Family Task Sharing Spreadsheet

Family Task Sharing Spreadsheet

You know how you read those articles about relationships and happiness. Besides money, the hottest-topic in long-term relationships tends to be chores-- or more simply who does what and am i being taken advantage of. I think like 98% of most American families, I do more than JT when it comes down to it. There are some (recently written about in a NY Times article) that absolutely won't stand for any inequality. I'd say honestly the rest of us are just trying to find something that feels "about right" without having to discuss every last detail of cat box duty.

That said, we recently had a conversation about household duties around our homestead and rejiggered our tasks. Of course i made a spreadsheet, and in an attempt to share all of the organizational resources i can't resist building-- i'm adding this task chart to the public domain. It's a simple spreadsheet that one could modify at will in excel. Tasks run down the first column, and the frequency with which each partner performs each task is noted in the subsequent columns. It's only slightly complex in that instead of just checking off who does what, it ask partners to rate the frequency with which they do a task, i.e. multiple times a day, weekly, or just periodically. The idea being that it's not much of a balance if partner one does 10 tasks periodically and partner 2 does 10 tasks multiple times a day. It doesn't get in to assigning hours to tasks because i don't think many couples have two partners that would willingly agree to that exercise.

The formulas give you a quick overview of how many tasks each partner does, as well as the breakdown in task frequency. You can add columns as the number of household members increased that were doing chores, i.e, once the boys can mow the lawn, and you can change/add/delete the actual list of tasks.

Book Review- Jamberry and Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb

Books have been a favorite in our household for quite awhile and Silas is now starting to get in on the act. He won't sit to listen to any stories that i might read, but he will get a book, hold it up right in front of him, and jabber, jabber, jabber away as if he's doing a perfect imitation of what "reading" sounds like to him. I thought i'd periodically review some favorites in our house and i'm kicking if off with my favorite genre-- short and rhythmic.

We have board book versions of both (Jamberry and Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb) so when bedtime is calling they satisfy a request for a story without risking excessive delays.

Jamberry is like an exquisitely rhythmic poem-- it starts simple and slow
one berry, two berry pick me a shoeberry,

mixes in active, colorful and whimsical illustrations, does rhyming without being syrupy
Quickberry! Quackberry! Pick me a blackberry!,

and concludes with my favorite crescendo:
Moonberry Starberry Cloudberry sky
Boomberry Zoomberry Rockets Shoot by
Mountains and Fountains
Rain down on me
Buried in berries
What a jam jamboree!

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb starts off with a simple beat:
Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, one thumb, one thumb, drumming on a drum

Throws in masses and masses of silly monkeys with
rings on fingers, rings on thumbs

adds in more instruments
hands play banjos, strum strum strum
hands play fiddles, zum zum zum

and continues the forward momentum until the end
many more fingers
many more thumbs
many more monkeys
many more drums
millions of fingers, millions of thumbs
drum drum drum drum drum drum drum


17 Months/ 3 Years, 4 Months

Today Silas' turns 17 months old and unfortunately he's home sick with his first cold of the season. Nothing major we hope but we noticed yesterday evening that his nose seemed pretty stuff. His temperament was normal and he went to bed quietly at 7. Around 9 he woke up crying and couldn't be shushed back to sleep.

I thought maybe his teeth were bothering him because he was sitting up in his crib gnawing on his pacifier with his back teeth and looking like he had buckets of drool running down his face. I'm guessing now that it was actually mucus. I gave him some Tylenol, got him to lay down and covered him up, but within seconds of leaving his room he was moaning/crying again and with Henry being wide-awake it looked like no one would be going to sleep soon.

So we said good night to Henry brought Silas upstairs, set up the humidifier in the closet that doubled as his bedroom for 10+ months, rocked him for a bit and put him down to bed. While we were working on getting Silas settled Henry starts screaming for me-- going from a normal "mommy" call to a hysterical "MOMMEEE" in about 2 iterations. When JT went down to check on him he was upset because the cat was in his room and he didn't want the cat in his room, he wanted the door closed.

I was prepared for a rough night but miraculously they both slept soundlessly once everyone was settled. Silas seems okay today but still very congested so JT kept him home from daycare. He's taking a morning nap now which means he probably is feeling run down.


Parenting Pros*

It's been 4 years since i was last in NYC and my friends' 2 month old was the perfect excuse for a new visit. Pregnant with Henry during my last visit, I was still more or less just imagining life as a parent. I returned to NYC a pro-- at least concerning the parenting stages we've covered to date. I'm hoping that being able to tap a fellow parent for ideas and comfort was helpful to my friends, but i know it was affirming for me.

Seeing Sadie, talking about Sadie, thinking about what Sadie will be learning over the next few months brought back a lot of memories about Henry's infancy and JT and i as new parents. I realized as the stories i told involved crying, colic, surgery, sleep battles, insomnia, depression and being totally overwhelmed, that we did really have a rough start to parenting. Acknowledging that we survived, decided to have a second, and emerged on the other side happy and busy and content with our boys and our parenting skills was affirming, and an important note to a nice social visit.

Henry is going through another testing/behavior phase so the break from wrestling with him all the time was nice. As was knowing with utmost certainty that JT was completely capable of more than just "handling them" for the weekend. They loved the gifts i brought back-- a book about grand central station for Henry and a hat with a spinning top for Silas. Bonus-- i missed the hottest (90 degree) day in over a fortnight.

*Karmic Disclaimer: I am only claiming to be a pro regarding the actual parenting situations we have experienced with our two individual children. I do not claim to have professional status over any parenting situations we have not yet reached, nor with regards to children of other personalities or challenges.


16 Months, 3 Weeks/ 3 Years, 4 Months

By this point, Henry and Silas have developed a robust relationship with one another. It's not always pretty, but they interact all the time and their play is getting more intertwined as well. Favorite games that actually keep them laughing rather than fighting include wrestling, playing a modified version of tag where Silas just runs back and forth across the house and Henry attempts to get Silas to chase him. A recent game involved Henry pretending to be the big bad wolf and jumping out of a tent, trying to scare Silas whenever he came close to the door. Silas laughed and laughed and laughed and i think i read an entire section of the paper.

Of course many other times Silas is still the Goliath tromping through and wrecking Henry's train tracks, and trying to play with whatever Henry was just playing with.

I've been timid to blog on another note but i think all my complaining about the abysmal eating habits paid off. At this point i can think of several actual meals that *both* boys have eaten-- highlights of which include carrot soup, pasta with pesto, mongolian chicken, and cucumbers! This further backs up my recent hypothesis that good parenting of course has something to do with your kids' behavior-- but a good chunk of it is unexplained whimsy, likely to change slightly after you reach the end of your wits!


Wringing what we can from the Pool

The pool by our house is three blocks away, clean, free, and has a lovely baby pool. These are it's upsides. The downsides are that everything that can be outlawed is, and the hours of operation frankly, suck. Upping the ante, the pool is only open from the middle of June until the end of August. By August 11th we're in a fever pitch trying to get as many visits in as possible.

The aforementioned baby pool, nicely shaded in the afternoons and perfect if you're attempting a pool outing as a solo parent with two children that don't swim, closes at 5 pm everyday. This proves challenging for someone that typically works 9-5. So we had come up with a two-pronged strategy-- I start early/work through lunch and head out early on Mondays so I can get the boys to the baby pool for 45 glorious minutes before it closes, and on weekends we all go as a family and enjoy the big pool. This past week both efforts were stymied.

Monday was the storm to end all storms which had already started clouding up the skies by the afternoon. With the flexible schedule i have, i simply swapped our pool day to Tuesday. So far so good.

Tuesday morning i specifically drove by the pool in the am, ensured it was open after the big storm, and made arrangements to pick the kids up at 4 already in their suits. PM came and we blithely headed to the pool. Alas, the baby pool was closed and i was left with two options-- turn around and head home or attempt the big pool with both kids by myself. I (stupidly ?) opted for the second.

Actually it would have been doable if Silas had been in a better mood. Henry happily held on to the side by himself playing with little plastic strainers while i tried to wrangle an increasingly grumpy Silas. He fussed on the pool ledge and pointed at the water, i held him in the water and jumped up and down, and he cried and pointed to the ledge. I put him on the ledge and he pointed to the side of the pool. I put him on the side and he took off away from the pool.

I tried again with him on the ledge and for about .4 seconds he stopped fussing and seemed like maybe just maybe he'd let us enjoy our pool visit. He kicked his feet in the water and showed signs of enjoying the pool as much as he had the previous weekend. I held Henry so he could get a break from the wall and Silas cannon balled into the water.

With the one arm i had free i grabbed the quickly-sinking Silas, pulled him up, put Henry back on the wall, soothed Silas who was now screaming and admitted defeat. So much for getting as much out of summer that day. I felt bad for Henry because he was as happy as a clam and didn't want to leave. I felt bad for myself because why couldn't Silas appreciate the efforts i was making for him!

After heading home and having a glass of wine with dinner i decided all was not lost as we could make sure to get to the pool as a family this weekend. And then the freak 73-for-a-high days started and it was too cold to go to the pool IN AUGUST! So, we're trying again today. Wish us luck please that the baby pool will actually be open.

Oh, and feel free to send suggestions for the letter of complaint/suggestion i plan to lodge with the pool and alderman's office regarding the challenging pool schedule.


Cloth Diapers at Target

This just in.. at least at our Target they are now selling "real" cloth diapers. They don't have a big selection, in fact they just sell one type and one brand-- BumGenius 3.0 which are "all-in-one" (AIO) type diapers. On the messageboards and forums i check these diapers get high marks for the AIO category and they're being sold for the same price they can generally be found online ($17.95) without the shipping.

At our store they're on an internal end-cap next to other cool baby items that typically you could only get online (babylegs, wetbags, no slippy hair clippy, etc.) It's just a small start, but it gives folks who are interested in cloth diapers a chance to open the package, see what an AIO is really all about and buy one without paying shipping to test drive.


Emergency Preparedness

We made it through the severe thunderstorms and tornado warning but not without a rough night. About the time the storms started at 8 we lost power and it was out until sometime between 9:30 and 11:00 this morning. I like thunderstorms, but this was severe earth shaking thunder that just stayed on top of us without quickly moving away-- and that was the third set of storms at that point.

The boys miraculously slept through the first two storms but by the time the third one came along with Zeus camping out on our house, both boys woke up. Henry was freaked out by how dark it was (i by how sweat-soaked his sheet was with no a/c and no fan) but after turning on a battery powered nightlight, he was fine and told us to leave his room so he could go back to sleep.

Silas-- our adventurer was less assured and spent about half an hour supposedly cuddling in bed with us until the thunderstorm had passed. Between the crying and the thunder bolts and the sweating, i didn't sleep soundly.

Today after some coffee shop wifi life got back to normal. But, not without a serious task to prepare an emergency kit. We were woefully unprepared for the loss of power. You'd never know i spent my formative years doing homework by the kerosene lamp. In fact that little led nightlight was about the only thing we had that was helpful. So in goes some matches, a lighter, some candles, led candles, cards, flashlight and batteries, a hand crank radio and a first aid kit. Any other suggestions i'm all ears.