s underwear into my daughter’s drawer when I’m too tired to think anymore at the end of the night.
And I can’t afford a house manager. To say the least.
However, I did talk to a parenting expert recently. Thankfully she didn’t tell me anything like, “You need a house manager.” In fact, she told me just the opposite. She told me that my children weren’t doing enough around the house. She said they should be doing some of the work of a house manager.
Not only did she tell me that my kids should be helping out more, but she told me how to get them to do it. And most importantly, she told me that doing more work around the house is good for my children.
I jumped on the Internet to confirm this good news. And of course she was correct:
First of all, doing chores teaches children new skills.
Doing chores makes children feel competent and builds their self-esteem.
Chores make them feel that they are contributing to the family, that they are part of the family “team.”
Doing chores shows children that family members need to help teach other.
Chores help children understand the importance of finishing assignments.
And when children help out with chores, it gives single moms a chance to sit down and breathe. And let’s face it: having a more relaxed mom is good for everyone in the family.
So starting tonight, my children will be helping out by clearing and setting the table. They can also start sorting their laundry and emptying the dishwasher, but I don’t want to throw too much at them at once. They’ve done all these chores before, just not regularly enough.
One of the reasons I do most of the work around here is because it’s really really hard to teach my kids how to do things my way. Sure they can load the dishwasher, but half the dishes end up facing the wrong way and the glasses end up where the silverware should be. It’s just easier to do it myself than to teach my kids how to do things. I find it nearly impossible to just relax and look the other way when they don’t do them perfectly at first.
So I guess some plates are going to break, and some laundry will be lost. But for my good, and for my children’s good, I’ve got to move out of my role of doing everything around here and move “into a support role.”
Hallelujah! Who needs a house manager when you’ve got kids?