“David, I can’t do it anymore! Everything falls on me to do!” Indeed why does this sentence need to be repeated so often?
Let’s look through the mother/complainer’s eyes and afterwards through the eyes of the listeners. Perhaps we can then come to some conclusions.
Let’s start with mom:
Sometimes the family’s lack of participation in cleaning makes her feel alone. “Do I live here by myself? Aren’t you all part of this household?” It’s frustrating and even cause for anger sometimes! This is the paradigm that gives rise to the “perhaps you can help some?” In her eyes the rest of the family is part of the deal and she needn’t shoulder the responsibility alone. It can’t be she is the only one that cares and she’s nobody’s slave!
But mom, I gently want to break it to you, it’s not clear that the rest of the family see it the same way. It’s true you should feel they are part of the deal and are active partners. But even so, the paradigm of your husband and other family members is somewhat different and may not change either no matter how frustrating it sounds.
Generally speaking a husband and other family members see themselves as those who help you do your job!
I know it's annoying, to hear such an idea at all. But the idea exists, it’s alive and kicking…
Equally, it is important that the husband and other family members know mom’s paradigm.
It is important that you understand that sometimes your feeling that you are a “volunteer” and that you should be admired for your willingness and kindness can be very infuriating in the eyes of your wife.
Please only because you are human, try to understand this. You do not have to agree with it (wow, what pressure!), But try to understand it – it's not difficult.
I know it's annoying, to hear such an idea at all. But it exists, and it’s alive and kicking…
Well, but we want it to be good here, right? So here's the solution:
There is a saying: “Whoever says what he wants, when he wants to, and how he wants to, will end up hearing what he does not want, when he does not want to, and how he doesn’t want to.”
Those who ask for help and want to get it should take responsibility for their part. Anyone who wants to fulfill his need should recognize and consider the sensitivities of the person from whom he seeks help.
So, what does it do to him / her, when they hear “maybe you'll help a little?”
The listener’s feeling is that the asker is sending a hidden message that says: “You are wrong, you do not care about me, you do not consider, you do not understand, no … etc.” A lot of negatives!
Even if it's really what you think, it does not really encourage him to help… He feels guilty. And don’t forget, he feels that his area of responsibility to the family is outward – economic security, etc. In other words, you may be making more money, but financial responsibility is more his than yours. In the home area, he feels more as if he’s a kind “helper”. And the accusing attitude does not feel pleasant. So, even if the above approach helps sometimes, if you want a stronger effect, with pleasantness at home, I would suggest a simple switch approach.
Switch your tone to a calm tone, and gently ask: “Can you help me with the countertop? I would be very happy.” And to the daughter: “Honey, can you get up now to help me, another half hour?” If you ask with a smile, it's already more effective.
It's important to be consistent! Stand up for yourself. There is no reason to give up something that is so basic to you, and there is no need to plead. It is only important that it be done pleasantly and efficiently.
It may feel unfair. I understand. But if the result is important, and you want the understanding, this is the appraoch. By the way, I'm not sure that now they are already rolling up their sleeves to help … there are other factors too, but this way you’ll increase your chances of getting help and definitely increase the pleasantness in your home.