We tend to take for granted jobs well done. At the office, when a colleague made a mistake, we would point it out immediately. Yes, it is necessary sometimes for the sake of learning. However, when someone did a good job or learned a new skill quickly and handled a problem promptly, we rarely remember to praise him/her.
Same thing at home. When the sink is all dirty or when no one took the initiative to wash up, we would moan. “Oh, could someone (not me) do the dishes please?!” But when one member of the family made the proactive decision to wash up without being asked, no one say “Well done” nor “Thank you”. Are we being fair?
I propose, therefore, a New House Rule. Firs of all, the principles. We need to change our habit of thinking “That’s not my responsibility!” Everything is part of our responsibility! For example washing the dishes I used for eating and all the utensils I used for cooking. It is actually MY responsibility. So, if my partner or my son ended up washing them, I should feel grateful and say thank you.
Ironing my own clothes is my responsibility. However from time to time, a nice partner or parent would iron it for me. Therefore, I feel really grateful and would say, “That was really nice of you, you did not have to that... Thank you very much for ironing my skirt.”
I cannot fix a car – nor does my mum and I suspect many other women too – so should I have a car and something is wrong with it, I would ask my husband to look at it. The fact that I cannot do it, does not make it automatically his responsibility. So, if he help me fixing the car, I would be very grateful and say, “Thank you honey, you are so handy!” (I should also praise him for being able to do a complicated mechanical job)
Unlike most household in Asia where hiring a maid or servant is common, no one is paid for doing household chores here in the West. Everything is everyone’s responsibility. Therefore, we really should be grateful when other member of the family contributed to the up keeping of the house.
I think it does not matter who is doing the most chores and who does the least. We all need to be grateful and show our appreciation for others who do something.
My mum and dad told me a very good lesson. They always say thank you to each other for every little thing – and then they’d give each other a hug. It was always pleasant in their household. My mum taught me that saying thank you is easy and painless. Saying thank you is like smiling. It does not cost you, but it would make a whole lot difference to others in the receiving end. All we need to do is getting into the habit.
Therefore, here is my proposal for a New House Rule:
- Do not assume that something is not your responsibility. Everything is!
- Always acknowledge if you noticed something nice has been done.
- And then say “Thank you darling” for the person who has done that.
- As Bambi’s mum taught all of us, “When you cannot say anything nice, do not say anything at all…!!”