While it’s wonderful when spouses are home together for almost two weeks, it can also be stressful. Sometimes it feels like one can’t get anything done, or one’s house goes to pot, or one’s spouse flagrantly disregards the routine and disciplining of the children such that one spends another 2 weeks trying to regain lost ground after the holiday.
This year, instead of passive-aggressively grousing or being irritated throughout the vacation, I decided we should set some ground rules that we both agree to upfront. I told him the idea, and he readily agreed rattling off several of his own terms. This is what happens when both spouses go to law school.
Whereas, Kent is on vacation, effective December 21, 2013 (hereinafter “Effective Date”), and will remain on vacation for the period of time beginning on the Effective Date and lasting until January 2, 2014 (hereinafter the “Term”);
Whereas, the holidays are also a vacation period for Heather, beginning on the Effective Date and lasting throughout the Term;
Whereas, Kent and Heather and their offspring (hereinafter “kids”) desire to maintain a spirit of peace and harmony during the entirety of the Term;
For valid and good consideration, which is hereby acknowledged, the parties agree to the following:
1. Under no circumstances is Kent to ask the question “what are we doing for breakfast/lunch?” or any variant thereof. The answer to that question is the same answer that it has been every weekend and vacation for the past ten years, i.e. “We usually have cereal/sandwiches, but there are leftovers in the refrigerator if you’d rather have those.” Heather is not required to suddenly start putting three home-cooked, inventive, diverse meals on the table every day in honor of everyone else’s vacation. The family will get one home-cooked meal per day if they are lucky and they help clean up after.
2. Clothes must be worn both in and out of doors. Pajamas are acceptable if the family is not going out, but Kent must get actually dressed when they do go out. Pajamas worn with shoes do not count as actually dressed for either party.
3. No soaking. Kent acknowledges that soaking is a scam and an insult to the intelligence of the primary home-keeper, and that it is used merely as a means to procrastinate cleaning a dish in the hopes that someone else will reach into the filthy, tepid water and take care of it before the soaker gets around to it. There are only a handful of legitimate soaks in a calendar year, but most of them do occur during holidays. Any soaking must be certified as a legitimate soak by Heather before it is initiated. All legitimate soaks will be cleaned by the soaking initiator in a timely fashion.
4. For every action movie the couple watch jointly, an equal and opposite romantic comedy or costume drama must also be watched jointly. The non-movie choosing party may use the iPad or other multi-tasking implement during the movie.
5. Housekeeping standards and duties will remain substantially the same as when Kent is not on vacation.
- Dishes will be loaded, not stacked–or the other S word which shall not be named, see item 3. If the dishes in the washer are clean, they will be unloaded immediately by the first person to open the dishwasher. A non-running dishwasher is assumed to contain dirty dishes and must be opened to check.
- Shoes, clothes, and other personal items will be put away as normal with the exception of toys and other presents issued on or about December 24th or 25th which may remain out until 9:30pm on December 26th.
- Kent will continue to take out the trash in a timely fashion.
6. The morning duties of feeding the children and playing with them downstairs will alternate between Kent and Heather so that the off-duty party may sleep in. Sleep in times will be approximately equal.
7. Heather is allowed to give Kent a maximum of two (2) to-do lists during the whole of the Term. Make them count. Kent is not going to start every day of the Term with a to-do list, so forget about it.
8. Kent will assume that all baked goods and ingredients for baked goods are intended to be given away to other people. In no instance will he take a big fat slice out of, say, a pumpkin cheesecake and then ask, “Was this supposed to be for somebody?” When in doubt, ask first. In fact, always ask.
9. Kent is not obligated to give an opinion about any item on Craigslist or houzz.com, or even to feign interest in said item, including but not limited to chandeliers, furniture, mirrors, or any other home furnishing or decoration.
10. On a related note, Heather will confine talk of the new house to the hours of 8-10am and 9-11pm except in social conversation where others explicitly ask about the house. Kent reserves the right to ignore any statement or question relating to the house outside of the aforementioned hours.
11. When an outing or social engagement is planned for the day, Kent will start showering and getting ready and helping everyone else get ready within 5 minutes of the time Heather tells him to, (hereinafter the “Prompt”) instead of trying to beat the system by ignoring multiple iterations of the Prompt, piddling around until the last minute, then getting in the shower so that Heather has to do almost all of the work, and they still end up late. Heather formally acknowledges that Kent did a great job of heeding the Prompt on December 22nd to atone for the total B.S. he pulled on December 15th.
12. Girls Nights and Man Dates will be scheduled in a fair and equitable fashion.
13. Heather shall not ruin any perfectly good family activity by having a conniption fit because it isn’t absolutely flawless.
14. If Kent insists Santa should wrap the kids’ presents, he can bloody well help with the wrapping. For purposes of clarity, putting the kids’ presents in a gift bag will qualify as “wrapping.”
15. Kent shall not be obligated to collaborate on further blog posts for the duration of the Term.
/s/ Kent Kemeny
/s/ Heather Craw
And that’s what I call setting yourselves up for success!