Today more than ever households are comprised of more than one working adult. This can often make the traditional lines of dividing house hold chores, not so traditional! While married couples in many inadvertent ways continue to live life with certain tasks being associated with male or female; they now have to introduce thoughts into their mental make up that makes the picture of mom in a gown hanging laundry with clips a thing of the past! Sharing responsibilities around the house is important and if you ask any women she will certainly say that this has been a long time coming- but the question then goes to how couples should divide the to do list so that it all gets done! And how can Dad or hubby remain manly’ when he is elbow deep in dirty dishes and dirty underwear (literally)!
The trick really is to first decide what needs to be done on a daily basis. Rather than assume that if the chore is something like taking trash to the road it is left up to the man; think of it as who has the most time in that day to get it down. Rather than dividing household chores making one complete list of to-do’s can get both working parents on the same page when it comes to responsibility. There are tons of households where one partner DOES more around the house and often this is so because they never voice their concern to their partner. Many men have no idea how much elbow grease it takes to maintain a clean house just like many women might not realize the time and energy associated with keeping the yard! This is where keeping a to-do list can come in handy. Once the chores are checked off it can be easy for both partners to see what was really done in a day’s work!
When both partners actually see for their own eyes just how much work goes in to preparing meals, lunches, turning laundry, dusting, paying bills, dealing with the garbage, the dishes, the laundry, cleaning the toilets and sinks, mowing the grass and weed eating, washing cars, vacuuming, picking up the kids rooms and the laundry (yes, that is in there three times for a reason) they just might begin to naturally develop the urge to pitch in.
Dividing responsibilities really should be about the most effective way to get things done. Life is not about a spotless house and many obsessive compulsive type A people make things much harder on themselves than they need to. Some days it is just okay to say that certain chores are not going to get done. The sooner you realize that the laundry will in fact wait for you; the sooner you will be able to get on with the things that are most important in life; spending time with the family. After all, an evening in your home should not be a whirlwind of people hustling and bustling trying to get 65 things done with brooms, dust pans and baskets of dirty clothes in their hands. Knowing when to say when is a gift!
As you work on sharing responsibilities around the house never be afraid to use all the members of the household. Even the littlest ones can unload a dishwasher or empty the dryer. This can help to teach responsibility and can honestly affect how good a spouse they will be one day. Use the big chart of to-do’s and enlist the children to help. When people live together as a family part of being that family is taking care of each other and learning to take care of themselves as well. If the behavior of pitching in is just sort of expected as normal and not separated by gender lines; children learn young the art of responsibility.
No one person in a house hold as a whole should always be expected to do more than another. One mistake that couples make often when it comes to dividing tasks is that they ASSUME their partner feels the same way as them about things. For instance, they may feel that the kitchen should always be cleaned right after a meal and when their spouse leaves the table to go do something else they become agitated and assume they are being left with the job on their own. Big mistake! We all have different levels of clean and different ideas about how and when chores are to be done. Just because something is not done WHEN or HOW you want it doesn’t necessarily mean that your partner has eluded responsibility. They might just feel that ‘doing the dishes’ doesn’t mean putting them away, wiping off the counters or even doing the pots and pans’ .
While it is always important that sharing responsibilities around the home becomes an all inclusive and equal chore; there is a good chance that from one day to the next one partner will always do more. It may always be Dad’s job to pick up the kids from ball practice which may make him feel taken advantage of. The laundry might always be left up to Mom. The bottom line is that sharing these responsibilities also means sharing a certain way of thinking about chores as a whole. After you have worked all day the last thing anyone wants to come home to is more work. Picking one day of the week to do it all where everyone is home might be the best way to divide responsibilities and keep things on an even keel without sexist expectations and without overwhelming one person.
All work and no play definitely make for a boring life! While it may not be fun to live in a home filled with environmental chaos; it may just be a necessary evil some days. If no amicable solution can be reached look into hiring someone to come in and do some of the larger more time consuming jobs once a week. Sometimes it is worth the money and reduction of stress to pay a little extra and get help especially if this is an issue that divides the house emotionally more than the to-do list.