Wrangling the cash cow

It’s like that old aphorism says, if you want something done, give it to a busy person. A busy person has momentum; they multi-task, they batch-process. They can’t afford run-up and wind-down time around each task, so they run up once and go hard at tasks back to back until they fall into bed at night.

Hapless moves in a different gear from me. True, he’s never late, and true, he’s seldom stressed. And probably we need one of those in our house. But sometimes the inefficiency of it gets to me (my borderline-pathological mania for efficiency will be the subject of some future, probably tedious, post).

If I’m picking the kids up at 3pm I’ll work hard out until 2.50 and then sprint up to school in a sweaty panic. If Hapless is picking them up he’ll start winding down at 2.15, check Facebook, wander inside to the loo, come back out, read something on the Herald website and then mosey up to school at 2.35. He’ll have a nice chat with the mums and his pulse rate never will never rise above 80. His part-time work hours – and many of his chores – fit comfortably within the kids’ school hours, and his evenings are his own.

When I’m busy, he gets probably eight hours a week more sleep than me. He watches probably eight hours a week more TV than me. He does around four hours a week less exercise than me. Sometimes I look at him and he just seems to be awash in leisure time. (Note: I don’t count exercise as leisure. There’s nothing remotely leisurely about it and every minute of exercise I do is a triumph of willpower and discipline over inclination.) And let’s be honest… I just wish a few more of those leisure hours were billable.

I can’t fault him on the domestics. He does way more of the school dropoffs and pickups. He does more of the kids’ dinners and when I’m flat out, more of our dinners too. He cleans. He does most of the dishes. He does all the yard work and most of the rubbish. He’s a fantastic hands-on dad.

I do most of the laundry and shopping and all the meal planning. I’m the one that remembers who has to be where and when and take what, parties and presents and playdates and forms to be returned and cheques to be written and favours to be repaid. I do most of the school lunches because I’m the one who can remember who likes which biscuits and who hates which crackers and who’s gone off cheese after liking it every day for months and how to bribe Firstborn to eat fruit.

Most of my chores happen outside the kids’ school hours. In fact most of them fall outside their waking hours. So now, ultimately, my mission is to even that balance up. I want to work less and I want Hapless to work more. I want our household income to remain reasonably steady while I get me some of that leisure and he gets us some of that cash. And it should be possible

Time for drastic measures. The cash cow has to actually stop producing to motivate the farmer to – er – find another source of milk. And this little heifer is going off her grass.

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