Lightening the load: Dividing household chores

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Chores are a part of daily life for families. And, the way they are divided can have a big impact on your family relationships. A survey by the Pew Research Center found that sharing household chores was among the top three things that make a marriage work.


This can be easier said than done in many households. Many families have to work outside the home, attend kids’ activities and deal with other demands every day. With all these things taking up time, chores may be an additional source of stress.


First, have a good talk

It’s easy to get angry or upset with someone for not doing enough chores.

But before you do this, stop and think. Did you clearly tell them when and how you wanted this chore done? Have they been busy with other activities?


Be kind and respectful when talking about chores; then you may find that the other person is more willing to take part. Try to look at things from their perspective. Perhaps they’ve been overwhelmed with other things or simply didn’t know that something needed to be done. Or, if you feel like you’ve been doing most of the work, ask if others can help take some things off your plate. Be specific with which chores you would like them to do and when.


Get the kids involved

Even small children can do chores. Toddlers can pick up toys and help make their beds. Preschool kids can help clean up spills, feed a pet and even take their laundry to the hamper. Older children may be able to wash dishes, and do laundry and fold clothes.


Younger children often do well with a chore list so they know what is expected of them. If they can’t read yet, use pictures and stickers.


Set aside a few minutes

One strategy that works for many families is finding just 10 or 15 minutes a day to do some basic chores. This can be anything that needs to be done. Examples include picking up and putting things away, cleaning a bathroom or running the vacuum. You can even set a timer so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming. Make it fun by turning on music while you clean. Or, make it a “race” with little ones: who can pick up their room first? When the time is up, everyone can feel good about helping out around the house.

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