I’ve found the key to remaining (relatively!) calm at home is working out ways so that everyone in the family does their part to contribute to the running of the house. In our house, this means having set jobs and a chore chart for kids. A few years ago, the four of us sat down and wrote out the key jobs we saw as important for running our household.
Key jobs allocated out in our household and put on the chore chart
Our job list went something like this:
- Keeping bedrooms clean (split out by person)
- Cleaning the bathroom (bath, shower, toilets, surfaces)
- Gardening (mowing lawn, weeding)
- Cooking dinner
- Making school lunches
- Putting bins and recycling out
- Paying bills and finances
- Setting the kitchen table and clearing away
- Doing the laundry (split into a few smaller jobs: clothes in laundry basket, washing, drying, folding, putting away)
- Organising presents (birthday, Christmas)
- School notices
- Kids’ extra-curricular activities (play dates, swimming etc)
The kids then reviewed the list and said which they were happy to be responsible for. Yes, they did take the plum jobs – but that was a price my husband and I were happy to pay in order to get them engaged in the process! James and I then divided the harder chores between us. We divided them roughly 50/50 the first time we did it, as we were both working 4 days a week at the time. As our amount of working days have shifted, so have the allocation of household jobs. As I now work more and James works a bit less, I do about 30% of the household jobs and James does about 70%.
Being clear about who does what
I’m in charge of all RSVPs, presents, social calendar, paying bills and finances. James is in charge of putting the bins out, the garden, the logistics for kids’ extra-curricular activities (uniforms, organising who will drive them and pick them up etc), school notices. I took on the jobs where I really cared how they were done (e.g. giving nice presents).
Once we allocated out jobs, we backed off! I know I would do things differently if they were my allocated jobs, but they’re not so I choose to let it go. If anyone’s jobs are not done at all, then we have a chat. I have no idea what night the bins go out. James wouldn’t know that I’ve bought a glitter-art set for Eliza’s friend Piper’s 7th birthday.
The kids’ rooms (shutting the door can be a great solution!)
My kids, at ages 9 and 7, are responsible for their own rooms (keeping them relatively tidy, dirty clothes have made it to a laundry basket, making their own beds) and we don’t touch their rooms. Yes, sometimes I do just shut the door and ignore, as I only care that our shared spaces are relatively clean.
The only time we do get involved in their rooms is to do a spring clean to sort which clothes they have grown out of and are ready to pass on to friends. Are their rooms spotless? Absolutely not! Is this something I care about? No. They need to learn the skill of managing their own space – this is a time I think it’s fine to say “it’s not my problem”!