Why is it that in some homes one person ends up doing all the work? And trust me, it’s not always the woman either.
Men and women should share the workload equally – that is, if they share the responsibility to raise an income equally. In our marriage it has always worked like this: If both of us worked full time, the household chores were an equal responsibility – 50/50. If one worked part time, it became a 70/30 split. If one were unemployed, that person is solely responsible for the household. It is only fair after all! We have been married for 21 and a bit years now, and it is still working.
It can be a lot of fun to clean together. Don’t make it a chore, make it a game or even romantic! This way you will actually look forward to doing it together …
And then there is the children. I know I don’t have any, but I used to be a teacher for long enough to know that children should do chores. It is actually good for them! Even when they don’t think so!
Prime example: I have a friend who is really struggling to get the household to run smoothly. She has three children and a husband. But no-one does anything to help. Why??? I asked her. Her answer? When she was growing up, they had a full-time maid who worked for her parents. It was never expected of her to do any chores. Now as a grown woman, with a household of her own, but no money for a maid, let alone a full time one, she doesn’t have the first clue how to organize herself or her family.
After this conversation she finally understood how important it is for children to have responsibilities in the house. She still has to ask for help, because she did not teach the children at a young age to take responsibility, but at least when she asks, they now help. But imagine if she taught this to them from a young age …
Another example: Another friend is a single mom, with a son. She is teaching him that some tasks you HAVE to do – just like when you are a grown-up, there is certain things that is not negotiable – you simply have to do it whether you feel like it or not. Other tasks you can choose to do, or not – but she attached a value to these tasks (clever woman). So if you do them, there is a reward, just like at work (hopefully, if you work on commission basis), the harder you work, the bigger the pay cheque. She took it a step further, and is teaching him to save 10% of his money, but that is a post for another day. (He is only 8 years old, by the way – what a foundation for bringing up a responsible adult!)
Last example: I have a friend who taught both her children from a very young age that they are not allowed to play with the next toy if the previous one was not put away first. A lot of people thought she was ‘over the top’, ‘too strict’, but I tell you, her kids pick up after themselves! She did not turn into their maid! This translated to them making their own beds as soon as they were old enough, as well as having cleaning chores. It is a joy to visit them!
So how to implement this if it is a foreign concept in the home…
- To start with, call a family meeting. Explain (in the nicest possible way) that you are done picking up and cleaning after every-one.
- Have a list of everything that needs to be done in the home ready (don’t be caught with your pants down. If you don’t write it down before hand, you will forget things, they will not mention it and it will simply become your responsibility, again).
- Have a discussion about the split of responsibilities and why you are suddenly expecting it from them.
- Make it sound like fun! This is a brilliant way to build relationships!
- Make sure every-one knows what is expected from them and when.
- If you want to you can also add in a consequence list – what will happen if you don’t do your chores …
And no, no child over the age of two is too young to have chores! Believe me, if you make it fun, they will 1. want to do it 2. fight to have a turn, instead of fighting about whose turn it is.
Here is a few ideas for chore charts, as well as age appropriate chores.
Let me know how you are getting on with this in the comment section