Bit of a more personal post today here readers, but I promise a pretty and useful (free!) printable at the end! If you’re curious and would like to know more about me, read on, but if you’re only in it for the freebie, no worries! I won’t judge :).
Every couple has as stumbling blocks, and as I have eluded to before, ours is cleaning. Since I’m sure a lot of you are fairly new at sharing your space with your partner too, I thought I’d share what I learned about how to manage our cleaning conflict. I’m by no means a relationship expert, but read on to see what worked for us.
I knew from the moment I stepped into Shaun’s basement suite back in June 2011 that
if we ever when moved in together (I knew right away that he was it for me!) it would be an issue. Blanketed in darkness (who needs natural light, right?) there was only a shirt or two hanging in his neglected walk-in closet (what a waste), everything else was tossed on the floor. We clearly had different ideas of how we wanted our home to feel.
Fast forward a number of months (we moved in together pretty early- February of the following year) and I was fine with it. Have you ever heard Jack Johnson’s “Do You Remember”? The line, “You’d say we’re playing house, now you still say we are” happily hummed along in my head. I felt fine doing nearly all of the cooking and cleaning because a) I worked less than Shaun did and b) I knew a clean house was only of value for me, not for him. Why should I “make” him do it just to please myself? I was so thrilled to be living with him that I didn’t mind.
We did have a bit of a system in place, a vague (sexist to some, but whatever works, right?) of “man” jobs and “woman” jobs, blue jobs and pink jobs, if you will. Garbage was his duty, bathrooms were mine. If I cooked, he cleaned, and vice versa. Other than that, nothing was clearly delineated.
Of course, as time ticked on this situation worked less and less for me. Either I’d wait for him to do what I wanted, feeling like he must know that a clean kitchen includes wiping up the counters and he just didn’t bother and end up resentfully doing it myself, or, I’d reluctantly ask him repeatedly to do something, feeling like I was nagging him all along. It’s not that I expected him to read my mind; I realize that’s ridiculous (though honestly, he’s pretty damn good at it); I just assumed certain things were obvious “to-do’s” when cleaning: doing dishes after dinner means putting everything away off the counters. Picking up your clothes means all clothes off the floor. Simple.
Enter our Bernese mountain dog puppy and all the effort that goes along with her and our system was doomed.
It’s not that I don’t love Bali; I’m just not a huge dog lover in general. (Don’t hate me!) When I feel like I’ve already done it all, the last thing I want to do is take her out before we go to bed.
(Man’s best friend definitely applies.)
I’ve since realized that we need to have clear expectations for every chore: who does what, what does it look like, and how often. When I think Shaun will take out the recycling, I assume he will check it every day and take it out as often as it needs to be done. He thinks that, if he notices it overflowing and remembers, he’ll take it out. Otherwise, he’ll just wait till I ask him to do it. It’s not that either one is right or wrong, we just needed better communication.
One of my all time favourite bloggers, Jen from iHeart Organizing, published her family’s checklist a while ago, and I was inspired. Shaun wants to make me happy (which I do not take for granted!) he just needs to know how. Since I don’t like having to ask him to do every chore constantly, a checklist was exactly what we needed.
However, we live in a tiny apartment. Just us, and our massive puppy. We don’t have a lawn to mow, multiple bathrooms to clean, and loads of laundry to do every day. (Gosh, how do people do that? Laundry every day? Parenthood, I suppose. You just do it?) Pinterest holds tons of cleaning checklists, but not many for childless renters like us, so I thought we’d make one. This list goes beyond just cleaning, it hits a number of our regular chores as well. Because, as I said, explicitly deciding who does what and when has worked WONDERS for us.
My chores are highlighted in pink, his in turquoise-blue. I know it looks like there’s more pink, but a number of his chores are more time consuming than mine, like grocery shopping or taking Bali out. Plus, some I find just make my life easier, like meal planning. If I asked him to do it for me, I wouldn’t get the same benefit. I also included asterisks beside certain ones, because we’ve decided it’s ok to ask for help on these ones. Bullet points that aren’t highlighted are shared tasks.
For vague chores, like “bedroom” or “entry” we went over what it would look like. Basically, this means that once as week, Shaun needs to completely clear out his “dumping zones”: our entry and the spot beside his trunk (a glorified dumping zone: he just throws his stuff in a heap inside, but hey, at least it’s out of sight!)
So there you have it. A little insight into our home. It may look perfect in photos, but trust me, it takes EFFORT to get it there! It’s certainly not the case all the time. (I’ll be sure to share what those “dumping zones” look like in action in the coming weeks too.) If you’d like one without designated tasks, here’s the base version:
Get it here.
Feeling overwhelmed by all those little bullet points? Easy to pin, but hard to get to action and actually print it? Don’t be. By just printing it (even in black and white, it’s mostly gray anyway!) is a great start. You could laminate it to make it dry erase list, but throwing it in a frame (it’s an 8 by 10) is so much quicker, and you can call it a day!
Even tackling some of these can help them ease you into a routine and you’ll feel so much more organized and serene once a bit of work is out of the way. Like Gretchen Rubin writes: “Doing a little work makes goofing off more fun“!
Hope you have a wonderful and inspired weekend!