Divvying up the Chores: A Minimalist Approach to Housework

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Arguments in relationships are unavoidable. You’re two different people after all, so expecting to agree on everything is unrealistic. Learning to argue productively helps, but an even better approach is to avoid fighting about unnecessary things, like housework.

We all have chores we’re better at or don’t mind doing as much. Dividing up the housework with this in mind will go a long way to avoiding those petty ‘always and never’ arguments that often end up ruining the whole day.

Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses

Everyone has strengths and weakness in different areas, so why not use them to your advantage? In our house I’m the better cook, while my partner is an admin whizz. This means we’re always well fed and just as importantly, the bills are paid on time.

That’s not to say I never do anything admin-related or that she doesn’t ever help out in the kitchen. There’s definitely cross-over, but for the most part we’ll stick to the things we each do best.

Figuring Out a Fair Division of Tasks

For us, alternating the daily tasks (washing dishes, doing laundry, etc.) works best. However, you may find that one of you is happy to always cook, while the other is equally content to be on clean-up duty.

However you approach it, the most important thing is to make sure it’s fair. We may look like adults, but inside we’re all still six-years-old. If one of you feels like you’re doing more than your fair share then resentment is going to build up.

Create a Housework Roster

Creating a housework roster is the best way we’ve found to avoid resentment rearing its ugly head. After all, you can’t argue with a spreadsheet. If you’re not sure whose turn it is to mop the kitchen floor, simply stroll over to your roster and take a look.

Trading Chores

Remember how I said we’re all still kids at heart? Try trading chores and you’ll know exactly what I mean. When I really don’t feel like doing something I’ll ask my partner if we can trade.

Either I’ll do something she doesn’t enjoy in return or I’ll pay her back a turn at a later date. It sounds incredibly childish, but I promise you it works. We never argue about housework. Ever.

Get out of Jail Free Card

While it’s important to be fair in the division of tasks, it’s good to remember that you don’t always have to keep score. If I’ve had a really rough day, for example, my partner will offer to take my dishes turn.

Likewise, if one of us is sick, then the other one will shoulder the load until we’re back on our feet. You don’t always have to trade, sometimes you do something just because you love your person.

Learning to Enjoy Housework

The idea that one can actually enjoy housework sounds like a stretch, I know, but stick with me here. For starters, doing household chores provides a variety of health and other benefits, such as lowering stress, boosting happiness and making you more productive.

The Buddhists can also teach us about household chores. The practice of soji encourages one to clean mindfully and bring meditation into daily routine. Rather than rush to finish a task, you immerse yourself in the moment and do the best job you can.

It takes work, but creating a conscious and intentional relationship is definitely worth the effort. By figuring out the ‘daily grind’ stuff, like household chores, you’re free to focus on the fun aspects of being in a relationship. Right, I’m off to do the dishes.

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