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Share the Load: Tips for Sharing Household Labor

As we bring in the new year, many of us are planning how to improve ourselves, our homes, and our relationships with others. In my role as a professional organizer, I’ve seen a recurring theme that one partner or family member feels like they are managing more than their share of the household responsibilities, and want to know how to get their family to at least clean up after themselves and put things away.


Research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that women invest twice as much time as men maintaining the home and caring for children, even while employed full-time or providing more income as the primary breadwinner. This divide only grows considering the all-too-invisible mental and emotional labor of organizing, planning, and logistics that keeps the household running, all whilst ensuring the happiness and wellness of the household members. When one spouse takes on the majority of work, it’s easy for the household to fall into disarray, creating extra strain on relationships and well-being. Below, I’ve listed some of my tips that I hope you can implement to help your family, and self, work through the division of labor in your home!


1) Manage Your Expectations

First and foremost, you have to get yourself in order before you can have order in your home. The only family member you have control over is you, therefore you need to be the one to set your own goals and boundaries. Start with taking stock of your domestic inventory and determining what areas stress you out the most and what steps you could take to reduce your stress. Let’s face it, it’s unlikely that everyone will pull their weight equally, and it’s up to you to determine what you CAN control in order to stay sane.



Remember: just because a certain task is routine to you doesn’t mean that it’s a task that absolutely needs to be completed. Think about tasks that may be nice to have done, but ultimately take too much valuable energy or time from the vital tasks. From there, determine what emotional, physical, or mental labor has to be done because they are vital to your family, and mutually set up how these responsibilities will be managed. All time is created equal, and every household member’s time is equally valuable and finite as the others. Take each other’s perspectives to heart and remain open to honest conversation; It's not easy, but it’s a necessary step if you want to see change.


2) Sharing The Load

The bottom line is that everyone makes a mess, so everyone should help clean it up! But first, everyone needs to have some skin in the game. To get the ball rolling, take a step back and make a list of all of the household chores and who is currently doing each chore. Who is managing the planning, scheduling, organizing, and staying on top of reminders? Next, sit down with the household and go through the list of chores together, identifying who prefers to do certain tasks. If there are already chores and systems that are working, leave them as is. For the tasks that aren’t so loved? Share the load by finding ways to lessen the weight, whether it be through doing the chore together, breaking it down into chunks, or alternating days and taking turns.


With these considerations in mind, it’s also important to recognize your household member’s situations, and see where there may be potential conflicts or overload in certain tasks. Make sure to check in with each other and review weekly schedules to accordingly adjust responsibilities to fit in. And, for chronic task-picker-uppers, resist the urge to micromanage (I’m looking at you, moms)! Rather than monitor and seek to change their task fulfillment to your liking, direct your energy elsewhere and find alternative tasks to do.


3) Getting Everyone On Board


Of course, while this conversation with your partner and or household members is a strong start, its effectiveness is only as good as its implementation. It’s easy to claim tasks as personal responsibility, but when it's time to put them into practice, these tasks can suddenly become a daunting workload for those not used to it. Getting children or a chore-newcomer partner involved with household responsibilities is a mission that requires some mindful tactics and effort. For partners, try to be considerate of the extra time or care they may need whilst learning how to fulfill their new chores. Many have grown up with less homemaking instruction compared to yourself, and lack the same expertise or expectations that you already have mastered. Simply put, they may quite literally need it spelled out to them about what needs to be done and what steps are required to complete it, taking away the potential of having to continuously re-teach or remind them.


With children, the earlier their participation in household responsibilities begins, the better! As soon as kids can start walking, they should be able to contribute to housekeeping tasks, even if it is something small like putting toys away or cleaning up their little spills. Plus, chores don’t have to be seen as a burden! Try making chores fun through little games or playing their favorite music, enforcing that the sense of contributing and accomplishing these tasks is a positive experience rather than a hindrance. Along the same line, offering children small rewards such as an allowance or family activity of their choice continues to build up positive associations with chores and a clean home. Go a step further to enforce household tasks by creating a chore calendar that decides who should complete which tasks, and when, which can be revisited every week with everyone. Above all, the best way to reinforce participation in housekeeping is simply by having and embracing a positive attitude with your family, sharing praise and thankfulness for a job well done, and validating that their effort matters!


4) Outsource Tasks!

At the end of the day, it’s unrealistic to expect that you and your household can manage all of the labor on your own! Many households rely on outside assistance to help maintain their home’s health and happiness through many different resources. Overwhelmed by trying to maintain the emotional labor of being the in-house therapist? Try getting family members involved with real mental health professionals or find local community groups that aid in certain aspects of life, such as mommy support groups, or a senior citizen activities group. Ask a friend or family member to lend a hand or take turns with childcare, pet care, carpooling, lawn maintenance, shoveling the driveway, etc.


And of course, the option of cleaning professionals is nearly limitless in the array of services offered to best fit the needs of your household. Factors such as the size of your family, the size of your home, the number of pets you have, and your schedule can all be considered in the type and quantity of cleaning services you may need. Make sure to take time out as a family to consider the option and see where the aid would be most impactful and what other expenses can be cut or reduced. Although the additional cost of a cleaning service may not be budget-friendly, it may just end up saving your marriage! With patience, understanding, and a bit of help your family can learn to maintain your household together willingly and cooperatively.


 

When considering the labor that goes into maintaining your household, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the seemingly endless to-do list. But, with a bit of honest communication, mindful planning, and personal prioritization, your home and family can become a place of calm and tidiness. With years of experience, let CBOrganzing help your home be happy and healthy with proven methods and expertise!



Feel free to reach out on my Contact Page and check out my social media for more examples! Happy Holidays!













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