Last week’s post was fun to write, but I’m having trouble making a smooth transition from writing a heartfelt love letter to my wife to talking about… wait what were we talking about again? Oh right. Cleaning the car. Well, let’s get on with it.
Why did I pick cleaning the car as my NYR? Well as we talked about in Part 3, my wife’s Love Language is “Acts of Service.” So I figured doing something for Liz is where I’m going to get the best return on investment for my efforts.
And I thought of other things I could do, mostly involving taking care of annoying household tasks. Dishes, laundry, trash came to mind. But all three of these are tasks we generally share. When I tried to turn these tasks into NYR’s and come up with some sort of metric to measure progress (ex. number of nights where, prior to going to bed, all dishes are put away) I would run into weird situations where my wife would be starting to do the dishes and I would tell her to stop because that’s my NYR. I think it’s helpful to work out who does what around the house for certain tasks (Ex. I take out trash, Liz vacuums), but for tasks that we’re already sharing pretty well it seemed unnecessary to just take it on myself.
No, what I needed was to take on a task that nobody was doing. And that’s where the car comes in. Liz doesn’t clean the car, I don’t clean the car, nobody cleans the car.
I mean eventually somebody cleans the car. My father-in-law sometimes cleans the car. Every once in a while we pay a high-school kid at Autobell to clean the car. And if someone outside of our immediate family is going to be riding in the car then one of us will step up if things are really, really bad. But for the most part the car just remains unclean.
And to be fair, we live in a condo and have two little girls. It’s a long walk from where we park our car to our front door, and so we have this situation:
- We can’t clean the car while the girls are in it (I’ve tried, it was a disaster)
- We can’t leave the girls in the car unattended (because the world will get them)
- We can’t leave the girls in the condo unattended (because they will destroy the condo and themselves)
- We can’t make even marginal progress bringing stuff in from the car while transporting the girls (because transporting the girls into the condo takes a herculean effort involving every available hand, arm, elbow, neck and sometimes leg/foot)
So that’s our situation. It’s a river crossing puzzle with no solution. Here’s a picture of me trying to get my girls from the car to the condo while keeping them safe and also cleaning the car:
The only way the car can get cleaned is if Liz and I are quietly enjoying an evening together after putting the girls to bed, and one of us says to the other, “You know, the car hasn’t been cleaned in a while – I’m going to go do that.”
And that’s what I’ve been doing and it’s going pretty well. It turns out that, if I keep up with a bi-weekly cadence, cleaning the car is actually not a big deal. It took over an hour the first time I did it, now it takes less than ten. If you clean on a regular basis, cleaning takes less time (imagine that).
In fact, it’s going so well that I’ve started the test phase for a new resolution – going on more dates. You can see our progress in the second tab of the same spreadsheet. Because believe it or not… the leaves are falling. September is almost over, and although the tagline for this blog is “Do Better This Year,” we’re heading into the fourth quarter of 2019 and it’s time to start planning to do better next year as well.
And speaking of planning… I haven’t decided which NYR to write about next and would love your feedback. Two choices: “Establish A Morning Routine” or “Be More Mindful.” I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below, email me at email@example.com, or respond to my Instagram poll.