laundry after2

When The Man and I were preparing to move in together almost five years ago, we set about discussing who would do what in the household.

Having been responsible for cleaning the bathroom at his parents’ home, he volunteered to keep doing that (SCORE!). On the other hand, I don’t mind doing the dusting because I can arrange things how I want. We agreed I’d take care of vacumming the upstairs floors while he’d mop downstairs and I’d wash the clothes while he’d do the sheets and towels.

Some things were based on skill/interest (I’m more interested in cooking so I plan the meals) and others based on logic (he takes care of the car since he’s the one who uses it every day).

Bigger and more frequent jobs such as shopping, cooking, dishes and finances have been shared responsibilities.

Overall it’s worked really well, but over the last year we’ve both had increased work commitments so our previously smooth process developed a few bumps. Mail would pile up and each of us would secretly hope the other one would deal with it. After a long day we’d forget to ask if the other one had paid that bill.

None of which is conducive to a properly functioning household (or marriage, for that matter).

So we sat down and had a chat one day recently and divvied up a few of the shared tasks. A word of caution: Do not attempt this when you have done the dishes for the twentieth night in a row and are resenting it.

Giving each person more individual responsibilities might seem like a strange thing to do to deal with being so busy. But in reality, it was a huge help and I noticed a difference in not just my actions but my outlook overnight. No matter how busy I am, I know that it’s now up to me to manage our receipts. On the flipside, I don’t have to worry about the cleanliness of the kitchen floor because it’s not my responsibility.

No more silent stand-offs or building resentment.

I definitely prefer having 100% responsibility over 50% of chores rather than 50% of responsibility for every chore. How about you? That’s not to say we don’t communicate with each other about the household (even if one person pays the bills we still regularly discuss finances) or that the system is not flexible (The Man will throw on a load of washing for me if I’m having a particularly hectic weekend).

The balance will vary between couples, of course, depending on your commitments and lifestyle, but I do think it’s helpful to have a clear set of expectations and responsibilities. Otherwise you risk falling into the trap of doing certain chores and end up getting stuck with that expectation and start getting resentful of your partner.

I know we don’t talk ‘relationship’ type stuff here very often, but I firmly believe that a well-oiled household routine is as much a part of a beautiful home as how you decorate it, so I thought it was worthwhile dipping our toes into these murky waters.

Now that I’ve shared how we handle chores chez Parsons, I’d love to know how things work (or perhaps don’t work!) at your place.

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4 Responses

  • I moved back home with my parents to finish university last year, and I’m still here (I did graduate though!). I do all the cleaning and cooking during the week, but then on weekends am still expected to do the laundry and help around the house, which never happens to my siblings when they visit. I don’t mind the stuff during the week, but it’s like, if you do something once, it’s expected that you’ll do it again, or get yelled at for not doing it. Sigh. It’s just frustrating, but because my parent’s are being so generous in letting me stay here, I’d feel like a total brat for complaining. So I guess I am stuck until I find a job — fingers crossed it happens soon-ish, because I definitely don’t enjoy feeling resentment towards my parents when all they’re doing is being kind and amazing. And really, no one should get that upset over having to clear the dishes, anyway. ;)

    • Hmm, that’s a tricky situation Johanna, and possibly one that I’m not qualified to comment on… I did help at home (but in hindsight could have done more) and was never told off.

      If you have time to do it and you’re not paying board you might just have to deal with it for the time being (just think of the brownie points!). If you wanted to broach the subject with them, you could try putting it more like ‘So that I can plan my week better, can we chat about what the expectations are while I’m living here?’. Resentment is definitely not cool so hopefully you work something out (or find a job!) that you’re all happy with. Good luck!

      • Thanks for getting back to me Alicia! It was nice to read in print what I pretty much already know, but am sometimes not super keen to admit! I really appreciate it!
        PS: Hope you guys have an amzing trip, sounds so exciting!

      • My pleasure. Hope it works out for you!

        Thanks, we’re very pumped!!

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