Divying Up the Chores

9 Aug

It’s one of the first orders of business when figuring out how to live with another person and it’s always a tough job. You can’t decide how to approach the conversation of telling someone else what you think their chores should be because that seems so harsh. And then what do you do when the other person doesn’t hold up their end of the deal? There’s another awkward confrontation. “Uh, remember that deal we made where you do the laundry? Yeeeah, doesn’t look like you’ve been doing that.” Since I’ve now been living with someone (lovely who is never, ever an issue ;)) for almost ten months, I have a small amount of insight on how to take the sting away from sharing chores.

Remember that in my situation, I’m home for a good 75% of the week so in our case, I do around 80% of the chores. In most people’s lives, this isn’t the case but I think there may still be someone who can draw wisdom from my suggestions.

Amount of chores per person should be based somehow on how long each of you are home. As I just illustrated, if one of you spends more time than the other in the house, that person should naturally do more. I don’t mean that if someone is constantly going out with friends or partying that they shouldn’t spend anytime helping out around the house, though. I mean that your portion of the chores should depend on the time that you’re not working.

If your roommate/partner likes a certain chore more than you do, let him/her handle it. That’s one less thing to worry about. You may have someone who doesn’t like to do anything, though and I’ll get to that in a bit.

If you have something that you like done in a way that is uniquely and precisely your style, it’s polite to take that as your job. Because assigning dish-washing to your friend and then fussing at her for leaving a tiny particle of cheese on the bottom of the plate is a bit rude. Also under this category, don’t criticize anyone who is genuinely trying to help out. It can cause a lot of insecurity to look at the other person’s work and say, “but you just did it all wrong.” Then what’s the point of them even doing it? If you really must, offer suggestions…but nicely. Otherwise, deal with the little imperfections and realize that they’re better than no help at all.

When you get to the things that neither of you like to do, make sure you have an equal number of chores that make you frown.  That’s what sharing is all about. Some people can never be made happy no matter how fair you are, though, and it’s important to show that you’re both sucking it up. At least if they’re going to be cry-babies, they can’t cry about you being so unfair.

Try to steer clear of alternating days/weeks. It’s confusing but if you really must, then you must.

Now that you’ve set up your lists and schedules, let me share my method for handling chores that aren’t being done.

1. I try to wait a little while and see if the accumulation of things triggers the other person’s memory. Like if my partner is supposed to help with the laundry, I see if letting all the baskets fill up makes it easier to remember. However, this could become a negative kind of avoiding and if you’re not careful, could become passive aggressive. So…

2. The moment that it starts to actually annoy you, have a sit-down with the other person. Or just give a little suggestion. “Hey, it would really help out if you could do the dishes tonight. We’re running out of clean cups.” If it’s consistent, then a come-to-Jesus meeting might be necessary. Just don’t let it go on bugging you because life’s too short not to share what’s getting under your skin with the person you care about. You always want to give a friend a chance to improve.

3. I think this is especially important if you’re in a relationship/marriage with the person you’re living with: never do it for him/her. Mainly because it will make you mad and will sprout a tiny hang nail that will never really get plucked until one day you explode like, “I always have to clean the tub out for you! Why don’t you love me?!” My rule is, if it would upset me to do it, I don’t. I don’t martyr myself like that, ever. Now, if I feel like doing something nice for hubs, I certainly do but that’s different.

Well, I hope this experience comes in handy for you. Hubs is going to join in later this week with a little guest post on advice for new husbands (and maybe even for some of us ladies on how to handle them). I’m so happy I could just pinch his cheek. 😀

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