Getting Everyone to Help with Household Jobs
Imagine living in a home where the fridge is always full; you never run out of clean socks or pants; bills are all paid on time, and it doesn't all fall down to you to organise. Sound like a distant dream?
Research shows that half of those that say their homes are not as clean and tidy as they would like them to be, blame it on themselves being too busy - even when others are living in the home.
With the responsibility of the household jobs often falling to one person to manage, it's yet one more thing to add to what can seem an already overwhelming to-do list (along with remembering everything from the kid's PE kits to adding toothpaste to the shopping list). This added responsibility can cause us to feel stress and resentment, and put us in attack mode with everyone else in the house.
This mental load can actually cause more exhaustion than the physical load of running a home.
They say many hands make light work. But, when it comes to household jobs helping hands often disappear - it's no wonder it can create tension in the home.
Here are some tips for getting everyone involved.
WRITE DOWN A LIST OF THE ESSENTIAL REGULAR HOUSEHOLD JOBS
First of all - get it out of your head and onto paper. You gain more control with clarity.
Write down the jobs that NEED to be done each day or week, to keep things ticking over.
EVERY DAY Must Do's- This might include hoovering, emptying the bins or putting the washing on.
ONE OTHER ROOM OR HOUSEWORK TASK EACH DAY - One easy habit to adopt is committing to one room per day for 15/30 minutes.
Keep it simple to start with. You can put a more detailed cleaning schedule in place at a later date (if you want to), but if you're already feeling overwhelmed - just do the basics for now.
Here is a copy of our family routine - there is a blank printable on the resources page if you'd like to use this template to create your own.
It takes time to develop habits and routines, so don't worry or give up if your routine doesn't go perfectly, to begin with. Little and often is key, and it will get easier over time.
Research shows that couples who had lived together for many years were less likely to argue over simple jobs such as emptying the bins compared to those who had recently moved in together.
If you find that your routine isn't working - change it. The key to being organised is creating systems that work for you and your family.
If a room feels too stressful, time-consuming or overwhelming to clean, you need to simplify it first. Declutter that room, implement your basic cleaning routine for that room only and concentrate on this room until its easier to maintain, and then move onto the next - gradually adding one room at a time to your cleaning routine.
There are also hundreds of apps that help you to manage and share household chores if you/your partner prefer technology.
ORGANISE A MEETING
Holding a meeting is the best way to get everyone on board. Armed with your list, see if you can share out these jobs, agreeing when they will be done and by whom. You could do them as a team, or take each task in turns.
Make sure you get the kids involved if they are old enough.
Handle the process calmly, carefully and as respectfully as possible. Use it as a time to share ideas and let everyone have a say. Assess what's happening in the family, what's working and what's not.
Communication is really important to help reduce nagging! Especially with partners who are prone to dodging domestic duties. Nagging is damaging to a relationship. Rather than criticising your partner, explain what you want to be done and why. This will be much easier once you've had your meeting.
NIP ANNOYING HABITS IN THE BUD
Find out what irritates your household. This is a chance not only to (calmly) air grievances, but to maybe have a giggle too.
After you've identified the issues, you can come up with a 'duty list' that could include rules like: If you finish something - whether its shower gel or a tub of butter, please rinse it out, recycle it and add another onto the shopping list; when you have a bath or shower or brush your teeth in the sink, please rinse it afterwards; if you see a bin is full, please empty it.
If it takes 2 minutes or less to do, commit to doing it straight away. Hang your clothes up or put them in the laundry basket as soon as you take them off, hang up your towels, wipe down the surfaces after dinner.
Put things away after use. If everything has a place and you put it back after use, it's much easier to maintain a tidier home without too much effort at all.
TEAM UP TO TIDY UP
Make sure that everything in your house, from school bags to mail and paperwork, has a home that everyone knows about. Returning items to their after use - it doesn't have to be immediate and regimented. It's Ok to let kids be imaginative and experimental and allow some mess to happen - but have a regular team tidy up.
It doesn't have to be a tedious chore; put on some music, set a time limit and have fun. The same applies to mealtimes - get everyone in the habit of clearing the dining table, so it doesn't always fall to one person.
Doing jobs together with your partner can be fun. If you both get involved in a task, you might find that you enjoy spending that time together - and the job may get done quicker. ( I have put 'may get done quicker' as I know some people would dispute this, but it's worth giving it a go!)
GETTING THE KIDS TO HELP WITH THE CHORES
Getting kids to help with chores can be a difficult task and can feel like a constant battle.
They may not like it, but it's important for them to learn responsibility - we all have things that we don't necessarily want to do! Teach them the benefits and reasons why jobs need doing. You can be honest and say that parents can feel overwhelmed sometimes and really need their help.
When it comes to getting the kids to help, you have to some systems and routine in place for the jobs that need to be done around the house, before you can start outsourcing to your children - so work through the above tips and actions first.
Work alongside them, to begin with, show them how it should be done and then leave them to it once they understand.
The earlier you get them involved the better. Even children as young as four or five can help to take the washing out of the machine. It's never too late either - just because you now have teenagers who have never helped with the housework before, there is no reason why they can't start now.
Children will need a bit of motivation. A tidy house is not something that they aspire to, so you need to come up with something more exciting. Most adults need a monetary incentive to go to work - its the same for kids.
I've researched the pro's and con's of monetary rewards for children, and if you give them money for every job, you run the risk of them refusing to do tasks because they have enough money saved up (especially teens). The best way to avoid this is to have a basic set of compulsory jobs that they had to do for free (keeping their room tidy and taking dirty clothes to the laundry basket for example), while things like helping to clean the kitchen and bathroom are extras that they can earn from. You can also include rewards such as cinema trips or meals out.
For younger children, instead of money, try another reward system. Like a chart, marbles in a jar or tickets for doing jobs, good habits or showing kindness. Have a target of 10, and when that is reached, your child can have a pre-arranged reward, such as a certain amount of screen time.
Celebrate achievements. Don't get so caught up on the things that still aren't getting done around the house, that you forget to notice the things that are being done.
BUILD A MEAL PLAN
Meal planning and shopping can take up hours. I suggest having a two-week rolling meal programme that you tweak when you need to. This way, you have a shopping list ready to go each week. If you already share the cooking - that's great. If not, get everyone to choose a meal from the plan that they would be happy to make or at least help to make.
LET IT GO
You need to be flexible in allowing others to do a task to the best of their ability without criticism. If you're fussy about folding sheets super neatly, it might be best to do that job for yourself or lower your expectations. Their standards may not be as high as yours, but done is better than perfect.
If you think you'll have trouble giving up the control that running the home gave you, think again. It's nice to feel indispensable, but it's much more rewarding to feel part of a great team. And it's no fun being a control freak! It can quickly disempower everyone else in the family.
Teamwork makes for a happier home, and getting kids involved gives them a sense of pride and achievement. It also gives you the chance to enjoy more 'me time'.
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