Stop doing it all: what does scale look like in the household?

You can't scale if you are the only one doing it all

If you are a mother, I don't have to convince you that women do it all. They are either working all day or are raising children during the morning shift and then they start their Second Shift to manage the house. It is source of deep resentment that we don't always get to articulate.

Leads to a downward spiral of least effective parenting, relationship quality, and utter burnout.

When it comes to running the household, it's time to stop doing it all.

Some objections come to mind:

I can't afford to outsource.

I don't want to pay someone to do something I can do myself.

I do everything better than...anyone I would pay and especially my husband.

These are definitely some of the roadblocks you will have to work around if you are going to achieve healthy productivity in your home life.

What would it look like to have your partner take over some of the chores?

Eve Rodsky in Fair Play has created the act of splitting chores between you and your partner into a game. One person holds a set number of cards, or chores, and you trade periodically.

The brilliance of the game is that once you have a card that has a task on it, like make dinner, you need to do everything around it.

For example, you would need to figure out what and when to buy, actually buy it and acquire the ingredients, cook it, and then plate.

The entire stuff around this process of one act like "make dinner" is in line with what Elizabeth Emens terms as life admin.

Women get bogged down with the admin of doing tasks. That is why it is so exhausting. There is a lot of mental energy you spend along with the physical tasks you complete.

So you might be all too familiar with the automatic task of doing the admin on every task. But is your husband?

The idea is to have your partner take on the task and the admin around it. No matter what the quality of the outcome of the task is. Done is better than perfect.

Is outsourcing the best solution?

As noted in Elizabeth Emen's Life Admin, you can have administrative duties that relate to the tasks in your house even after you outsource.

If you have a cleaning person come in, you will need to select, schedule, compensate, and manage that person's quality of work. That entire process is sometimes more time consuming than doing the cleaning yourself.

I don't think outsourcing is the right solution for everyone.

Many factors need to weighed in outsourcing. This is especially true of any significant chore in the house, like laundry.  

Create an ecosystem: think of absolutely anyone who can help you

We live in such an individualistic society and tend to be so high on performance that the very thought of asking for help is cringeworthy.

But even if we can get over those initial feelings, we sometimes are at a loss of even how to ask for help.

Creativity is really your forte as a mother.

Could you figure out a way to tap your community?

Instead of the convention of doing it all and maintaining one's home life as completely private - what would it look to share any life responsibilities with someone outside of your home? Someone who is not a paid Task Rabbiter.  

Something that involves the kids?

Someway you can periodically offset the load with grandparent help?

Someway cooking could be shared occasionally within a trusted circle?

The concept of a meal train is popularized for life after a newborn.

What if you could expand the concept amongst a group of your friends who could trade off preparing a meal in exchange for another? Or in exchange for other domestic responsibilities - dropping the kids on and off to school and/or activities?

You need some kind of community team.

Some standard objections:

I don't have that where I live.

I don't have access to grandparents.

It is easier to do everything myself.

If it is easier for you to do everything yourself, it would make sense that you stick with that mode of operation. Certainly you don't want to fix something that's not broke. My personal observation is that very successful women tend to leverage the resources in their community to achieve healthy productivity. You need to rely on the strengths of every person around you. You need to give back appropriately.

Don't have anyone? Find them. There are community groups in nearly every locale. Put yourself out there. Ask people in your community.

Jeff Sutherland in Scrum describes that a system of teamwork was a more effective productivity tool in completing projects in the FBI than was traditional project management knowledge. Teamwork is so effective because it becomes "more powerful than the sum of [its] parts."

Imagine what you, your partner, and a system of outsourcing however small and infrequent could do not only from a practical productivity perspective in getting things done in the house, but also for you.

In Scrum, the ideal team is cross-functional with no over-reliance on one person to complete the task. Even if you can do something better than your partner (which can be the case because of the maternal obsession with being the household manager and never allowing spouses to get better at domestic skills), it would be best to stop and allow for scalability in the household work.

We have to start moving away from being the main household manager. It is time to think like a successful entrepreneur.

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