The Dreaded Chore List

I hate cleaning.

I would make the worst full-time homemaker ever.

The number one luxury item on my wish list is a professional housekeeper.

When people tell me that they like homemaking and are good at it, I view it similarly to when people tell me that they like brain surgery and are good at it. I am both impressed and have no idea what they talking about. However, in our home, like any home, no matter how much I hate it, it has to get done.

With four adults who work full time, one teenager, three dogs and a cat, it can get messy fast if we don’t all pull our share. Do to changes in our household make up, we have had to change the way we divide chores multiple times in the last five years. Here’s the evolution of how we divvy up the household tasks.

At first, we had no plan except our two pre-teen boys did the laundry and loaded the dishwasher and the adults did everything else.  This lack of plan soon failed (shocking, I know).  Mike and Patrick were not working when we first moved up. For about a month,  Denise and I would come home from full time jobs and find the house a mess and Mike and Patrick playing Pirates video game. When one of them innocently asked  “What’s for dinner?” when I came home from work, a new plan had to be set into place in order to prevent me from starting World War III. This wasn’t their fault. The lack of planning enabled no adult to feel responsible for any particular household chore.

Our first plan was to contribute 41 hours working time including employment and household chores.  For example, I was working 37.5 hours at my job so I would contribute 3.5 hours to household chores. Denise was working 40 so she would contribute 1 hour. We kept a chart on the refrigerator to keep track of chores and the boys continued with dishwasher and laundry duty. This is a good plan if some of the roommates work part time. Once the guys got full time jobs, keeping just 41 hours a week wasn’t enough to keep the household clean. We were  also concerned that the boys, who were getting older, wouldn’t know how to do basic household chores except laundry and dishes.

Our second plan worked very well. It was a chore wheel with the house divided into six areas (laundry room, bathrooms, outside, kitchen etc) and each person was assigned to do all chores in each area for a week. Each Friday we turned the wheel and changed chores. This was great for two reasons. One is that it was equitable. Everyone, including the kids, had the same responsibilities. Second is that it taught the kids how to maintain the entire household. They could do everything from scrubbing the bathtub to yard work. This plan worked excellent for years and probably would have continued, however, the kid’s mother moved up and they started living with her every other week. One third of the chores weren’t getting done every other week or if they were Denise, who is the homemaker equivalent of a brain surgeon,was doing them. She calmly expressed her delight at the current situation by shouting at anyone who walked by when she would scrub the bathtub for an hour. We got the (subtle) hint that a new plan needed to be put into place.
Chore wheel

Our third plan is a points system. Each small chore is given a point rating based on difficulty, disgust, or time it takes to accomplish and a frequency based on how many times per week it needs to be accomplished. Each person is expected to complete a number of points per week (points seem to motivate the men in the family who enjoy gaming). This plan’s benefits include each person choosing which chores they do and when they accomplish it and includes chores that only one or two members of the family do. For example, Mike, Cedrick, and Denise are the only ones that clean out the litter box because Patrick and I are allergic to the cat. Before, they weren’t getting “credit” for this, it was just something that they did. The cons of this plan are that people have to remember to  mark off what they do and your household has to have people who are responsible enough to make sure they get their full points. This would not work well with small children, but it is workable with a responsible teen like Cedrick. Right now we have no consequence for not getting enough points, although stoning has been suggested.

Chore list #3
How do you divide up chores in your household and what pros and cons do you see in the way it works?
Also… do you have any good recommendations on cleaning services 🙂

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