Understanding expectations (Home Duties Series)


house woods

As busy women taking care of just about everything and trying to create the lives we want, we often find ourselves overwhelmed and struggling to get it all done. The Home Duties Series will focus in on specific issues relating to taking care of this most important tool; the home. Please subscribe if you haven’t already so you’re updated when I post a new article on this topic.

When we are living with other people, it is natural that there will be a variety of expectations of how things will work within shared space. We see this with any cohabitation arrangement whether it be with roommates, with our spouses and perhaps children, with our parents or with any other combination of people.

Each person coming into a shared living arrangement brings their own set of standards, beliefs and expectations that will contribute to the dynamics of the group and the way in which it functions. Expectations within the realm of the home will extend to how the home should function, how work within the home should be divided, what standards of keeping the home should be maintained, what the purposes of the home should be and what behaviours are acceptable within the home.

Now, the reason this is important for us to think about is that the expectations we have attached to our homes will inform how much time and effort we put into taking care of it, and thus how much time we have available to do other things. For this reason it is very important to ensure that your expectations are reasonable given the demands placed upon you. It is also good to ensure that everyone in your home is in general agreement so that the group is harmonious and not pulled into time-wasting conflicts about house maintenance and care.

When considering expectations within a home, it’s important to recognise the authority structure first. If you’re in authority in your home, you obviously have a lot more say about the way the home is to function, whereas if you’re under someone else’s authority, you may be entitled to your opinion but will need to be willing to accept that person’s final say.

If you’re in authority in your home, you obviously have a lot more pull and you make the final decisions (along with anyone else who holds authority, for example your spouse). It’s also your responsibility to ensure that these expectations are communicated effectively to all other household members and tasks are shared fairly.

So, assuming you are an authority figure within your home, here are some important things to consider about how your home should function. Think about these today and see if you can come up with a picture of how you’d like your home to run, what you’d like to achieve with it and how you might need to change current behaviours to create this picture.

What are you trying to achieve with your home?

  • Do you want a showcase, an award-winning furniture museum? Or are you happy with a home that looks like people live, play, grow and create in it?
  • Do you want your house to be as pretty and useful as a Christmas tree ornament, or are you happier if your home is functional, hard-working and a productive place for creative work?
  • Do you want a house that is cluttered to the point of being dangerous, or an organised, welcoming and serviceable house?
  • Are you following your own expectations, or being dictated to by someone else’s (society, friends, FaceBook and Instagram?)

How does your the state of your home either support or discourage other goals in your life?

  • Are the expectations you have of your home reasonable, given your lifestyle and the other responsibilities you have on your plate?
  • Are the expectations you have in line with your bigger goals in life?
  • Are you spending a balanced and reasonable amount of time doing housework?

Once you have had a good think about each of these questions, you are most likely in a better position to be able to assess your current household practices. If, for example, you have realised that you’d rather your home be functional and pleasant but not necessarily at showcase level of decor and perfection, how do your current cleaning routines line up with that? Are you putting in too much time trying to achieve a level of maintenance that is not what you really want? Do you need to spend more time getting your house organised and decluttered so that you can find the space to live and work?

Remember, our homes are one of the biggest and most important tools in our kits when it comes to creating lives that we love. Try to strike that balance between taking good enough care of this tool and spending too much time trying to make it look perfect. Somewhere in the middle is the happy ground where everything works smoothly and you are free enough to pursue other interests.

I’ve given you a lot to think about today, but the point I’m getting to is that in order to be successful in balancing various types of work you need to adjust your expectations to suit your goals. If that means lowering your standards of tidiness or perfection, try hard to make that adjustment. If it means expecting a bit more of yourself in order to ensure your home is productive and functional, try hard to lift your game. I’ll be here helping you along the way with other articles in this series.



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