While my kids are cramming their faces with goldfish at lunch, I take the opportunity to relieve myself in private. It’s not often I get a chance to pee alone at home anymore, so I sadly delight in that small victory. That is, until I reach for the toilet paper and see the roll is empty.
In our house, we go through TP at a rate you would not believe. There are four people in the house, with one still in diapers, but it feels like there are 50. I’m changing it out every other day, and somehow it’s always me that finds the roll empty.
But this time, I decided not to replace it. I guess my days as the keeper of the TP had gotten to me. Instead, I grabbed a new roll, used what I needed, and left the rest of the roll sitting on the floor. I wanted to see how long it would take before someone replaced it.
I wasn’t expecting either of my young kids to notice because they aren’t even aware when they have half a PB&J stuck to their face. Really this experiment was aimed toward my husband. And I gave him the benefit of the doubt and assumed it would be a few days before he got to it.
I was wrong.
Days passed, then weeks. And eventually empty rolls littered the floor mixed with multiple half-used rolls. It was time to end the experiment. I decided to ask him outright if he had noticed anything awry in the bathroom.
He replied, “Oh yeah, I thought it was weird that it wasn’t bothering you like it normally does. Do you want me to replace it?”
Nah, I LOVE stepping over empty rolls of TP on the daily. It’s not enough that I have to sidestep the landmine of toys that are left in my pathway to the toilet. But I guess when I fall I will be saved by the piles of half-used TP rolls that also litter the ground.
After the failed TP experiment, I started to really take note of all the small things I do for my family. It wasn’t to compare my list with my husband’s; it was to evaluate the type of tasks that were taking up my time day-to-day. Turns out, not only was I doing physical tasks, like cooking dinner, but I was also doing a s**t ton of mental work.
My brain is constantly at full speed. I’m the one thinking about when sign-ups for swim class start. I’m the one meal planning for the upcoming week and mentally going through our pantry. I’m the travel coordinator, accountant, secretary, chef, event planner, social chair and more.
And let me be clear, I chose to take on those roles. I’m the detail-oriented one in my family and I thrive on efficiency. I’m happy when the house is running smoothly. And although my husband is perfectly capable of running the house, and often does when I travel for work, logistics is not a strong suit for him. Everyone is happier when I’m running point.
But I hadn’t realized how much I was really doing. I think over the years, and as we added two kids to the family, I just kept adding to my plate and finding ways to get it done. Even if that meant I was stretched thin.
Something needed to change, so I did what any good leader would. I delegated.
I asked my husband to pick up more of the physical tasks so I could have more time to focus on the mental ones. Seeing how the scale was tipping so heavily on my side, he (smartly) agreed.
So how did it go? Ah-mazing. But not at first.
Reminding my husband of all the things that needed to get done felt a lot like nagging. And I hated it. But my husband never responded to me in a negative way that implied he felt the same (though he MAY at times send me texts with Darth Vader’s Imperial March soundtrack playing).
And after a while we fell in to our new routine. My husband picked up some slack and he knew what new tasks were his to accomplish daily. And if there are other things that need to get done, I just ask. It’s that simple. We are sharing responsibilities and getting shit done so we can enjoy more free time.
An added benefit to this new shift is our kids seeing dad take on roles that I was solely responsible for previously. It’s important that they see him do tasks like cooking, laundry and vacuuming. He’s not always excited to do them but he sees the positive effects it has for both the kids and me.
I have felt the weight of my mom duties get lifted a bit. I no longer feel like I’m going 100 MPH every day. I’m less stressed since my mental checklist has been cut down. Happy wife, happy life.
So before replacing the toilet paper roll, take mental inventory of all you do. Is it time to delegate?
Andrea Rhoades is the creator of Selfies to Selfless, a parenting blog for Millennials. She is passionate about exploring the unique challenges the newest generation of parents face. Follow her as she reveals the hopes and dreams, fears and failures of Millennial parents. Follow Selfies to Selfless on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!