Sharing Household Choresby Priyanka Sharma, 18th September 2015
Popular dictionaries define chore as a small job, a repetitive task. They also define chore as a hard or unpleasant task. You combine all these and that is what household chores are - small tasks that need to be done day after day and week after week, none too pleasant. I mean who would choose to dust and swab after a long day at work? I would rather sweep the clutter under the rug and settle with a glass of wine and a good book.
Traditionally, home keeping is gender role that is associated with women. We all know that. However we also know that ever since women have become ambitious for their own careers, they have probably dug their own ditches; especially in India.
Even with an Indian woman as successful as Indira Nooyi, the housekeeping expectations from her were greater. She had shared an incident in an interview that brought out this quite clearly. The question though is if it is fair to the woman? Here are a few things that will help ease out the burden of household chores on the wife.
A little help please?
An Equal Work Mindset
A home belongs to all those who stay in it and its housekeeping needs to be done by everyone. Both partners need to treat household chores as our work rather than his work or her work. Once this mindset is established, then the operational stuff can be worked out. The distribution of chores would vary depending upon the career commitments, health, children, elders etc; but the distribution can always be changed if both partners are willing to share the load.
A Chore Roster
People run away from chores because of their dull repetitive nature. Having a chore roster helps. It can be a simple list of daily and weekly tasks against each partner's name. Writing it down helps avoid confusion; especially if both are working outside home. Planning ahead is definitely advisable. You don't want to be negotiating chores every day! Once the roster is prepared, it should be put in an easily accessible place. Taping it to the fridge is traditional while syncing it using an app like wonder list is practical. Choose what works for you and run with it.
While preparing a chore roster, it is important to consider the interest of your partner as well. If your husband is an organization freak, he will be much happier reorganizing wardrobes rather than cleaning your china. The wife should let him do that. Even if it a chore that needs to be done once a fortnight, it is one less thing for her!
Rosters help prevent laziness
Chores that can be done together must be done together. This also gives the couples a chance to converse. Doing the dishes is an ideal example. One can wash while the other dries the dishes. It will take a much shorter time to complete and the two can actually talk since the chores keep you physically engaged. So there is no possibility on one partner getting lost in their smartphone while the other attempts a conversation. Cooking is another chore than can turn delightful if done together.
Don't run with the same roster week after week, month after month. Change things up after a while. Chores like laundry, grocery shopping etc. can easily be rotated and will offer a change of routine.
Finally, the roster needs to be flexible. Unexpected meetings at work, traffic jams and even a headache can crop up. Both partners need to be ready to do another's chore if the day demands so.
Doing Them Diligently
You do know what they say about small tasks. Don't you? They keep growing in size till they become humongous! Household chores are best tackled when they are small. Ignore the laundry and soon you won't have anything to wear. Ignore the dishes and you will have a towering pile. Sweeping every day is easier since the collection of dust is small. Folding the laundry and keeping them in the right cabinets takes ten minutes every weekday. Folding a week's worth of laundry takes over an hour on a Sunday.
It is so much better to dedicate a particular hour as the chore hour every evening where both partners finish off these small tasks. This will free up a large chunk of time over the weekend and you can actually spend time doing things you love!
Keep on top of your laundry!
Someone once said that the Indian woman values her household help more than her husband! Well, that person was not very off the mark. After all, household help does make things easier for the lady of the house. Even if the lady is a home maker, her decision to hire help and the tasks allocated to them must not be questioned. Another faux pas would be to compare this decision with another woman. Each person has their own tolerance and inclination toward chores. This fact needs to be respected.
A working couple would have challenges with help given the limited time they are at home. Not everyone would be comfortable handing over their home keys to a practical stranger. If this means some accommodation in your routine, it needs to be expected. A fifteen minute increase in your commute is worth it if means that the maid can do the dishes before both of you leave home in the mornings.
Contribution by Elders
Having elders around is both a joy and a responsibility. While it is great for the kids to be near the grandparents, looking after their health and needs can sometimes prove challenging. Elders can also help in the household chores. However, their contribution needs to take their age and physical stamina into cognizance. Fetching milk or fresh vegetables every day is a chore that can coincide with their evening walk. Dropping the kids to school is also something they rather enjoy. Elders can also help supervising while the household help carries on with their task. One must never request tedious tasks of them though.
At the end of the day, it is about both partners working to keep a functional home. It is important to acknowledge the time each person spends on chores and be appreciative. Once both husband and wife are ready to be each other's support system and truly work together, household chores will never be an issue.