Juggling Sheep
Welcome to Juggling Sheep, Jay Perry's blog about time management and personal productivity for pastors. Learn to balance work, life, family, and personal spirituality.

Share your best practices, tips and tricks, processes, sermon planning ideas, and resources. Feel free to email me: jaylperry[at]gmail[dot]com.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Spouses Working and Resting in Sync

Here's a novel concept:
  • Everything that benefits the family counts as work.
  • Both spouses "work" the same hours.
  • Both spouses STOP "working" at the same time.
  • Make a schedule and stick to it.
Let me tell you why this is such a novel concept for me.

I'm a half-time pastor (I work Tues, Thurs, half of Fri), a part-time web designer, and a half-time stay-at-home dad. My wife is a full-time teacher.

For the last couple of years, I've struggled with feeling "useful" because I'm just sitting at home half of the time. My wife struggles with feeling "useful" because she's not as involved in the life of the boy as she'd like to be.

As a stay-at-home parent, I can keep the house moderately clean, feed the boy, take him to gymnastics, and blow off any real interaction with him while I watch shows off the DVR and surf the web the rest of the day. There. I've done my part. Right?

Then, when my wife comes home (remember, she's actually been working all day), she rests while I'm putting supper on the table. Then I rest while she's doing more teacher stuff. Until it's time for her to go to bed, at which time I may do some web design or ministry stuff or Facebook.

This fragmented arrangement, where we work and rest out of sync with each other, has sometimes led to self-doubt about our usefulness, resentments about us-time v. me-time, some mild labor disputes about who's doing more, reinforcement of workaholic tendencies, etc.

Now, imagine we did something different.

When my wife leaves for work, I start "working." I do the dishes (with the boy). I tidy up (with the boy). I do laundry (with the boy). I school the boy. I play with the boy (actually focusing all my attention on him when I interact with him). I shop (with the boy). I work through my GTD lists. I do web design when he's napping. I fix meals (with the boy).

When my wife arrives home from work, she pitches in with supper and child-rearing. We both continue "working" at the home and family until the boy goes to bed...

Then? We're DONE!

The rest of the time is rest time... connecting time, tv time, internet time, pleasure reading time, whatever.

This arrangement honors the dignity of all the work being done (inside and outside the home). It resolves the labor disputes. It draws a clear line between life and work. It puts your connecting time in sync.

I gotta tell you... now that we're doing this, our house is a lot cleaner; the boy is happier; we both feel more useful; and we both connect better with each other when we're working together and resting together.

Would it work for you? How could it work if one partner worked nights? Could this be a first step to healing a fragmented life?