A family doing chores together in the laundry room with a checklist to split housework superimposed over it

How to Split Chores Fairly: Steps That Brought Peace to My Home

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Does it ever feel like you’re the only one who makes an effort to take care of your home? Even if you’re a stay-at-home parent, you know there are good reasons for splitting chores. The question is: how?

It can be so hard on a relationship when one person feels they’re expected to do all of the cleaning. As I once told my husband (okay, shouted), being a stay-at-home parent is about staying home to parent, not to be a live-in housekeeper.

Do You Want your Other Half to Help?

I know there are plenty of women out there who enjoy doing all of the cooking, cleaning, and other home-related tasks exclusively. And that’s great if you’ve chosen to do that and you’re happy with your choice!

But there are also plenty of women—and I was most definitely one of them—who feel their family (specifically their spouses) do nothing to help. Not without a lot of nagging and drama. And that’s not fair at all.

Why Sharing Housework is Important

A public health study found women do most housework, even if they have jobs outside the home. That inequality is destroying relationships. As one mega-viral article put it, “She divorced me because I left dishes by the sink.”

So, here’s what I did to get the point across to my husband. Although we needed to adjust it over the years, the improvement in our relationship and home life was incredible. I wish I hadn’t waited so long. I hope what we did will help you figure out how to split chores with your spouse or family, too.

Cover the bases

I spent several months listing every task either one of us did. Lucky for you, that list is in the printable at the bottom of this page! It’s a long one.

Print it up and look at it with your spouse. It can be eye-opening to realize how much work is involved in running a household.

Acknowledge essentials

You know what they say about opposites attracting? Our relationship was no different: I was a somewhat neurotic neat freak and my husband was a sloppy pack rat. But, we each had things that we considered non-negotiable.

So, once you get your list together, go over it together to see what you have strong feelings about. For me, it was making the bed, with its nine decorative pillows, every morning.

For my husband, who hated the pillows, it was wishing I’d vacuum later in the day so he could walk barefoot without feeling grit on the floor.

In that case, who should take on the task of making the bed with all of those pillows? Who should get used to grit on the floor in a home with two kids and two pets?

Tasks No One Cares About

Next, look at what didn’t make the essentials list for either of you. Why do tasks unrelated to health or safety if neither of you care about them?

For me, that meant no longer ironing. For years, I thought good housewives ironed but I hated every minute of that hot, sweaty work — especially in the summer. Obviously, it didn’t go on my essentials list but I was so happy that it didn’t make my husband’s list, either. So, I threw out my iron that same day. Freedom!

Tasks People Enjoy Doing

You know what they say: if you enjoy doing something, it never feels like work. So for this step, both of you should claim the chores you like to do. After all, they won’t feel like chores to you so why not take them on?

For instance, I don’t mind emptying the dishwasher or doing laundry—as long as it’s not ironing. But I despise doing yard work or dealing with trash. Luckily, my husband loved doing both. By picking the things we enjoyed doing, both of us felt we got the better end of the deal. Funny how that works.

The Unpleasant Roster

Let’s face it, there are some household tasks that no one enjoys. Usually, those are either the smelly ones like litter boxes or toilets. Or they’re chores that have to be done in extreme weather, like shoveling snow.

When one person has to do all of the unpleasant tasks, it contributes to burnout. So, work together to identify the ones you both dislike. Then rotate them monthly, or roll dice to decide.

Delegate

If you have kids, don’t forget to give them age-appropriate chores so they’re contributing to the home, too. We delegated a couple of things from the unpleasant roster like pulling weeds and cleaning the litter box to our kids. (Relax, they survived and learned what it means to actually earn money.)

Accountability

Learning to split chores and get them done on time can be a big change for some, and big changes don’t just happen overnight. To help everyone remember their new roles, post the list where you’re all likely to see it. Having the list visible also helps avoid wondering if everyone’s living up to their responsibilities.

Tips to Make This Work

Know what you’re really after. Is it sharing chores, or is it having your efforts appreciated? You need to know the goal first, so you know when it’s been met.

Let go of control. If you’re a cleaning perfectionist, you can either be happy doing all the work yourself, or be happy when others do a good enough job. Choose.

Recognize there are only 24 hours in anyone’s day. Earning a paycheck isn’t a free pass from splitting chores. But it might be a good reason for one partner doing more than the other—just not all the work.

Everyone owns their tasks. Responsibility for a chore means everything from making time to do it, to making sure they have what they need, like cleaning products.

Above All: Play Fair

Remember, you are a family. Seek a good deal for everyone that includes free time to relax and have fun. That is the true goal of splitting chores: to give all of you more time to enjoy life in the comfort of your home. Together.

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