When my husband and I found out that we were expecting, we did what all good parents do and started to focus on life after baby. We reads books together, did research online, and talked to our other parent friends. Time after time we came back with the same advice - Lower Your Expectations. I remember at the time being a little put off by this so called "advice." After all, my life as a blackberry carrying, tricks-up-my-sleeve career woman had to be a lot harder than handling a baby. Right? With the move to the suburbs I was also given the ultimate gift from my husband: the ability to stay home with our children. With nothing else to focus on it had to be a piece of cake.
So all that advice about diligently making lists of who would do what chores around the house once baby arrived went right out the window. We could handle this. (Heck, I was going to handle most of it by myself. Everyone would see!)
Well anyways... once our daughter arrived our world was turned upside down. What a blessing she was, but what a nightmare keeping up with life was becoming!
In the beginning I couldn't let it go. I was still excessively doing laundry and scrubbing toilets and making sure that the house was spotless in case anyone decided to drop by and see the baby. It wasn't until at least a month in that I finally took some of that advice and actually lowered my expectations. Nothing has to be perfect. These moments with our kids go by too fast as it is, let's not miss them because we are too busy dusting the chandeliers.
Enter the 5 Things List.
Personally, I don't think that men and women should have assigned "jobs" around the house. You both live there, right? Granted, my husband will take care of the pest control because bugs freak me out, and I will iron his shirts (simply because I do it better). This is kind of an unspoken thing though, a little piece of our love for eachother. When it comes to most household chores, it's anybody's game. And I like that. My husband will agree that I do more around the house than he does, but that is simply because I'm home more often. As a balance, we created the 5 Things List.
Basically, it's just a list of 5 Things that we pledge to get done that evening before surrendering to sleep. 5 Things that must be done before our butts hit the couch and the TV is turned on. (5 Things that keep me from being a nagging wife and that keep him from being frustrated with the way the house looks.) It could be anything. Clean the cat litter box. Pay the cable bill. Take out the trash. Sometimes we even find projects that we can allocate as 2 or 3 items. For our family, it was the perfect way to lower our expectations without driving ourselves (or eachother) completely crazy. And sometimes we'll even put something fun in there too, like "Look up vacation options." It's both something productive and enjoyable that we can do together, because that togetherness is also a fine balance when baby is in the picture!