A Solution to Getting Chores Done

Keeping up with housekeeping has been a thorn in our sides since we were married in 2006. Neither of us had many chores as kids, and we never really learned the true meaning of housekeeping. I totally appreciate my mother for all the cooking and cleaning she did while I was busy running around causing a ruckus, but I did miss out on learning the how and the why of keeping a clean house. I think we all know why we should clean the house, but it's actually been argued about quite a bit in the Williams house. I like to have a clean and clutter-free house. Kelsey... not so much. Sure, she would "like" to have a clean and clutter-free house, but not at the expense of the time and elbow grease required to make it so. We've had extensive, in-depth, and even heated conversations on the topic, and we have never reached a resolution... until recently... we think...


I'm not even sure how we came to the conclusion, but somehow Kelsey came around to the idea that we needed to get housekeeping whipped into shape before it destroyed our marriage (she says cutting back to working four days a week was the key). The discussion led us to figuring out a system that would motivate us to clean and keep our house clean: MONEY!

We're human, so, of course, we can be persuaded by money! We decided that if we don't do our chores, we don't get our personal money, and instead it would go toward whatever financial goal we are working on at the time (right now: emergency savings).

We're six weeks in, and this has kept us motivated. We'll continue to monitor the situation from time to time, but for now, we'll do a touchdown dance.

Here's How We Did It

Baby steps: We didn't start by deep-cleaning our entire house. That would have burned us out, and we probably never would have done it again. Instead, we broke the process down into baby steps until we had something we were both happy with.

  1. Make a list: We listed all the household chores that need to be done (dusting, kitchen counters, bathroom counters, toilets, showers, etc.). We tried to think as nitty gritty as possible. I'm sure we forgot something, like washing the windows... (OK, yep, we actually did forget that one). Because we haven't really had an enforceable system in place until now, it's kind of hard to even know what all needs to be done.
  2. Determine timing: After we had everything listed out, we determined how often each chore needed to be done (weekly, biweekly or monthly). There are a few that need to be done daily (dishes, de-cluttering), so we re-enacted the 10-minute rule after dinner to get these done on a daily basis.
  3. Hold a draft: Paper-rock-scissors for the first pick, then choose wisely. I actually just gave Kelsey first pick (ladies first). We went back and forth until one of our names was by every chore. This was nice because we got to choose the chores we hate less than others (Kelsey doesn't hate laundry, and I actually kind of like to vacuum).
  4. Organize it: I created a Word document with check boxes for who needs to do what, when. We have a four-week rotation in which everything gets done. This is where the baby steps come in. Our entire house gets cleaned once a month. It's not all clean at the same time, but you get the idea. This works for us. We don't need everything sparkling and shining all the time!
  5. Do it, or else: Do your chores, get your personal money. Don't do your chores, your personal money goes somewhere else. (Yes, we bribe ourselves, it's the only way to get it done!)

For real, we know this sounds ridiculous and I'm sure you're thinking, "Grow up." But, you know you don't like doing chores, either, and maybe for some of you, this just might work. I don't even think having a clean house is the best part of this situation. I think it's the teamwork and collaborative process we went through to arrive at a solution that works for us. If that isn't love, I don't know what is. I'm so proud of my wife for working with me to solve this problem. It wasn't something she really wanted to do.

How do you divide up the chores in your home?