Author Topic: Using your guests as free labor during the holidays, division of labor?  (Read 10039 times)

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Just Lori

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Re: Using your guests as free labor during the holidays, division of labor?
« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2013, 01:20:06 PM »
When it's family, it definitely falls into the "it depends" camp.

Sometimes you'll have a few people who want to clean up the moment dessert is served, and a few who prefer to enjoy after-dinner conversations before tackling the dishes.  If you're one of the former, you need to decide what's more important - getting the dishes done right away but on your own, or getting them done an hour later with assistance.  (This assumes that perishables have been put away safely.)

In a family situation, it's perfectly fine to ask for help.  It's also fine to wait until you have help to begin the cleanup duties.

MindsEye

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Re: Using your guests as free labor during the holidays, division of labor?
« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2013, 01:21:05 PM »
I also consider family gatherings different from a hosted party. I think everyone should help with the only exceptions being physically unwell (possibly your aunt), kids who are too young to be helpful, and maybe someone looking after young kids.

In my past, it was only the females who fit that category that helped; we're working to change that.

I have to wonder when your mother says you need to "set a good example".... for WHO? For your sister who clearly hasn't caught on, or the kids, who at this point, will need to be told to step up and help? It sounds like your mom's parenting approach (at least in this context) stopped evolving when you were about 12.

I can see why you feel like you're the free labor, if there are 8 people sitting back and enjoying the visit (7 of which are able-bodied) while you clean up after all of them!

I think you should show up for Christmas with a broken leg   >:D

OP, what would happen if you said something like "I have done X for the past Z years... it is someone else's turn now"?  (where X is whatever task it is you are being "asked" to do and Z is however many years you have been the only one doing X task)

You can't make anyone else step up... the only thing you can do is refuse to play the game. 

cwm

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Re: Using your guests as free labor during the holidays, division of labor?
« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2013, 01:24:47 PM »
OP, personally if my parents expected me to do more work and used the phrase "set a good example", I'd look them straight in the eye and ask what kind of example it set to tell one child to do all the work and not make the other child do anything. I know I could get away with saying that to my parents, though. YMMV.

I'd also be tempted to use the phrase right after the meal. "Grandma wants us to set a good example, so let's all get this cleaned up quickly. Nephew, can you help your dad with the leftovers? Other Nephew, you and sis and I will be on dish duty. Let's get this all done quickly and show grandma what a good job we can do." Set a good example by leading and doing, not just doing.

Goosey

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Re: Using your guests as free labor during the holidays, division of labor?
« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2013, 01:32:22 PM »
Volunteer for what you're wanting to do right away. "I will help wash up today. Nephew can you help with that? Sister, what are you going to do?"

GlitterIsMyDrug

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Re: Using your guests as free labor during the holidays, division of labor?
« Reply #19 on: December 02, 2013, 01:34:33 PM »
I do not mind pitching in, but my mother is so insistent that I "set a good example" (and if I hear her use that term, one more time grrr...) but at the same time, I know that she asks less from my younger sister & kids.   I have told the kids privately in past at Xmas time, if you wish to open presents sooner, to help instead of running off to see all whats under the tree and/or play games - that has helped to get things done faster as they want to see what they got as well as what others have received & given.

Forget privately. Loudly call them over "Hey John and Joan, help set the table", "Hey John and Joan, come help your auntie wash the dishes" and when they help remark how helpful they are and how quickly things got done since more people were pitching in. I'd even start calling over sis and boyfriend "Boyfriend, take out the trash will you? It's overflowing!", "Here sis, lets get these leftover packed up", no questions, no taking anyone aside. When your mom says something just a big smile and "Mom, I'm being a good example, like you want me too!" and just keep cheerfully getting others to help.

If they refuse to do the work, do your work and be done. Did you set the table? Great, sis can clear. Oh, sis won't clear? Well that's a shame. A real shame. Anyway, did you hear about that dog that can talk? When someone says "MissRose, why aren't you clearing" a big smile and "Oh, I set the table, so Sis will be clearing. Sis, why aren't you clearing the table?", it's your holiday too. You shouldn't be the only one expected to pitch in. I'm quite certain your sister doesn't just lay around her house waiting for the dishes to do themselves, someone in that house does them. So they apparently know how to do them.

I'd also sit your mom down and say "Mom, you expect less help from Sis and niece and nephew then you do from me. That isn't fair. We're all family, we're all able bodied, we should all be expected to help in the same ways. I'm not going to be doing the lion's share anymore", don't leave in wiggle room. Don't let guilt trips work. Don't let her play the "sister has two kids to look after" card, no she has two young adults who can be helping as well. And apparently if asked by you will in fact help. If everyone helps, the work gets done faster, which means everyone will have time to visit with each other.

BarensMom

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Re: Using your guests as free labor during the holidays, division of labor?
« Reply #20 on: December 02, 2013, 03:34:23 PM »
You could literally do one thing, like take the plates into the kitchen or wash the dishes, then leave.  "Oops, gotta go hit the sales, 'bye now!"

VorFemme

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Re: Using your guests as free labor during the holidays, division of labor?
« Reply #21 on: December 02, 2013, 04:06:16 PM »
Not a broken leg - your left arm needs to be in a sling due to a strain, tendinitis, or something.  You can feed yourself and do a "few" things - can't lift anything heavy with only ONE hand, after all.

But someone (else - preferably more than one) is going to have to pitch in or it will be three or four days before YOU could possibly get everything picked up, put away, washed, dried, etc. by yourself...with only one hand.

Take a cab or have a friend drive you, if you have to, you can always call for pickup to leave early - if you live in the same area.

If you live in the same house - visit someone else after dinner for an hour or two...go sing carols at the hospital, something that is more fun that cleaning up everything while Sis, her BF, and the next generation sit around and expect YOU to do it all...
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?

tinkytinky

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Re: Using your guests as free labor during the holidays, division of labor?
« Reply #22 on: December 02, 2013, 04:10:39 PM »
mom: "dear, you need to set a good example!"
you: "Mom, I've set a GREAT example the last x years. This year, I think we can ALL set a great example!"

or: you: "Mom, all they have learned from the last x years of good examples, is that they don't have to help with the clean up."

and as others have said, have a general plan for who does which jobs. At this point, the teens haven't had to do anything and they automatically go about their business. Aunt can probably dish everything into storage containers right at the table, and stack the dishes to be taken out by the teens. Boyfriend can take out trash and straighten the table when dishes are off. Uncle can take the leftovers to the refrigerator. Sis and teens can help with dishes and wiping down kitchen. etc.

If mom insists that you clean up, the next family get together that involves a large meal dish everything into foil pans/food storage/etc. and put the cooking pots and pans on to soak. When complaints start, calmly explain that since you are the only one that has any clean up duties, you are making it easier on yourself. And say the next dinner will have throw away tableware. and a plastic tablecloth, so all you have to do is pick up the corners and throw everything in the trash. There clean up is done....  >:D

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EllenS

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Re: Using your guests as free labor during the holidays, division of labor?
« Reply #23 on: December 02, 2013, 04:18:03 PM »
In a family situation, all ablebodied persons old enough to be trusted with breakables *should* be pitching in according to their ability and thinking more about "what can I contribute" than "what can I get away without doing?"  If that is not happening, there could be

1) a communication/maturity issue - one person does all the work and seethes silently, while the others immaturely assume magic fairies have done it.
2) a character/relationship issue - some family members feel entitled to be waited on, see the disparity and are selfishly exploiting it.

Depending on your relationships, you may be able to carry off requesting/instructing others to do certain tasks.  Personally, I would not be comfortable instructing my nieces and nephews - but then, their parents do so, so it has never come up.  If you are dealing with Scenario 1, a simple request of "hey, everybody - let's get this place cleaned up so Mom and Dad can relax" should help get them started, so you can discuss the division of labor among yourselves.

If you have scenario 2 and your relatives are such baconfed knaves that the request is ignored or taken as an insult, then you must make your decision on whether you are willing to do the work, or leave it for your parents.  In situations like that, the burden usually falls on the one who cares most. Just to warn you, if that is the type of person you dealing with, holiday dinner is just the tip of the iceberg.  Just wait till Mom and Dad need long-term care.  Again, the burden falls on the one who cares most.  It may be more productive to polish your communication skills now, and if there is no improvement I like TinkyTinky's suggestions.

Actually, I also thought of a third scenario I have encountered:
3) One person sets themselves up as a perfectionistic martyr (PM), and every task must be done according to that person's idea of the perfect time/place/manner.  Any deviation from said perfect ideal is harshly criticized, either directly or with sighs, grumbling, pointed looks or passive-aggressive comments. Everyone else has made the rational decision to leave PM to their own devices.

I am assuming, OP, that you are not creating a PM scenario, but it is always worth it to "check yourself" first.

In any event, I think a "cards on the table" discussion with your sibling is in order.


Mikayla

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Re: Using your guests as free labor during the holidays, division of labor?
« Reply #24 on: December 03, 2013, 01:25:24 PM »
I agree that family holidays aren't typical dinner parties, and the expectation is that everyone should help.

My family doesn't define it beyond that, because there's a group of us who always pitch in and then a smaller group who never does.  In particular, I have a sister in law who never brings food, never helps out and always gets in line first to take big portions of the veggies.  But that's probably worth its own thread!

I do have to bite my tongue, because I'd love to request she get off her you-know and do something, but I'm not the hostess, and it seems presumptive to do that.

SPuck

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Re: Using your guests as free labor during the holidays, division of labor?
« Reply #25 on: December 03, 2013, 07:59:01 PM »
OP, personally if my parents expected me to do more work and used the phrase "set a good example", I'd look them straight in the eye and ask what kind of example it set to tell one child to do all the work and not make the other child do anything.

This is a good response when you get more work than the other helper/guests.

hannahmollysmom

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Re: Using your guests as free labor during the holidays, division of labor?
« Reply #26 on: December 04, 2013, 02:34:41 AM »
Growing up, we were always taught to ask if help cleaning up was needed.

If people don't volunteer, you need to speak up.

I spent a few holidays cleaning up with my husband while my sister sat and chatted with me. I became angry, as she was taught just like I was. After a few years of anger, I became bold, and just said, please do this or that. And she did! As my children got older, I asked them for help too.

Now they are adults, they automatically get to work, even if I tell them, just sit, I'll get it later when everyone is gone.

mbbored

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Re: Using your guests as free labor during the holidays, division of labor?
« Reply #27 on: December 05, 2013, 01:44:18 AM »
Growing up, we were always taught to ask if help cleaning up was needed.

If people don't volunteer, you need to speak up.

I spent a few holidays cleaning up with my husband while my sister sat and chatted with me. I became angry, as she was taught just like I was. After a few years of anger, I became bold, and just said, please do this or that. And she did! As my children got older, I asked them for help too.

Now they are adults, they automatically get to work, even if I tell them, just sit, I'll get it later when everyone is gone.

This is my approach (which apparently ticked off an uncle: thread in the Family & Children folder). In big gatherings of family or friends (we do a lot of weekend trips that involve cooking together), I start doing a task I don't mind, then cheerfully ask somebody else to please scrape the dishes, soak the pans, wipe down counters, etc.

CakeEater

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Re: Using your guests as free labor during the holidays, division of labor?
« Reply #28 on: December 05, 2013, 07:46:00 AM »
I don't pitch in and help at my in-laws place because they're very particular that cleaning up is done immediately as the last person finishes their last bite of food, and they're very particular aout how their dishes are cleaned.

At my grandmother's place, I quietly stopped helping in protest at the idea that all the women/girls were cleaning up and taking drinks to all the men/boys. I don't think anyone's ever noticed, and the men still don't clean up, but at least I don't get annoyed by it.

At my parents' everyone pitches in, except the kids, because we'd honestly rather clean and chat without kids around.

Biker Granny

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Re: Using your guests as free labor during the holidays, division of labor?
« Reply #29 on: December 05, 2013, 01:49:30 PM »
This reminds me that it's usually my Mom and I that do everything.  My SIL usually has an excuse as to why she "can't" help.

Last year, my niece (now 17) was starting to pitch in when SIL made a comment on how niece wasn't feeling well.  All of a sudden niece was laying on the couch "napping".  Fine....I got nephew up and working.  From what I hear, there was a discussion all the way how about how niece got out of helping.  We'll see what kind of help we get this year.  I'm going to attempt to recruit them early in the process.

It should be that everyone pitches in.  One person shouldn't have to do it all or even the majority of it.