The way we maneuver the schedule is like a game of high-stakes poker or an episode of the long-gone television game show Name That Tune. You remember how that goes, right? Before hearing a snippet of a song, each participant bets on how few notes are needed to successfully name that tune. "I can name it in 8 notes." "Well I can name it in 6 notes" till the gauntlet is thrown and whoever thinks they can name it in the fewest amount of notes must do it or lose.
This is often how we negotiate our free weekend time - a version like Name That Chore. It starts innocently enough with one of us asking, "What did you have planned for the weekend." Don't be fooled. This is not a casual conversation starter about leisure time, it is the beginning of bidding. To win, you really need to plan your strategy.
To open, you don't want to be honest and say, I was hoping to take a few naps, read for several hours while nibbling on popcorn. That is the sorriest excuse for an opening bid ever. Instead, you have to find some type of project that is worthwhile and make it seem imperative that it is done within the next 48 hours, even if you have been procrastinating on it for months. But, careful. You don't want to immediately commit yourself to 48 solid hours of work, either. For example, you would never open with, "I'm going to clean out the garage all by myself this weekend, including sorting through all the tubs of storage in there." That's just crazy talk.
A good bet is to start with something necessary, but just long enough to get you a little free time from the kids to cross some nagging project off the list. Ben might open with "I was hoping to change the oil in the car." I might up the ante with "I was going to iron the clothes and return all the library books before we have a fine bigger than a year of college tuition."
Do you see how each of these would only take an hour or two? We might have another round or two of small-potato projects that we each want to get done. This could be the end of discussion - we rotate child care duties so each of us gets a bit done.
But, sometimes the pot gets big - usually when Ben has a "big idea" project involving copious amounts of power tools or I need a long break from a particularly whiny week at home with the kids. That happened last weekend. I decided I need to clean up and sort the kids toys, donating what we didn't use and throwing away broken toys. Ben let me take on that challenge. Poor choice, Kristin. It took me many, many hours to finish up because everything was everywhere. It was a royal mess. Miniature Polly Pocket silverware co-mingling with spare train tracks, mixed with rubber balls, Legos and Candyland markers.
I should clarify that we rotate toys in our house. Without rotating tubs of toys in and out of play, the toys get everywhere and the kids don't have the joy of, "Wow! I haven't seen this for a long time! How fun!". I find that they really enjoy what they have and end up playing with them all instead of being neglected at the bottom of a heap.
In our furnace room, we have about a 4'x4' area where we store the toys that are not in rotation. Other than books, which they always have access to and their special stuffed animals in their rooms, there are only about 3 or 4 tubs of toys accessible at any given time. Here's the result of my hard work.
|Please, please, please stay organized, toys.|
For the last two to three weeks, Ben has had many commitments in the evenings and on the weekends, resulting in many, many extra evenings of solo parenting by me. While bracing myself for this weekend's round of Name That Chore, he stopped the bidding before it started. He said that he was so grateful for taking over so much recently that I had the day off to do whatever I chose - he would happily be on kid patrol, whatever I chose to do.
So far I have napped and read for hours. I am heading into a stretch of scrapbooking to be followed by eating a supper I have not prepared. The evening might end with watching a TIVO'd show while eating popcorn with the best hubby ever - no bidding required.