Staying Organized as a Couple

By now you’ve probably figured out that I really like to be organized. And as one person, it was pretty straightforward. Over the last few years of life with Jan, though, I’ve had to adapt the systems somewhat…

It all started with my residency schedule. My rotating internship year meant that I switched services every 28 days, with new start times, call schedules, and even locations. To help Jan figure out if I would be home in time for dinner (no doubt starving), spending the night at the hospital, or studying at home I popped my work schedule into a shared iCal and… it’s been there ever since. Now my clinic hours are set to repeat weekly and I just go in and update them if I’m doing extra coverage or need to be somewhere else. Since Jan works more or less business hours, he leaves his schedule blank unless he needs to be on call over a night or a weekend. We put our schedules in as far in advance as we can.

We have definitely learned to prioritize communication and lots of advance planning! We try to schedule our vacation times at least six months ahead, which leaves lots of time for brainstorming a fun trip or things we need to do, and allows me the best chances of finding a locum to cover my patients. All of our joint events, like birthday parties, dinners with friends, and even Saturday morning YNAB sessions go into the iCal- looking back at it is like a little diary of our time together!

This next part might be controversial, but we’re both pretty big fans of a clear division of labour. I joke that Jan is the Director of Vacuuming and I am definitely in charge of catering (unless it involves a trip to Costco, which is almost always Jan!). We divide everything from garbage/recycling (J takes it out to the garage through the week and I put it by the curb on the relevant morning) to watering the plants (me, except for Freddy, our fiddle leaf fig tree, who really loves Jan and does not care for my watering). Inexplicably, there is also a list of things that falls under “whoever gets there first”, including unloading the dishwasher and doing the laundry. Somehow we’ve fallen into these roles organically, but we have also discussed them occasionally.

The next thing that really helps us stay organized is a check in at the beginning of the week, usually on a Sunday when I’m meal planning. We go through who’s planning to be home for a week’s worth of meals, which always leads to a little snapshot of each of our schedules. When I plan our meals for the week, I also try to take into account how much time I’ll have to make them – like scheduling simple lunches to make if I know I’ll be at a late meeting the night before. I’m not that great at batch cooking- I’ve given this a go over the years and haven’t quite been able to get either of us into the idea of eating the same thing multiple days in a row.

And like that our work schedules, leisure time/joint tasks, meals and usual chores are pretty organized. We don’t have a physical calendar or anywhere we collect “team to-do’s”, bit it’s something we might try out this year. Do you do anything differently? Pro or against dividing up tasks like cooking and cleaning?

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