Hi, friends! Welcome to the second edition of the A Lady Goes West Advice Corner. I’m excited to dig in and answer some of your questions today with my advice.
In case you missed it, here’s the first edition, where we covered motherhood, body image and the comparison trap.
As a reminder: I’m not necessarily an expert in anything we’re talking about below, but I love to help you out — so these are my neutral third-party honest responses for the questions I’ve been asked. Take the advice or leave it. But here we go …
Ask-me-anything A Lady Goes West Advice Corner: second edition
The following are totally anonymous questions that you’ve submitted, and I’m providing my thoughts and advice. I received some great questions and not all have been included, but could be included next time. If you have a question that you’d like advice on in the next advice corner, please submit it here.
Question: I know the pandemic can spark some strong feelings and opinions so I’m certainly not trying to start a political debate. But I have struggled over the past year with how differently I’ve approached life during this time. I work in health-care and also had a baby last year in the thick of COVID. I take social distancing and masking very seriously and most of my family and friends don’t, and I’ve received some backlash and criticism for that (and still do). Any advice for standing strong on your opinions when it vastly differs from others?
Answer: It’s amazing how the last year has made so many strong and polarizing opinions come out and turn us all against in each other in strange ways.
The good news is that we don’t have to “cancel” each other, just because we disagree. It’s okay to disagree on things. While I won’t address politics, I will address the COVID-safety protocols you’re talking about …
When people criticize you for how you’re handling a situation, it usually means they aren’t comfortable with it and they want you to do what they are doing, so that they feel better about what they’re doing. This is a common human trait. And with COVID, everyone wanted the other people in their circle to make them feel better about how they were dealing with things. But I think you are absolutely right to do what feels right for YOU. Your family or friends will not stop being your family or friends, if you are temporarily not available to them as much as you used to be. I don’t think you will regret being extra cautious and following all the safety rules. In fact, as a mom to a newborn and a person working in health-care on the front-line, it’s your duty to make the tougher choices — because you have much more exposure and need to be much more careful.
I would recommend sticking to your guns, for as long as you feel you want to — even if you get vaccinated and are still concerned — then do what you want to do. A couple of years from now, your friends and family will not hold it against you that you didn’t attend anything gatherings for a while, and you politely declined invitations.
But, the most important part is to not tell others that what they are doing is wrong, but instead to focus on why your decision is the way it is for you. Hopefully they can respect your choices because of your reasons, just as you can respect their choices for their reasons. And let’s cross our fingers that in a few months, we won’t need to worry about this as much at all.
Bottom line: Just because we disagree with people, doesn’t mean we can’t continue a relationship with them. It’s important to remember that you should always do what feels right for you, but don’t tell the other party what they are doing is wrong — merely tell them why you are making the choices you are making for yourself. And when it comes to COVID, we will get through this one day soon.
Question: How do you and Dave decide what chores each person does? I have found it difficult to split up household tasks in a way that seems fair to both me and my partner, and there are times I am slightly resentful because I feel like I do more than he does. Honestly, I hate doing chores (although I like a clean house) and am always interested how other couples divide up responsibilities.
Answer: This is such a great question, and I will tell you how we do it. But I will also provide the disclaimer that every couple/relationship/household will work differently. The thing is: I don’t think anyone really likes chores, but they are part of life. While it’s great to have equality, I think it’s also important not to “keep score” if you will and tally chore for chore.
Naturally, if one person is home more than the other, the person who is home may shoulder more of the burden. In our house, because Dave has been working at home for the last year, we have a much better division of chores than we had in the past, when Dave was working away from home every day, sometimes nights and weekends too. And even though it’s not at all fun for the person who is at home more, you do need to factor in the amount the other person has to be gone for work.
The first thing you need to do is have a conversation about how you’re feeling with your partner. Dave and I naturally decided early on that there were things each of us does not want to do. Dave knows I will never deep clean the bathroom, nor will I ever give Rudy a bath. I also have no interest is working on anything outdoors or in the garage. Those areas fall under Dave’s “purview” so he has to handle them. On the other hand, I really like clear countertops, organization and tidiness, so I’m the one who does a lot of the “putting away” of things regularly, and I’m good with it.
We also outsource, where we can. We have a cleaning service come once a month to do a full-on clean, which means we only need to do surfaces throughout the other weeks. We’ve had a cleaning service for about two years — and it’s worth every single penny. And I highly recommend it. We are also planning to get a lawn service. Because our weekends together are precious, and I would rather pay for someone to take care of the lawn and have more time with Dave, than send him out there every other Saturday morning to do the work. I realize this sounds like a lot of money, but I happen to think that time is so valuable, it’s absolutely worth it to get some outside assistance where it’s feasible for your situation.
Moving on, when it comes to daily chores … I do the laundry. We have a lot of laundry, and that’s just something I handle. But if Dave goes upstairs and sees a full hamper of clean clothes, he’ll fold them (he’s a MUCH better folder than me, thanks to his days working at Gap Outlet when he lived in Maine). But he’s not going to be folding laundry during this workday, so if I want it done then, I do it — which is the majority of the time. I also wash our sheets, empty our garbages, check our mail, buy the groceries and manage all our bills and house appointments. It’s a lot of stuff, but it’s all stuff that I can easily handle. If I start to feel like I have too much, I ask Dave to help.
Before our cross-country move, we wrote down every single thing we had to do, and we broke it up to each have responsibilities. When it comes to our new house, there’s been SO much to do, and Dave took on a few things, and I took on a few things, and this required a new conversation. I would highly recommend having new conversations when big things come up in your life, like moves or house projects or events — that way you go into them with clear expectations of what the other person should be doing.
When it comes to dinner, we split things evenly like this: I set out our plates and ingredients and pots and pans, as needed. Then Dave does the actually cooking of dinner. Once we’ve eaten, I clear the plates and wash the dishes. Dave likes to be in the kitchen to cook, and I don’t. While I don’t love dishes, I know it’s fair for me to do them, because he’s already made the meal. This is one place where we’re really even.
While you didn’t mention kids in your question, I will address this too. I definitely do more with Brady than Dave does, because I’m Brady’s caretaker, unless he’s at school, or it’s the evening or weekend. Dave gets Brady up in the morning, while I do my meditation. I’m with Brady all day, but then when Dave is off work, he helps with dinner and bath time. In fact, I only give Brady his bath when Dave is gone. But then, I jump in to read Brady’s night-time stories. On the weekends, Dave definitely does more Brady stuff than me.
If I feel like I want some space, Dave takes Brady outside or on an outing, and I have no problem asking for that, because I spend so much time with Brady during the week.
To be honest, when you have a kid in the mix, there’s a lot more to do around the house and in life. And sometimes I feel like we’re constantly doing things, or working, or getting ready to do it all again the next day. I’m grateful to have Dave around to split things up with me. And I definitely have my moments where I wish I had more independent time, but talking about it always helps me deal.
In closing, we do not have a written down list of everything that we each do in our chores (although we do create those lists for big events/moves/etc.). We don’t go tit-for-tat either, but we each communicate what we like to do or are comfortable doing, we outsource where we can, and we try to split things up as evenly as possible when Dave is not working.
I know this is not perfect or clear cut advice, but I think the biggest point is communicating where you need help to your partner and making little adjustments where you can. Sometimes just surfacing the idea verbally can help you figure out one small thing you can take off your plate that your partner may not even realize they should be helping with. Good luck!
Bottom line: Communication is key in splitting up household chores. It may not always be totally even, just because sometimes one person works more than the other. When it comes to big projects or events, splitting up tasks with a written list is ideal. But you may not need a list for general everyday chores. Chores aren’t fun for anyone, but just try to assign yourself the ones that seem the least painful to you, if possible.
Question: This might not be a deep enough question to add to this series, but could you elaborate on how you got down to washing your hair only once a week? I am really trying to cut down on the number of times I wash my hair, but I am so scared it looks dirty/oily. Your hair always looks amazing, so you’ve made me want to pursue my cut-down-on-shampooing mission.
Answer: I don’t mind a non-deep question, so bring it on! Also, I’m always flattered and amazed when people tell me that my hair always looks good. Because I feel like I’m in a constant ponytail or bun, whereas others out there have their blown-out perfect waves glistening every single day. I would not expect hair compliments, but I do appreciate them. Let’s talk about how I handle my hair …
First of all, if your hair is super oily or you use a ton of product, you may need to wash it more than once a week, maybe two or three times. I wash my hair one time a week only, and that’s how I’ve been doing it for the last several years (even though I work out a ton). My hair is on the drier side, so it doesn’t get too oily. Only washing it once a week, saves product, saves time and saves my hair from getting even more damaged from too much messing with it. I can’t believe I used to wash it so much years ago — I wish I had known less was more.
A few insights that could be helpful:
- I do my one-hair-washing-of-the-week on Saturday mid-morning after my last “workout” of the week, because Sunday is usually my rest day — this maximizes my non-sweating time with fresh hair.
- When I wash my hair on that Saturday mid-morning, I use this shampoo and deep conditioner, I wrap my hair in a wicking hair towel, then I blow dry it straight using this and add any curls, and I wear it down. I almost never have my hair down and done except for Saturdays and Sundays.
- At night, I sleep with my hair in a loose topknot with a scrunchie to keep it off my face.
- I do NOT use dry shampoo. This is controversial, but I used to use dry shampoo religiously, and while it does provide a nice fragrance to your hair, I felt like it gave me build-up and was making my hair look dirtier than it was. I tried going without it, and noticed my hair looked fresher.
- I do occasionally add coconut oil to my ends and scalp, and this is a bit of a deodorizer, but a little goes a long way — and it can also cause build-up or oiliness if you go overboard. I do sometimes use coconut oil to tame flyaways as needed too.
- I wear my hair back in a ponytail or bun when I work out, totally off my face, so no sweat gets on it directly from my body, just my scalp. When my workout is done, sometimes I take my hair down immediately, to let it air dry loose for a bit, then I tie it back again.
- I brush my hair out totally every morning and every night to smooth it out. I think brushing helps to distribute the oils and get rid of any tangles or creases from tying it back.
- I use a shower-cap during every shower, to keep my hair dry, except for when I wash it once a week. Dave calls it my “bonnet.” 🙂
- I try to use as little product on my hair as I can (except for a little hairspray on Saturdays, if I’m putting in some curls), and this helps my hair stay looking good, without building up and getting too crusty.
Okay, that was a lot, but it’s a brain-dump of everything I do for my hair. Most days, all I do is brush it into a ponytail — and I find that I can still look put-together with a ponytail if I add lipstick and hoop earrings. And I also don’t feel like my hair looks or feels all that dirty from my once-a-week washing. It doesn’t smell bad either, surprisingly.
And here’s a cool tip my hair stylist in California told me, which I’ve never tried: A “top wash.” She was famous for washing her bangs in the sink every other day only, then re-blowing those out, and keeping the rest of the hair dirty. It’s genius. I haven’t tried it, but would suggest that as a way to cut back on your overall whole-head washing sessions.
Also, remember, that you probably think your hair looks worse than it does — so if you can get past the mental idea that you aren’t washing it as often, you may immediately feel better about the process. And this is my Ted Talk on low-key hair management.
Bottom line: It’s totally okay to only wash your hair once a week, even if you do sweaty workouts. The less products you use regularly, the longer your hair will last — because you’ll have less build-up on your roots. Also, you are probably judging your hair more harshly than anyone else will, so don’t let the mental part about only washing once a week get to you. When in doubt, try a top wash.
That’ll do it for the advice for today.
How to get your question answered in the next advice corner
If you want some help with something in or our next advice corner, please submit your question here. I’m not collecting your email or name, so you will be totally anonymous. Thank you so much for contributing! I hope you enjoyed my advice.
Other posts you may like …
- Ask-me-anything A Lady Goes West Advice Corner: first edition
- You asked: Here are answers to the most common questions I get
- Five new things I’ve added to my life in the last year that I love
- What I’ve learned about wellness since becoming a mom
- What I’ve learned from my first year of parenting
- How to handle a changing body image
- How to find inspiration (and why you should care)
- Three helpful mindset shifts I’ve made recently
Questions of the day
How are you feeling right now?
What’s on your mind?
Who do you usually go to for advice or help?