When my husband and I first moved in together, we were both working full time, and evenings were a time to relax. After dinner we’d curl up on the couch to watch some TV or I’d write blog posts while he played video games. Boring tasks like cleaning the house, doing laundry and going to the supermarket, were relegated to the weekend. We didn’t have a schedule for these recurring responsibilities; we just did them when we felt like them (or at the last minute before having guests over our apartment), which, in hindsight, wasn’t the best plan because we got in the habit of putting them off… and off… and off…
Now we live in a two story house with even more surface area to keep clean and have a dog for whom we are responsible. My husband still works full time, and although I only have a very part-time job, I still put off doing chores until the weekend when we can do them together. Why? Partly habit, partly because cleaning is not fun, and I’d rather spend my day doing more enjoyable things like writing and trolling the blogosphere. Given the choice, I would even rather drag myself to the gym in 11 degree weather to do 30 minutes on the elliptical machine than scrub toilets and tubs.
But lately I’ve been thinking about my role in our marriage. Although I have no intention of ever becoming the June Cleaver-type of wife, the truth is that, for now, I am home while my husband is at work. If I have the time (and I’m sure I could find it), wouldn’t I want to do whatever I could to make his life easier when he gets home late? Wouldn’t I want to get some of the boring housework out of the way during the week so that our weekends are free to spend time together doing fun things?
There’s no way that I’m ever going to jump out of bed in the morning and wonder in excitement what chores I have the privilege of doing that day. Instead, I will need to build household chores into my daily routine. If I can do one or two chores every day, by the weekend, there should be little (if not nothing) left to do. I won’t have to scramble on a Friday or Saturday evening to tidy before friends coming over for dinner. I won’t have to worry about being embarrassed by the dust on our side tables or the water stains in the bathroom sink.
Growing up I spent my summers at an 8-week overnight camp in the Pocono Mountains. Twice daily our bunks were inspected for cleanliness. To ensure that one person wasn’t stuck with “sinks and johns” duty every day, we had a job wheel that we would rotate daily. The outer ring had a list of chores like sweeping and dustpan and garbage, and the inner ring had our names.
Maybe what I need to do is create some sort of grown-up job wheel for myself, a chore chart that breaks down the tasks that need be done by day. For example, Monday is bathroom day, Tuesday is laundry day, Wednesday is vacuum day, etc. Or, do I pledge to do one load of laundry each day, rather than four or five on a single day? Vacuum one room a day instead of the whole house at once?
Real Simple has a daily cleaning checklist on its website, but I can’t imagine it would only take me 30 minutes to knock off everything on their list. The blog Unclutterer also has tips for mastering recurring responsibilities. And of course, Martha Stewart has her own checklists – a daily version and a weekly one.
I would love to know how you delegate chores in your household and if get them done daily, weekly or as needed. Have you and your spouse mastered your recurring responsibilities?
(Images via marthastewart.com)