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Division of Labor

By Rachel Paxton

It's 5:00 p.m. and I've just walked in the door. I'm tired, the living room's a mess, and the kitchen sink is full of last night's dinner dishes. So whose turn is it to do the dishes anyway? My husband did them last...his tolerance for dirty dishes is much lower than mine when we end up in a standoff to see who can stand the dirty dishes the longest. I always win.

I don't really mind doing the dishes, but I do take exception to doing the dishes, cooking dinner, cleaning up the living room, and making sure the laundry's started. Especially after a 9-hour day at work. So what's the answer? Blackmail, bribery, intimidation? Why not work out a solution that benefits the whole family and encourages everyone to work together?

If your children receive an weekly allowance, you should make them work for it, and from a very young age. I started giving my daughter an allowance before she was told she had to participate in the household chores (besides cleaning her room), and you can only imagine her reaction when all the sudden she had to work for it.

How you determine the division of labor in your home depends on how many children you have, and how much work you want them to actually do. We only have once child, so I didn't figure it was fair to make her do the majority of the household chores. If we had more children who were old enough to help out around the house, they would definitely have a larger share of the workload. So in our case we chose a fairly equitable distribution: one person does the dishes and mops the kitchen floor, one person picks up the living room, dusts, and vacuums, and one person does the laundry. Our schedules rotate on a weekly basis. That way everyone has to do each job, but only every 3 weeks. You wouldn't believe how much it improves your attitude knowing you don't have to do the dishes for 2 weeks. It's suddenly no big deal!

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This arrangement has worked very well for us. My husband and I just wanted the house picked up but don't want to feel like one of us is doing all of the work, and our daughter doesn't want to lose her allowance. Everyone's happy. There are a lot of other household chores not covered in our agreement, but we chose to tackle the big, everyday, most overwhelming chores that no one ever wanted to take responsibility for. I usually end up cleaning the bathrooms, cleaning out the litterbox, etc., but it doesn't really bother me. My husband definitely does his share. He insists on vacuuming under the chairs and couches, and that's fine with me. I'll let him if it makes him happy.

© Rachel Paxton
Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and Christian wife and mom who is the author of What's for Dinner?, an e-cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For more recipes, organizing tips, home decorating, crafts, holiday hints, and more, visit Creative Homemaking at


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