How To Split Chores And Responsibilities With Your Partner
Maintaining a home requires a lot of time and effort, and splitting domestic chores and responsibilities is part of living together. Nevertheless, everyday tasks and obligations can be a source of tension when sharing a home with someone else, especially after moving in with your significant other.
Whether you are preparing to live with your partner, or already cohabiting and wanting to find a better arrangement, a lot of questions can surface. How do you divide the tasks? How do you decide who does what? How do you achieve a system that seems fair to both of you?
These issues may be seen as trivial but there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Here below are some tips to help you find a system that is right for you.
And be sure to get your free chore splitting chart print out.
1. List what needs to be done
In my opinion, the first thing to do is write an exhaustive list of what has to be done daily, weekly, monthly and annually.
It’s a good basis to divide the tasks, but it can also be a way for everyone involved to see how much goes into having a clean and functional home (since some tasks may be “invisible” to the other person).
Housekeeping related obligations are the ones that first come to mind, but do not forget about administrative and supply related tasks. This list could include paying the bills, doing the grocery shopping, taking medical appointments, planning events and holidays… All of these tasks need thinking ahead and time to be accomplished.
2. Talk about what seems fair to both of you
Depending on your situation, you may want to approach a 50/50 distribution of the tasks. Know that it can be achieved in different ways and that it is not the only solution. I think the key here is to realize that sharing the chores and responsibilities equally does not mean that each of you has to do the same amount of housework every day.
A 50/50 ratio can be achieved over a week or even a few weeks, in accordance with your respective schedules.
For example, if one partner works longer hours during the week, causing the other one to cook and clean on weekdays, they can take care of the cooking during the weekend, or deal with what can be done on the way home (picking up dry-cleaning or groceries, dropping off mail…).
Moreover, instead of halving the list of tasks, you could try and split individual tasks in two. Each of you could do their own laundry, or you could wash the dishes while the other dries and puts away the tableware. Some tasks can even be done together; folding bed sheets is easier with a partner!
3. Learn how to delegate
In the past, I have been guilty of wanting to divide the chores equitably, but at the same time supervising the tasks the other was responsible for.
It is also common to take the easy way out and keep most of the tasks for yourself, especially if you feel like you are more organized or responsible than your partner. As you can imagine, these habits can be harmful and counterproductive.
Sharing your life and your home with someone requires you to trust them and give them responsibilities. The best way to avoid having too much on your plate is to entrust your partner with the tasks that you now have to share.
4. Keep your preferences in mind when assigning the tasks
When I was in high school, I lived for a year with my dad only. During this time we agreed that as long as he took care of the cats (food, litter and medical care if needed) I would clean the shared spaces, such as the kitchen or living room. We both cleaned our private spaces (bedroom and bathroom), and did our own laundry.
Based on what we liked, did not mind doing or wanted to avoid (in my case, emptying the litter box) we came up with an arrangement that worked for us.
I would clean the house on the weekend, while my dad was out at work or going grocery shopping. Our respective tasks both fit our preferences and our timetables.
5. Take note of your non-negotiables
When completing the list of tasks that need to be done (see above), you’ll likely realize that your needs and notions of cleanliness and hygiene are different from your partner’s. This means that some tasks will not resonate with one partner and each partner will want chores to be done in different ways or frequencies.
For example, if you like your clothes to be folded in a specific manner, but your partner doesn’t see the point in using the KonMari method, you should maybe take care of putting away clothes instead of trying to convince someone to adapt to your way of doing things.
6. Outsource or automate want you can
There are chores that both of you won’t want to tackle. It will make it harder to come to an agreement on who does what and when. Maybe you both dislike mowing the lawn or you would really like to avoid going out to do the groceries.
In some cases, you will be able to hire professionals that will take care of these dreaded chores. You can also look for services that will help you automate some of the tasks. Why not have your food staples automatically delivered at your house?
Speaking of automation, use shared calendars and reminders at your advantage!
7. Plan and define rules together
Depending on how you divide the tasks and how easy it is for both of you to find motivation, you could find planning together helpful.
Having fixed days for specific chores, or a flexible calendar if you have more of an unpredictable schedule, can help assure that the tasks will be completed. This way, you will also be able to track your progress and create an efficient routine over time.
You could, for example, set a 30-minute slot to clean the house on Friday after work. Or you could decide by common consent that laundry will have to be done by Sunday night, or that you will have to clean your car out once a month.
8. Let go of your expectations and frustrations
One of the biggest risks when sharing chores and responsibilities is to end up arguing or nagging when the tasks are not finished or executed as expected.
What should you do when you have to ask over and over for something to be done? If it happens regularly, you may want to rethink your system and have an honest talk with your partner.
Maybe they do things differently, and it is starting to irritate you. Ask yourself it is really important? Does doing it your way really make your life easier?
The most important thing is to not let frustration or resentment grow. Discuss the situation with your partner, and rather than listing what they did wrong, or did not do, ask them about their process and explain your needs.
To conclude, remember that there is no point in comparing yourselves to other couples. They may have totally unalike arrangements due to different dynamics and schedules. Housekeeping is a part of daily life, but is not a subject worth quarreling over. As always, good communication and understanding are key.