5 Strategies for Sharing Household Chores
Who handles the housework in your home? Whether you’re a family of four juggling working from home and distance learning or a career-minded couple who works hard and wants time to relax, you’ve likely had disagreements about chores. In fact, disagreements about housework are routinely cited as one of the most common household arguments. Even if your family excels at sharing responsibilities, it never hurts to reassess now and then. We’ve put together some household cleaning strategies for families of all kinds to help you divide and conquer the chores.
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Consider Time Equitably
When dividing up chores, it's important to take into account everyone's other responsibilities both in and out of the house—including school, childcare, paying bills, or preparing meals. This ensures that everyone's time is valued equally. For example, if one spouse works part time while the other works full time, it may be more equitable for the part-time worker to take on more household tasks than their partner. However, be sure to acknowledge that everyone has the same number of hours in the day and deserves free time to relax or pursue other interests. When chores are divided equitably, each member of the family respects and protects each other’s time as just as valuable and finite as their own.
Set Clear Expectations
Different people have different standards and expectations when it comes to cleaning. Just because you are a family doesn’t mean you all think the same. This is perhaps most obvious when it comes to kids and chores, but it can apply to spouses, too. Maybe one person feels that bedding should be changed every other day while another thinks a couple times a month is sufficient. Or perhaps when one partner asks the other to “do the dishes,” they mean washing, drying, and putting them away, but their spouse stops after the washing step because they consider drying the dishes and putting them away a separate task. When talking about chores, be sure everyone’s on the same page about what a task entails to minimize frustration and resentment.
Create a List, Then Break It Down
If you’re not sure where to begin when divvying up household chores, create a master list of everything in the house that needs to be done and how often. (Need a little inspiration? Check out our article on creating a consistent cleaning routine for common tasks and typical frequencies.) Then use that master list to personalize a list of chores for each member of the household until all the responsibilities are assigned. Some will be obvious—for instance, if you have younger children, you’ll want to make sure their chores are age appropriate—but after that, you may want to use a round-robin system to keep things fair. Let each family member have a turn claiming a cleaning task for their list and continue until everything’s been claimed.
Build Positive Associations for Kids
Even as young as two or three, kids can begin picking up their toys, putting dirty clothes in a laundry basket, or helping to set the table. The key is making sure tasks are age appropriate and creating a positive association around household responsibilities. Clean as a team while playing upbeat music, or turn chores into a game with a reward at the end. Every child is a little different in terms of their development and what kind of tasks they can handle, but once you determine which chores they can complete on their own, empower them to take ownership of the tasks to give them a true sense of accomplishment.