Sharing a living space with other people is a great way to save money, build a rapport and have fun. But one of the biggest challenges of living in a flatshare is managing household chores. How do you share chores in a multi-living system without misunderstandings, tension and conflict? Read on and get the deets!
Sharing Household Chores in a Flat Share
When you live with roommates, housemates or flatmates, you must have a system in place for managing chores. It doesn’t matter if they are your relatives, best friends, acquaintances or total strangers, you must maintain your living space for a healthy, spick and span environment. And all hands must be on deck to accomplish this feat.
Here are tested and trusted tips for sharing chores in a flatshare without butting heads:
1. Discuss your Definition of “Clean” from the Get-go
Your idea of “clean” might be different from what your roommate considers “clean”. For some, a clean apartment equates to quick surface cleaning and tidying while others subscribe to thorough polishing, scrubbing and germ extermination. When you make assumptions about your definitions of “clean”, you might have issues in the long haul. To avoid unnecessary conflict, it is imperative to have an open discussion with your living partners about what “clean” means to each person. As such, one roommate wouldn’t get upset when another doesn’t meet their cleaning standards.
For example, your idea of cleaning the kitchen means wiping the countertops and doing the dishes, but your roommate doesn’t consider a kitchen clean until the countertops are wiped and disinfected, the cabinets are polished, the oven top is sparkling and the floor is mopped to a dry shine. When you have conflicting expectations about cleanliness, you are bound to get into arguments and quarrels. So have an open discussion and reach a common ground with your living companions before assigning chores.
2. Make a List of Chores and Have a Clear Agreement in Place
After deciding on respective cleaning standards, you should make a list of the chores that need the most attention. What you consider an important chore might be negligible in your housemate’s books. So when you move in, come together and decide the chores that must be done. Create a list of common household chores such as vacuuming, sweeping, dishwashing, mopping, dusting and bathroom cleaning. These are chores that should go uncontested without opposition. Once the primary chores are out of the way, discuss other chores that need doing.
This may include trashing the refuse, grocery shopping, bill sorting, pet care, laundry, and loading and unloading the dishwasher among other things. A list will help you determine individual expectations and will make the assignment easier. Assign chores according to the list and individual strengths/expectations then draft a written agreement that outlines each person’s responsibilities and their pledge to uphold the agreement. Ensure that everyone gets a copy of the written contract and understands their roles.
3. Create a Chore Schedule
Once the chores have been duly assigned, establish a schedule that highlights “what” gets done “when” and by “whom”. The schedule should be well-detailed but flexible. For example, cleaning the bathrooms might be done twice or thrice a week. Dishwashing must be done daily, could be after each meal or at a specified time that is convenient for the roommate in charge. The person in charge of grocery shopping can do it weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly depending on the agreement and arrangement. And so on and so forth.
You can alternate chores or have them permanently assigned depending on the circumstance. People with busy and hectic schedules typically do better with permanently assigned chores. While those with flexible schedules can alternate chores on a monthly or weekly basis to keep things grounded.
4. Have an Accountability System in Place
A chore chart or calendar with a list of chores to be done, the people in charge and the schedule will help you keep track of the status quo. Without a chart or calendar, it can be challenging to monitor task execution. A designated chore plan or chart will also keep each roommate accountable. It is the proof you need to challenge and address defaults. It is easy to let things slide when living with people that you’ve built a relationship with, but it is important to maintain a firm hand and demand accountability.
If a roommate is deliberately flouting the rules, you can all decide on the next course of action. You can choose to withhold certain privileges if they don’t act right or reassign the chores. Before taking any decision, have an open and civilized discussion with the housemate in question to determine the reasons for the breach and reach a solution.
5. Ensure Flexibility
Having a system in place shouldn’t rule out flexibility. Give room for mistakes, apologies, and considerations. Sometimes things happen beyond our control and may contribute to a breach of duty or promise. While you are each obligated to execute your tasks as at when due, you shouldn’t expect perfection. Your roommate may fall sick, have a work or family emergency or go through a depressive episode. These factors can affect their input and productivity, leading to undone or poorly-executed chores.
Don’t get upset, angry or resentful when these things happen. Talk to the “slacking” roommate and find out what’s going on and how you can help. Give room in the chore chart to accommodate these unforeseen problems. If a housemate is temporarily weighed down by life’s unpleasant surprises, another housemate can step in and hold the fort. If a housemate has to travel for work, reassign their chores. There is always a solution, you only need to keep the communication lines open!
6. Hire a Cleaning Service or Outsource Specific Chores.
If managing household chores proves too challenging to handle, consider hiring a house service cleaner or cleaning service. Sometimes, you and your housemates might be too busy with chores or not accustomed to doing chores. Other times, one person might love doing chores while the other hates it. Whatever the case, you can outsource cleaning and home management.
If you can handle other chores but can’t cook or do the laundry, you can hire a home service maid to do the heavy lifting for you at a fee. If you own pets but can’t find the time to care for them, get a house service pet sitter. Fortunately, hiring home service professionals is as easy as ABC. Download the house service app and you are good to go!
- Set up a Reward System
Consider setting up a reward system to encourage maximum participation and input. Managing household chores in a flatshare is anything but easy. But creating incentives can make the task easier and much more fun. Reward housemates who complete their tasks on time. The reward doesn’t have to be expensive or outrageous — Chocolates, pizza or getting uninterrupted access to the TV for an hour or two can encourage maximum task execution.
- Split Cleaning and Supply Costs
Managing household chores also include financial considerations. You all have to pay for cleaning supplies such as mops, brooms, dishwashing detergent, towels and what-have-you. Some flatmates split household expenses which include cleaning supplies and services. But if you don’t, consider splitting the cost of cleaning supplies and services to ensure fairness and harmonious living. Let everyone pay a certain percentage for cleaning supplies and for home service cleaning. Splitting can be a 50:50 ratio or income based.
- Maintain a Positive Attitude
It is imperative to maintain a positive attitude when managing chores in a flat share. Focus on the benefits of living together rather than the downsides. Consider the money you are saving and the great connections you are making. Be understanding and slow to anger. Don’t get upset at the slightest provocation. Don’t jump to conclusions when a roommate defaults or doesn’t clean up to your standard.
Communicate rather than hold grudges. If you feel a housemate isn’t doing their quota, talk to them. Don’t take decisions without consulting the rest of the household. And when conflicts arise, do not engage in blame games but approach the situation with a problem-solving attitude.
Conclusively, managing household chores in a flatshare isn’t exactly difficult. It is easier when you adopt a clear agreement, chore chart, open communication, flexibility, rewards and accountability. Work as a team and be a team player. And if chores are too overwhelming to handle, hire a house service professional to tackle the challenge!
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