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It's an ongoing struggle, this being a working wife and mother. On the one hand, yay for working, yay for extra income, and yay for feeling that I'm contributing to my community. On the other hand, FFS, what is with my husband and children being blind to the house becoming a tip piled on top of a bombsite? I have always said that if anything happened to me, they'd get lost in their own detritus. I was, of course, counting on nothing happening to me.

I did not consider the effects of me working and therefore being out of the house for twelve to fourteen hours a day. It is stereotypical, but the guys will - if I give up and leave them to their own devices - let recycling pile up in bags on our kitchen table. They'll use every dish in the house and only wash a sink full each day - wiping down benches and sweeping floors are just a waste of their time because, 'It's only going to get dirty again'. Well, duh!

Clothes, toys, discarded mail, endless piles of empty shopping bags... These meet me every day when I get home.

I find myself getting annoyed and naggy on the weekends. I resent having to clean the toilet and sergeant major them into helping me each weekend. Yet another stereotype of the woman working two jobs. It's disappointing to be taken for granted like that.

So, over the past eight months or so I've come to realise that without direction, they just won't take any kind of initiative. Every morning now, I write a list of what I want done on our whiteboard. They work through the list. I have to put quite detailed instruction or they just won't get it. Like 'clean the bathroom, pay particular attention to the cobwebs above the shower stall, I recommend using the broom to get them down'. It probably sounds condescending, but honestly, that is what it takes to get the job done thoroughly.

We've been doing this since the weekend, so, only a couple of days, but I can already see that if they stick with it, there will be less and less to do each day, and hopefully they'll notice that.

I'm their manager, and what's more, I've totally become my mother who used to leave comprehensive lists for my brother and me each day.


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