How to Share Housework and Build New Habits

Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash

Although it is common to see most members in a household contributing in the 20th century, what can we do if that is not the case for us?

Some people may think the answer is obvious, but from personal experience, the lines can become blurry. Especially if you’re not surrounded by examples.

1. Communicate. Set the expectations.

When living with other people, it is important to communicate your expectations. It’s also imperative that you hear out your housemates expectations too.

We all come from different walks of life. One person’s version of clean may be different to another.

When roles are clear, tasks are completed efficiently.

Don’t be that person who writes passive-aggressive notes or letters. Trust me, that is not the way to understanding another’s perspective. Learn how to communicate!

Have a casual, honest chat. See where you’re all at and go from there.

2. Keep common areas tidy.

Out of consideration for others, keep communal areas clean.

The worst feeling is to come home after a long day and someone has left their dishes or takeaway bags all over the couch and kitchen.

Clean up after yourself. It’s as simple as that.

3. Change your habits.

I have a habit of leaving my clothes on my bedroom floor. Especially when it comes to outings or social events!

If you’re starting from scratch, small habits like putting the salt/pepper back after cooking can lead to better habits.

What habits could you change? Are the habits you keep helping or harming you?

4. What is your reason why?

My version of “normal” was growing up in a cluttered home. I couldn’t have friends over. And when I did, it was either messy or I’d have to clean so much clutter, knowing it’d be the same the next day. Over time, community gatherings and parties was a thing of the past. This is my reason why.

Once I moved out, I learned the hard way how cluttered spaces are only a harm to yourself and others.

I am still a work in progress but I am so thankful I’ve learned what I have. I’m learning to live with less and only hold on to items that either bring me joy or practicality.

5. Hold each other accountable.

It’s great when you are able to live with people who remind you to do better every day.

Even when it comes to keeping the house tidy!

Small reminders to do the dishes or fold the laundry can be enough to motivate us.

For myself, I often wonder: “if someone came over right this second, would it be OK for either of us?” If the answer is no, it is time to tidy up! If the answer is yes, I only focus on one area of the house that needs my attention.

Sometimes unexpected visitors come over anyway. Sometimes my boyfriend invites people when there’s a kitchen full of dishes. That’s OK.

Regardless, hold your housemates accountable for their responsibility in the house.

This space isn’t just to exist in, but to LIVE IN, make memories in and to improve as a person. Even if that means your ability to maintain a home.

6. Maintenance is crucial.

What does maintenance mean? the process of preserving a condition or situation.

Once you’ve cleaned your home or a part of your home, maintenance is key.

A small amount of effort each day, goes a long way. Once we set habits that are ideal, it’s difficult to break.

If there are days we are sick, lazy or busy, we can rest assured that we’ve done our part to maintain the cleanliness of our home.

7. Know what habits you are modeling for your children or your housemates.

You know the phrase:

You are who you spend time with.

If you surround yourself with people who model tidy behaviour, you’re likely to follow-suite.

Would you want your children to have a legacy of hoarding? Would you want your children to move on and let laziness take over their wellness to the point of living in a cluttered home?

If your answers are “no”, it’s time to make a change.

If you aren’t surrounded by like-minded individuals, do what I did! I watched YouTube videos, read blogs and books about productive, organised people! Find a community and build your habits up!

Realise that what you do now, can have a profound effect on your family, years down the track.

8. Do your best to balance work and home responsibilities.

Back in the day, I worked 3 jobs just to pay rent. I would have to clean before or after my shifts. It was difficult and tiring but not impossible.

My point? It is important to balance work and home responsibilities.

No one is too busy to maintain the space that keeps you safe from external elements. And if you are, you can find a cleaner on Task Rabbit or other organisation to help.

If you work full-time, and your partner stays home, set fair expectations. Share the responsibility.

These days, working full time is no excuse to learn how to clean a toilet or wash dishes.

If you work part-time, designate days for household activities. E.g. Sunday is laundry day, Monday is vacuuming day.

Be committed to this responsibility. Not everyone has the luxury of a home or a permanent address. Why not look after what you’ve got?

9. Re-evaluate roles if circumstances change.

Working 4 days a week last year, meant less time to cook or clean. My best friend suggested I try a home-delivery company. I picked my meals and all the groceries were delivered to my door. What a time-saver!

Once I started working twice a week, I decided to commit to home-cooked meals at least 5-6 times a week. This also meant that my responsibility of tidying the home had changed.

Sticking to my strengths and habits, I usually do the laundry, vacuum, clean the bathroom and wipe down kitchen counters.

My boyfriend is good with dishes, handy work and outdoor maintenance. My sister maintains her own room and the dishes.

Re-evaluating roles is a great way to maintain fair expectations within your relationships and within a home.

10. Ask for help.

I left this option last. You can imagine why. When it comes to building our habits or creating new ones, it is important that we learn this on our own.

When people do things for us, we seldom find the reason to learn it for ourselves. If we don’t learn how to take care of our space, we cannot expect others to do it for us.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

So my friends, learn how to fish. And if you have exhausted every way possible, or if you have no support, then ask for help.

If you know someone who is great at organising, reach out.

If you know someone who is creative with handy-work, reach out.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help.

Maintaining a tidy home reduces stress and improves our mental state.

I hope these tips were helpful and gave you some ideas about sharing housework within your home.

*This blog provides general information and discussions about mental health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be taken as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

Announcement: I’ve started writing on Medium! Please head there for my latest posts! Thank you so much for your support~

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