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Reality Check: Working Out Weekends

Q. My husband and I both work, but while I use weekends for chores, he likes to relax. Is there a way I can get him to help out?

A. Being upset because he's doing what weekends are for  -- unwinding  -- will only make you madder. But a simple conversation, a shared housework checklist, and a chill-pill prescription in your name may do the trick.

See, he's not the problem (totally). Often, we moms spend our weekdays trying to prove to our bosses and co-workers that our home lives will never get in the way of our 9-to-5's, and our "free" time trying to prove to everyone else that working won't get in the way of being a good mother. With all that proving, it never occurs to us that every once in a while we need to borrow a page (and a chair) from our husbands and kick back, too. Explain to your husband that you feel overwhelmed with weekend toil, and even though you understand his need to take some time for himself, you also need some rest and relaxation.

Then together come up with a list of household priorities, a time line for when they have to be done, and divvy them up. For example, he can agree to clean the bathroom and do two loads of laundry by Sunday evening, and you can pledge to do the grocery shopping and deep clean the kitchen by then, too. And once a month, save a Saturday for tackling the bigger tasks together (like reorganizing the pantry).

Finding the right balance won't be easy at first. But in the end, the clothes will get washed, food bought, counters scrubbed, and both of you will have discovered the benefits of help, compromise, and a well-deserved break.

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