I've always had a hard time articulating what I contribute to our household. Outside of child rearing, which is easier to quantify, I do a lot that never had a name. Mike and I split the housework, though he admittedly does more. I declutter and pick up, but he cleans - scrubs the toilets, mops the floors, etc. Our house would be tidy but filthy without him! He also does almost all of the yardwork. On paper, it looks really uneven. What the hell does Shannon do if Mike is cleaning and raking and changing light bulbs? I never knew how to articulate my contributions other than to say "everything else."
But recently my sister discovered a name for it: Kin Keeping.
The thing about kin keeping is that it flies under the radar. The tasks that make it up feel and sound simple and insignificant, yet it takes a great deal of effort. These are things that would likely not occur to Mike to take care of, and he would probably be just fine if most of them went undone, but in the end he and our whole family benefits from the efforts. As the article I linked to states, kin keeping is about "keeping families connected and emotionally supported." The tasks are "such an expected part of family life that they almost always go unnoticed and unacknowledged. (Unless, of course, you don’tdo them, in which case you’re likely to draw some negative attention and head shaking.)"
So what are these things that I do quietly? For instance, I...
keep track of family birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestones.
arrange a family photo, design a holiday card, and send them out each year.
take 95% of the photos.
organize all of our photos digitally and put together a few photo albums.
make a family yearbook every year.
keep baby books up to date, along with keeping a journal for each kid of milestones and other fun things.
do all the gift shopping for birthdays, holidays, weddings, etc.
keep our address book up to date.
keep in touch with relatives.
plan birthday parties.
primarily plan and execute family vacations.
do valentines and other such things for the kids' daycare.
schedule all the kids' doctor visits.
keep track of our social calendar.
maintain our physical and digital calendars.
do all the research about daycare options, school options, etc. and lead the way in making these decisions.
Not only am I the kin keeper in my small family unit, but I tend to be a kin keeper, in many ways, for my extended family, as well. I'd say my siblings often rely on me to initiate family get together, arrange joint gifts for our parents, take and make available photos from family events, among other things.
And here's the thing. I mostly enjoy these tasks and I'm good at them. If it didn't come naturally to me, I wouldn't do all of it because I'm "supposed" to. My point is not to suggest I contribute more than Mike, but rather that all the things I do to counterbalance his more obvious contributions are less visible. And that they actually have a name! Also,I should mention that Mike acknowledges and appreciates these things. I'm not sure that all partners of a kin keeper do, but fortunately my husband places value on these types of tasks even if he would probably not care to do many of them himself!
So who does the kin keeping in your home/family/relationship?