Mandate or Choice?
Do things have to be done in order?
Maybe that’s too broad a question. Let’s examine brushing your teeth. Do you wet the toothbrush and then add the toothpaste? Or do you apply the toothpaste and then wet the brush?
Or how about laundry? Do you start the water, add the detergent, and then add the clothes? Or do you put the clothes in first, add the detergent, and then start the water?
When is something a personal preference? And when does the order of things make a real difference? As I’m sure you can imagine, my husband and I often disagree on the order of things. Over the years, I’ve tried not to let this drive me crazy. As the old saying goes, I’ve tried not to “sweat the small stuff.” I know I’ve said this before, but . . . if you give too many instructions after asking for help, chances are you won’t be getting any help the next time you ask!
There may be no better example of this than when loading the dishwasher. When the kids were home, they would begrudgingly load the dishes into the dishwasher after dinner. I would often have to stop my husband from giving them instructions, reminding him that the goal was to have the dishes washed. Whichever way they put the dishes into the machine would be fine. Honestly, I was just happy not to have to do it.
Now that the kids are gone, it’s just the two of us . . . and we flip a coin to see who has to do the nightly chore. Recently, when I lost the toss, he stood next to me telling me how to load the dishes . . . so I called his bluff! I stopped loading the dishwasher. This may have been a little childish (well, maybe a lot childish!), but it was so much fun!
I actually said, “Fine, if I can’t load it right, then I just won’t load it.”
That was two weeks ago, and I have to admit it was difficult to see the dirty dishes piling up in the sink.
Forcing myself to go to bed with unwashed dirty dishes bothered me for a day or two, but then—and for several mornings in a row—the dishes had disappeared. Miraculously, they had migrated out of the sink and into the dishwasher during the night.
This got me thinking. How could I use this tactic to avoid other work? I think I’ve told you about Ritchie, my Roomba automatic vacuum cleaner. Well, even though Ritchie does a fairly good job, on occasion, you still have to use the regular vacuum. Maybe I could struggle with the hose, making sure my husband is watching . . . or start the vacuum during a football game! If you could hear me now, you would hear evil laughter. There are so many things I could mess up!
All I have to do is make sure that I don’t do them in order.