What Are Your Best Household Management Strategies?


For those of you (who like me) are flailing

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

Mother with small child in white bathroom

I did not grow up in the kind of household you see in detergent commercials—the kind where parents keep the kitchen sparkling clean and wash kids’ soccer uniforms with a smile. My household tended toward chaos in the cleanliness department, meaning I graduated into adult life without a clear grasp on how to organize a functional household. Or, you know, do basic chores.

Over the going-on-twelve years David and I have been together, we’ve struggled with the basics of managing chores. Luckily for both of us, he has always been reasonably good at cleaning, and I am a marvel when it comes to tidying, so we somehow stumbled through without ending up in total squalor. But household management has always felt haphazard, and hence, a struggle.

In the last year, we introduced the fourth (and probably last) member of our family: a baby girl. With a family of four, the amount of work that needed to get done was suddenly substantial. (Seriously—you should see my laundry pile by the end of the week.) And I realized that the only way to manage the work was by setting up a very clear routine. Haphazard was no longer going to cut it if I didn’t want to revert to chaos. And I really, really did not.

So in the past few months, I’ve started to work out a very clear system for myself about what gets done when (and how). Thus far it’s increased the work I do around the house, while somehow vastly decreasing my stress. The current chore hacks I have in place look a little like this:

1. Clear Division of Labor

David and I try to divide up the big chores in a way that’s fair overall, even if it doesn’t look fair day to day. David cooks and does grocery shopping, which takes up a fair amount of time during the week. (I watch the kids while he’s cooking.) That means on the weekends, I pick up the bulk of the work: doing laundry and tidying and organizing.

2. Routine

Instead of doing chores when it seems like they (really) need to be done, I’ve set up a clear structure for my weekends. Every Saturday morning I get up from the breakfast table, take the sheets off all the beds, pile them with the towels and the bathmat to be washed, and put on new sheets, and fresh towels. (We have two sets of everything, so we don’t have to wait for the washing to be done for fresh sheets.) I start the (many loads of) laundry on Saturday morning, and try to do all the folding for the week by Sunday night. (I often fail on the folding, but being flexible is part of the plan.) I have various other routine chores I try to tackle, while trying to carve out time on slow weekends for some KonMari style decluttering. Which brings me to…

3. (Way) Less Stuff

This sounds insane, but in the last six weeks, I’ve easily gotten rid of half of our belongings, if you count our storage space. Living in a house for the first time, after years of apartment living, allowed us to collect more stuff… and store it in places we never looked at it. Turns out, if you have fifty percent less stuff, you also have about fifty percent less tidying up to do. (Particularly if your preschooler will haul any object you own to the middle of the living room floor, and just leave it there.)

4. Getting Help

With the addition of small children to our household, we decided it was time to set aside part of our budget for house cleaners. We don’t have room in the budget to have them come every other week (or even every week, which seems magical…) but they do come once a month, and take care of all of the deep cleaning. That means we have more time to play with the kids on the weekends without a scrub brush in our hands, and we really value that.

Pink Line

Thirty-five years into life, I’m only starting to get a grasp on household organization, and I’ve got a long way to go. But starting to develop routines around cleaning has eased my stress tremendously… with the additional upside of fresh clean sheets every week. But mostly I’ve realized that providing a well-organized household for my family (and you know… myself) is something I really value.

I normally work really hard to not model my life after some sort of false ideal presented in the commercials. But if, after a childhood of household chaos, I can live something approximating the dream of the shiny kitchen and fluffy fresh laundry… I’m in.

What household management strategies have you figured out? What are your pain points and your chore hacks? I’m feeling passionate about improving my chores skills at the moment, so please share your best tips.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • Hope

    We have friends from our neighbourhood come over every Sunday night for dinner. That seems like it would make my life busier, but in fact it has made it calmer. I know that Sunday, after church, my only focus is to relax and prepare for dinner. Husband cleans the bathroom, I sweep the floors and tidy clutter. Often the food has been in the crockpot since Saturday night and we both enjoy cooking. Then hopefully there’s some leftovers for lunch the next day.
    When we had more money we paid a cleaner once a month and that was great.
    We still grocery shop together as a way to spend time together and know what food options there are for the week.

    • Jessica

      I love this idea! I don’t usually plan on doing chores on Sundays, since to me they are reserved for church/family/socializing/rest. But having a guests over every week, especially if the food prep is done in advance, would be good motivation to make sure the house was clean and sort of “reset” for the workweek coming up…while still serving my Sunday goals of focusing on rest & relationships.

  • Amy March

    I’ve been focusing on Sundays. If I don’t grocery shop on Sunday, I don’t for the week. If my kitchen isn’t clean when I go to bed Sunday night, it isn’t getting clean anytime soon. The most I’m realistically going to take care of during the week is easy cooking and laundry, so the more I make my Sunday routine non-negotiable, or plan in advance if I am out of town, the better life works.

    • Eenie

      Sundays FTW! We had a particularly productive Saturday morning this past weekend and it meant our Sunday was a lot more leisurely. We have also given up doing anything during the week except dishes. And even then we don’t always get to those.

    • researchwarrior

      I am the exact opposite! Sundays are for relaxing and socializing; I am much more motivated to clean during the week when I’m already in productivity mode from getting up for work. Although I have erratic retail hours and haven’t had a Saturday off in years, so that may have something to do with the work flow pattern. I do love to go to the farmers’ market on Sunday and sometimes get sucked into prepping immediately after when I’m excited about new seasonal purchases, but usually I get cabin fever from staying in all day organizing.

    • Meg Keene

      Yes. Us too. Sundays I bust ass. (Also, I figure it’s a workout without going to the gym. Bonus!)

    • Meg

      I always do the grocery shopping saturday morning (I feel like it’s less picked over than sunday at our grocery store haha!) and then we both do all our laundry sunday. Routine is key!

      • JC

        I’ve switched to grocery shopping on Saturday morning instead of Sunday, and it is amazing! I can get all my fresh produce and no lines!

    • Jess

      This is us and Saturdays after breakfast! I’m for sure not scrubbing a toilet after work on a Wednesday, but I will totally do it it on a Saturday before going off to do other things.

    • Sunday is our Costco and cleaning day – generally it’s the day that we’re relaxing at home instead of running off to do other things, so it works.

    • Jessica

      I tend to grocery shop on Saturdays and cook 2-3 meals for the week on Sundays. If I go grocery shopping on Sunday I can’t get any wine for my meals (which I typically use in at least one dish each week). Thanks Minnesota.

      The Husband doesn’t really cook anymore. He says he’s going to, he buys the stuff, and then we have stuff stuck in the freezer because he got too busy to cook. It’s a little frustrating because I then have to make up another meal, and it means he eats out more (and doesn’t typically bring a lunch to work), but I’ve taken the standpoint of taking care of my food needs and let him worry about his own diet. It kind of sucks from a “we’re trying to be a team” standpoint, but we rarely get to have meals in together anyway. I think it’ll go on like this for awhile.

    • Sarah E

      Totally with you on the days of the week routine. I only in the past couple of week really nailed down a weekly schedule for my non-shift jobs, so that I’m confident I’ve budgeted enough time for the more flexible office-type work. It certainly helps me be less anxious and avoid the trap of thinking there’s always something else I can/should be doing.

      All of which to say, when I can confidently say I’ve done my X hrs of work, I know exactly how much of my day is for chores/personal time. And I can give myself a break on the days when I just don’t have the time to do dishes.

    • joanna b.n.

      I’m all for days of the week, and we used to do Sundays, but at this point we decided that one night a week (Monday) we will clean, and we will have easy dinner (i.e. frozen pizza) and then just bang out our respective chores in an hour or two. So far it works, and if something comes up on a Monday, it just gets bumped to Tuesday. I love/hate routine.

  • Kayjayoh

    I am looking forward to starting a major KonMari declutter this fall (since she says to start with clothes and since there are clothes that I set a September 2016 deadline for fitting into or giving up, I am waiting). But while I am enthusiastically ready to KonMari my stuff, our household really needs both of us to declutter.

    Since you can only KonMari your own junk, I am working on getting husband buy-in for his own stuff. And that is a challenge. I’ve started by emphasizing how much I am looking forward to getting rid of my own extras and by stating and restating the fact that I cannot live in rooms full of stuff clutter.

    (But seriously, if you have a dresser, and clothes on top of the dresser, and laundry baskets of clean clothes in front of the dresses, and bins of clothes you haven’t worn in years, I think you probably have more than enough clothes, some of which aren’t being worn.)

    • Amy March

      Well, KonMari would tell you that you meet that challenge by setting a good example, and you do that by actually decluttering not talking about how committed you are to holding onto clutter for 6 more months before tackling it.

      Personally, I often just want to tell KonMari to shove it, but I can see how “enthusiastic readiness” could sound a lot like “empty promises I am making while telling you to do more.”

      • Kayjayoh

        Reasonable. But the fact remains that if I’m ditching vast piles of clothes, I’m going to do it in September and not before.

        In the meantime, I’m starting to get my drawers folded in the way she advises, and do my usual “I think I’ve worn this for the last time” cull of clothing. I’m making sure to keep the spare room bed clear, tossing out obvious targets, etc.

        Bear in mind, I’m not making “empty promises I am making while telling you to do more” in terms of my husband. I’m doing my own thing on a small basis, prepping to do my own thing on a large scale. What I am expecting of him, and communicating to him, is that the household doesn’t run itself, and that I don’t function well when overwhelmed with a tsunami of junk. What I am expecting of him, and communicating to him, is that it takes two people to do the dishes, clean the floors, take out the trash, and am explicitly telling him when chores need to happen.

        The minimum I would like is to no longer have to point out “hey the floor is dirty, can you take care of it” (or do it myself). The minimum I would like is to not have to clear away piles of his shoes and socks when I walk through a room.

        So the short term goal (while I prepare myself for a major KonMari declutter) is for him to be a regular and active participant in general household cleanliness. The long-term goal is for him to be an active participant in reducing the stacks and stacks of plastic bins that form mazes in our rooms. And *that* long term desire, is going to require him to get some buy-in on declutter. I am well aware that step 1 comes before step 10.

      • Jess

        “I often just want to tell KonMari to shove it” SAME.

        • Kayjayoh

          I stopped reading at the end of the book when she was telling me to thank my things on a regular basis. Too much. I get that she has a Shinto background. But I’m not thanking my purse everyday.

          Also not happening: emptying my purse everyday and putting everything in my purse away somewhere. Look, everything that is in my purse belongs in my purse. That’s where it lives. It *is* put away, just be being there. :)

          • Eenie

            The purse thing! Could not stand it. I guess some people have more than one purse, but that’s just way too much work.

          • Kayjayoh

            It seems like a good way to discover that you forgot to put something back in your purse.

          • Meg

            yeah that’s just result in me constantly leaving the house without things I need

          • Jess

            Agreed! I have a work bag that operates as my purse.

            In it are things I regularly need for work: laptop, travel pack of tissues, mints, my work lipstick & mascara for those surprise customer visits (I don’t do make-up at work unless I’ve got a customer meeting), a small bag with cords, my badge, a notepad, etc. I slide my wallet and cell phone in on my way out.

            If I were to *unpack* that, it is no longer conveniently by the door waiting for me in the morning, instead making me run around frantically and guaranteeing that I forget something I need.

            Suck it, Marie Kondo, that bag stays full of stuff.

    • Lawyerette510

      I have no idea about your husband’s background or point of reference, but I thought this article http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/03/marie-kondo-and-the-privilege-of-clutter/475266/ did a great job of looking at KonMari from a different perspective.

      • Kayjayoh

        On this, he comes from a way more privileged background than I do. But decluttering, like any household chore, as less fun than the things he’d rather be doing: playing video games, doing stuff with friends (including playing games with friends).

        When the challenge is the floor needs to be mopped or the dishes need to be done, it isn’t fun, but it is a concrete thing that objectively needs to be done and it objectively 50% his task. When the challenge is “this house is too full of things we aren’t using and we are drowning in stuff” it isn’t fun, and is less concrete. I can get rid of my things like it is going out of style. (We will never be minimalist, even then.) But getting his piles of worn out t-shirts and too-small pants under control is only something I can suggest, and it is always going to come in second to the desire to do something more fun.

        • Lawyerette510

          Oh, I know the struggle of which you speak, and it is oh-so-real!

    • Eenie

      I think a great way to accomplish this is give him a reasonable set amount of closet/drawer space. I got my fiance to throw out over half his clothing because I told him I needed at least half the closet for my clothes when we moved in. We tackled it together, and I was able to ask him questions about the clothing. We also trimmed down the amount of stuff in his drawers because I said I would help put his clothing away as long as there was space. But if your husband’s solution is to store off season clothing in bins in the basement and there is room, I personally would live to fight another fight.

      • Kayjayoh

        “I think a great way to accomplish this is give him a reasonable set amount of closet/drawer space.”

        That sounds a little condescending. He has these things. They are not mine to give.

        He put a bunch of things into a storage POD when he moved to Madison in 2010, which he never unpacked while he live there. Things stayed in the POD for four years, and where only unpacked when we moved to Boston.

        I’m not going to declutter for him. I’m not going to make him declutter. But I am being very clear that our current surroundings are not making me happy.

        • Eenie

          I didn’t mean it as condescending – in my personal situation I moved into a house he’d been living in for a year where he was using all of the closet space. “Give him” was a poor choice of words, but we divided the traditional clothing space in half: half the closet and a dresser a piece. It’s a typical stereotype that women use more closet space, and I don’t think it’s fair if I keep more clothing than he does while asking him to downsize his wardrobe.

          I also didn’t want to declutter for him, but he genuinely wanted my help sorting through his clothing. His weight has fluctuated a lot over the past ten years and he was keeping a lot of clothing that didn’t fit because he wasn’t sure if he would gain weight or lose weight. Whereas he had a lot of emotional baggage tied up in the clothing, I was able to ask him to try it on, give my opinion on the fit and overall usefulness, and then he could choose if he wanted to keep it or not. This was four hours of my life, but it makes our laundry cycles and folding a lot less stressful for both of us.

          • Kayjayoh

            We moved together, into a house with literally two small closets. There isn’t even a hall closet.

          • AP

            I totally understand the weight fluctuation thing! My husband and I have been going through this as well with both our wardrobes, and navigating the emotional attachment is tricky.

          • Eenie

            The initial clean out was in January, and three months of healthy eating consistency with working out has caused his clothes to become too big again. He seemed quite concerned when this seemed like an awesome side effect of our moving back in together. We put some extra money in the clothing category of our budget for him, and I think he’s looking forward to buying some new clothes after the wedding next month.

          • AP

            We’re in the same place, trying to budget for new clothes because old ones don’t fit. It’s been hard to let go of perfectly good clothes, but it’s so important!

          • Eenie

            Yup. I keep telling him they’re not perfectly good because A. they don’t fit and B. clothes don’t last forever so even if you did keep it you have less than half of its wear ability left. He also encourages me to buy new bras when I complain about the under wire poking me and such, so I’m not immune. It’s a lot easier for me to tell someone I love that we can afford and deserve new clothing than to tell myself that.

          • Not Sarah

            My rule on the clothes that don’t fit is “Did I love them when they did fit and would I wear them again if they fit again?” The answer to both of those has to be yes for me to keep them anyway. I’m still working on the right storage mechanism for these types of clothes…

          • Eenie

            I think this works for some things, but with limited closet space, if the article is less than $50 to replace we toss it or donate it. I personally get really tired of wearing the same clothing year over year, so my “would I wear it again” is pretty low. The questions the first time around for him were: A. Does it fit? B. Do/would you wear it? Exceptions for anything super sentimental.

          • Not Sarah

            That’s fair. I tend to only have one or two pairs of jeans in a size that currently fits me and have tons of closet/dresser space, so I’m willing to keep stuff around that I would wear again.

          • Eenie

            Jeans/dress pants for me are typically over $50 so I do make an exception for those! But I won’t keep ill fitting cheap sundresses, polos, or tshirts.

    • Mary Jo TC

      I have mixed feelings about KonMari. I think there is some privilege involved in living a minimalist lifestyle. You have to be able to afford to invest in quality upfront, and you have to have a mindset that you can always buy more later. I feel like hoarding is often motivated by a scarcity mentality that comes from living in poverty, and Kondo doesn’t address that at all. And if you read her whole book, the way she imbues her belongings with feelings and personalities and treats them as friends is kind of creepy and sad.
      I also totally agree that decluttering is something someone can only do for themselves. When spouses throw away each other’s things for them, with no discussion, that’s a huge fight waiting to happen. But it is also true that another person’s clutter can mess up your living space and stress you out.
      When I finally have this baby and get back to my normal size I plan to go through my wardrobe and discard a lot of things. I think I’ll be sorting it into three piles: 1) things I love, 2) things I don’t love but which are functional and necessary for now, and 3) things to get rid of. I think Kondo kind of ignores the existence of my pile 2. She’d tell me to throw it all out, and then I’d have nothing to wear. There are a lot of things I’m never going to ‘love’ but am always going to need to have around because they’re useful. Like that boring white top that is the only thing that goes with your favorite skirt, or something like that. My goal is to make a note to try to replace that item with something I do love that fulfills the same function, and improve my wardrobe that way.

      • Nameless Wonders

        I agree somewhat about the issue of intersectionality when it comes to minimalism and poverty. I didn’t find the personalization of belongings creepy at all, but I guess that’s definitely an “according to taste” kind of thing. I saw it as a way to respect your belongings and thus respect yourself. Those are concepts that mesh very well with people coming from a poor or impoverished background (or even there currently). I found that a lot of people seemed to read the book as saying “get rid of anything subpar and replace it with something you love!” but I also read in it “keep what you have if it serves a purpose/does a job and you can’t replace it for whatever reason” (not direct quotes obviously). The method to me lends appreciation for what I do have, even when I’m stuck with it.

        • Meg Keene

          Yeah. I agree with that. That’s how I read it too, maybe because of my background? Being able to replace things with something nicer is a VERY new concept to me. (Not saying that’s the right way to read it, just how I viewed it.) Working with the method I haven’t thrown out anything and replaced it. But I have gotten rid of all those things I never really needed that someone else can put to better use than me. And that ends up meaning that I appreciate what I have a lot more.

      • Kayjayoh

        “you have to have a mindset that you can always buy more later.”

        Very much so. This is what I am working against a lifetime of myself. Three things that almost work because you can’t afford the thing that does. Fortunately, I *am* now in a position where I don’t need to keep the things that have been worn to a thread. But since my size is in transition, I’ve been both hesitant to get rid of anything and to get anything new.

        The September deadline is helpful for that: “Okay, it is pretty clear after a year of your new lifestyle what size you are settling in at, get rid of all the things you own that don’t fit you, no matter how much you love them.”

      • Her Lindsayship

        Agree that minimalism comes in many ways from a place of privilege. I have naturally minimalist tendencies when it comes to how much stuff I’m willing to own (clutter stresses me way out), so on a personal level it works really well for me… But I get very turned off by the judgmental attitude of the movement. It’s a lifestyle choice – there’s no right or wrong answer that fits every circumstance and personality.

        • Violet

          I’m with you. Things and clutter bum me out, so I avoid them. Reading KonMari is just a lot of head nodding for me. But when movements get taken a step further to, “This is the one way to be,” that’s a step too far. It’s akin to reading a paleo cookbook. Fine if you’re into it, but it comes from a place of preference, not that it’s the one “right” way to do things.

      • Scissors

        Marie Kondo isn’t a minimalist. Minimalists require you to have very few possessions – whether they like them or not. Kondo doesn’t seem to care if you have a million things so long as you love them.

        • Scissors

          Also, I don’t understand what’s wrong even if MarieKondo is a minimalist writing to a privileged audience. It doesn’t make sense to write a book about decluttering for people who don’t have any possessions.

          • Megan

            I think what Mary Jo is referencing is more about the way that the public is treating KonMari… not necessarily the original intention of the book. When cultural norms start to impose a “right” way to live, then any system can be exclusionary.

      • Meg Keene

        I think that can be true—though as someone who grew up around poverty I’m always hesitant with painting with a broad brush. Plenty of people in poverty have different approaches to things, they think through what works for them like anyone else. BUT, I think that’s mostly true.

        However, at the moment, I *am* privileged in that way. So my rule with KnoMari is if it can get reused, it gets donated… even if that’s a pain in the ass. Sheets go to homeless shelters or domestic violence shelters, tote bags go to foster kids, etc. That stuff is FAR better put to use than shoved in my cabinets where I don’t need it or use it.

        And living with stuff I don’t need makes my life harder. As someone who grew up without much money, I sometimes have to shake the hoarding mentality myself. But 5 unused teddy bears are not going to save us if we fall upon hard times, you know?

      • AP

        I’ve been struggling with this too, from a bit of a different perspective. Where I live, it’s not uncommon to have lost possessions due to hurricanes (I know families who have lost everything they own twice- in Hurricane Camille in the 60s and then again in Katrina.) My husband’s family lost their home and its contents in Katrina, so his hoarding tendencies are shaped by that as well as his family’s DIY, why-buy-new-if-you-can-fix-old culture. I have to be careful not to push too hard with getting rid of things, and when he decides to let go of something it’s usually after several conversations and time to process.

      • Amanda

        I have the opposite take. I grew up in apartments just above the poverty line, and have no patience for excess stuff. If you were going to get anything, you were damn well going to love it, and think really hard before you bought it, and price compare, and search for quality used items, and be incredibly mindful about what you consumed. And when you don’t have the literal space to put any excess or anything that isn’t useful, out it goes! Broken stuff doesn’t pile up in your basement for 5, 10, 20 years because you forgot about it. I once lived with a family from a higher socioeconomic class, and the amount of stuff was actually really suffocating to me. The aimless consumption, the shoving everything into boxes and storing in the basement and attic for no reason, was incredibly stressful. I was chatting with a coworker (also a city kid who grew up broke), and we were talking about Kondo, and I was like, “Tell me that you, your husband, and your two year old in your tiny one bedroom apartment have a ton of stuff you aren’t using that needs to be purged?” And she laughed because she knew that we simply don’t have room for clutter. You can be privileged and minimalist, but it privileged isn’t inherent to minimalism.

        • AP

          This was my experience living near poverty throughout my childhood too. We didn’t hang on to excess because there was no excess. When we outgrew things or things outlived their usefulness, we gave them away or donated them. I’ve had the opposite problem than the one KonMari addresses- I hardly allow myself to buy things I need, let alone things I want. But I’m working on this:)

        • Meg Keene

          YES. Also, we’ve always been in apartments, so it’s the past four years in a house when things built up. And I was REALLY uncomfortable with it, as it turns out.

      • MDBethann

        Give yourself some time after you have the baby. I waited about 4 months, figured my weight & shape had plataeued, so last March I went through my clothes, had a “fashion show” for the baby (she found it hilarious) and then gave a bunch of things to my sister (who could still wear them) or donated stuff. Then I was told to go on a low-salt diet for my Meniere’s disease (too much salt in my diet was exacerbating my hearing & balance issues) and I inadvertently lost weight. Never ended up wearing the new suit I bought (still hanging in my closet in case I gain the weight back) and I had to buy new jeans again because I got tired of belts all of the time. I just couldn’t justify buying a whole bunch of new clothes again when I had just bought some less than a year ago.

        So definitely give yourself some time because it takes awhile to get to your new “post baby” body.

    • another lady

      Exactly on the clothes situation! My husband FINALLY went through his clothes and got rid of about 1/2 of them. And, now, we have another closet that is EMPTY! (I am sure we will fill it up soon enough, though – baby on the way!)

    • Ruth

      I am struggling with this issue too – that you can only de-clutter your own stuff, not your loved ones’ stuff. I am fairly good about decluttering my own things by nature – I also grew up in a household that was fairly tidy. My inlaws’ home on the other hand could quality for the show Hoarders – the only difference is that they can afford to hire a weekly cleaning service to keep their vast profusion of stuff clean and sanitary – but it’s still a huge amount of clutter. My husband feels comfortable and ‘at home’ in a room packed with objects, I think because of this, and ill at ease in a room that’s very neat and minimally furnished – whereas I am the opposite. One thing we’ve done successfully when moving from an apartment to a house is to designate his ‘room’ and my ‘room’ – he has a home office he can clutter to his heart’s content, and he knows to stay out of my tidily decorated home office. But it gets sticky in shared areas like the kitchen. What I argue is crap we can get rid of, he argued is special and useful. It’s a difference of option and I don’t know what the answer is

      • Kayjayoh

        His family’s home is beautiful. Clean, clear, everything in it’s place. He will tell you himself that he doesn’t keep his stuff in order due to laziness. He owns up to that. He’d just rather be doing something else.

        The thing I’m working on communicating to him is that we’d *all* rather be doing something else. But once it is done, you *can* do something else.

    • Sara

      I did a quick decluttering when putting away my winter clothes this year. If I didn’t consider wearing them at all, they went in the donate pile. I’ll give the warm weather clothes their chance to shine before I get rid of them now. My big problem is that I started teaching aerial so I’ve accumulated an insane amount of leggings and tanks all of the sudden because I need more than one workout outfit now. I keep reorganizing my dresser to make everything fit.

      • Kayjayoh

        Aerial high five! (Which, or course, means that “up top” is *all* the way up top.)

        I’m in the general habit of keeping a bin of “to Goodwill” for things that I’m not feeling anymore, and add to it during the season change. Then about twice a year my friends and I have a big clothing and stuff swap of the things we want, before trucking bags and bags of our collected discards off to the shop.

        What I have never done, and what I am getting ready to do in September, is getting every item of clothing I own out in one place, looking at it all and making a “keep/toss” on every item. The prospect is exhilarating.

        • Sara

          A very high five back :)

          I did the keep/toss marathon the last time I moved and it was AMAZING. I tend only wear my favorite things and it was nice to go through some stuff I had forgotten I had even owned. Plus, had the added bonus of not having to move as much junk into my new pace. Good luck in September :)

          • Kayjayoh

            I went through a period where I was moving on almost a yearly basis. I *feel* like I’ve pared back a lot. But then I consider the fact that some things survived from move to move on a default basis. “Of course” I’m keeping this thing. But why? Am I using it? Really? Do I love it? Really?

          • Sara

            Ha, I have a foot and a half tall rooster statue that I’ve brought with each move. Honestly I don’t know why I have it. But I can’t part with it! He protects me from intruders.

          • Eenie

            I have a work league first place bowling trophy that I threw out after surviving six moves.

          • Kayjayoh

            Do you read The Bloggess? If so, you will know why I am laughing right now.

          • Sara

            Yes!!! My mother owns several (much smaller) metal sculptures in her garden (a horse, a dog, bird, goat and I think a pig) so that story speaks to me on several levels.

          • Laura C

            I have a box of random clutter that I can’t quite get rid of even when I’m moving, but never actually use. My rule for moves is that I have to cut it by half each move. Either move it to a smaller box or combine it with other stuff in the same category (miscellaneous crap) that’s accumulated at my current apartment.

      • jb123

        I’m jealous that you’re putting away your winter clothes already!

        But major agreement to moving stuff to the donate pile if they aren’t worn for a season.

        • Sara

          Well I did when I got excited about a 60 degree weekend and then it went to 30 the next week, so I had to pull out the clothes again for some warm sweaters. Ah Chicago in Spring – either melting or freezing at all times!

    • emma

      Two thoughts/comments:
      1. I went ahead and Konmari’ed over about 6 months (I assigned a category to a sat or sun and scheduled it into my weekend). Anything that was truly a “maybe”, like the clothes you mention, I placed in “purgatory” in a specific location closet with a post-it on it that said “Purgatory, start 3/28/16, expires 6/28/16” and then put this purgatory review in my calendar for that expiration date. If I hadn’t touched it by then it was donated or given away somehow.

      2. On partners. I Konmari’ed mostly* my stuff and joint stuff like kitchen tools etc. I chose to konmari mostly when he was traveling so he only saw the outcome of my organizing. Luckily my husband is not a biiig “stuff” person, but clothes tend to pile up (tshirts much?!). His schedule is such that he’s heads down on work from Aug – March. But, last week when he came up for air, coupled with an impending move, he –unprompted — went through and got rid of a significant amount of his clothes and even took care of donating them. (PROGRESS!). So, just to say it may take some time for your partner to actionably get on board/do something about it. I caution to not push it hard and see if they over time discover the pleasantness of the outcome.
      *One caveat is in some categories as I went through things and found “his-exclusive” items I would put them in a pile and when he had some time mention “oh, I was going through things and will be donating some items this weekend…can you look at the pile and move them to either the keep or donate side of the table?”. Sometimes it took months for him to review and others….ok mostly months. But this was a digestible way for him to review and he wasn’t holding me up.

  • Olivia

    This is really encouraging. I, too, grew up in a household where chaos was the norm. While I don’t yet have my own family with small children, I often worry that dividing labor and setting routines is going to be tremendously difficult, if not impossible. It’s nice to know that we’re not destined to live in chaos forever.

  • Eenie

    Ah! Such a timely post. I just scheduled our Merry Maid initial consultation and cleaning after putting it off since January :) Scheduled for one week before the wedding, perfect timing with our out of town guests!

    Does anyone know about the employment practices of Merry Maids? The 4 week rate for our house is $198/visit. It’s super easy because they are bonded and insured, we have a contact of a local cleaner that we may use, but my preference is for a larger company and just pay more. I just don’t know if a lot of that money gets back to the employees doing the work.

    We’ve had a lot of success with prepping ALL of our food on Sunday. We go to the flea market/farmers market on Saturday, and then finish up at the grocery store. Sunday is prep dish day (the service we use). We cook four different meals and make some sort of sausage and vegetable mix for breakfast scramble each morning. We have each successfully accomplished the cooking process as the lone person home for the weekend. We have not had a weekend when both of us are out (that’s actually our wedding weekend/honeymoon). To prep for these, we’ve been trying to freeze some of the extra leftovers.

    I think the best thing we’ve learned through this is that I was doing most of the meal planning, and paying $99 for a year’s worth of recipes and grocery lists was SUPER helpful. Secondly, my fiance has felt like he can take charge of this. He often gets started on chopping because he KNOWS exactly what he needs to do when it’s written out step by step. When it was all in my head or just a pile of food in the fridge, he had to be told what needed to be done next, which annoyed the f*ck out of both of us.

    • Meg Keene

      I think… they’re not great. I think they were the company written about in Nickled and Dimed. http://www.amazon.com/Nickel-Dimed-Not-Getting-America/dp/0312626681 One of the ways I’ve handled this though is buy building in tip to my housecleaning budget. I try to provide a cash tip of between $10-$20 per person. It cuts into the amount of times we can get the house cleaned a month, but it’s what makes it work for me. I’ve worked low wage jobs, and I know that $20 can be a big deal.

      • Meg Keene

        Also, if anyone has info on how to hire cleaners in an ethical way, I would LOVVEEEE that. By tipping excessively in cash I’m sort of hacking the system, but I’d love a less broken system.

        • lottie

          I’ve found the best independent cleaners through realtors, as they need to have lists of reliable people at the ready to give to their clients. In my last town, I found an amazing cleaner this way, who ran a fantastic business — she was super cool, had trustworthy employees, and her rates were reasonable to her staff and to me.

          • Meg Keene

            Ohhhhh. SMART.

          • Jenny

            When I was getting ready to sell my house, I basically learned that I should have contacted realtors for almost every house hold need I’d had while owning the house. Every person she recommended (I often asked for 3 to get bids) was awesome.

        • jb123

          I wrote a little about this above. But I’d add to it that if we all start calling cleaning companies and requesting information regarding fair treatment of employees, there might be more of an incentive for companies to treat their employees fairly. One person saying “I won’t work with you without this information” is small potatoes but if it’s a thing we all do collectively, it can put pressure on the businesses to share that info publicly and to be willing to make adjustments.

        • Megan

          We live in NYC and found a worker-owned cooperative cleaning company. http://www.wecandoit.coop/about.html
          Not sure if there are coops like this in other places but maybe if you live in a different area, you can call Si Se Puede and find out if they know of other similar businesses in other areas of the country…

        • julia

          If you have a MaidPro near you, they might be worth looking into. My husband works for them and they typically pay employees well over what other maid services pay (they are a franchise so it varies a bit from office to office). Hourly rates also vary by location, but I’m in the Boston area and pay $91/clean for bi-weekly cleans (that includes our tip which is $15-20).

          I also resisted this for a long time (because of some nonsense in my head about not being the “kind of people” who have maid service). But between both our (way more than) full time jobs and my being a full time graduate student, as well, it has totally saved our sanity.

      • Meg

        I’m really glad you’re adding that. This is so important.

    • BSM

      We found someone on TaskRabbit who we love and is extremely reasonable, especially given our location. I’m sure it’s more hit or miss on who you get, but I prefer it to something like Merry Maids (who, like Meg mentioned, is kind of terrible) since Taskers set their own rates and hours. They’re also fully insured, and I like that Taskers set their own rates an hours.

      • Eenie

        I will look into that, thanks. I haven’t fully committed to Merry Maids for our regular cleanings yet, but I need someone to do an initial deep clean and that is the easiest right now. I’d feel better about asking a cleaning person to come in and do monthly cleanings if there isn’t 1.5 years of dirt build up in some areas.

        • BSM

          Toootally get that! I’m still trying to see if I can get comfortable with having our current Tasker help out with laundry. Feeling (strangely?) embarrassed about asking her to deal with our dirty clothes and linens.

          We did have our current and a previous Tasker (who was also great, but is no longer available) do deep cleans on our place before committing to a regular cleaning schedule, and they were also great at that. It wasn’t 1.5 years of dirt, but it was definitely gross. They were both super nice about it, so you could think of it as a good way to test someone out?

          • Eenie

            Merry Maids is scheduled, so I’m sticking with that for now (wedding is less than four weeks away). We will probably at least try someone else out before committing.

      • Meg Keene

        Sometimes I feel like the TaskRabbit system is all screwed up too. Here it often feels like tech elites hiring the marginally employed. I did it for painting the APW office, and ended up not feeling great about it. The problem with that system is I actually CAN’T tip, so that didn’t help me feel good about it.

        THAT SAID, in the Bay Area, there are, last I checked there were Taskers who charge $300/hour and more for yard work. So, I think we can agree they are not underpaid.

        • BSM

          Oh there are absolutely problems with TaskRabbit (and many of the tech companies who employ mostly contractors in the “sharing economy”). I think at least for me, it helps that Taskers set their own rates and hours (vs. Merry Maids employees and Uber/Lyft drivers) and are compensated for and allowed to bring their own supplies (again, vs. Merry Maids who are forced to use some pretty abrasive cleaners that are probably not healthy to be in close contact with that frequently). So at least with that bit of autonomy, I know our regular Tasker is taking home a $ amount she’s comfortable with.

          Also, you absolutely CAN tip on TaskRabbit! Not sure if that’s a new feature or something, but I definitely appreciate it.

        • Yeah, seconded. Even if it’s not built into the interface, you can always pay A TaskRabbit for an extra half hour (or four hours, or whatever, lol).

    • jb123

      I felt super weirdness and guilt about hiring a cleaning service when we first did it. As it is we only do once every few months bc of the expense, but it’s such a treat when we do! I allayed the guilt by calling around to local companies and asking questions about how they treat their workers, what their wages are, where they live, etc. The larger companies were quick to push me off the phone but the smaller, individually owned ones seemed appreciative or at least not angry that I cared about worker treatment. A few questions I asked if you’re thinking about doing this:
      – What are your workers’ hourly wages?
      – Do you offer benefits to your employees?
      – Do you use nontoxic cleaning products OR are they encouraged/allowed (!) to wear masks and gloves while working?
      – Are there things you don’t clean? Why? (eg. is it just pay an extra fee or are there things you don’t do out of concern for worker safety?)
      – What is your policy for employee cancellation? (The company we ultimately chose is owned by a woman who commented that most of her employees are primary caretakers as well, so if school is closed for snow days or the like, she will reschedule on us and she has.)
      – Do your employees live in the area? (I don’t know if this works in suburbs, but it made sense in Boston.)

      The company we chose pays fairly low but well above minimum wage, which we tip on top of. The owner doesn’t penalize employees for needing to balance responsibilities outside of work, is local, and employs local women. She goes to all new clients’ homes a few times with her employees to ensure her employees’ safety. We confirmed what we could of what we had learned from the owner with the workers directly after the owner had left. Overall, I feel like we totally made the right call on which company to use, and the team that we’ve had come a few times always does a super duper job.

      • Laura C

        I love this. When we get our apartment cleaned, it’s my MIL sending over her cleaner either because she’s out of town and doesn’t need the cleaning or because she just feels like we could use it. I basically trust that she has done the research — we hand cash directly to the cleaner, who has some kind of coordinator but I get the impression it’s a reasonably ethical system. But my MIL’s cleaner speaks no English and my Spanish is not good enough to really have a conversation, so I have to trust that she keeps a reasonable amount of the money I hand her. (I also give her a generous tip on top of what my MIL pays her, even though she’s getting the same to clean our two-bedroom apartment as MIL’s five-bedroom house.)

        But if we get to where we want to hire someone to clean our place once we move away and this isn’t our every-so-often option, I want to remember these questions.

    • BeccaC

      So I have been using Merry Maids since last January and it has been awesome working with them. I live in Canada, so I’m not sure how differently it works here from the US. But my Merry Maids is a an area specific franchise here and the franchise owner told us during the consultation that each franchise is run by different people and in different ways. Ours uses all natural cleaning products. I met our cleaners on their first visits and a few times since and they were wonderful (they even let our dog out in the backyard for a bathroom break and he loves them). The work they do is excellent, especially the top to bottom house cleaning they did the first time we had them! They clean the top two floors of our house once a month for $218(CAN). I have told my husband that this luxury is the one I will give up pretty much everything else to keep. I hope your experience goes as well as mine! I do wish I knew more about how much of the money goes back to the cleaners but I suspect that is hard to find out.

      • Eenie

        I need to call them back and ask some more questions it seems then! Good information to know.

  • Colleen

    I can’t say enough good things about meal/grocery delivery. Grocery shopping often stresses me out and I easily fall into repetitive recipe slumps that leave me bored and unmotivated to cook. We were eating at restaurants all the time and spending way too much money on food. While our Blue Apron subscription is pricier than doing our own shopping, it’s much cheaper than going out to eat 5 nights a week and the convenience of having everything available and pre-measured is huge for me. We eat yummier, healthier meals, spend less money, and have more time to get other stuff done around the house.

    • macrain

      Blue apron has been awesome for us too! The other night my husband made dinner for me, which has NEVER happened. He does not cook, but we had done enough Blue apron recipes together that he felt confident enough to give it a shot. It’s a total confidence builder in the cooking dept.

      • Colleen

        It’s the same at my house! While we’ve got a really good division of household labor going on in general, my husband’s never been a cooker. Now, he volunteers to help all the time! I think the pictures, clear instructions, and lack of measuring are a big part of it. He feels more confident, so he pitches in more often!

    • Green

      Blue Apron looks amazing, but is a bit more that I’m ready to spend. We signed up for emeals. It doesn’t eliminate grocery shopping, but it really solves meal planning. They have a ton of options- low carb, vegetarian, Mediterranean, etc. They offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner plans, include a shopping list. We’re saving money, time, and food waste. We’ve been using this service for about 6 months and no repeat meals yet. You can also change plans whenever you want.
      http://emeals.com/

  • macrain

    We recently moved to an apartment with a smaller kitchen and less closet space, and as a result I was pretty cut throat about giving stuff away we don’t use. I was still convinced we’d need a storage unit, but we’ve managed, AND- I am so much calmer with less stuff. Less space for our things has actually been good for us.
    Now, keep in mind we’re having a baby in a few months, so who knows how this will hold up! But still- I feel as if I have adopted a new philosophy on acquiring and getting rid of stuff that I hope sticks.

    • another lady

      I have come to realize that babies require so.much.stuff. (at least raising one in middle class America does.) We just had the baby showers and I already want to give a bunch of it to goodwill! But, I know that the kid will use it *eventually*, and we should be grateful because we are blessed to have it all. So, we are finding places to store it until it goes into use. Luckily, we’ve been able to clear out some closets and rearranged the garage storage to make room for baby stuff. And, once it’s actually getting used, and not just sitting in idle piles, I will feel better about it all.

      • macrain

        It’s also hard since everyone is offering to give you their used baby stuff that you aren’t even sure you need! But it’s free so…?
        Sure, I’ll take your bumbo seat! (What’s a bumbo seat?)

        • Mary Jo TC

          And you often don’t even know what you need and will use until you have the baby. So many of the gadgets and clothes are only useful for a super short window of time becaue they grow so quickly!

          • Laura C

            My MIL keeps wanting us to get a mobile, but we’re going to be moving cross country in what I’m told is the window when babies most like mobiles, so I don’t want it to be yet another thing we get, get attached to, then don’t have for 1/3 of the time it would have been useful.

        • another lady

          I took all the free stuff that was offered (minus duplicate items) cleaned it up and have it in storage. We will see what the baby likes and what we find useful once it arrives!

        • MDBethann

          FYI on the bumbo seat: MamaOT (a great resource for things that are or aren’t great for baby) has some articles about how bumbo seats are not great because they can interfere with muscle development since the seat is supporting baby and baby isn’t learning to support her/himself. Our daycare uses them and when my daughter was little, I asked that she not be placed in it because I wanted her to develop her core muscles.

          MamaOT’s website (which I found through a friend who is a children’s occupational therapist) has been a good resource for me to help sort through what are good, healthy, and possibly useful gizmos and toys for my daughter and which ones I shouldn’t waste my time or money on getting for her. There are LOADS of baby “must haves” that aren’t really “musts” at all (I have a bunch of bottle warmers and some other things still in their original packaging – never ended up needing them. Oh well).

      • Laura C

        A friend of mine said on Facebook something like “give me a person’s list of baby must-haves and I’ll tell you the square footage of their house.”

        We got a lot of hand-me-downs from people with big suburban houses, where when they told us they had a great stroller, we were psyched — and then we got the stroller into our apartment and saw how much room it takes up, never mind that it’s not going to work at all for public transit. And you’re grateful for the gift, but…

        • Lisa

          I read on a friend’s blog that she chose baby-wearing over purchasing a stroller for this reason–she and her husband really didn’t have the space to store anything more than the smallest ones. Did you end up with a different stroller or did you go without? I’m really curious because one of the things that freaks me out about babies is how much stuff they seem to come with.

          • z

            We are also non-stroller people. We have steps leading up to our townhouse, and we commute by bus so it’s much easier to use a baby carrier. I did eventually get a stroller for longer outings and for when we get groceries, because I couldn’t carry the groceries and the kid for long distances. When I got pregnant again I stopped using the carrier for my toddler, so we would have gotten a stroller at that point anyway. But if you don’t have any reason to carry a lot of stuff when you’re alone with your child, then there’s no need for a stroller unless you want one. Or if you want a jogging stroller, that is a totally different animal.

            I mainly use the stroller at the farmers’ market because I’m buying a lot of heavy stuff (e.g. a watermelon), and I really like how it allows me to confine my kid. It’s just too much for me to shop, deal with the baby, and keep an eye on a roving toddler all at once. Our market is crowded and it’s very easy for her to grab and eat some food that we haven’t paid for, or to slip away under a table and get lost. After a few near misses, I started keeping her in the stroller while we’re in the market. That’s the other real benefit of the stroller.

          • Eenie

            I like whoever’s comment about being able to guess at the square footage of a person’s living space by the must haves on their baby list! This freaked me out too, and then I saw how little my brother and sister-in-law have for their kid. You can be purposeful about purchases and gifts, and you can always donate or resell and buy stuff later when it would be useful. We regularly skype and his favorite toy is the bulk paper towels and toilet paper from costco! You can choose baby wearing over a stroller with two caveats: your baby must like being worn and you have to have the ability to wear the baby (sometimes not possible with C section deliveries at first)! I think z is right though, with a second child in the mix the stroller becomes a lot more helpful.

          • z

            I do think it’s the second baby that makes the stroller a thing– starting from the pregnancy. It’s much easier to lean over and barf in a trash can when you’re not wearing a 2-year-old!

            I do advise everyone to take care of their back health. The whole multi-year marathon of pregnancies and nursing and toddler-parenting is very hard on one’s back. So that’s also a reason to opt for the stroller sometimes. I usually ask my husband to wear the baby if we’re out together because he’s stronger and didn’t have to go through the back strain of pregnancy. Also my kids just loooooove riding with their dad– something about the low rumbly voice and the longer stride just puts them right to sleep.

          • Sparkles

            I recently heard on a podcast that pregnant women are a key marketing demographic because they’re just starting out into a whole new purchasing area and there are brand loyalties to build and you can tell them they need stuff when they might not actually.

            I try to keep that in mind when I’m buying for the baby. Babies CAN need lots of stuff if that’s how you choose to do it, but they also don’t need a lot of stuff (e.g. my mom slept in a drawer when she was born, Swedish people put their babies in a really cool box, etc).

          • Lisa

            That makes sooooo much sense. I’m not a fan of buying a ton of new things if I can get by with what I currently have so, when I see all of these crazy long registries, it’s hard to decipher what will be the most useful items to get people or what people actually need. (Hence my buying of a cloth diaper and outfit for my friend’s baby shower. Those seem like things the baby will need at some point for sure.)

          • MDBethann

            Clothing is good, but if you can, think 6 months out from baby’s due date and get some outfits in the 6-9 month range (that will be appropriate for that season). Or a sunhat (SPF 50 preferred) for 0-12 months. Baby wipes, diaper cream, baby wash, washcloths, towels, not to mention detergent are all things that aren’t necessarily “fun” but are definitely needed. One of my friends gives all new moms a little first aid box with baby Tylenol, a thermometer, some diaper cream, etc – stuff she KNOWS they will need.

            Also useful – a little thermometer duck for the bath – seems silly, but I’m a horrible judge of temperature and I would have burned my daughter without one. Upside is it, doubles as a bath toy!

          • Laura C

            Well, we’re still waiting to start putting things in practice (40 weeks, 4 days), but by the time we realized how big the stroller was, it was in our house. So we’ll give it a shot, but I have already picked out a nice collapsible stroller for when baby can hold its head up. And in the mean time I expect to do a fair amount of baby-wearing when we want to use public transit or whatever. The nice thing about the ginormo stroller is it has a bassinet setting that the people who gave it to us told us they did use as a bed for their children, and we plan to give that a try at least sometimes — the crib is in the second bedroom but if we decide we want the baby sleeping in our room, the stroller will be a good way to try that out.

          • Jenny

            We got an awesome over the door hook to hang our stroller on. We have a city mini and a bob revolution and both collapse pretty flat. Getting them off the floor and in what us otherwise for us dead space was nice. Babies don’t always want to be worn, so unless you absolutely have to not have a stroller, they are pretty nice.

  • My struggle is always that my partner and I both offer to do chores (“Don’t touch the dishes. I am doing them!” or “That carpet looks bad. I’ll definitely vacuum it tonight”) but then there is a delay in actually getting these things done. Maybe a schedule or a system would help…

    • Nameless Wonders

      We broke our chores up into 8 options and split them evenly between us. There’s a few that always get done (litter box, taking out trash/recycling, laundry) and the rest…not very often. But that’s okay because we know what we’re responsible for. A schedule personally does not work for me because I get overwhelmed by the structure of it, whereas I know other people are very relieved to say “It’s okay because I know on Monday I’m sweeping the floors!”

      Also, we have a rule that whoever cooks doesn’t have to wash dishes. This doesn’t work out most of the time because we eat breakfast/lunch separately and don’t usually have the chance to wash everything right after eating. So then there’s a small pile-up and neither of us wants to wash them. We also don’t generate enough dishes to warrant using the dishwasher so it’s all by hand :(. This is a category that we need to fine-tune a bit.

      • Amy March

        You have a dishwasher but don’t use it? Even though your hand-washing system doesn’t work well for you? Why?

        Between the two of you, if you have, say two cups, two bowls, two spoons, two salad plates, two dinner plates, two knives and two forks a day, that’s what- two days until the dishwasher is full enough to be worth it?

        • Nameless Wonders

          We have 4 plates, 4 forks, etc. The dishwasher would never be remotely full because we have so few dishes and don’t generate a lot. Plus since we have very few pans also so they have to be washed to be used. Most of the time, that’s the thing that we stay on top of most (cleaning the skillets). It’s really a minor inconvenience. I’m just afraid if we get more dishes, we’ll still keep avoiding washing. I also have no idea how much running a dishwasher would affect electric bills since we’ve rarely used them in previous apartments.

          • Eenie

            Go to goodwill, but four more plates/silverware and do a test run for a month? This solved our dishes issue. We now struggle with the pots, pans, and handwash stuff, but the dishwasher runs like clockwork. You can turn off the heated dry if you want to ease into the up in electricity.

          • Nameless Wonders

            Good call. Or I can ask my mom to offload some of her plates (since she has about 3x more than she needs for even a dinner party, let alone regular use). :p

          • Amy March

            Honestly that’s a whole pile of excuses why you can’t use a time-saving machine you already own. Which, if it’s working for you great, but if the issues is “piling up dishes no one wants to do” buy some more dishes at Goodwill, try out the whole dishwasher thing, and if it doesn’t work re-donate them? Or not, it just seems worth a try?

          • another lady

            dishwasher = marriage savers! Just saying – it has been so much easier since we have lived in a place with a dishwasher! I will never go back to not having one! (We run ours probably every 2-3 days on average. We also put the pots and pans and knives and everything in there… if it can’t go in there, we don’t use it very often.

          • Lawyerette510

            Yes! Our first two places did not have dishwashers, but the one we’ve been in for the past 3 years does, and it would be a challenge to go back to not having one. We pack our lunches about 90% of the time, so with two adults creating dishes for 2 to 3 meals every day, plus we have people over probably once a week, not always for a full meal but there’s always drinks and some food. I would be much less inclined to entertain if it meant hand-washing everything.

          • Lawyerette510

            Generally dishwashers are more efficient than hand-washing, especially for water consumption if your’e running full loads. While you may see a small increase in your electric bill, you’ll see a decrease in water usage. Just make sure you turn the light out before you leave the room to go enjoy life while your dishwasher runs. It won’t eliminate all dishes, because there are lots of things (like knives and many pots/ pans) that do better in the long run if you hand-wash, but for things like cups, plates, etc, the dishwasher is a win on water consumption and time.

          • Nameless Wonders

            Water is included in our rent. I’ll probably try it out for a bit to see if it does help though, it’s easy to set the washer to a “light” load when there isn’t a lot to wash. Doesn’t seem to take very long and everything gets way cleaner than when I wash by hand.

          • Chris

            I study residential water consumption for a living. Water consumption an average installed dishwasher in the US uses about 4 gallons per run cycle, the average installed kitchen faucet uses about 5 gallons per minute. SOOO: you win on water consumption if it you would need to run your kitchen sink for just one minute to wash the dishes you’d put in the dishwasher, even if it isn’t full. (Do you run the water to get it to warm up? Then you’re probably losing on the water front)

            Lots of people don’t realize this, but emprically, the more you can do in the dishwasher, even running not at all full loads, the better.

            Now for energy and dishwashers: the energy efficiency of dishwashers varies a lot with the age of the dishwasher, but most of the energy use is in the heated dry cycle. If you have the option to turn that off, each dishwasher load will probably be a relatively trivial part of your monthly energy consumption. Heating 4 gallons of water to really hot just isn’t a much load, and you are probably heating the water to hand wash your dishes anyways.

          • Lisa

            This is absolutely fascinating! I just sent this to my husband because we have a constant battle about whether we should use the drying cycle or not. (My family never uses it, but his family does.) Thanks for sharing!

      • researchwarrior

        We stopped switching off cooking and dishes because it turned into this awkward struggle of “I’m scared I’ll ruin the good knives” and “ew, what was in this pan that’s been soaking for awhile?” The fact that almost all the kitchen stuff was mine from before we moved into together and I was a bit overprotective of my “fancy” cookware didn’t help. Now we each take complete responsibility for our own dishes and it’s been so easy, and it’s especially motivated me to clean up while cooking to reduce the mutual mess afterwards. Plus we both willingly wash the other’s extra coffee cup or fork or whatever if we see it lying around so there always seems to be a pleasant surprise that the kitchen is clean instead of resentment from not getting to the big job in time. I’ll admit that at first it didn’t seem “fair” that one person does both cooking and cleaning but when we lump it into one chore, our dishwasher-less lives improved dramatically.

  • Lawyerette510

    I too grew up in a household where tidiness was low on the priority list. This meant that lots of good things were prioritized instead of tidiness (like creativity, fun, gardening, cooking), but there was never real method, other than everyone having to help pick up the night before the cleaner came in once every 3 weeks. The things that needed to happen, like laundry, happened, but it wasn’t that much. My husband grew up in a tidy and clean house, but his mom stayed home and did nearly all the work to keep it that way.

    The things that have worked for us especially in times when we are very busy (although it has admittedly been easier due to his recent unemployment and current role as “house-husband” while he figures out his next step) are

    1. Aligning our values: part of this came out of our budgeting and part of this came out of other conversations. One of the things I care very deeply about it food, not just what we are eating but in decreasing food waste, this is something he hasn’t always cared about. He cares about laundry not piling up and having time to get outside. He values tidy, while I value clean. Over the years of figured out baseline standards so that we can prioritize accordingly. One of the things we’ve prioritized is having professional cleaners who do the deep-clean.

    2. Planning, dividing and conquering: I do more of the thinking and planning about food, and usually the execution. He does most of the awareness and executing when it comes to pet care. We use the regular “family business” meetings where we discuss our budget and calendar to also look at how we’re going to plan for scheduling and executing on chores.

    3. Scheduling: similar to Meg and many others, we have certain days that certain things regularly happen, and some “short-cuts” for when they don’t. An example of this is using Sundays to prep for the week, including prep time in the kitchen and making sure the “core laundry” (underwear, workout clothes, favorite jeans), but if we have plans, then hopefully we got ahead with the laundry and we have some soup and other things stashed in the freezer we can pull out.

    4. A steamer (for clothes): we are good at getting the laundry washed, and the things that are folded, folded, but I’m horrible at hanging things, and hanging things back up that have been worn but don’t need to be washed yet (think work clothes mainly). I bought a steamer online a couple years ago, and now I can do what actually works for me: throw things that need to be hung up in a laundry basket in my closet, then once or twice a week, taking 10 minutes to hang things up and steam things that got wrinkled.

  • Cdn icecube

    Two things have really saved my relationship, one of them is a semi-loose schedule, and the other is a Roomba. I have a very set schedule, whereas J works days one week and evenings the next, so what we have decided is that each of us has rooms that we’re exclusively responsible for that needs to be cleaned once a week. Whether thats every tuesday for me, or whenever he feels like it, it just seems to work. The other thing that’s worked really well is our Roomba, Carson. We have him set to go off once a week for a full clean and I usually stick him in a room when I’m cooking or something. Yes, they are a luxury and not everyone can afford it, but for us saving up for 2 months to buy an older version has saved us a ton of fights.

    • Ashlah

      We love our Roomba. We don’t have it on a timer, but it’s so nice to be able to vacuum while completing other chores. And it’s one less chore to argue over whose turn it is to complete!

      • Cdn icecube

        Amen. Plus I can stick him in a room while I’m watching Grey’s so I still feel like I’m being semi-productive.

    • Rebekah Jane

      We inherited a Roomba from my boyfriend’s sister and DJ Brobot (as we like to call him) is our favorite pet, hands down. We can’t use him in the entire house, as our dogs would try to defend us from the evil vacuum, but any room with a door is fair game. It has made our lives 1000% easier. Now if we could just get the division of labor part clearly defined…

      • doublegus

        Would you say it does an ok job getting up pet fur? We have a dog and cat and really should vacuum more often (more than once a week, sadly) because holy crap the fur bunnies. I’d love to not have to haul the heavy vacuum out every time.

        • Ashlah

          Ours does a pretty good job on pet fur! Sometimes, if we wait too long between uses, it’ll have trouble picking up a particularly thick fur bunny, but I don’t mind picking up one or two up by hand. And if we were to run it often enough (we don’t), it definitely picks up enough loose fur that it would prevent a lot of bunnies. I do have to clean out the brushes and such more often than if we had no pets, but I suppose that’s true of any vacuum.

        • Rebekah Jane

          We have the original version (like I said, inherited) but DJ Brobot does an ok job. I do need to clean him out a few times before he can really get cleaning. But, this is 100% due to the fact that our big dog is part border collie and part lab, making her a very lovable shed-monster. If you invest in the newer versions (my best friend has one that is made for pet hair), then they are a dream.

    • Amy March

      Love that everyone is assigning male pronouns to their Roombas on here!

      • Caroline

        My mother’s is Roy. We considered Matilda but decided she needed a manservant not a maid.

    • Her Lindsayship

      Seriously love that your Roomba’s name is Carson <3

      • Cdn icecube

        He keeps our place in ship shape. Much like how he did :'( at the Abby.

    • Lulu

      Ours is Brocktoon: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x9yn49_mr-belvedere_shortfilms

      But one day he literally scared the crap out of the dog, then spread it all around the house. None of us– me, husband, dog, Brocktoon– have recovered yet.

      • Eenie

        That is a really funny story after the fact!

    • Chris

      we bought Neato (different brand, same idea) when my kid was born, and he’s one of our better investments. I :heart: Neato. We only vacuum now when we have houseguests, but Neato runs himself every weekday.

      • Erin

        We did the same thing! Like two months after our son was born, ROBOT VACUUM. It makes my life so much happier. No more cat tumbleweeds or tracked litter, and the thing goes UNDER my end tables!

    • KPM

      We don’t have a Roomba (I kinda want one but my dog would hate it) but for the wedding we were given a really nice dyson. I have always *hated* vacuuming but it’s cordless and so light that I actually don’t mind it at all. We hadn’t even thought of upgrading the vacuum but it turned out to be the exception to the not-going-off-registery rule.

    • toomanybooks

      Is Carson named after the butler in Downton Abbey?

    • Alison M

      For those who have Roombas, what model do you have? I have been toying with the idea of getting one, but the nicer models are sooooo $$$. I’m curious as to whether the cheaper models are still worthwhile.

  • Anon

    Does anyone have recommendations on how to find home cleaning services that pay fair wages and treat their staff respectfully? Any tips/recommendations specific to San Francisco especially appreciated!

    • LMN

      I would look for a cleaning cooperative. I can’t speak for SF, but there are a couple in NY.

    • afew

      ask around if people have a person/service in your area that they like. everyone I know uses a person who does it either on the side or as a small business and they usually pay cash or check with tips included.

      • Eenie

        I wouldn’t mind if it was a small business, but if it’s on the side, I worry about the not being bonded and insured. I would feel horrible if they were injured in my home, but at the same time if it’s not my fault I don’t want the liability to pay for any of the medical costs or lawsuit. Or if they don’t lock up properly and stuff is stolen.

        • Amy March

          I’ve come down on the side of evil big company for exactly this reason. It seems best for the cleaner if it’s just them being paid cash, but that’s not best for me for many reasons. I tip well, and that’s the best I can do.

    • jb123

      I wrote about this in response to another comment below: http://apracticalwedding.com/2016/03/household-management-strategies/#comment-2593510009
      The gist is: ASK! A company that cares about their employees will appreciate the chance to tell you that and one that doesn’t will push you off the phone.

    • Meg Keene

      See the convo up thread!

  • Eileen

    I like some of the ideas on http://www.cleanmama.net/. It’s gotten my bathroom cleaning routine down to five minutes, something easy and quick to do every Saturday (that doesn’t include the shower, of course, eugh, walk-in showers are so hard to clean).

  • Ashlah

    Tips on convincing a partner to agree to outsourcing some tasks? I think I’m making some slow progress with the idea of Blue Apron, but he is adamantly against a housecleaner. We are terrible at regularly cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, and floors (we vacuum and de-clutter, but actual cleaning happens…less often than I care to admit). It’s not the money that’s the main issue–he is super uncomfortable with the idea of having a stranger in our house. Has anyone dealt with those feelings? Did you end up convincing your partner to give a housecleaner a try? Or did you come to an agreement/commitment to cleaning more often yourselves?

    • Amy March

      When I was sharing living space with a partner he was very anti-housecleaner. My deal was great- you want to clean the house to the housecleaner’s standards every two weeks without being reminded to do it? Go for it. If not I’m hiring the housecleaner and you’ll deal. She started the next week. If I have the money for a housecleaner, I’m hiring one.

    • afew

      for the first couple of times, have the person come while someone will be there! it might be awkward at first to have the person clean your house, but he could keep an eye on them and make sure they are not snooping/stealing the first few times. then, once you are comfortable with the person, you could schedule it for a time you are not there. also ask him if he is better with someone from a licensed/insured service or someone who does it as a small business but is recommended by friends/family.

    • Lawyerette510

      We only got to our current solution of a cleaning professional after many discussions (and some fights/ arguments) that highlighted the tension caused by trying to do it ourselves. There were lots of discussions about the gendered nature of our dynamic (where I was the one who had to initiate cleaning, such as saying “this weekend we need to do X, Y, and Z tasks” and then having to go get supplies if we were out and keep us on task) and it just created so much tension. While he didn’t love the idea of strangers in our home and he at first felt like it was a waste of money, once we had a few trial runs and a great deal of the tension and disagreements that were rooted in it went away, he was on board. It also helped that we hired the people who had been cleaning 2 of the other 5 units in our building for over a decade, so he felt more confident in it.

    • Not Sarah

      I was really against having a housecleaner for similar reasons. My boyfriend’s compromise is that he coordinates with them and he’ll often end up working from home for the few hours they’re here and that makes me much more comfortable with it.

    • EF

      We haven’t had a housecleaner in yet in this flat, but it’s definitely happening soon. The biggest argument for me is stress. Dirt stresses me out. clutter stresses me out. And good lord, my job stresses me out. So while I’ll sometimes have time to scrub the kitchen floor, it’d be really great every couple of months to have a cleaner in to get things back up to an inspection-worthy standard.

    • Alison M

      I agree with Amy March – if he is not willing to put in the effort to clean significantly more, he needs to figure out another solution, with a housekeeper being the obvious choice.

      In terms of getting him to be more comfortable, the suggestion of having someone be there the first few times is helpful. Also, if you can find someone who cleans for someone else you know (family, friends, or neighbors), that might help. My neighborhood has an email list and that’s how we found the woman who cleans our house, and she is magical. My parents have had the same housecleaner coming weekly since I was a small child, so obviously they trust her completely.

      • Ashlah

        It’s hard for me to argue that he needs to put in more effort when I’m also not putting in the effort. I don’t want to do it either, but I think we’d both be happier if it were done more often. So the argument is whether we both put in more effort or we both agree to get a housecleaner. (Or we continue with the status quo). It’d be easier for me to argue if I felt like I was doing a disproportionate amount of cleaning.

        We know exactly zero people with house cleaners, which honestly also might be part of his reservation. We both already struggle a bit with being “better off” than our families of origin, and hiring someone to do our chores feels pretty weird and privileged still. I mean, obviously it is enormously privileged. But I wonder how much of his hesitation actually comes from discomfort with that, not strictly the stranger in my house thing.

        • Eenie

          My partner struggled with this. He did not want someone else cleaning the house (mostly because privilege). I’m not sure what eventually caused him to cave, but I think the getting up to “guest cleanliness” standard for visiting parents helped. I also stopped doing all the stupid housework I was doing since January, and he finally saw what happens when I get out of “maintenance mode” autopilot. I don’t want to constantly be the only one in maintenance mode, so either he has to flip that switch on or we hire a cleaning person. We hired a cleaning person. Well, I hired them.

          We also have an understanding that if one of us thinks something is a problem it’s worth discussing. We don’t have to agree per se about the importance or gravity of the problem, but we get to say our piece and be heard. Secondly, you don’t get to criticize the proposed solution to said problem unless you have an alternative. That combined with being willing to try anything once has led to a lot more productive problem solving for us as a couple.

          • Ashlah

            Thanks, Eenie, especially for that second paragraph. I’d say that generally tends to holds true for us, although we’ve never explicitly laid those ground rules, and perhaps we should. I think I’ll sit down with him soon and make it clear that we need to come to some sort of solution here, rather than continuing to kick the can down the road. Either we hire someone, or we commit to a specific plan for cleaning the house ourselves. Relying on random bursts of cleaning motivation every few months isn’t working.

          • Eenie

            No problem. This would probably be considered our worst fight in our relationship, so it definitely wasn’t easy, but Merry Maids comes next month! And he is just as excited as me to have a clean house!

  • JC

    Oh I am so grateful for this discussion and the commenters who have also struggled with learning to clean as adults. I have always felt that this was something I was uniquely bad at, and therefore have always felt a lot of shame. To top it off, my college roommate was very tidy (to the point of being rude– she’d pull things out of your hands to put them away, including meals). It always felt like we were in some kind of competition and she was scoring points against me, for a game whose rules I didn’t understand. Every day was her vs. me, and it was assumed that I was the failure of the two.

    I am only now, three and a half years of dating later, beginning to realize how much of a fear this is in my relationship with my boyfriend, that he’s one day going to tally up all of the ways that I’m not a good housekeeper and tell me I’m a failure. But as I actually just said to a friend on Saturday, it doesn’t work that way. We’re on a team, and there isn’t a competition between us. If he does the dishes, it isn’t because “JC forgot to do the dishes” but because “the dishes need to be done.” This sense of partnership is probably the most miraculous part of our relationship, to me, because it has no analogy in any friendship I’ve ever had.

    • Michela

      Good for you for working to reframe the way you think about household management in the context of a relationship. I tend to have a more nuanced problem, where I think “Tommy will be so happy when he sees that I reorganized the linen closet”. And then, when he inevitably doesn’t notice the linen closet (because who would?!), I get really sad and upset. I learned a trick from one of Gretchen Rubin’s books- now I say, “I will be so happy when I see the reorganized linen closet”. And because I’m a nerd, I am happy! It helps to reframe the thought as something you’re doing to make yourself happy, not necessarily to make someone else notice. Maybe this idea will help you, too: He did the dishes to make himself happy, not because I’m a failure and didn’t do them.

      Keep at it! Sounds like you’re doing splendidly.
      xoM

      • JC

        I do this, and now I’m going to start doing it more consciously! Because of course it does make me happy when my laundry is done and the floor is vacuumed. Thanks for the insight!

        • Michela

          Exactly!! Totally happy to help. We’ll be the two oddballs grinning about reorganized linen closets, clean laundry, and vacuumed floors and our relationships will be all the better for it!

          xoM

      • JC

        Also I just finished Better than Before! Gretchen Rubin is one of my favorites!

    • Eh

      My husband moved in with me because I hurt my back and needed help around my apartment. I did not know that he did not know how to clean or meal plan or other skills you need to run a household. (If my husband did not meet him mom’s standards at a task she would redo it instead of showing him how to do it.) I had to give up control and let him learn. My husband does have problems with planning things out so for the bathrooms I provided him with a suggested order (an exaggerated example, making sure he cleans things that are up high before the floor). We’ve lived together for 4 years and he now does most of the cleaning (dishes, bathrooms, floors). After we got married my MIL commented that she had never taught her sons to clean or run a household (or budget/plan financially).

      • joanna b.n.

        (Modern) Feminism means teaching your sons how to clean or budget or do household tasks, right? Right??? We must address this problem for the future wives/partners of today’s little boys.

        • Eh

          I think it’s just part of being a responsible parent. Especially considering most people no longer go from their parents house to being married.

          • Ashleyk

            My husband is super tidy and cleans and cooks equally to me and I am so tired of people talking about how lucky I am. I mean I am lucky, he’s a wonderful partner and human but honestly… it should not be optional for men to contribute to the household. In his case I think this is about equally because he lived alone before we moved in together and because he’s just naturally a neat guy (his mom also kept their house growing up very tidy)

  • Orangie

    The best way for us to keep the house clean is to schedule regular parties! We’ll both work hard at it if we know our friends will be coming over, but we won’t keep it clean for just ourselves. Which…is sad, but true.

    Plus, knowing that we have a fun thing coming up is a built-in reward. And then we try to load the dishwasher as soon the guests leave while we’re riding the good-party-high so it isn’t a big mess in the morning. I can always tell when it’s been a while since we’ve had a party because the house looks messy.

    • AP

      Lol, we use this strategy too!

    • Lisa

      I joke about this, too! We’ll do a massive deep-clean if my parents are coming to stay for a weekend, but if it’s just us, it’s easy to let things slide for long stretches of time.

    • KPM

      Ha, totally use this too! Also our inlaws are local and we’re usually meeting them out or at their place but if I know they are stopping by, then I definitely pull out the vacuum/clean the bathroom.

    • Sarah

      yep. We keep our house clean enough generally, but “guest clean” is so much better. And the only way I keep motivated to get to “guest clean” is to have guests.

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    • NatalieN

      We’ve been doing kind of the same thing, but with AirBnB – we’ve been renting out our guest bedroom and man, when someone’s paying to stay at our place I’m super motivated to keep it looking nice.

    • We do the same thing for guests…it’s what I like to call our ‘fake house’

      • Michela

        Hahaha “fake house”. That is great!

    • toomanybooks

      This is such a good idea! We’ve only been cleaning for company and haven’t had much of that in a while – this will combine our goal to keep our new place clean and our goal to be more social when we move!

    • Cat

      Unashamed to admit that I do this exact same thing! The past couple of months have been hectic, so we haven’t had our regular game nights, but for awhile we had some friends over every Thursday night for board games. It definitely forced me to keep at least the dining room, living room, bathroom, and kitchen clean (office and bedroom are another story). It’s looking like things are settling down, so we’ll start doing that again. It’s more motivating than just “eh, I’ll get to it later, not like anyone important is going to see it.”

    • We have a 15-month-old and do a nanny share. Every other week is at our house. So every other week, most of the house is clean. There is usually an explosion of baby toys, but it seems very reasonable that every other week, we should start with a clean house. Before the baby, parties were our cue too.

  • Sarah

    first a disclaimer: I’m not always successful at this, but it is what I generally aim for

    Stay caught up. Don’t wait until the weekends or until something is bad to clean it. It’s easier to do one set of dishes each evening than it is to do a week’s worth on Saturday. Same with a week vs 3 weeks of laundry. It’s easier to give everything a light dust every week than it is to clear a bunch of dust bunnies and cobwebs 3 weeks later, same with bathroom cleaning. It’s easier to throw your day’s clothes into the laundry hamper and hang up one skirt before you go to bed than it is to sort through a week’s worth of clothes. It’s SO MUCH EASIER to stay on top of things.

    We’re like, never home on weekends, but when we are that’s when we do as much of the heavy-duty stuff as possible. So if we have a Sunday free, we bust ass with deep cleaning. It still only takes about half the day if we’ve otherwise stayed on top of things.

    Grocery shopping and meal planning MUST get done once a week, even if we get home Sunday at midnight. It might mean we make our list while driving down the highway and then shop during Monday’s lunch break, but it has to happen. It’s the difference between spending easily less than $40-50 on groceries to feed us for the whole week versus eating out several times which can sink the grocery budget in just one or two meals out. I mean this saves literally hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year.

    We don’t outsource any of our household responsibilities. We can’t afford it. Even if we could, we’d rather sacrifice a few hours of labor each week and then have money to do things we enjoy rather than pay someone to clean. It’s really not that much time out of our lives IF we stay ahead of it.

    • Ashlyn

      Agree! I spend maybe 10 minutes per weekday (15-20 on weekends) staying on top of what I call our “hard cleaning” like scrubbing toilettes, sanitizing counters, vacuuming, etc. It’s a huge budget saver and it literally doesn’t take that long. I have to be fairly militant with myself about it; I know I need to do it first thing in the morning before work or I just won’t. I suppose it does help that we’re fairly tidy people but we do have a 110 pound dog that does shed and track in a lot of dusty dirt. We HAVE to stay on top of it or our house will be filthy in 2.5 seconds.

      Hubs takes care of the daily dishes and majority of cooking. Saturdays and Sundays we pick something from a list of general home maintenance activities and do those. Laundry is as-needed but hubs is in charge and is good about staying on top of it. We both hate meal planning and grocery shopping so we do those things together and try to make them a fun couples’ activity.

      I have to say this system works for us; I’m never stressed about our cleanliness and feel like we’re always ready to host people last minute (which we sometimes like to do).

      I will say we would LOVE to outsource our lawn mowing and other lawn care though; during the spring/summer/fall, that is a hugely time consuming, once a week or more activity that’s very hard on the body. We may be looking into that when our baby is born this July.

      • afew

        you can try asking around the neighborhood to get a local teenager to help with lawn mowing / weed pulling. they are usually pretty cheap to hire and love to have the summer work! I have tossed this idea out to my hubs a few times, but he apparently likes to do it, and we have a small yard.

      • Sarah

        oh the yardwork…that’s a whole different story . Our backyard is completely out of control. We bought the house when the yard was in fairly ok shape but it needed some TLC. Instead, we let it go (we are in the CA drought, so it was partly because we didn’t want to use a bunch of water but also part laziness and feeling overwhelmed). It was actually easier during the worst parts of the drought because things just didn’t grow. Now that we are getting some rain (yay!) things are growing back like crazy. We have a baby on the way as well (May 27) and I stupidly decided to host a big party for my friend’s wedding in early July. So honestly I think we’re going to hire someone for a weekend or two to clean up the yard, then hope that my husband and I can maintain it once it’s cleaned up.

        • Ashlah

          This is our yard too. We were so excited to buy a house with a big yard, until we realized the endless amount of work that goes into it. Plus ours is full of out of control bamboo, so that’s fun. We talk about having a twice-yearly yard service cleanup, to make the in-between maintenance easier, but have yet to do it.

  • Amanda

    Cleaning: J & I have fallen into our own chores naturally. I’m more inclined toward deep cleaning/decluttering. He’s more inclined toward straightening up and daily chores, like making the bed, washing dishes, taking out the trash, etc. We both clean on our respective days off (Wednesday and Sunday, we have off together on Saturdays). He might make the bed everyday, but on Sundays, I’ll change all the sheets and vacuum the mattress with baking soda & lavender. A few times a year, we’ll do a **really** deep clean, move all the furniture out and dust behind everything, throw things away that you didn’t even know you had, donate clothes and cookware etc.

    Meal planning: WE DO THIS TOGETHER. Around the internet, I’ve seen this creep up as a problem over and over again, but I don’t know why it’s so hard? We sit down with our calendars on Saturday, review our work schedules & events for the week, and pick what we’re going to have for dinner each night. Then we make a list of ingredients that we need to make said dishes, and go to the store together. It’s joyful for us, we love collaborating on it. I didn’t even know it was a technical “chore” until I saw so many complaints!

    I will also say, not having children and living in 650 sq feet (a reasonable amount of space to clean alone!) helps.

    • Anna

      Yeah, we do our meal planning together and have a lot of fun with it (both of us love food and I in particular love anticipating good food so it really is enjoyable thinking about what we’re going to eat for the rest of the week). It’s the grocery shopping/procuring ingredients thereafter that ends up being a sticking point. Will only wants to go grocery shopping if he’s buying snacks; he doesn’t want to come with me when I get dinner ingredients because he thinks it’s redundant for both of us to go, and then if I ask him to do that himself one week if I’m particularly busy, he says he doesn’t know where to find things (…which he would presumably figure out if he came with me). But he’s made remarkable progress on cooking (after going through the same cycle of “you’re just better at it so you should do it” to slowly learning with me helping to cooking meals on his own when I’m getting home late from work) over the past year or so, so I have hope that groceries will follow the same pattern.

  • Amy A.

    As a (part-time) working mom of 3 I love this topic :-) My best tip is that kids can do a LOT more than most people think they can. My preschooler can put away silverware (other than steak knives) from the dishwasher, as well as “his” dishes because they’re not breakable and in a child-height drawer. He helps me sort laundry (blue/black/green in one basket, all others in another) and can match and fold socks. Next year he’ll probably be able to fold and put away his clothes. He also loves to Swiffer the floors! Finally, our child care provider gave me the best tip ever; every time a child “transitions” out of play time (to eat, to nap, to leave the house, etc) they have to put away all the toys they got out. When they are small they can toss them all in one bin and we help, and as they get bigger they can sort into blocks, stuffed animals, books, etc. This has helped our family AMAZINGLY, especially since the preschooler now has twin 9 month old siblings who cannot be allowed to play with some of his toys. It took awhile to make this part of his routine (I wish we had started earlier) but it has the added bonus of encouraging him to not get out things he isn’t actually going to play with. When he knows he has to put it away eventually, he thinks about whether he really wants it first.

    On to non-kid topics . . .

    Laundry- partner puts a load in when he comes home and changes it after dinner, then folds while watching the evening news before bed. He does all the laundry, but when I step in to help out I follow this system. We do not do sheets as often as I would like, but we survive.

    Floors- we live in a house with all laminate and tile floors, and my steam mop is my best friend for cleaning up after babies (other than the Labrador, who does the initial clean-up :-) Preschooler also loves to “help” by Swiffering, and he does a good job too! I should vacuum the rugs more because I love my Shark and it does a great job, but I do it when I can.

    Meals- I cook and do the grocery shopping, partner does post-meal dishes. Next year I’ll be thinking about how to integrate the kiddo into prep and clean-up, and setting the table will probably be his job.

    Pet care- that’s all the partner.

    Bathrooms- ugh, my weak spot. Need a better system here, we’re currently on an as-desperately-needed basis. Mostly evenings, almost always done by me.

    • AP

      LOVE that you incorporate the kiddo into chores! When I was teaching an early child nutrition class for families, one of the biggest complaints I heard from parents who didn’t like to cook was that the kids were always underfoot. I say give them a job! Kids as early as preschool can tear lettuce for salads, wash vegetables (with a stool for the sink), set the table and help put away dishes and groceries like you mention. Admittedly, it’s not really about relying on their help to get the chores done, at least at first, but it goes a long way toward building those skills for when they’re older and they can take on more responsibility.

      • Gina

        Is it weird that I’m really excited about incorporating my now 10-month-old into meal prep when she gets older? I have such good memories of “helping” my mom cook. For now, she sits on my hip in a sling but already seems to derive real joy from putting her hand on the spoon when I’m stirring or on the side of the rolling pin when I’m rolling. Obviously I have to avoid chopping and cooking over a hot stove with her, but it will be fun to share with her as she gets bigger.

        • z

          It’s not weird, but I have found it pretty tough to keep them engaged. Short attention span– they are super excited to participate, but wander off pretty quickly. I like to park mine in a high chair by the stove so she can watch and nibble.

        • Amy A.

          Not weird at all! We had a chore chart when I was growing up that divided tasks between the three kids as “A sets table, B clears table, C empties dishwasher and/or does meal prep as assigned by Mom/Dad” and we rotated through the chores on specific days of the week. The rest of the chart was . . . not really adhered to (I was doing my own laundry by age 12 but I did NOT vacuum every Saturday like I was scheduled to) but that particular part really stuck.

        • AP

          I love this:):)

        • Kara W

          Get (or build) some kind of place that she can stand on safely and “help” – our learning tower was a game changer for us by the time my toddler was about 16 months old. She likes to help make salads now (at 2.5) and she’s the official putter away of tupperware and organizer of silverware. I just have to be patient and let her do it her way!

        • joanna b.n.

          I am probably looking at a childfree future, but this is probably #1 or 2 of the things I have ever fantasized doing with my future (fantasy) children. Cooking/baking together!? Yes please!

      • Amy A.

        It’s super important to me. It takes a lot of work on the front end because it is WAY faster to put away the toys myself than to hang around and make sure the 18 month old does it, but it pays huge dividends in the long run. Same thing with cooking. My mom is a dietitian and she claims that having kids help in the kitchen makes them more engaged and adventurous eaters too. I haven’t exactly read the studies on this but my siblings and I are not very picky eaters, so anecdotally it seems to hold up!

        • Heather

          I have (oodles of) anecdotal experience that supports the idea of kids helping to cook=more adventurous eaters! I worked for a company for 5 years that teaches cooking classes to pre-K thru elementary kids, and we would get SO MANY students who would say (or parents would warn) that they were ‘picky’ ‘didn’t eat anything’ ‘never try new foods’ etc. I’m not saying we were miracle workers, and some kids do just have strong aversions to certain tastes or textures, but it was so dang amazing how many kids would try a new food if 1) they got to help chop, stir, mix, measure and 2) it was their choice to try it. It was likely part peer pressure, part positive reinforcement, and part just being in a new environment, but I always loved to see kids go out of their bubble and try new stuff. I can’t even say how many times I said “your mouth and your tummy belong to you, so you get to choose what you eat, but it’s SOO COOL to be brave and try new stuff!” Dang, I really miss that part of the job. (What I don’t miss is the dishes. Ughhhhhhh the dishes!!)

        • AP

          I’m a dietitian too, and there’s tons of research! I always recommend anything by Ellyn Satter- she’s pretty much the expert on raising healthy eaters with positive body image.

    • Sparkles

      I’ve been getting my 15 month old to put away toys for as long as he’s responded to one step commands, and he seems to be pretty good at it. I usually have to help him, and it obviously takes a lot longer than if I did it myself, but I think part of my issues with being clean as an adult are that it wasn’t a habit for me as a child and now I’m trying to teach myself the discipline required to keep house. Which is a pretty big job a lot of the time. So, I’m hoping my kids will have that discipline. If they choose not to exercise it, that’s their problem.

  • AP

    One thing that’s been helping us get a handle on clutter is to make sure everything has a place. For instance, we had this one under-sink cabinet in our bathroom that was making me crazy. It was basically a big jumble of medicines, toiletries, makeup, travel stuff, etc that would all come spilling out whenever you opened the door. Last week I finally broke down and bought some plastic drawers that come in a system that you can arrange to fit your space, and it was a game changer for that cabinet. So now we’re going through all the messy drawers, closets, and cabinets and figuring out smaller cubby/basket systems so that everything actually has a spot. We’re both pretty good about putting things away when there is a place to put them away to.

    • afew

      just did this with our hall linen / random toiletries closet! It’s so refreshing to see it all organized, and we actually have almost and entire shelf that is currently empty from the stuff we got rid of and the better organization!! woo hoo!

    • Ashlah

      We need to do this so badly! Filling my Amazon cart with organizational containers now.

    • Angela Howard

      A few years ago I got a Groupon for 2 hours with a professional organizer. She did a great job making my pantry 3 times bigger just by organizing it and offered great suggestions for our linen and coat closets as well. I should really do that again.

      • AP

        Nice! This sounds awesome.

    • Arie

      This was the only approach that worked with my partner when we first moved in together (and, let’s be real, now). He found organization so overwhelming and terrifying, that I just bought a bunch of containers and explained that each individual container could be a complete mess, as long as the things were in the containers. Lightbulb! Everything doesn’t exactly need a place, it just needs….a vicinity.

    • toomanybooks

      Yesss – this is validating my sudden need to go to the Container Store for organizational stuff. Our under-the-bathroom-sink cabinet is also a total mess – to look through it, I keep one door shut so nothing falls out, while I rummage through the other side, pushing things in the direction of the closed door. Not very effective!

  • Lawyerette510

    One other thing, that compliments all the meal-planning comments– we keep a fridge & freezer inventory sheet on the outside of the fridge. It makes it so much easier both to reduce spending, food waste, and time needed to plan, because we can see what we have both fresh and left overs.

    • jb123

      We do that with the freezer- such a time saver!

    • AP

      This speaks to my foodservice heart!

    • Eenie

      We just bought a chest freezer and I reorganized our freezer and made lists! It came with three baskets so I put each week’s meat in there for easier defrosting and it made me so happy :)

      • AP

        Ohhh we are making space and saving up for a separate freezer! I can’t wait.

        • Eenie

          If you are looking at a 10 cubic foot chest freezer, we got a GE model number FCM11. It was $350 or so and home depot did a great job with delivery. The fiance did a ton of research and this one got pretty good reviews.

          • AP

            Thanks! I’m not sure what direction we’re headed in yet. I think we’re leaning toward a smaller one, since we’re trying to configure it into our tiny laundry room.

          • Eenie

            Oh you may want a verticle one then to save some floor space. This one takes up quite a bit of our kitchen, but it’ll save us money on meat so we are excited.

    • AGCourtney

      I recently started doing that with a dropbox spreadsheet and oh, it made a world of difference for me.

    • La’Marisa-Andrea

      I need to do this.

    • Katie

      I do this w/ Google docs for our frig, freezer, and chest freezer so that I can meal plan/grocery plan when I’m not home. it does take some adjusting, but we make such better use of the ingredients we have and I can share the doc w/ my husband, so that when he asks me if we have this or that, I simply say, I don’t know, why don’t you check the list?

  • Her Lindsayship

    For us the division of labor has been pretty seamless because we quickly discovered that our chore preferences are magically diametric. I hate scrubbing things but am great at organizing and tidying up; he *loathes* going down to the basement to do the laundry but basically lives for cleaning our floors. I’m personally of the opinion that I got the better deal out of that one, but the great thing is, he feels the same way about his chores. Groceries, cooking, dishes, and trash are joint activities and we do them pretty equally because neither of us has a strong preference for/against them. I guess this isn’t helpful advice if you and your partner don’t happen to fall into this nice chore preference venn diagram like we do, but I think there are usually some tasks that can be divided up this way.

  • z

    Here are my secrets:

    A master annual calendar that contains all birthdays (with advance reminders), holidays, travel, and home maintenance tasks. This relieves the burden of having to remember it.

    ThredUp for getting rid of kids clothes and my own clothes that are in good enough condition. You don’t get a lot of money but it’s very easy, you just pitch it all in a bag.

    I have a routine of doing certain chores combined with kid stuff. Like, while she plays in the bath is when I clean the bathroom. While she dawdles over her dinner, I sit with her and fold laundry. I do my sit-ups during the baby’s tummy time. :-)

    • z

      A few more that I thought of:

      When I’m folding laundry, I sort all my older kid’s clothes into outfits. I don’t make a stack of pants, a stack of shirts, etc., and then make outfits each morning. Instead, they all go directly into complete outfits with socks and undies, and the outfits are laid out in her drawer. That way she gets to make ONE choice of outfit, rather than deliberating over a shirt, then choosing pants that don’t go with it, then pondering her sock options, then getting everything out of the drawer to look for the Olaf undies.

      For cooking, we are loving the Instant Pot. It’s a fancy pressure cooker. You can go from dry beans to bean soup in 45 mins! Homemade pho in 30! Pricey but totally worth it. But I think the bluetooth-enabled model is a bridge too far.

  • Kon. Mari. That. Shit.

    Also, being super clear on who does what, including the often invisible/admin type stuff that women often get tasked with but that somehow doesn’t get counted.

    • SarahRose472

      Struggling with the invisibility aspect. In large part because my work this year is much lower stress than my husband’s, I’m doing nearly all actual cleaning on a weekly basis. When my husband has time and energy, he goes into fits of productivity, except for him this looks like very visible “home improvement” projects like reorganizing the furniture or the kitchen or ripping out a whole row of plants in the garden. He recently complained that he doesn’t feel that I take initiative to make improvements to our home and I was just flabbergasted/frustrated…when I pointed out for example that I don’t think he has ever cleaned the toilet in the past year he said that that cleaning was “just” maintenance. It’s “just” maintenance when your toilet seems to magically stay clean all the time!

      As is probably clear we still haven’t really resolved this. Being clearer about what each person is responsible for is something that we definitely need to work on (not in the least so that the other person appreciates that it’s getting done)

      • z

        We use a to-do list with color coded items for each of us. That way it’s all laid out to see. Every week, the to-do list automatically re-creates itself, nice and fresh and ready for crossing-off. It really helped my husband see the “weekly grind”. By golly, yes, we DID just do the laundry. And yet, there it is again! Just as the sun shall rise and set, and the tides shall do their tide-thing, the laundry shall be made filthy by small persons and be made clean again by large persons.

        • CMT

          Is that last sentence somewhere in the bible? :)

          • z

            It is, but sometimes I wonder if “tide-thing” is really in the original Hebrew. Anyone a translator?

      • Ashlah

        Oof. I don’t know if it’s true for everyone, but projects like your husband is doing are WAY more fun (or at least fulfilling) than the household maintenance work. It’s rare that I feel particularly motivated to clean the toilet. And yet, it needs to be done. Your husband should be thanking his lucky stars that you’ve been taking care of the awful daily grind while he’s busy working and doing house projects. I hope you find a compromise that works for you because not having all your hard work acknowledged and appreciated is terrible.

        • SarahRose472

          The funny thing is…I find cleaning pretty satisfying and calming. Ok, the toilet is never fun, but it’s like 5 minutes out of a 1.5 hour routine. I would probably rather spend time cleaning than doing home improvement because my mind can wander and think about my own creative projects or listen to podcasts (noise-cancelling headphones = happy vacuuming), whereas home improvement for me requires creative thinking and energy that frankly, I don’t find that interesting.

          So you’d think we actually would be kind of perfect complements! But it’s the appreciating each other’s work that is really the sticking point.

      • Amy March

        I don’t think you need to work on “being clearer” I think he needs to work on “not being a spoiled entitled jerk.” Slightly different problem.

        • SarahRose472

          I mean, I’m basically with you, but by “being clearer” I really mean, “maybe I need to write him a list of all the things that need to get done in the house/that I do in the house because he clearly is not observing it and how else is he going to realize it?” Yeah, it’s annoying that he doesn’t see it already, but it kind of reminds me of discussions in a past thread about how to have/develop a feminist household…while I would like him to magically not be oblivious about this, the only way I’m going to have a result is by concretely communicating with him.

          • Amy March

            “Are you kidding me? Did you really just brush off never having to clean a toilet as nothing? What is wrong with you?!?”

            Or, I mean, write him a long list but this isn’t actually hard and I think by treating it as a kid-gloves poor baby you just didn’t know instead of a how dare you disrespect me thing you kinda miss the point, which is he is treating you poorly, because even when you did point it out he still basically called you lazy.

          • SarahRose472

            So, internet discussion means limited context about other people, and the past and present of their relationships. I appreciate advice and discussion here when that is kept in mind; I don’t really appreciate condescension.

          • Kate

            Amen.

          • Michela

            Amen x2.

          • Eenie

            Alternatively, you both make lists of stuff you do/needs to get done. Wash the cars was never on my radar, yet my fiance spent 3 hours washing the cars one weekend because it’s important to him and helps with the overall paint job/car maintenance. Yes, your list may still be longer, but it doesn’t start from the premise of “I do more than you”.

          • emmers

            My husband is a cleaner person, of the two of us. There are things he’d like done more often that I notice (i.e. he prefers to vacuum the floors once a week vs once every 3 weeks, which is what I’d do, left to my own devices). It helps me if he asks if we can have a cleaning day, and then we do that together.

            This obviously depends a lot on personalities, but like you said, making a list together may help. You could put things on it that are important to you (clean toilets every X weeks, etc), and he could put things on it that are important to him (install towel rod, fix drywall hole, etc), and then you could either help each other, or maybe you could have a productivity time, where you work on X and he works on Y. Just a thought.

            I hate cleaning, so though I sometimes help with it, a lot of times we do a trade where he stays home to clean where I grocery shop. But again, it all depends on what works for your family. It may look totally different!

          • kate

            Highly recommend this. My husband and i each set up an account with TickTick. When I’m at work i used it on my browser but we also each have the app on our phones. On our accounts we have shared task lists – weekly cleaning (clean toilet, sinks, tub, kitchen counters, dust, etc), household to-do’s (hang curtain rods, clean out frontyard garden) and it has revolutionized how we get shit done. he can add stuff to our lists that he wants us to get done, i can add stuff that i want us to get done, and we appreciate each other’s time a lot more.

      • I have actually told my husband “I need you to notice how clean the bathtub is.” Because we live in base housing and the tub is so old that it never actually looks clean because so much of the enamel is worn off. So he’d never notice and mention it on his own, but cleaning it is a pain in the butt. So I help him notice.

        • AP

          Ha, I say stuff like this too!

        • Ilora

          I have been know to say “*ahem!* Come admire my hard work!”

        • Eenie

          Whenever the fiance goes out of town I let him know exactly what he needs to acknowledge when he gets home. “Make sure you look at how clean the bathroom is, admire how there are zero dishes left to wash, and appreciate that the budget is up to date!”

        • emmers

          I tell my husband that I need for him to tell me when he’s cleaned or done things around the house, because I want to thank him for it. I often don’t notice when he’s cleaned things, so it really helps!

          ETA– of the two of us, he’s the primary clean-er. I’m the primary grocery shopper/errand runner.

        • Ashlah

          Just last Friday, I did a bunch of cleaning on my day off, and when my husband came home, I excitedly walked around the house listing all the things I did so he could thank me. It was great! We all want a little praise sometimes. Being appreciated goes a long way in a relationship.

      • Not Sarah

        Something we do a lot is thank the other person for doing X aka recognizing that they did something. My partner took on a lot of the chores the last few months and I made sure to say “Thank you for making dinner”, “Thank you for doing the dishes”, “Thank you for coordinating with the cleaners”, etc. and I think that helped a lot. It sounds like neither of you notice the work the other person does and you both prioritize different types of work, which is hard. I’m sorry.

    • z

      +1. The admin counts! I often mention when I’m doing it. “While you’re washing the dishes, I’ll refresh our to-do list for next week, dear.”

  • Bsquillo

    Couple simple things: whichever person cooks dinner, the other person does dishes. We don’t have a dishwasher, so we’ve gotten in the habit of doing dishes every day. Listening to podcasts while doing dishes REVOLUTIONIZED this chore for my husband- he actually doesn’t mind now.

    Second- this is more planning than actual chore-doing- we keep a physical wall calendar of our schedules, and we try to check in with each other early on each day about our plans for the day. Since he’s in school and I often have evening activities, and since we both are gigging musicians, we don’t necessarily have a regular routine. But just knowing “Hey, are you going to be home for dinner tonight or not?” helps immensely in setting expectations for when chores will get done. I’m amazed at how many busy couples we know don’t communicate like this, and then end up feeling resentful because “Partner X has been so busy for two weeks, I’ve barely seen them.”

  • Keeks

    Growing up, my dad’s most brilliant parenting move was a rule that “he who cooks must do the dishes” – because cooking was our collective family hobby as teenagers and my dad was a single parent who didn’t have time for that ish. I’m a tidy and efficient cook today because of him… the kitchen is usually mostly clean by the time we sit down to dinner. Also, if it’s a meal that’s mostly hands-off, I don’t sit down – I’ll sweep the floor or tidy something else up. After dinner, I don’t do any other housework. Husband does all the laundry and bathroom stuff so it balances out by the end of the week.

    The other brilliant tip I learned up from my husband – DISH GLOVES. Game. Changer. Hooray for men who keep house!

    • scw

      I need to figure out how to implement “he who cooks must do the dishes” in my house, because as much as I appreciate the fact that my husband loves to cook delicious, complicated meals I would never attempt myself, I do not love what the kitchen looks like when he’s done in there!

      • Elizabeth

        And that’s why ‘he who cooks must do the dishes’ would never work for me and I greatly prefer the opposite. I don’t want to think ‘maybe I shouldn’t make muffins because it’s a pain to clean muffin pans’. Now, maybe if nobody actually likes muffins that much then it really isn’t worth it and that’s a conversation to have, but I guess I know I would cook less if I knew I had to do the dishes every time I finished. I try to tackle what I can while waiting between steps/as I have energy, but cooking is ultimately the more time-intensive activity and in my mind when it’s the other way around it’s well worth it to do the dishes to have food that’s cooked in a delicious, complicated manner. I just really dislike doing both in the same night.

      • z

        We do this and it really helps. It creates an incentive to clean as you go and be tidy. It turned my husband from a fancy weekend chef into a lean, mean weeknight dinner machine.

    • emilyg25

      We have the opposite: I cook, you clean.

      • Basketcase

        Same, especially since I do pretty much ALL the cooking (its ok, I mostly enjoy it, and am the only one in the house with health requirements, so its easier that way).
        While I aim to keep the space clean-ish while cooking, Husband does the dishes 99% of the time. Its the only way to keep a balance.

    • Kara E

      We sort of had this, now it’s more “we’re all in it together.” Granted, my husband does most of the dishes (and I do most of the cooking because I’m home first – he’s usually home in time to help set the table), but I’m generally putting things away/getting my lunch together for the next day, sweeping, etc. – or starting bedtime drill.

      • This is us, too – I do most of the cooking, he does the dishes/wiping down counters, but meanwhile I am packing up leftovers for lunches and putting away any ingredients I still had out, etc.

  • AGCourtney

    One habit that really helps me out is that I always wash dishes right away after they’re used. In fact, I’ve gotten pretty good at cleaning as I cook. I let the dishes air dry on a rack and then put them away either the next time I do dishes or whenever I have a spare minute in the kitchen. It’s a completely ingrained habit at this point and saves a lot of trouble. I listen to music and enjoy my alone time. My husband and dad have been catching on to this as well and are getting much better about it.

    Our biggest problem area right now is setting up a proper place for everything, and that’s nearly finished. We bought a house shortly before our wedding and it’s taken us a long time to properly unpack and figure out where we want things to go. We’re really getting there, which is great. I don’t feel stressed just walking around our house anymore, haha. Just a couple more areas to figure out and then we’ll have it. Now we’re so used to everything that it’s just a matter of dedicating some time to organizing.

    As for division of labor in our house…there basically isn’t one. I do everything. The planning/emotional labor, the doing, all of it. I”m home during the day and I’m really achievement-oriented, so it works. (Nothing makes me happier than a fully-checked off to-do list.) My husband has been doing the dishes after dinner a couple times a week lately, occasionally on his day off he’ll ask if there’s anything he should do and he’ll trot off to clean the bathtub, and, of course, he watches our daughter and puts her to bed on nights when I work. But other than that, it’s all me. The trade-off is that he’s appreciative and steps up if he can tell I’m depressed or I express that I need a break, and he’ll swoop our daughter off for stories or a game while I journal or whatever.

    Let’s see, anything else…oh, I try to keep different types of tasks on my to-do list. There are things that take mental effort (e.g. organizing) and there are chores that just require me to mindlessly scrub. So it’s when I’m just mentally drained that I scrub the sink or sweep the floor. Having those options is helpful so that I still get stuff done even when I’m tired. Because for me, the only thing worse than feeling depressed and tired is feeling depressed, tired, and unproductive. It’s just how I’m wired.

  • Laura C

    My big strategy is specific to working from home: I do little bits through the day. Throw in a load of laundry. Unload the dishwasher. Clean the bathroom sink or the toilet (seriously, each of these takes five minutes and makes such a big difference to my experience of the bathroom). Vacuum. I do these in the times I would otherwise be … commenting on APW or whatever. Then on evenings and wekeends when we set time aside to clean the house (not often enough) some of the obvious easy stuff is done and we can focus on things that require discussion, concentration, more decision-making. But we need to do a LOT more of that.

    • Katie

      I used to be able to do that in my previous job when I worked from home – I do miss it, especially after adding another kiddo to the mix. By 8pm after bedtimes, I’m just exhausted and am totally unmotivated to do any of it

  • ruth

    I’m really struggling with not feeling like a nag. My hubby and I set up certain divisions of labor – like say I wash the dishes and load them into the dishwasher – then he unloads the dishwasher and puts everything away. But then he forgets – I wash more dishes and there’s nowhere to put them because the dishwasher is still full. When I remind him about it, I always feel like the stereotypical nagging wife and I hate that. A lot of times he remembers – but a lot of times he forgets (he works weird crazy freelance hours, and that makes it tough to establish routines, which I think is part of it.) How do you establish these divisions of labor without resorting to nagging? Help! Thanks!

    • Amy March

      Is it possible that this division just doesn’t make sense? If you need “dishwasher unpacked” to happen so that you can do “load the dishwasher” (you aren’t actually washing dishes and then loading them surely?) and he can’t do that reliably because of his schedule, maybe the alternative is that you are in charge of unloading and he is in charge of loading, or he has total dish responsibility and you do something else.

      • z

        I agree. It sounds like you need to uncross your lines. I find that we do a lot better with less sharing of chores. To the point where one of us is in charge of the entire kitchen– grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and fridge/freezer management. Entirely. One of us is 100% in charge of the car, and one of us 100% in charge of the lawn and garden. That cuts out a lot of discussion, joint decision-making, compromise, resentment, and waiting for the other person to do something. And that cuts out a lot of our negative interactions.

        • Jenny

          Yep, we mostly have our “things” in part because it enables me to not to the emotional labor of keeping track of who is doing what and when it’s my turn/our turn/reminding us. It just works better for us because instead of me wondering if it’s my turn to change the oil/vaccuum I just NEVER HAVE TO THINK OF IT! Which is awesome, it was part of our strategy to cut down on emotional labor, but also on the amount of time we were spending talking about chores.

    • Ashlah

      I always feel like the responsibility of reduced nagging belongs to the person requiring reminders to do their work. So the question is not what you can do, but what your husband can do. Can he figure out a schedule/routine that works with his weird hours? Can he set reminders on his phone? How can HE make sure he is respecting you by doing what he’s agreed to do, rather than relying on you to hold him accountable and setting you both up for resentment.

      • Jessica

        You just said what I was thinking much more eloquently.

        Every once in a while I get exasperated and just say to my husband “how can this get done without me feeling like a nagging housewife? I hate that I feel this way.” And then he realizes that his procrastination is kind of shitty and does the thing, with a promise to do better. Most of the time he does better at the thing, but once in awhile I have to get exasperated again.

    • Lawyerette510

      We really struggled with this for quite a while, and it improved because I kept initiating conversations that did not center around the tasks and his completing them as they did on how it made me feel when he didn’t do the things in general and how I felt when I had to follow up with him on the things. It involved multiple conversations that were rooted in all the socio-political-gendered aspects of the dynamic that existed and how it impacted my feelings. Things are not perfect now, but what all those conversations accomplished was him being more focused on doing the things that were his to do and me being more confident that my following up with him when he wasn’t holding up his end of the bargain wasn’t a negative (aka “nagging”) to him and f**k the societal narratives about the nagging wife.

    • Eenie

      I agree with trying different divisions of labor. Where you accomplishing your half of the tasks doesn’t depend on him doing his tasks on the same schedule. So instead of him unloading dishes and folding clothes, he is completely in charge of laundry and you are in charge of dishes. Maybe if he works crazy freelance hours, try having jobs for him that require more weekly or monthly attention, and you can tackle more of the every few days task? Or have some “shared responsibility” jobs that you take care of during busy weeks, and he takes care of during slow weeks?

  • Jimmy Smith

    Wedding Ceremony Officiant http://www.revjimmy.com

  • Rowany

    Admittedly we have the means and space to do so, but we have invested in making each ‘chore’ less time intensive so that the division of labor is not that big of a deal. Our Neato Robot vacuum handles our multi-room single floor ranch well. We got a higher-end dishwasher that can hold a ton of unrinsed dishes. We filled the standalone freezer that came with the house with frozen farm meat and vegetables and got spices and rice in bulk so instead of meal planning, we just open our freezer and pick what we want. We also cook very simple dishes – meat, carb, and veggies – and always make enough for leftover meals. We got dressers that had cubbies so we can see our clothes easily without hanging. We also have a ton of identical black socks so we don’t bother with sorting – just throw clean ones in a bin and done. As for outsourcing, we rotate between a cleaning lady, couples therapist, and couples massage each month. He wasn’t sold on outsourcing but ‘logrolling’ the couples massage helped. Also our cleaning lady is amazing (we always overpay her) so it became much easier for us to justify after seeing the results.

    • BSM

      Wait, couples massage each month??? That sounds amazing. Do you just go to a local place together?

      • Rowany

        No, sorry I couldn’t convey what I meant! I mean, every month we do either cleaning lady, couples therapy, or massage, rotating between the three. We think of it as care for our minds, our hearts, and our bodies. We had a local place we liked but they moved next to a Crossfit gym which was not a relaxing environment! We are OK with not hunting for groupon massage deals because we know how hard it can be on their hands.

        • Eenie

          I love this idea.

    • Michela

      BRILLIANT. Thank you!!

  • Pingback: What Are Your Best Household Management Strategies? | weddingcarshiregeelong()

  • Anna Plumb

    Oh god, our towels are so filthy. Sob. We have a house cleaner come every two weeks, and literally every time she comes I walk into my clean house and yell to myself about how much I love “house cleaning day.”

    For us/me, the big stressor is getting meals on the table by 5:30 every night (kids are in bed by 6 and 7). For a while the crock pot was my big hack, but then we got sick of “mushy food.” For a while I was really good about cooking something the night before that we could reheat when we all get home at 5, but my work has had gotten crazy lately so that’s stopped. We are definitely still flailing, but i find myself relying on quesadillas and frozen veggies a lot. My husband just started a 12 week parental leave (I KNOW), and I’m really excited to see how that helps with meals, as he was the cook before he got a crazy job.

    • Michela

      Have you tried spending two or so hours on a weekend doing easy meal prep? I can’t imagine how chaotic your life is with kids (I’m child-less and, therefore, both clueless and in awe of you!). I’m not a huge crockpot fan, either; you nailed it with the mushy food description. I do, however, often throw pork tenderloin in the crockpot on a Sunday afternoon while prepping our breakfasts (kielbasa and veggies; we’re weird, I know). When the pork is done hours later, I shred it, add BBQ sauce, and throw it in Pyrex with veggies for the week’s lunches. Maybe you could do the same but for dinners? Tracy Shutterbean has a great post with all the meal variations you can make using standard pulled pork (read it here: http://www.shutterbean.com/2015/slow-cooker-pulled-pork/) If your husband was the old cook, maybe he can brainstorm some easily prepped casseroles or something while on paternity leave that you can carry with you when he goes back to work.

      Regardless, I totally understand the dinner struggle and I empathize. My solution has been a one-day meal prep to ease the evening stress, but maybe you’ll discover an even better solution (which I hope you’ll share!!)

      Best of luck girl!!
      xoM

      • Anna Plumb

        Thanks! I do think we need to get better about weekend prep, it would totally help. I’ll definitely look into the pulled pork, too! We got a chest freezer this summer and so far it’s under used so I think we’ll fill it with meats soon. Thanks for the good wishes.

    • emilyg25

      We also have 30 min. to do dinner and I’ve finally developed a repertoire of quick dishes. There’s a lot of variations on sandwiches (fancy grilled cheese, tuna melts, pulled pork, etc), stir fries or curries, and quick pan-fried protein with rice and veg.

      ETA: Also, when I make stuff that freezes well, I freeze the extra. So we do freezer food once a week too.

      • Anna Plumb

        Ha, so many sandwichs in our house, too. I did think of one thing we rely on, but it would depend on your kids’ tastes. Every summer we dedicate one or two days to making and freezing as much pesto as possible (like 50 batches, we get basil from the farmer’s market and use walnuts instead of pine nuts to cut costs). Then we always have a bulk sausage in the freezer and whole wheat pasta, for “green pasta,” which is my son’s favorite meal (ummm, and mine). It’s carb heavy but has greens and protein and works pretty well.

    • Jenny

      Also not a fan of mushy meals. We use our crock pot for meat prep. Example.
      Bunch of chicken with broth on the weekend. Shred with my kitchen aid (could also use hand beaters or the two forks method). With that I portion it in thirds. one bunch with enchilada sauce, one bunch with salsa and taco seasoning, one bunch with jarred spagehhti sauce. Then on the week nights I take a 9x 13 and lay down 6 corn tortillas, spread enchilada chicken meat, top with 6 more corn tortillas add another can of sauce and some bagged cheese, pop in oven till warm and bubbly. While warming heat a can a refried beans and some corn (or other frozen veggie). The taco meat just gets heated in the micro wave and added to taco shells. Same as previous sides. for the pasta we then just cook the spaghetti and add the sauce.

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  • scw

    “that david sounds like a good guy” – my husband, who also happens to do the cooking and grocery shopping.

  • Eh

    What has really helped at our house is division of labour and having a routine. My husband and I both have our own chores. We regularly reevaluate our chores, most recently they shifted because he is on parental leave and I’ve gone back to work. My husband does not see dirt so it’s really important that the chores have a schedule.

  • Michela

    I am loving everyone’s suggestions. This is so great!!

    This comment is going to be crazy long, but I think we’ve developed a really great household management system that works despite many challenges. I want to share what’s worked for us in the hopes it helps others,
    because I really wish I had tips like these when we first moved in together; it would have saved us many arguments in those first few months!

    To provide context, here are the challenges working against us:

    1. We work total opposite schedules. I’m out of the home Monday-Friday, 7-3:30. He works from home off-and-on Monday-Friday and works evenings/weekends out of the home.

    2. We consolidated his two-bedroom into my one-bedroom with all its pre-existing things. So fun.

    3. Tommy owns his own soccer training academy, which means that aside from normal human household things, we also have to store 70 soccer balls, a 40-foot tripod and GoPro, hundreds of cones, goals, and training nets, etc.

    4. I am easily stressed by messiness. Tommy could care less. I’m great about noticing what needs done around the house. Tommy says, “dusting? Huh?”

    5. I have difficult relaxing when the house is messy. Tommy could relax in a house fire.

    It’s taken us awhile to develop a system that works, but here’s what we’ve figured out. As the Type A I am, each numbered solution corresponds with the numbered challenge above ; )
    1. It is unfair of me to expect Tommy to clean all day while I’m at work just because he is home- yes he is home, but he is working! With that being said, Tommy only works a few hours throughout the day since most of his work hours are evenings/weekends. At minimum, he makes the bed and does the dishes every day because those seem to be the two things that, when undone, trigger me to say “this house is a wreck!” even when it isn’t // Takeaway: find one or two things that help you feel like the house is tidy (maybe you’re like me and feel like the house is relatively tidy when the bed is made and the dishes are clean, even when there’s mail all over the desk and shoes cluttered by the door and the floors need swept, etc.). Work out a way between you and your partner to make sure those things are accomplished every day. Save the bigger chores for when you have time, but make an effort to accomplish those one or two things every day. It makes a big difference for me.

    2. We Kon. Mari. Every. Thing. We are constantly editing our clothes, my crafting supplies, and our paper files. I do a big de-cluttering sessions once a season (next one is this Saturday!) and it’s shocking how many new things you can stockpile over the course of a few months. This has become ever more apparent as we stockpile things for the wedding- candles and groomsmen ties and parents gifts, oh my! I also make an effort to put things back in their intended places, just as Marie Kondo suggests, and that helps a lot // Takeaway- de-clutter constantly, be mindful about purchases, and don’t touch anything twice- put it away right away.

    3. Tommy has been very patient about storing much of his soccer equipment in our basement storage area, even though this means lots of storage room rearranging and hauling in and out of his car on a weekly basis. For my part, I work to make sacrifices in our apartment space (like giving him the entirety of the front hall closet even though it’s a convenient place for my gym bag and reusable grocery bags). I also try to be as patient as possible when we end up with cones in our living room for weeks on end or soccer balls in the trunk of his car when we’re out grocery shopping. It’s difficult for two people to share 650-square-feet while also operating a business out of the same space. Patience and sacrifice has been key. // Takeaway: make an effort to notice your partner’s sacrifices and do the same in return.

    4. Our best solution has been posting a to-do list on the fridge every week. At first I felt like this was nag-y (a “honey do” list sounds so revolting), but Tommy insists it helps. He likes knowing what needs to be done, especially because I often see things he simply doesn’t and then I get annoyed (i.e.- how could you possibly not see that the lamps need dusted?!). The to-do list is something we share and helps us communicate what
    has yet to be done. This is especially helpful for our opposite schedules, since we often don’t see each other till 9pm. Rather than getting home and wondering what he did all day, it’s right there on the fridge, and vice versa. // Takeaway: Maybe it’s a list on the fridge or a Dropbox spreadsheet or even an email; sometimes communicating through a neutral forum helps you stay on the same page about what needs to be done while also helping communicate progress.

    5. I have been working really hard to learn how to relax, even when the whole house isn’t perfectly clean. As previously mentioned, if the bed is made and the dishes are done, I feel much better. I also spend about 20 minutes a day walking around the apartment and tidying. If we’re lucky and we’ve KonMari-ed enough, it’s relatively easily to put things away and I feel much more relaxed in a matter of minutes. Takeaway // find a system that works for you and keep at it. Even if I reeeeeally don’t want to tidy for 20 minutes, I remind myself how much better I’ll feel after it’s over (just like exercise!) and that’s motivation enough.

    Sorry for the length. I really feel so empowered by the solutions we’ve discovered and I really hope they’re able to help you all as much as you help me.

    xoM

  • lady brett

    so…i’m kind of on the opposite end of all of this organization and planning and routine. my honey and i are not organizing and planning sort of people, and i have found that trying to put a set structure in place for things not only doesn’t help at all, but also makes us feel *even more* like we are failing (and being hopeless is not good for productivity).

    as such, our biggest step forward in housekeeping has been learning how to communicate and work as a flexible sort of team with minimal resentment. it is, as always, a work in progress. but overall it means we try to embrace the honeydew list (silly names make it less authoritarian feeling) – i leave actual lists for my honey, and on my days off i always make sure to ask “is there anything you need me to get done/ want me to prioritize today?” dinner plans usually work like: my honey calls and says “i was thinking ____ for dinner” and i say okay and they cook that, or “what are we having for dinner?” and i say “_____” and i cook that, or “i have no idea” and they figure something out.

    it’s not the most efficient, but we’ve tried meal plans and cleaning schedules, and we end up flying by the seat of our pants just as often, but with an overarching sense of failure that is bigger than the one i have about the dirty dishes in the sink. i will say that this *did not work* when we had twice as much shit. i’m not sure any method does when you have too much stuff, but this kind of non-method is especially susceptible to junk-induced-chaos.

  • april

    Mimosa cleaning parties. About once a month (typically on a Sunday morning) we mix up a pitcher of mimosas, crank up some dance tunes, and deep clean the apartment. Together. As a family. A slightly tipsy family.

    • Ashlah

      This is a fantastic idea.

    • Lisa

      I absolutely love this.

    • Sarah Bereza

      this is wonderful!

    • Michela

      Wow. Guess I know what I’m doing this Saturday!

      xoM

  • ART

    I am failing at this. I like to blame the size of our place, but it’s really the size of our stuff collection. I prioritize cleaning dirty things over decluttering, and then I run out of time and energy, and I feel like our place is a big display of how disorganized I feel. Meanwhile, it’s like my husband can’t see dust, grime, etc. and doesn’t think there’s all that much to do on the cleaning front (and so does even less than I do) – this has been a big topic for us lately.

    Anyway, time will tell if this helps – but I got a passion planner a couple weeks ago and finally made myself do the 3 months/1yr/3yr/lifetime goals sheet…for those who are familiar. It turned out that “clean house” was the thing I circled as being the near-term goal that would have the most positive impact on my life. So I started doing the “gamechanger” sheet about that and I told my husband “I can’t believe I spent $40 on this thing just to write ‘clean fridge’ and ‘donate books’ as my main life goals! ugh!” BUT then I wrote in one daily chore for the whole week that was based on my prioritization on that page, and then I got up and did a bunch of it, and I feel like I have more manageable chunks to work on. Now my husband just needs to identify HIS daily chore and we might be on the right track!

    I have also somewhat decided that if I do a good job of this for a few months, I’m going to get a roomba.

  • kara e

    We do dishes and kitchen clean-up (counters wiped-ish and floors swept) each night my husband and I are both home (though I just noticed that my toddler’s end of the tablecloth is disgusting and needs needs to go in the wash ASAP). If he’s not home, I triage – which is usually loading dishwasher and soaking the cooking dishes and next night doing everything – since I also usually do laundry or have other stuff I need to get done before sleeping. I also try REALLY hard to do at least a few loads of laundry during the week, so that we can fold as we get “down” time (or our 2x a week babysitter can help – she’s awesome that way). Doing 6-7 loads on the weekend just doesn’t work all that well for us (though I still do 3-4). We try to pick up the living (aka play) room nightly too. I do a quick wipe down of bathrooms on Saturdays when I grab the sheets and towels before replacing them – or as needed (which is frankly, a lot more often than that). At some point in the weekend, we both try to tackle the problem areas: dining room table, backdoor “landing zone” (which isn’t real functional). I try to schedule one day to leave work 30 minutes early and do critical grocery shopping on the way to pick up the tot and we do a major effort effort every 2 weeks or so (usually my day “off” with my tot).

    We do a major tidying effort biweekly – before our cleaning lady comes. I am not a naturally tidy person and my husband is (which makes him frustrated). However, he doesn’t notice the bathroom grossness or other cleaning tasks very often, which frustrates me, so this lets us both play to our strengths and tamp down the resentment that was growing. Frankly, it’s in the budget (we don’t spend a lot on other “fun” stuff (no cable, etc.), and it’s good for our marriage.

    What doesn’t get dealt with is the stuff that we don’t use regularly (like the mess in the office (mine)) and the general organization of the kitchen. We finally agreed to hire an interior designer to help us figure out our best options for our very expensive and bizarrely laid out kitchen (previous owner seems to have had money to show off – but didn’t actually cook). First person we talked to was the WRONG PERSON – a design build arch who figured 3 months and 70K would do it. ARRGH – and I’ve been too scared to go back. Hubby is unwilling to go the temporary/ikea route (and I think he’s right – the inertia would be too much).

    • Michela

      Wow- great tips about diversifying tasks and working towards each person’s competitive advantage. I also love that you call it “triaging”- definitely going to use that one at some point!

      Good luck with the kitchen renovation! My parents hired an interior designer for the same reason and loved her- she helped them make decisions without entertaining their SOP of waffling and they’ve accomplished so much with her help. It sounds like you just need to find the right person. Keep us updated!

      xoM

    • Jenny

      If you liked your real estate agent, you might ask them for a rec. If you didn’t you might try and find a good agent and ask for who they recommend (many happily do that in hopes that when it comes time to sell you’ll remember them). When I was selling my house my agent had some great contacts for people. If I had contacted her before I got ready to sell I might have gotten to live with some of the awesome improvements I made :)

  • Ashley

    Struggling with the division of labor part. My partner and I don’t have kids (yet, planning to soon and want to try and see if we can manage our own lives before we start trying), but we still have a hard time keeping up with work, school, household stuff. Neither of us can put things in their place to save our lives. My partner does plenty around the house, and he is working and going to school full time so I have to give him a break, (especially since I just finished grad school and know the feeling) but I also think he’s not ready to be as scheduled about cleaning as I’d like to be. So I’m stuck feeling naggy or doing it on my own schedule without involving him, and just hoping that he participates. I think I have to try to have some flexibility with it, but also I’m sure there’s a conversation we are going to have eventually.

  • lazylaundry

    For a few months, we had our house cleaner come very week, and you know what? The house was messier! If someone else is going to clean it once a week, there is no motivation to tidy throughout the week. We avoided wiping down the counters, sweeping the floor … When we went back to every-other-week cleaning, the house was overall cleaner because we resumed tidying in-between.

    My laundry trick: With two little kids, we just wash all the clothes together. I have 4+ collapsible baskets, and I sort laundry as it comes out of the dryer. Then, it doesn’t matter if the laundry is all folded and put away because we can each find our own clean clothes. My kids like it when there laundry is clean in baskets in the kitchen because then they can get dressed in between bites of pancakes at breakfast, and they can easily get a new shirt if they spill something on themselves.

    Eventually, I would love for all the laundry to be put away, but this keeps us sane in the meantime.

  • the cupboard under the stairs

    As someone who was fortunate enough to grow up in a household that employed a biweekly professional cleaner, I’ve struggled a lot with this. I used to avoid messes by being superficially neat–reusing the same cup and plate, wearing the same clothes as long as possible before they got smelly, not actually cooking much–but that no longer works when you’re living with someone else!

    Laundry folding is still my biggest hurdle, but I’ve finally come up with a pleasant routine. Now, folding time is “me” time–a time to lock myself in the bedroom and watch my favorite show on Netflix as I fold.