Despite everything the media writes about equality in relationships, it always seems to be one half of a couple who ends up with ultimate responsibility for the housework in your home.
This may be because your other half works long hours or shifts – or relationships may begin with both partners eager to share the housework, but this diminishes over time.
Even a partner who stays at home and cares for children or who works from home can begin to feel in need of a break from their housework duties occasionally.
Here are a few tips on how to balance household responsibilities – and persuade your other half to give you a break from household drudgery.
Getting organised in the home
- Rotas are okay, but too often unexpected events can throw a rota off. Far better to draw up a list of what has to be done and tick it off as it gets done, as then you can see who does what (use different coloured pens).
- If you have children, draw up a list of their weekly activities so you both know what needs to be covered eg swimming, sleepovers and dental appointments. Do the same for relatives you care for and pets, as well as your own work or weekly commitments. Once you have your lists drawn up, a pattern of who does what should emerge and you can both begin to work out how tasks and duties could be re-arranged.
- If your partner resents doing household chores because they work or they simply cannot organise themselves, you may need to discuss why: maybe they are genuinely stressed at work or from commuting, or may even be feeling depressed.
- Staying at home with young children or working from home can also make partners feel isolated and stressed. People who work from home often end up shouldering more of the burden of care and housework – and also have to fit in a full day’s work, so be aware of that.
Time saving tips to free up time include
- Do chores together so you both help out and spend time together.
- Have a glass of red wine as you dust or vacuum (red wine is excellent for keeping heart and arteries healthy) and make it more fun.
- Allocate chores – if cooking and washing has to be done, share the chores.
- Involve older children – ask them for help and grant privileges (eg an extra half an hour staying up to watch TV at night at weekends) for washing up or cleaning the car. Dock pocket money for not tidying rooms and share a family treat like chocolate when tasks are finished.
- If a chore does not get done, don’t get stressed and start a row. Make sure you have enough food, pet food, milk and teabags and wipe the surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom so they are hygienic – do the chore the next day, or as soon as you can.
Arguing over household chores
Arguing over a chore only causes more resentment – sitting down and discussing it or asking for help can help find a new way of doing things.
- If your partner regularly fails to do their share, discuss it and find out why.
- Giving your partner half-an-hour to themselves when they arrive home can help them relax and cheerfully get involved in getting the kids to bed or helping out with laundry.
- If your partner has to do work instead of household chores don’t get grumpy.
- Don’t leave work, go to the pub and come home late smelling of alcohol – this is the fastest way to build resentment in the partner waiting at home.
- Don’t greet your partner in the pyjamas you were wearing when they left home for the 6.30am commute and complain of feeling exhausted: you may have been working like a galley slave all day, but if they have just crawled off the train after a long commute or a hard day’s shift work, it may cause resentment if you look as though you have not been working hard.
Remember this is your home and family you are working for – being single and able to live surrounded by takeaway cartons instead of doing household chores may be appealing when you feel stressed, but a home is what you put into it, and not always what you take out.
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