by Sarah Welch
Why is it impossible to get my family to help out around the house the right way?
Sounds like you’ve got a case of Perfectionitis. And when it comes to getting your family to help, it can make your life a lot harder than it needs to be. Some things are very important to get right. Others aren’t. I’d say, for example, that it’s important to get your tax return right, as some of Obama’s cabinet nominees are now finding out. But it’s not so important to have a ‘perfectly’ made bed, color-coordinated closets, or an impeccable kitchen pantry. What is important is having a functional household. So, rather than holding your family to exacting standards that are impossible to keep up in the day-to-day rush, focus on functionality. When you shift your focus from ‘what are they doing wrong’ to ‘how are they helping’ you might just be pleasantly surprised.
#1 Ditch the Nag
You should leave the individual plenty of room to accomplish the task – enabling them to add their own ingenuity and creativity into the mix. Everybody wins when better alternative approaches are introduced. Be there to provide support and answer questions when it’s needed, but don’t get too close or you’ll defeat the purpose of delegating in the first place. If your husband is in charge of loading the dishwasher, and you notice some food particles on plates that were not pre-rinsed, rather than throwing up your hands in disgust and taking the job back over, simply place the still dirty plate in the sink and leave it there for him to put back in the dishwasher.
#2 Help Them Ditch Never
If you hold your family members to exacting standards, you may find that they turn into excellent procrastinators. Procrastination is a direct result of the anxiety created by your need for them to do something perfectly. Happily, two things can help you break the procrastination logjam. First help them focus on the benefit of finishing the project, for example, putting away your toys at the end of the evening. Second, break the project down into smaller, bite-sized tasks. Start with the trucks, then move on to the trains, etc. Once they start to make progress, any progress, they are much more likely to keep going until they finish.
#3 Ditch Your Inner Control Freak
Learn to ask others for help, especially when it comes to maintaining the house. Chances are the people you are going to ask for help are not going to do things ‘perfectly’ or even your way. But by letting go of non-essential tasks, you’ll gain more time to do what you really want to do. And who knows, you may be pleasantly surprised to see how much better someone does a task around the house than you.