Make specific requests. Our partners don’t know we’re overwhelmed and have no idea how to jump in mid-project to help.
You don't have to do everything yourself. I need this stitched on a pillow strapped to my head so I see it every time I pass a reflective surface. Even though I know the key to overcoming mommy burnout is to share tasks with my teammate husband, I still resist.
It's too hard to explain what needs doing, he won't do it right, it's my job anyway, etc.
The problem is that every time I fail to share the load, I further entrench myself in the role of resident expert. After starting to work from home, I found myself more stressed than ever and resentful that I was working and keeping up all the household management.
Things had to change. Here's how I learned to do it in a way that keeps my husband and I both happy.
Create a system
I love systems because they allow you to share almost any task with anyone competent. Once someone learns your system, you’re done.
Meal planning used to take me a ton of time. After my husband was forced to eat eggplant three weeks in a row and listen to me complain about how much time the planning was taking up, he asked if we could take turns planning week to week. Great idea honey!
So I developed a . I got a great app, and , to store our favorite recipes. I designated meal themes to different nights of the week. And we share the grocery list on . This way, if either of us finds ourselves at the store or home early to start dinner, we can just jump in.
Share important information
A big part of my mommy burnout was being the repository for all the household information. So I signed us up for a password management system online () and created a shared Google calendar for all our family events. Now my husband knows what we’re doing tomorrow and how to pay the water bill without asking me.
Make it a conversation, not an order
Notice that I haven’t used the word “delegate” once? Delegation implies that you are the boss and your spouse is the lowly worker striving for his one chance to prove himself. Feeling like we’re in charge of everything is how mommy burnout happens in the first place!
Start by talking about how you feel, rather than what the other person isn’t doing. “I feel overwhelmed by all that needs to get done before Lucy’s birthday party,” is a good example. Keeping the focus on your feelings keeps your partner off the defensive and more likely to want to help.
Hopefully your partner will jump in with, “How can I help?” but in case that miracle doesn’t happen, try asking what they would be able to do to lighten the load. Using the word “would” gives volition back to your partner rather than asking if they “could” do something, which implies they might not be capable of it.
Also, make specific requests. Most of the time our partners 1. don’t know we’re overwhelmed and 2. have no idea how to jump in mid-project to help. Asking “would” they help by picking up the cake since they drive that way home from work gives them the ability to volunteer to help in a specific, manageable way.
Let go of the process and focus on the result
So here’s the thing. Even if you create a perfect system that you think is the best, your spouse may not want to do it that way. Different people work better by doing things in different ways. We’re all individuals with our own best practices. So remember that the process doesn’t matter so much as the result.
If you can’t handle someone messing with your system, then maybe that’s a task you care too much about to have someone else do. Share a different task instead, and keep the one that you enjoy or really need to control.
Play to everyone’s strengths
Do you love spending time in the sun doing yard work? Does your husband enjoy getting the bathrooms sparkling clean? Well, don’t assign him the lawn while you scrub the tile if that’s not what you both enjoy.
Playing to your teammate’s strengths makes for a happier and more efficient team. Some people are not very good at details and some people thrive on them.Knowing your team and accepting your gifts and limitations will serve you both better in the long run.
Compliment and encourage
Acknowledgement is a huge motivator. When tasks go unacknowledged, on the other hand, we start to think they’re not important. Then we either stop doing them, or start feeling resentful that we’re still expected to do them.
So say, “Thank you,” or “Good job,” or “You are so good at that!” Compliments and encouragement will inevitably start flowing your way too, which is a crucial key to preventing mommy burnout (and resentment).