There are no two ways about the fact that chores are a drag – matter how much two people are crazy about each other and glad of sharing a home, still almost every couple would agree that the sight of dirty dishes piled high in the kitchen sink or bags of laundry waiting to be done are nothing to get excited about. However tacking even this unpleasant task can be made bearable if you can tackle the chores together.
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List your priorities
The first thing you need to do while dividing chores between you and your partner is to decide what your priorities as a couple. Discuss how you both feel about home cooked meals versus quick meals or eating out now and then. If home-cooked meals are important to you and your partner, then someone will have to buy groceries, cook and then clean up. On the other hand if saving time is more of a priority, you can eat out or get food delivered to your home. Similarly find out your feelings about dusting, cleaning the toilet, making the bed, mowing the lawn, paying bills and so on. Once you are able to figure out what aspects of living is important to you – like clean toilets - and what you can do without – like shining cyrstalware - you will be able to jot down the chores that need to be done around the house and thus find time to do them with your partner.
Break it up in parts
For chores that need to be done every day like washing dishes, doing laundry or cooking if you prefer to eat healthy home-cooked food, it is important to find time to do them together. for instance in case of cooking, while one person chops and dices, the other can put the water to boil for pasta or whip up a quick dessert. Likewise after dinner is done, one person can scrape the dishes clean while the other can take them out from the dishwasher and put them back in their racks. Sometimes a long chore as preparing and having dinner can be broken down into stages and got through by each performing a part of the whole. Thus if you are the cook of the house, you can make dinner while your partner cleans up the spills and counter-top afterwards. Likewise with laundry – while one person can put dirty clothes in the washing machine and start it, the other can take them out and fold them.
Plan it out
In case of chores that can be done once in a while like vacuuming the house or mowing the lawn, talk to your partner about setting aside a couple of hours a week for such chores. A discussion will help you figure out a time when you both are free to dust, pick up, vacuum and generally do whatever needs to be done around the house. For instance while your partner puts away anything that has been left out in the foyer and the living room, you can puts away anything that has been left out in the kitchen, dining area, and bedrooms. Then as you go on to dust all of the rooms and/or clean with furniture polish, your partner can wipe down all of the surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom(s) and cleans the toilet(s). Later on, one person can mop the kitchen floor and any other non-carpeted area while the other can vacuum the rest of the rooms. A great idea to make it all a fun thing to do – so put on some music full-blast and keeps some lemonade handy. And once you are through, don’t forget to reward yourselves by going out to your favorite restaurant for dinner or munching on popcorn as you watch your favorite DVD.
Get the order right
However before you tackle your weekly chores together, consider what needs to get done before your partner or you can do those jobs. For example, in your house you may need to make sure all of the books, CDs and papers are put away before you can vacuum or dust. Otherwise, you would have to stop what you were doing and move stuff every few minutes. So make a list of the order that things need to get done. Begin with the basic straightening and then, when it comes to actual cleaning, think from the top down. For example put away anything that has been left out in each room like papers and books. Then dust the furniture or wipe down surfaces. After this maybe you can change sheets on all the beds and then go on vacuuming.
No matter how much you enjoy doing things together with your partner, there are bound to be some chores that you both despise doing like scrubbing bathroom tiles. In order to tackle these, come to a kind of agreement that if your partner did them one weekend, you would do them the next time and vice versa. This will prevent any resentment piling up resulting from one person doing it always but at the same time, get the job done.
Don’t give in to gender role expectations
Even after you and your partner agree on doing housework together, somewhere gender role expectations can creep in and make things unpleasant for either of the partners. traditionally women have been saddled with the job of cleaning and cooking which is why men prefer to volunteer for more ‘manly’ stuff such mowing the lawn and getting the groceries. But at the end of the day housework is just that – a cumulative of all the chores that need to be done when sharing a life with another person. So if you are the guy, avoid falling into the trap of supposed gender roles - thus if your wife agrees to cook dinner after a long day at the workplace, pitch in by tossing up a salad or cleaning up post-cooking. Likewise if your guy gets the milk and veggies everyday without complaining, fill up the gas tank while he is at the store and throw in a quick clean up of the car if there is enough time.
Take it easy
It is important not to set too high a standard for your partner to follow when sharing household chores. While some people are naturally meticulous and tidy in their work, many of them are just happy to go through the chores and be done with them. So if you repeatedly criticize your partner for not doing the chores as perfectly or exactly as you do, he/she will lose any interest in sharing housework. If he has not stacked the dishes exactly like you or if her pancakes take too long to appear on the table, let it be. Or you may find your partner purposely doing slow or sloppy work, knowing that a perfectionist like you would rather take over the chores, thereby leaving him/her free to enjoy his/her leisure. Instead try and see shared housework as an opportunity to spend more time with each other, to laugh and sing along together. And in this day of frenzied routines and mad rush hours, every moment of togetherness counts.