Chore Charts and the Equitable Household

Chore Charts and the Equitable Household

Gregory Han
Jul 29, 2009

In just about every shared household, whether boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, boyfriend/boyfriend, girlfriend/girlfriend, or with roommates, there is usually a discrepancy between one person's preference for household upkeep and another's. Such is the case with our friends: a happily married couple, with the sort of partnership and respect one hopes with all relationships...except in the department of household chores. The first step was acknowledging there was a problem...

As is often the case, the offending party had no idea his cleaning habits were minimal, if non-existent. We are often the product of our own history, with our childhood expectations for chores shaped by our parents' preferences and habits. Upon learning his habits were not ideal for raising an upcoming child in their household, husband-friend agreed to a weekly household cleaning chart (similar to the one used by Sarah Rae). Here's the situation as described by our wife-friend:

My husband and I are polar opposite when it comes to household cleanliness. He has none. In our house I do most of the domestic chores, cooking and cleaning, dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, even laundry. He comes from a household where his mother did everything and the men in the house did nothing domestic. A big coup is that I've gotten him to do the dishes most of the time and help out with the laundry. He also straightens up and makes the bed when guests are coming.

6 months pregnant, I'm trying to divvy up the chores so it's more equitable. I created an Excel spreadsheet with 4 weeks running down the side. Each week is divided into two rows; one row is my chores for the week, and one row is his. I have the days of the week on top in columns. I try not to have any chores on the weekend. We alternate weeks on chores like bathroom duty. I also created another document that actually describes how to do the chores since part of the issue is that he needs specific instructions on how a chore should be done.

I didn't include EVERYTHING that can be done, but just the major tasks, like sweeping at least 2x a week, bathroom cleaning at least 1x week, dusting 1x a week, etc. and mopping 1x a month (we have hardwood floors). When I showed him the chart, he said, "that's a lot of stuff!" to which I almost screamed back "I DO ALL THIS STUFF!"

I can't say that it's working yet, because his answer to all this was, "Can we start this in August"

Okay, my friend I predicted upon sharing this topic a segment of the readership would be tempted to make this an all out hate-fest for her husband, but let's make it clear that he's a wonderful and supportive husband in a wide variety of ways outside of household chores. He admits to his deficiencies in this department, and we're hoping Apartment Therapy readers won't submit to judgmental and negative inclinations about their situation or their choice to use a chore chart to help them with improving the situation. In my own household, I tend to be the cleaner, so gender isn't always the determining factor of who keeps house more diligently (though, admittedly, my male brethren tend to have more lax opinions of what is clean), and several friends in same sex relationships note there is often a similar dichotomy.

Our friend agreed to share their situation for two reasons: 1) to hear other couples/roommates solutions and/or experiences with chore charts, and 2) to share their chore chart as a downloadable file below for other people to use. Okay, and admittedly also so she could vent a little and have her husband notice he has a duty to help out despite his history.

We're hoping our soon-to-be-father friend is able to take baby steps in improving his household cleaning manners, with the chore chart being the motivating guidance for a more equitable situation. But it is indeed difficult to teach an old dog new tricks, so we're hoping our friend is patient...and maybe gives him a manly Dyson vacuum as his next birthday gift*.

SAMPLE CHORE CHART (right click to "save as")

*friend just noted her husband wants a Roomba for his next birthday...not exactly hands-on cleaning, but a start.

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