Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How to Get Men to Fix Things Around the House

So my cousin's daugher (my first cousin once removed), April, posted this picture on her timeline, with a little laughing rant about how we should do things right away, without talking about it, "unless you enjoy hearing us nag you".

Well, on the positive side, it helps to be reminded every now and again.

One thing I've noticed over the years, though, is that the things that stay longest on the "honey-do" list are tasks that will 1) take plenty of time (especially if you don't do that kind of repair work for a living), 2) require plenty of physically strenuous effort, and 3) necessitate a minimum of two (2) trips to Lowe's or Home Depot — the second to get the things you didn't know you needed or forgot to get the first time around.

In other words, it's not gonna be something the man can do when he gets home from work, or when he's "got a free minute" while he's doing something else. They won't be things he can multitask; you can't talk to the COO about the rollout of the latest cybersecurity package while you're struggling a water heater out of a space not big enough for a coat closet ... even with Bluetooth.

And, in most cases, it'll be something that's mostly cosmetic, or something you can do without for now, so it'll be lower on the priority list. At least, lower on his priority list; sometimes, it'll be higher on her list because she can't stand to have a kitchen that looks like it was modeled after an A&E Channel reality series (the kind that makes you moan, "YECCH! How can people live like that!?"). And will that unfinished pergola look good when it's half new and half weather-stained?

So anyway, here are some tips I think women should have for getting those perpetual "to-do's" done:

  1. Make sure nothing else needs to be done first. With our attention spans, the less there is to do before the task is started, the more likely the task will be started.
  2. The words, "While you're doing that ..." should never leave your lips. The way our world works, the secondary and tertiary tasks will become epic quests, while the primary task is forgotten.
  3. Consider bribery. Namely, sex or food, depending on the nature of your relationship.
  4. Beer is not a bribe. It is a requirement. Cold malted beverages are as essential to home repair as are screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers. My uncle the carpet-layer used to know men who would build your house for a bucket of chicken and a case of Bud.
  5. Minimize potential distractions. Send the kids to the playground, the mall, the Peace Corps. Call our friends' partners and ask them to keep our buddies from coming over. (The friends might help ... then again, they could turn it into a "beer and bull" session.) If necessary, invade the neighbors' homes and tie them up, so they can't wander over and ask, "What'cha up to, Bill?"
  6. Life happens. After all this, there's still a chance that something can interrupt the project — a part we need that Home Depot doesn't carry, a minor medical emergency, a tornado, etc. C'est la vie. Just go back to #1 and start all over again.
  7. When it's done, no matter how long it took us to do it (or to get around to doing it), thank us. Warmly and sincerely. (Don't welsh on the bribe, either.) The more each accomplished task is appreciated vocally, the more likely we'll be prompt about getting around to the next one.