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Life Admin {How to Share the Mental Load}

Author: Naomi Liddell

Gavin takes Ethan swimming on a Saturday morning. I usually go get the grocery shopping during this time, but in order to write this post I asked if Gavin would get the shopping after swimming this week.
He was more than happy to. So I set about the task of meal planning and writing out the shopping list. I then organised the list in order of where you would find the items in the shop, writing little notes next to the items that I have preferences of – chorizo (the spicy one, not the plain) – setting him a strict budget and then I realise I’m doing it again.

I’m micromanaging my husband.

Now before I get into this post I want to make it super clear… My husband is a very willing, loving and capable man. When we met, he was 28 years old and had succeeded in feeding himself, paying his bills and remembering birthdays. But somehow, when we got married and then went on to have kids… I became the planner of meals, the payer of bills and rememberer of birthdays (not to mention the buyer of cards and gifts). Exactly when this happened or why this happened is entirely unclear to both of us. But what I do know is that I’m not alone in this dynamic. If you haven’t read the excellent newspaper comic entitled “You Should’ve Asked” by French comic artist Emma, stick it on your reading list. It’s a perfect demonstration of what’s being dubbed The Mental Load. The invisible management of household tasks and the fact that this falls almost entirely onto women’s shoulders.

The interesting part about Gavin being so willing, loving and capable is that he hates this dynamic as much as I do. He hates that I swoop mail from under his nose in order to ‘deal with it’ and that he wouldn’t have the first clue (or password) for logging into our gas account to give a meter reading. We do evenly share household chores and there are things that Gavin does that I don’t do, like bins, grass cutting, and dishwasher emptying. He also takes Ethan to drumming lessons and swimming lessons. But writing bin days on the calendar, price comparison of lawnmowers, purchasing of the dishwasher, organising of drum lessons and finding Saturday swimming lessons were all performed by me. While my husband is excellent at the execution of household tasks, it seems that it’s true… The managing of all general Life Admin (for some reason unbeknown to either of us) falls on me.

While I was cleaning the kitchen the other day I made a point of jotting down a little train of thought for the purpose of this post. It went like this:

*Cleaning countertops* – Put Method cleaner on grocery list – Oh and baking paper for baking with the kids – Need to fill in that form to send to the school – Must remember the kids are off school on Monday – What am I going to do with the kids on Monday? – Need to book that Afternoon Tea with Santa for Christmas, the tickets are selling quick – Oh I should text my parents to see if they’re coming over for Christmas this year – And I should probably start a list of presents and get them in early, spread the cost – Also need to think up a 30th birthday present for my brother – Looking forward to seeing my family next weekend – Gavin’s brother is picking us up from the airport, he’ll need the car seats – Finn’s growing out of his capsule, must start shopping for car seats – How is Finn 8 weeks already? – Need to call the Docs about his immunisations – Oh and book Ethan a dentist appointment.

Now reading that back to myself looks like I’m suffering from some form of insanity, please tell me I’m not alone. I don’t think I am.

The worst thing about all of this is – and I cringe writing it – I can’t bear to let go. I feel a sense of anxiety at the thought of leaving it up to anyone else to remember upcoming kids birthday parties (what if he forgets and Ethan misses the party?) or booking of holidays (will he read the hotel reviews to make sure we don’t end up in a dive?). And I get a great, albeit perverse, sense of satisfaction when it’s all running like a well-oiled machine. But the system is not working. Mainly because I’m goddamn exhausted and holding onto resentment that I’m the one responsible for everything.

Now some might argue that I’m currently on maternity leave and Gavin working full time means that I should be taking on more… Because I have the time. But those arguing this point have clearly never been on maternity leave. I agree that there is more likelihood of me being able to shove on a wash during the day and execute some physical tasks, but the mental load of remembering and managing all-the-things should probably not be left up to someone who is being woken every hour at night by an unstoppable alarm clock (something that is literally used as a form of torture) and has to cope with the onslaught of questions from a four year old (one of which the other day was “How was the world made Mum?” … at 7am). We also both want a solution that’s sustainable, so that when I inevitably return to work, the wheels don’t fall off this thing.

So to alleviate our joint frustration, we’re going to try out a few things in order to even out the keel.

  • Weekly sit-downs (with a glass of wine to make it fun) to go over finances and brainstorm anything upcoming that needs to be handled. This means that in theory, we both get to regularly offload the mental tasks, share the anticipation of what’s coming up, populate the calendar and decide who is tackling what.
  • Gavin’s going to practice anticipating things, running with things and figuring stuff out if he hits a roadblock instead of defaulting to me.
  • I’m going to practice handing things over to Gavin and the most important part – completely letting go. No checking in, no reminders, no critiquing.

That being said, I’m interested to know… Who remembers and manages everything in your household?
Has anyone got any tips on successfully sharing The Mental Load?

{Contributors}

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Author
Naomi can’t decide which she loves more: adventuring with her boys or being left alone in a luxurious bath with a great book.
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48 thoughts on “Life Admin {How to Share the Mental Load}

  1. Yes this me! I honestly could have written this article (apart from the kids bits). I think perhaps because I’ve lived alone for 7 years, and my boyfriend moved into my house, I just organise everything and he slots in. Perhaps when we buy together things might change! I do agree though, I make sure everything happens and I hate leaving it to him because he doesn’t do detail like I do! We went to a 10k race a few weeks ago, one he’d done before so I left it entirely to him. When we got there he remarked it was a bit quiet – he hadn’t read that the start had changed! I am a unfortunately a bit stressy especially when doing something I’m a little anxious about!

    I’d really like an update on how your improvement actions go! We do have a couples his/hers/both calendar which helps.

    1. The thing is though Bunny, once you’ve slotted into doing everything for the pair of you, both you and him will find it difficult to operate any other way! So I don’t think it’s something that naturally changes, but requires effort. I totally would have found that 10k thing a bit of a reason to be smug (I know, yuck) and would secretly think “See! This is why I do everything.”

  2. This very much feels like our household (and we don’t even have kids yet!), I even read bits of this out to my husband it resonated so much. He’s also very willing to get more involved and does his fair share of the chores but the mental load definitely all falls on me. Maybe it’s time to try and let some of it go! We’re hoping on adopting in the next year so it would be great to get more of a balance before the little one comes along!

    1. What an exciting time for you both! Yes, I would suggest that getting a bit of balance going before the kiddo is a good idea. I think, when they’re willing, so much of it falls down to us to get off their case and let them get on with it. I personally find it very hard not to jump in and take over if I feel I could be doing a better job of something. I’m learning to let go.

  3. Naomi, this is my other half and I to a tee.

    It doesn’t help that he has the memory of a goldfish!

    Our little one is 18 weeks and we get married in two days time. I have done every single bit of wedding organising plus running all the usual house admin, which let’s be honest, is fairly significant with a newborn. I would love to find a way to share it all a bit more, but on previous attempts have found that things just do not get done!

    1. You’ve planned a wedding with a newborn?! You deserve some kind of serious treat once the day is over. That’s a serious undertaking. We’ve tried to balance it out in the past. This time though, I’m hoping the fact that we’re doing weekly check-ins with each other means that we’re holding ourselves more accountable (him to get it done and me to let him get on with it). It’s working so far and he’s definitely doing things more of his own accord (booked the hire car for our trip home to Belfast without me even having to think of it, let alone ask). Fingers crossed!

  4. Other than having no kids, this is my life! It should be said that my husband is so laid back he is horizontal and I am an organised control freak who loves a list, So maybe I should expect nothing less, but it still drives me crazy. I also think I make my husband worse as he knows he doesn’t need to remember as I will have it on a list somewhere. (He lived on his own for 10 years from the age of 16 and survived perefctly well)Would be really interested to know how you get on, as not sure I can let go! 🤦‍♀️xx

  5. I read the article about mental load a few weeks ago. It was quite severe and I didn’t feel it reflected things in my household.
    My husband does all of the cooking therefore he pretty much owns the shopping list too for main meals.
    Birthdays to lie with me but then when I’m not on mat leave I’m working/owning a card shop every day so it’s a touch easier for me. But I always had that responsibility and like to spend time choosing the right card and or gift. Even before we were together.
    I just get the feeling that rather than men expecting the woman to pick up this mental load, that there must be some other deep rooted female value that makes us want to have oversight. I’d be very interested to hear how things balance in same sex relationship households.

    1. Interestingly Sarah, I have two different sets of friends who are in a same sex relationship (a male couple and a female couple) and we’ve spoken about this at length before, they fall into the exact same dynamic with one taking on the mental load way more than the other. Even more interestingly, with my lesbian friends, it the more feminine partner that takes over and with my gay friends, it’s the more masculine of the couple that takes charge of life admin. So that makes me think it falls more down to personality type than gender. But in straight couples, it’s more often than not the woman. That’s where I get confused.
      In my own relationship, I definitely feel like I’ve paved my own way into this by actively taking everything on, rather than my husband having expectations as such. But I think you’re right, there’s something deep-rooted going on. I just don’t understand it.

  6. Yes yes yes! It’s so hard as like you I like being in control and I like things being done a certain way, but it doesn’t do my marriage any favours when he does help and ‘gets it wrong’ or only does half of a task, like a previous poster I can get a bit stressy, and my husband is so laid back. He then feels undermined. Kids has definitely done this to us and the need to be super organised to get everyone out the door in the morning and back in one piece later. I wish I could learn to chill out a bit and relax some of my standards!

    1. Undermined… That’s exactly the word Gavin uses. And it’s not a nice feeling so I totally get where they’re coming from. I always tell him that I would love to be more floaty light and less stressy, but being the level of organised we need to be doesn’t just *happen* by floating along. I find though, like you, sometimes if he gets something wrong or forgets something I need to practice biting my tongue or sit on my hands to stop myself from diving in and *fixing* everything.

  7. You might be on to something there Emma. My husband is excellent with directions and to this day, if I’m driving, I’ll draw a complete blank or second guess myself even if I know the route, because I know he’ll get us there. I think it’s the same with us being on top of everything, they know it will get done… So why think about it?

  8. When I get micro managed at work I step back and let the other person do it and remind them afterwards that I’m not going to do something they would like to do themselves or have already done. Basically if I have the responsibility I do it, if you step in I’ll leave you to it and get on with something else. I think this is the same happens at home.
    I normally do the food shop thinking about stuff he would like, then sometimes I leave him to it, I don’t get what I would buy but I didn’t have to do it so I’m happy.

  9. We definitely have a tendency towards this, mainly because I sound similar to you, I am pretty organised and used to doing things a certain way. We are trying to be better at dividing the load for the reasons you say, I have just gone back to work after mat leave and I couldn’t do it all on mat leave and certainly can’t now (though have to say it’s easier when you have a lunch break to nip and do errands, a walk to work to make phone calls etc, way easier than when at home with a baby!). One thing I have realised is there are some things I don’t want to compromise on which I find too important, and therefore handle myself, and other things I am not so bothered about. That’s not to say I do all the ‘important’ things, but the things I am particular about. Also there are some things we crossed totally off our list and don’t do at all anymore! I’ve also really taken to heart some advice a colleague gave me a while ago about delegating, which is ‘just because someone else does it differently to how you would, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong’. If my husband chooses to do things in a different order, or take longer over things, that’s fine, as long as he ends up at the same end point that I would. Sometimes hard to accept, but in the long run better than having to mentally manage everything myself I think! Would love to have an update on how you get on xx

    1. I need to get better at just letting go and letting gavin get on with it. What kinds of things have you just struck off your list? Maybe we need to be prioritising as well as dividing? 🤔

  10. Naomi, I want to hug this post. I’m all heart eyes at your ‘train of thought’ bit as that is literally my life all the time.

    Also – the sense of anxiety about letting it go: I think a big reason for this is that, if things get dropped, it’s us women who are regarded as “at fault”. People don’t blame Dads for forgetting to buy birthday presents or for not RSVPing, it’s usually the Mum who is seen as ‘rude’. So, yes, if you’ll be blamed for dropping something, it’s no wonder that you feel anxious about letting it go. I struggle with this a lot because if my husband Rob forgets to buy something for his toddler nephew on his birthday, he just shrugs and said “I’ll get something later” whereas I will feel like everyone hates me and blames me.

    And the whole ‘responsibility’ thing is what really keeps me feeling like I’ve got to ‘take control’. I know that Rob will happily let the laundry pile up for a while whereas I feel like I’m failing if that happens. So, obvs, I’m always the one to cave and do things first. And then I whine about it.

    I really like your three bullet points – I feel that I’m a long, long way off from the third but the first and second are just practical things we can do to help share the load a bit more.

  11. Uuuurgh – totally ME. My husband finds my train of thought utterly confusing how one minute we are talking about whats for tea and the next I’m off on a tangent about who is babysitting for a night out 2 months away. He is always confused about how my woman brain gets from A to B.
    I definitely do all of the ‘family planning’ in my house. What everyone is eating, wearing, where they need to be, what they need to have etc etc. My husband does all the management of stuff like getting new broadband deals, bills sorted, car insurance etc. He also deals with everything outside the house – garden, bins, maintenance etc and tiding the kitchen after dinner.

    In some ways I think it works best if 1 person (i,e ME) takes control as then its easier to keep on top of everything. But I like and resent it in equal measure. I am a control freak so make a rod for my own back in that regard.
    My husband and I were chatting about if I’d go back to work full time when our youngest goes to school. I actually added up the hours I spend each week meal planning, food shopping and doing laundry – thats my 8 hours right there. So no, I’ll be keeping my 1 day off for ‘life admin’ thanks.

  12. Firstly, I am delighted to learn that someone else writes their shopping list in the order you come to the things in the supermarket! As far as I’m concerned, it’s perfectly logical and helps me not to miss things. My husband thinks it’s a mega OCD thing to do, however. He also refuses to accept that my method of bag packing is the best, though that’s a different story. 🙂

    My husband is fab around the house and does an equal share of the chores and all the outside stuff (apart from herb growing). He also manages all the household finance. I do all the childcare organising and finance, all the kids’ organising (bag packing, uniform prep/outfit selection, school/nursery runs, booking appointments, birthdays etc), and all the food related stuff (cooking, packed lunches, food shopping, menu planning). If I have to hand over to him, I do tend to micromanage. But honestly? Sometimes I need to! He doesn’t appear to be aware that our oldest’s uniform is always hung over her wardrobe door each evening so it’s ready for the morning. He doesn’t know how to do hair. He never thinks there’s any food, even though the fridge is full. It’s mostly funny, but occasionally frustrating. I look forward to the days when I can go out for a few hours without having to coach him/respond to 100 questions on where everything is and how much to put in the youngest’s bottle! Admittedly they’d all be in one piece if I didn’t do it, though…

    It’s nice to know there are a lot of us in the same boat though. x

    1. Urg Gavin never thinks we have any food either. I think this is because we don’t buy a lot of convenience stuff so he can’t just grab and go.

      Also I’m happy that someone else sees ordering the shopping list as common sense. I just want to get in and go, I don’t want to be backtracking for forgotten potatoes.

  13. Yep. And I’d love it to change and for my husband to take on more life admin, especially as I’m back to work (part time) from mat leave very soon and we’ll have two under 3. I don’t want to be doing life admin on my days away from work, I want to be focusing on the kids. But can you guess who would be responsible for figuring out how to share the life admin better?
    One thing I refuse to do is remember his family’s birthdays! And then I feel guilty when he forgets…….

  14. I do the mental load stuff in our house. Even though my husband picks the kids up from nursery and pre-school (two separate drop offs) its me that finds the nursery, swops days as necessary to cover work, thinks about what is going to be for tea, checks the kids have clean uniform for tomorrow and if this second week at pre-school is to go by, nipping to Sainsburys to buy more uniform at 11pm because we have none clean and its too late to start faffing with laundry after the PTA meeting. Mum fail.

    Its just the way it is here and the thing that saves my sanity is just letting it go. Not worrying about it. I cover mental load with the kids and he covers mental load about DIY and the House Project. I probably do more because the kids involve more but it is what it is right? Quite frankly, the idea of adding another thing to our to do list involving talking about it just seems like more admin on top of admin. Yes I’m exhausted doing it but I’d be exhausted doing something else if I didn’t do that.

    1. Luckily my husband covers all 3 year old’s questions including “but when exactly was the Big Bang? Was it in April?” (we did “How did the Universe start” last month) and “But what exactly does the Nasty man who was in charge of the Germans in the war look like”

      He deserves a medal to be fair.

      And on that, the lift the flap Usborne Questions and Answers book on Space is brilliant. Any books on WW2 appropriate for pre-schoolers is welcome….

    2. Yes I know, admin to manage admin. But I’m actually quite enjoying our little sit downs (so far). It def puts us on the same page.
      Also I sympathise with the uniform thing. Everyone thought I was nuts buying 6 of everything at least. But I find that means I only have 1 crucial wash a week 😊

  15. Fab article! I do remember everything for the whole family but i only work a few hours a week (mainly so I can run the house and look after our children properly!) My husband still doesnt know what time the kids start/finish school (!!!! It’s been the same time everyday for the last 2 yrs!!!).
    It is exhausting at times but he works long hours and is away a lot so i get that he cant remember a quarter of the stuff. However he is an amazing dad and great husband so cant complain 💁‍♀️ And he always organises our holidays which are always great! X

  16. No kids here so can’t comment on that side of things, but in terms of general chores, I do the washing up/dishwasher duties (loading especially, unloading is a little more evenly split), cleaning and washing. Husband does household bills, the food shop, majority of the cooking, the garden and cat-related business (taking to the vets, the litter tray and so on). He also books holidays, train tickets if we’re visiting family, but I am more likely to do DIY, look up best ways to tackle the next room on the list, look at costs for him to shove in the budget spreadsheet.

    It never used to be like this though – I used to feel like I did the majority of the chores and it’s only since we moved into our house that it naturally started to fall evenly between us. However, I do think my thought process is similar to your’s Naomi – I will be constantly thinking of things that need doing and adding them to the mental list, but rather than sharing the load, I take it all on myself and I can see this increasing if/when kids come along too so I think at that point, we’ll need to re-assess and re-distribute where we can.

    1. Sounds like you’ve got a golden balance going there! I’m jealous. I suppose the division of tasks is down to what each partner is interested in/Comfortable taking on. Might bring this up with gavin. Would make task division so much easier.

  17. This is so us! I definitely micro manage everything or is it that I’m just a total controller??? I get very frustrated with my husband that he doesn’t do more (and by the way, it’s just the two of us), but when we’ve sat down and talked about it I’ve realised that half the time, I don’t let him take control because I have such a tendency to take over.

    Take the cooking – he’s always saying that he wants to do more cooking, but when he is left alone, what normally happens is either he comes and asks me where something is or what herb to use, or I walk into the kitchen and see him doing something in a different way to me and before I know it I’ve taken over! So I have to take some of the blame here.

    That said, why am I the only one who notices the bathroom needs cleaning or the bins need emptying or the carpet needs cleaning? We definitely have room for improvement in our managing of chores, but after 18 years of being together, I’m not sure how much of that will change.

    1. I remember reading somewhere that women are naturally more orientated by visual detail, whereas men are task detail orientated. Makes sense then that we would ‘spot’ more that needs done.

      I also think the most difficult part of this exercise is going to be stepping back and letting him run with things! 🙈

  18. Haha Naomi your Method cleaned train of thought led me on one of my own about adding to shopping lists etc etc etc. Definitely the control freak, and also I do everything a million times faster (haha as if but if FEELS like I do!). My husband does bins, all garden stuff, cleaning windows, utility bills and other house stuff, and whoever manages to get home/downstairs from children’s bedtimes first does the cooking. But I do all the spreadsheets, finance managing, organising, booking things, writing the shopping lists, birthday things etc etc etc. And to be honest I can’t cope with delegating even though he is perfectly capable – I fully admit I like to know everything at all times!! I just have to remember to ask for help when I need it… weirdly I’m better at delegating at work?!

  19. This is so interesting because I feel like it’s the other way round in our house. My husband is much more detail orientated so he does half of all chores, organises the itineraries on our holidays, sorts his own families birthday and Christmas presents, looks after our son three days a week, plans meals, sorts all our utility bills and switching to better broadband, gas and electricity etc. I am definitely more laid back than him and don’t get me wrong, I still do some stuff that doesn’t occur to him like birthday presents for friends and their children but I never worry about whether he’s done something “properly”. If I’m honest sometimes he gets a bit narked at how I do things. We’re both very tidy people so I do my far share of chores but i don’t feel like I am taking all the mental load. I do love that French cartoon as it is true for so many women.

  20. Ooh Team Rock My… surprised at this. I’m a single mum. Yes, I well remember the frustration, but now my mental load is all mine, and mine alone. Think this article is poorly judged, you’ve lost me on this one. Trust me, doing the bins/bottles/lawn/dadmin makes you wish you had any help… perhaps don’t knock it? All for equality, go for it in any households discussions, but shame we don’t remember that as women sometimes and stick up for all of us.

    1. Not every single article can cater for every single readers situation. Its not a personal thing – its a blog so this is her experience.

    2. Aw Rhian, I’m sorry you feel I’ve left single mums out of the discussion. To be fair the article is written based on my own personal experience at this moment in time and was purely sounding out to see if anyone felt the same. I hope you understand we can’t make all of our posts resonate with every reader (for example, I’m sure our kid related posts don’t resonate with readers who don’t have children). But on a personal note, know that while I don’t have first hand experience of being a single mum, I have very close friends who are. And I’m in constant awe of them and their families.

  21. This really resonates with me. My theory is that when I first got together with my husband I was 20 and writing out Christmas cards from “us” made me feel grown up. This progressed to me choosing presents, enjoying learning to cook, planning the minutiae of our wedding, gradually taking on nearly all of the organisation required to run a home. Now I’m a stay at home mum so I feel even more that I should do it all. There are some tasks that I just couldn’t relinquish, cooking being a big one. Hate being the only one to clean or tidy though as it also means I’m the only one who knows where to find stuff. Drives me nuts.

  22. Very well said Rhian and I am in agreement this this article is rather off the mark in judgement. I have no kids but feel that does not lesser my opinion. Be independent, ask for help, share the load do whatever you want and feel is right for you – bottom line if you are your loved ones can live in a healthy and majority harmonious environment, does it actually matter who takes the bins out? Have the eye rolls and occasional huff but step back and see the bigger picture too because chances are it’s getting lost under some admin.

  23. I think it’s human nature to love having an insight into how other’s lives work; whether that’s relationships, work life balance, managing and running a home. It was really interesting reading how things work and may change moving forward for you, Naomi. As others have mentioned, this is your experience, and it will never be 100% relatable to every single person everywhere, but I’m sure there are lots that it does resonate with.
    In our life, I’ve certainly noticed that mental load shifts with different events in life. When both Dan and I worked full time out of the home, doing long hours we definitely both shared the load and supported each other. When I had our daughter and had a year off, followed by part-time working, it made sense for us that I take on some of the additional mental load and actual execution, as I had more time to apply to it. It has shifted again since I’ve worked more hours, our daughter has started school. In the same way things would inevitably shift perhaps during pregnancy, peak workload, illness etc. I think it’s great, though sometimes easier said than done, to just communicate about the support you need from each other and how to make your team work the best. Focus on your strengths, I’m the organised, control freak, so I always keep the calendar up to date.
    In life there is always times of compromise, needing additional support, having to knuckle down and get on with it. As long as you keep talking and don’t let resentment creep in I think it all works out in the end.

  24. This is an ongoing discussion in our house Naomi, having to be the one who thinks of everything drives me totally mad!!!!! Your thought train is very similar to mine!!!

    It’s definitely the mental load rather than the actual doing things – if my husband just did things of his own accord it would be amazing!!! If I ask him to do something he’ll say … “no probs … can you text me tomorrow and remind me?”!!!! No, I want to get it out of my head!!!

    Although your thoughts about micromanaging have definitely made me think!!

  25. Checking in, reminding and critiquing are all built into my personality by now Naomi. Very well written and good to know others have the same dynamics as me and Colm. I choose Colm’s clothes and lay out our daughter’s pyjamas for the nights that he bathes her. I set reminders on my phone to remind Colm of his own appointments. He even calls me from the supermarket to ask for specific item locations despite me texting him a list before he leaves the house. Actually there are days when I don’t care about stuff as much and another days I micromanage every last detail including how he should fix one small corner of the pillow on his side of the bed.

  26. We have had this conversation quite a few times and I think it’s started to sink in a bit. I always say that if I die he would be screwed because I bet he couldn’t even tell you Who our gas is provided by let alone find the account details etc. And things like sorting the tax free childcare payments or getting access to online banking would just blow his mind.
    However he has just taken it upon himself to organise school open Day visits as we need to choose a school this year, and he’s organised everything to do with my sons Saturday morning activity.
    I don’t mind sorting all this too much as long as he takes fair shares in everything else.
    The only thing I get really annoyed by is Christmas, thinki of presents, buying the presents, wrapping the presents, organising delivery of presents, decorating the house sorting nice christmassy thins for us to do in the run up … by the time it’s actually Christmas I’m exhausted and can’t be bothered (we have a large family!!) I have suggested we do a secret santa for the adults but it went down like a lead balloon. I don’t know how to get around this.

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