Resolution: Chore Sharing

True confessions.  I love a huge mess that needs organization.  I find it oddly comforting and challenging at the same time to figure out how to tackle it, organize it, and put it in order.  It could also be my OCD, but who cares?  It just feels GOOD to organize.  I actually volunteer to clean the kitchen after Thanksgiving or other holiday.  I normally hate doing dishes, so why do I get such joy from an epic mess?  Especially when weekly chores are enough to put me in a foul mood?

StrengthFinders is an interesting assessment that identifies your top five strengths.  The thought is that if you focus on the things you enjoy doing, you will be more successful and be more content with your work.  I prefer this over the old model focused on improving weaknesses.  We all know our weaknesses, so who wants to spend a bunch of time doing stuff you hate?  I say embrace what you are good at and get GREAT at it.  My #2 strength is analytical.  It’s bookended by Harmony #1 (I genuinely need everyone around me to be happy and have their needs met….you should be inside my head at a meeting or dinner…) and #3 Includer (I despise exclusion of others).  The analytical side of me is fed by research, list-making, and a little program that I sometimes feel was created just for me: Excel.

Now I’m not an Excel Jedi Master like Jenny and Mike, but I can hold my own.  I love that I can calculate, list, organize, chart, color-code, and link to my heart’s content.  I get tremendous satisfaction organizing a project and modeling in Excel.  Literally, I have chills just thinking about it.

So what is the link between cleaning my house, Excel, and StrengthFinders?  My husband.

When it comes to divvying up household chores, I can find myself getting frustrated because I tend to be the one who tackles the deeper cleaning or more involved projects.  Think scrubbing floors, cleaning out the refrigerator, dusting.  It’s not that A won’t do these things, he just doesn’t see that they need to be done necessarily.  We can look at the same space and see two very different things.  And guess what happens when I get frustrated?  I get snippy.  Which leads to an argument.  Which doesn’t lead to him wanting to jump in and help me organize the garage.  He recommended I ask him to do certain chores, but again, then I felt like I was always nagging him and I still felt frustrated.  After five years of disagreements over cleaning, A said: Give me a list of what/when and I will get it done.

Interesting.

We’ve been bantering about this idea for a while, but I finally had some time to sit down and map it out.  Previously, he would have balked at this concept, but after K was born we found that we had to get organized just to survive and eat.  We have a white board in our kitchen that we fill out each weekend.  We determine our meals for the week and use it to create our grocery list. Whomever gets home first, starts the dinner listed on the board.  This has been working so well for us, maybe we can expand this to household chores?

I started by making a list of each room and then I walked through each space and wrote down everything that needs to be done and at what frequency (i.e. weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, every six months).  I also noted approximately how long each task takes.  I factored this in along with what I’ll call the “desirability” of the task when assigning cleaning duties.  If you get stuck cleaning a bathroom that week, you don’t also have to be the one scrubbing the kitchen floor.  Know what I’m saying?

Next using my ol’ buddy Excel, I created a chart listing all of the chores along the Y axis and weeks along the X axis.   Weekly chores at the top, then bi-weekly, and so on.  Tasks include:

Weekly

We alternate these weekly.  Total time per person is approximately 90 minutes.

  • Vacuuming all rooms
  • Putting away dishes and bleach wiping counters
  • Clearing off dining room table and hutch of misc papers, etc.
  • Clean up toys in living room (K helps with this one)
  • Change sheets, make beds, clean up bedrooms
  • Laundry
  • Meal plan/grocery shop

Bi-weekly

We alternate these as well.  We do two a week, one each.  Total time per person varies 20 to 30 minutes.

  • Dust living room, bedrooms, and shutters
  • File/shred
  • Clean guest bath or master bath
  • Clean kitchen sink and dish drainer

Monthly

We alternate these as well.  They are spread out approximately one per week. Total time per person varies 5 to 20 minutes.

  • Clean wood floor
  • Scrub kitchen floor
  • Wash shower liners
  • Wipe down laundry machines
  • Clean microwave and toaster oven

Every Six Months

We alternate these chores, too.  These are more time consuming – maybe 30 to 60 minutes of actual work time.  We don’t do them all at the same time.  They are spread out every other month.

  • Clean out refrigerator
  • Wash comforters
  • Vacuum couch

We can easily look each week at what needs to be done and who is responsible for it.  We don’t usually clean during the work week, so as long as we get it done sometime during the weekend, we’re good to go.  When we complete the task, we put our initials on the spreadsheet.

Couple of thoughts for you on this model.  We both like crossing things off of lists – I enjoy this so much I will add something to a list I’ve already done just so I can cross it off – so this is kind of like a reward.  It also helps us feel like we get recognition for our efforts because you can each see what the other person did.  Since implementing this structured format, we haven’t argued once about what needs to be cleaned or by who.  It’s been really nice.

Also, I have to let go of some things (aka stop controlling everything).  It can be hard for me to not make the grocery list and shop; I like to pick out what I like and have my routine.   But if I really want help, I have to let A do this, too.  And I may not go about cleaning something the same way he does, but I have to let him do it his way.  This will take some work for me, I know, but life is too short to be stressed or upset about cleaning, right?!

I am glad to have a partner in this endeavor; I know some of my readers may be doing this solo.  After four weeks, we are settling into a groove with this new routine.  A has grumbled a bit about the frequency, but today told me he actually likes the list and sees the benefits of keeping cleaning on a schedule.  This may be too rigid for some folks and some of you may be horrified by this blog post, but for us – at least for now – it’s working.  It’s been very freeing for me to let A take some things on that I always felt responsible for. I don’t feel resentment building in me as I scrub the bathtub because I know it’s my turn and next time it won’t be.  And I won’t have to ask/nag for it to be done because we’ve already set expectations and we are both holding up our end of the deal.

Thanks, Excel.  You rock.

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