For the past couple years, my husband and I have worked together to figure out a household set up that splits tasks as evenly as possible. Here’s what we’ve learned;
1. Assign him tasks he is good at or gravitates to
So my husband HATES cleaning toilets, but he likes running errands with my son. I don’t mind cleaning the bathroom, but I HATE vacuuming — which my husband kinda likes to do. We’ve managed to split up the tasks according to what we both enjoy or, at the very least, what we don’t mind doing, lol. It makes things easier.
2. TEACH him how to clean, don’t assume that he knows!
I once asked my husband to clean the kitchen. When I returned an hour later he was looking quite proud of himself, but all he had done was “tidy” the kitchen. Nothing was disinfected, lol. I had to explain to him that disinfecting the countertops, stove, sink and floors were the most important part of cleaning a kitchen. It seemed like common knowledge to me, but a lot of men were not taught these skills.
3. Assign DAILY tasks
Most women don’t need to be told to clean. We’ve been raised to be care givers, so it comes naturally to us. Men, on the other hand, need to be conditioned. When we began our co-home-management journey, I gave my husband one simple task to do every night; take the clean dishes out of the dishwasher and load it with the dirty ones. That was all. It took months for him to get into the habit of doing that. Once he did I gradually started adding other tasks. Now, every night, he loads the dishwasher, wipes down the kitchen counters, tidies the living room and sweeps the kitchen and living room floors. Getting to this point took us about a year and a half but now the behavior is habitual to my husband. Another bonus; now that he sees what goes into keeping a house clean, he is less likely to make a mess. He picks up after himself and our son a lot more.
4. Teach the concepts of CONSIDERATION and CONSEQUENCE — Every mess made will require someone to clean it
Consideration is a HUGE part of keeping a house clean. It’s not cool for you to leave a big mess for your husband to clean up, or for your husband to leave a mess for you to clean up. Learn to be considerate of each other. And be gentle and patient as your husband begins to understand the consequences of his behavior; that when he leaves his socks on the floor and they are gone the next day, it wasn’t by magic. Someone had to come pick them up and put them away.
5. Combine work and play
There are a few household tasks that can be kind of fun. My husband and I fold laundry while watching movies together. And we make grocery shopping a fun family affair with our son. We garden as a family, and it’s fun for our son to run around the yard and play in the dirt while we plant seeds or water our crops.
6. Remind him that yard and car work is not equal in effort to house work
A lot of men will say, “Well I mow the lawn and take the car in for an oil change. So I’ve done my part.” Gently remind them that those tasks require far less frequency than house work, which must be done every day. You can get by for weeks with an overgrown lawn, but you CAN’T get by for weeks with a dirty kitchen — unless you’re okay with roaches, mold and salmonella.
7. Affirm, affirm, affirm
We live in a culture that discourages men from — and even belittles them for — doing household work. So be sure to AFFIRM your husband when he lends a hand. Positively reinforce that behavior, and let him know how much it means to you
So what happens when your husband actually *does* start to help around the house? You have to learn to let go.
As my husband started to take more initiative I found myself tightening my grip on my role as ‘chief cleaner and cook’ lol. It was perfectly fine when I could look over his shoulder and direct him. But when he started doing housework when I wasn’t around, I got nervous. I have a particular way of cleaning and folding things, and I didn’t want to deal with something new. But part of working with your husband is letting him do thing in his own way. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that, often times, my husband will do a BETTER job than I do at certain tasks. I think we can give our husbands less credit than they actually deserve 😉
Mommies, how do you encourage your husband or partner to participate in house work?