Household chores can easily pile up. Do you ever get to Saturday and realize your house is a disaster? If you’re anything like me, when you look around and see crumbs, dirty clothes, toys, toys, toys, it’s really hard to relax. I want to live in a clean house — not sparkling, just clean.
My expectations of a clean house aren’t that the throw pillows are always fluffed and there isn’t a toddler toy in sight — we live in this house and I have come to terms with the fact that for the next decade I will likely have children unknowingly creating a path of things in their wake. I don’t expect a perfectly clean house 24/7, but I do want a house that is taken care of. I want a house that I can relax in. And for me, mess = stress. It’s like this quote from Gretchen Rubin —
“Outer order contributes to inner calm”
When things are clean around me, my mind has a much better chance of being clean too. But when? When do I tackle all of the chores that are on my list? For years, I have aspired to clean throughout the week, but it never really happened.
I can remember on more Saturdays than not, spending the majority of the afternoon cleaning to get the house back together after a week of living in it. I did feel a sense of accomplishment after I crossed chore after chore off of my list. And it felt good to live in a clean space once again. But spending half a day or more cleaning meant I missed half a day or more of time with my family.
I missed time with family so I could clean. Sounds silly when I say it like that. And at one point it started to feel silly for me too. I want my Saturday to-do list to be full of experiences — eating breakfast at the farmers market, riding our bikes, spending a few hours at the library and park next to our neighborhood. Or maybe going to the zoo or a day trip to the beach.
I finally decided I had to set myself up for success to tackle the household chores during the week so I could enjoy the time I had on the weekends with family. I needed to create a system that would work for me over several days instead of squeezing them all into one.
What household chores are on your list?
Before I explain how I tackle my household chores throughout the week, let’s talk about what your household chores are. If you and your partner haven’t talked about who does what, it’s a must. It’s critical to set expectations when it comes to household chores. (Actually, expectation setting helps with just about everything.)
When it comes to household chores (both indoor and outdoor) Jeff and I know exactly who does what. Communicating the expectations around the house has helped reduce frustration around who is responsible for what.
We realized — through some frustration of our own — that the worst thing we could do was leave the division of household chores undefined. If you do, one of you will feel like they have gotten the heavy end of the deal — or all of it — and eventually it will bubble to the surface, and keep bubbling to the surface, because the ambiguity leaves room for way too many stories to be told (“why doesn’t he help around the house?”, “I do everything around here”, etc.).
I know every family splits up chores differently. At our house, I handle the laundry for Hayes and myself and the majority of the indoor chores — sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms, etc. — as well as the grocery shopping and meal prep. And Jeff handles his laundry, cleaning the indoor and outdoor windows, all of the outdoor tasks — mowing the lawn, gardening, snow blowing in the winter, etc. — as well as the majority of the work related to fixing up and updating our house, which for us is a constant effort. We both are responsible for taking care of the dishes that we use and general pick up after Hayes.
Our division of household chores happens to look very traditional. Yours may not! It just so happens that this division works really well for us and since defining those expectations we rarely revisit the subject, we just get it done.
The reality? An individual chore doesn’t take that long
Now that you’ve figured out what chores belong to you, it’s time for an epiphany…individual chores, don’t take much time to complete.
We get pretty good at building up the amount of time it will take to complete a chore and avoiding it all together, but the chores I have to tackle don’t take a crazy amount of time on their own. It’s when they are all shoved into one day that they become a burden.
Have you ever heard the saying, “eat an elephant one bite at a time?” My weekly chores are my elephant. One chore (bite) might only take me about 20 minutes, but when you add them all together (elephant), it’s several hours.
Time to divide and conquer!
Sprinkle your household chores throughout the week and leave the weekend for family
I started to map out how I might like to tackle my chores throughout the week instead of all plopped onto Saturday’s list of things. There are a few things that Jeff and I tag team daily — wipe off kitchen counters, wash and put away dishes, and put Hayes’ toys back in the basket. The rest of my weekly chores, fit nicely into Sunday – Thursday, leaving Friday and Saturday chores-free.
I instantly felt more freedom just seeing the tasks assigned to each day.
- Sunday – grocery shopping + meal prep
- Monday – vacuum
- Tuesday – sweep + mop
- Wednesday – laundry
- Thursday – bathrooms
- Friday – no chores
- Saturday – no chores
There are three things I thought about when deciding how to map my chores onto the week.
- What chores go well together? (sweep + mop)
- Can I batch a chore that might normally be split up? (bathrooms)
- What day of the week is best to tackle this? (Mondays are busy for us and vacuuming is the easiest chore for me)
Sometimes I can tackle my daily chore with Hayes by my side, but most of the time I complete it right after she goes to bed for the night before I get into anything else. That way, I have quality time with Hayes before she goes to bed and I have quality time with Jeff once he’s home from cross country practice.
You might need to adjust based on your schedule for the week
I am a bit of a perfectionist, but motherhood has really helped me realize that most things do not go according to plan and it’s how I react to it that makes all the difference. I’m still growing in this area. I share this because there are times when I don’t vacuum on Monday (or sweep + mop on Tuesday) because I have something else going on that day and I don’t get home until later. When that happens, I tack the chore onto the very next day.
Having a plan (a system) to attack your chores throughout the week doesn’t mean that everything falls apart when you shift a chore to another day or miss a day. You have kids, a job, family, friends — allow for flexibility and give yourself some grace if it doesn’t work out 100%.
The great thing is when you tackle one chore each day, missing a day means you probably still got the majority of your cleaning completed for the week. Nice work!
A trick to stick with your daily household chores
Regardless of my schedule, there have been times throughout the week that I am tired and I want nothing to do with my chore for the day. But, much like your morning routine, it’s important to define your why. Why are you tackling one chore each day instead of waiting to do them all at once? You need that why on hand for when you try to talk yourself out of completing your daily chore.
Part of my why is the freedom of present family time on Saturday if I complete the work now instead of putting it off. Another part of my why is a having a clean house, which for me not only makes me take pride in where we live, it also gives me a clean mind. When I have little motivation to complete my chore for the day, I remind myself of my why and just do it.