If you are like most people, you live with other family members – spouses, kids, parents, or even adult kids who’ve moved back home. Housework is a major cause of stress and unhappiness in families. It’s the topic of many a fight and has even caused the breakup of many marriages. Therefore, it is worth giving the topic some time and attention to get your family to help with housework and not leave it all to you.
Respect People’s Different Views About What is Clean and What is Messy
The problem with this is that no two people have the same level of cleanliness. Invariably, one person is going to end up being the “cleaner” one and one will be the “messy” one. And somehow you have to come to grips with that.
The best way to get the cleanie people to live in peace with the messy people in the house is a little bit of open and honest conversation with a good healthy dose of respect and tolerance. Then you can get past some of these stalemates and power struggles that have been going on for years.
Here’s a helpful post about the different cleaning styles of men vs. women. Not to be sexist, but men and women really do see things from very different viewpoints when it comes to housework. So be respectful of these differences and find some common ground where you can both agree. I also have a very helpful post on adult kids living at home if that is an issue for you. Setting some ground rules and enforcing them fairly can help a lot.
ASK them to Help with Housework in a Calm and Assertive Manner
Part of this honest conversation is to ask for what you want. What a refreshing concept! No more criticizing and blaming the the other person, no more passive aggressive manipulation, you just come right out and say what you need. Here is something I came up with for my family a couple of years ago. It’s still written on a piece of paper on the side of the fridge as a reminder.
That is calm, respectful, assertive, and to the point. And it did get results. After I wrote that, my family began to see that having a clean home was a priority for me. Also, that I really wasn’t asking for anything unreasonable or extraordinary. They began to help more and complain less and we were able to have respectful conversations about how to share the housework. Yes, they still slip up once in a while and I have to remind them of our agreements, but it’s a ton better than it used to be.
Similarly the messy person in the relationship needs to have the right to not be nagged over every little thing. In my family, our arrangement is that if the public areas of the house are presentable, I don’t gripe (very much) about the non-public areas of the house. If my husband wants to leave dirty dishes or piles of papers in the den, that’s OK, so long as he helps keep the living room and kitchen mostly clean. That’s a compromise we can both live with.
Same thing with kids. I ease up about little things like their messy rooms or having to have the dishwasher loaded a certain way. Instead I show a little appreciation when they help out with the chores, even a little bit. That makes them more likely to cooperate. And I need to understand that their idea of clean isn’t always the same as mine, but it doesn’t make them bad or lazy people – just different.
Seeing the other person’s point of view goes a long ways towards developing some compromises that work out for everyone and bring a little peace to the household. And it really is nice to get some willing help with housework so I don’t feel like I have to do it all myself!
What are your strategies for getting your family to help with housework?
Here are some other posts you may enjoy: