Relationships aren’t always easy, especially among the people we live within the closest proximity to – our partner, family, or roommate. Conflicts can erupt over all sorts of things, and frequently, they may revolve around household chores like ‘who’s going to wash the dishes,’ ‘who’s going to vacuum,’ or ‘who’s going to scrub the bathroom?’ A well-maintained home benefits everyone in the household, but when a member(s) habitually fails to do their fair share, conflict is often the result.
There are decided benefits to sharing household chores responsibilities. First, it eases stress. When each household member does their fair share of work around the home, there are fewer to no confrontations about cleaning, disinfecting, organizing, etc. When people get along and live in a well-kept environment, home can feel like a stress-free sanctuary. Also, when the work is shared, everyone has more time for other activities. Fair balance supports healthy relationships. Moreover, breaking gender roles regarding housework leads to more respect among household members too.
Dividing Chores in Marriage
In a November 2016 research study, Pew Research Center reported that 56% of heterosexual couples stated that sharing household chores was important for their relationship. In another study conducted by Pew, more than 1,800 parents claimed to split their household chores evenly. However, the results were still skewed, with women performing more household chores overall. When women work full time, nearly 60% of respondents reported that chores were performed with equality, but about 30% reported that women still do the bulk of the housework.
Not surprisingly, household labor inequality can lead to conflict. In a recent article, NPR reported that “the pandemic has laid bare ‘grotesque inequality’ that exists within many families.” Gender inequality concerning household work isn’t merely about who does the laundry. According to the article, “there’s a whole body of research around what’s called the ‘mental load.’” It concerns all the work concerning planning, scheduling, maintaining family ties, etc.
Consequently, the need to divide housework fairly remains an issue for many couples and their families. In the following article, we’ll outline a wide array of tips to help couples and other household members perform home chores with a great sense of shared responsibility.
Tips to Divide Chores with a Spouse / Partner
Here, we’ll examine some key ways couples can divide their load of housework to achieve better balance.
Not all chores are created equal. During a hectic week, it’s not uncommon for people to prioritize those chores that must be accomplished, such as washing the dishes and walking the dog. Ensure that you and your partner understand which duties merit top priority status.
Create a Chore Timetable
A visual timetable helps prevent partners from forgetting what chores need to be accomplished. A daily / weekly chore list can help keep housework on track. You might create a timetable that includes a daily schedule so that you don’t have to devote most of the weekend to housework.
Good communication between partners concerning household tasks is essential, but just remember that it can quickly degenerate into bickering and nagging when tasks aren’t performed. Discuss the importance of completing the work responsibility. If you or your partner can’t get to a chore when expected to, communicate your difficulty and willingness to trade chores or simply that you will get to the work as soon as you can.
Positive communication that supports the appreciation of one another can ensure that chore sharing never becomes a ‘thankless job.’
Maintain Fairness and Take Turns
Fairness is tough. Let’s be honest. It’s easy to divide up chores on paper. In real life, however, plans can quickly go awry. Someone has to work late, someone unexpectedly has to bring the car to the shop, someone gets the flu, someone receives surprise concert tickets; maintaining fairness requires mindfulness. Try to ensure that there is balance even when plans change and impact household schedules. Also, try to change up the chores, so one individual isn’t always stuck with toilet cleaning!
Often, one partner outshines another when it comes to home cleanliness. Everyone tackles housework a bit differently. Try not to criticize one another when work isn’t performed entirely as to how you’d do it. Criticism can erode positive feelings like gratitude.
Having a roommate may or may not be a permanent situation, but it’s important to divide up the household chores evenly, even when living with someone temporarily. Here are few tips to keep in mind:
Have a frank conversation with your roommate from the start. Discuss that you value shared household work, and then discuss the types of chores that will have to be accomplished. Also, remember to define your vision of a “clean home.” Your version of clean and orderly might not be theirs. Try to come to some agreements before conflicts arise.
Create a Cleaning Schedule
There are different ways to approach cleaning schedules. You might alternate cleaning tasks each week or divvy out daily tasks. Don’t rely on a verbal schedule. It’s too easy for someone to say (and mean) “I forgot.” Write the list down on paper or even a whiteboard.
What’s the consequence of failing to live up to cleaning obligations? It’s unfair for one roommate to be stuck with picking up the slack for another. Think about how you can hold each other accountable for completing cleaning tasks on time.
How to Include Your Kids in Housework
Teaching kids the value of housework and instructing them to care for their home helps kids develop essential skills. Naturally, you’ll want to focus on age-appropriate tasks, but even young children can learn to contribute to the household’s care needs.
Assign young children simple tasks. For instance, even toddlers can learn to put their toys in toy bins or replace books on a shelf. They may be able to scoop the dog’s dry food into its bowl or help parents with tasks like dusting.
As kids age, they can take on more challenging chores such as:
- Washing dishes
- Emptying dishwasher
- Mowing the lawn
- Walking the dog
- Making their bed and others
Use Chore Calendars & Reward Systems
Create a fun visual calendar that you and the kids can refer to. Each day, they can see what they’re responsible for. As kids live up to the responsibilities, be sure to reward their hard work. Create a rewards system to help them stay on track and motivated to perform chores well.
Involve Children in the Decision-Making Process
Kids may appreciate having some say-so in when to perform chores. For instance, they may want to complete their chores on school days to have the weekends free. Discuss their wishes and try to make compromises when you can. When kids contribute to the plan, they may become more invested in its success.
Benefits of Including Your Kids in Housework
There are many benefits to assigning kids chores around the home. Certainly, it’s nice to get some help, but kids don’t always perform chores at the level that an adult will. Even so, there is substantial value in helping them to improve their skills. Here are some benefits for including kids in the housework:
Kids who perform household chores routinely while growing up often experience a greater level of success. Performing chores helps them develop skills that can influence their self-discipline, time management skills, and self-confidence.
Kids are capable of maintaining responsibility. When they accomplish a chore, they’ll realize that they are capable of being responsible individuals.
As kids learn to perform housework and become good at it and good at being responsible, they’ll develop self-esteem. They’ll learn that their contributions are valuable to the home and their family.
Including the entire household in housework can strengthen family bonds. When you include everyone, everyone understands that they have an important role to play in the home.
Here’s a list of some chores to consider assigning your children according to their age:
Ages 3 to 6
- Put away toys
- Set the table for meals
- Make their bed
- Help feed pets
- Sweep the floors (outfit them with a small broom)
- Wipe surfaces with water
- Dust low-to-ground furnishings
Ages 6 to 9
- Dry dishes
- Fold clean towels
- Gather dirty dishes and return them to the kitchen
- Remove dirty linens from beds
- Collect and put away toys throughout the house
- Wipe surfaces clean with water and dish soap
- Put their clean laundry away
- Wash fruits and vegetables
- Assist with basic cooking tasks (i.e., peel potatoes, operate toaster)
- Pull garden weeds (with gloves)
- Carry groceries from the car and help put them away
- Dog cleanup in the yard
- Clean mirrors with glass cleaner
- Maintain their bedrooms for cleanliness and order
When everyone living in a household pitches in, there’s bound to be less chaos and disorder. You can prevent stress and conflict from occurring over housework by keeping these cleaning tips in mind. We invite you to also read this incredible article with the 10 best cities in America for African American families.