When it comes to responsibilities at home, it can be difficult to figure out what works best for you and your partner or family. There are countless articles written about the difficulties — and frustrations — involved in hashing things out. We’ve pulled together some tips to help you find a balance that feels right for your household.
List the Absolute Basics
It’s pretty easy to talk yourself into counting optional tasks you take on as required parts of running your home. Just because you personally enjoy having dozens of houseplants strewn about the place doesn’t mean that watering them for two hours each week should be counting toward your household contribution. Talk with your spouse or partner about what’s absolutely required to keep your household running.
Agree On Expectations
If one of you has higher expectations around a certain chore, they may see the other person as lacking in their contributions. For example, if your husband thinks cleaning the dishes also means wiping the sink down afterward, they may feel like you never ‘finish’ washing up.
If neither of you is technically responsible for a given chore, how do you decide week in and week out who does it? Failing to assign ownership opens your relationship up to resentment.
Take FULL Responsibility
If a chore is your responsibility, that means it’s fully yours. The trash is a good example. Taking responsibility for a chore in its entirety includes staying on top of it without having to be asked and doing the chore fully each time. In this example, it also means knowing when you’re out of trash bags, most likely. You’re also probably responsible for remembering which day is trash pickup.
Understand the Time Involved
If one partner does all of the cooking, that means they’re also probably the one who has to spend time each week planning out the meals. They’re the one putting together a grocery shopping list and juggling a mental calendar of family events to make sure they’re planning appropriately. When you’re considering how to split household chores, try to remember that.
Some chores are just grosser than others. That includes washing dishes and cleaning bathrooms for most people. It’s common for one person to care a bit less about the ick factor, but it might not always be a great idea to load them up with these types of chores, either.
Agree On What’s Fair
Fair doesn’t have to mean equal, here. What works for one family won’t work for another in an entirely different situation. Try to think carefully about the tasks that are actually required, how much time they really take and how willing you are to spend more or less time on household management.
Treat Each Other’s Time Equally
It’s easy to assume that one person’s time is ‘worth’ more. This approach can be a source of real problems throughout the course of a relationship or marriage. You both only have 24 hours each day.
While you might thank someone for cooking dinner, it can be more difficult to remember to thank them for washing dishes at the end of it, too.
Check Back In
When you first set out to equitably balance the household chores, it’s difficult to get things exactly right. Try out a system for a few weeks and take some notes on how much time you’re spending on your portion. Check back in with your partner, compare notes and see if you need something a little different.