Feeling overwhelmed with housekeeping chores? Learn how to get your spouse and kids involved and gain more family time for fun.


Chances are you live in a busy household, so sharing household chores is a good way for you and your significant other to work as a team. Children add an extra layer of chaos that makes turning home chores into a team sport even more essential. Your goal? An equitable division of labor. Here are some ideas for making it happen.

Get Your Spouse on Board

Communicate your feelings. Don't nag, but share how overwhelmed you feel with everything there is to do and ask for his help.

Make a list. While it might be hard to believe she can't see the grunge in the sink, maybe it's true. Agree on a list of important household tasks together and give her the chance to choose what she could best accomplish.

Teach by example. Some people might not have learned how to clean a toilet, dust, or run a vacuum. Demonstrate, then allow some space to accomplish the task.

Be willing to let go. Avoid looking over your spouse's shoulder. Her technique or result might not be up to your exacting standards. Weigh whether no help at all is better than less-than-perfect results. And remember that it takes practice to get it right.

Say "thank you." While helping out might not be going beyond the call of duty, be willing to let him know how much you appreciate his efforts.

Plan a fun reward. The time saved by working together can be used to do something fun together as a couple. Quality time together is a great payoff for sharing chores.

Make the Kids Part of the Team

Getting your kids involved on Team Houseclean is more than a way to preserve your sanity. It builds their character, gives them a sense of pride, and promotes good work habits. Best of all, the teamwork also strengthens your kids' sense of family.

Communication is as crucial here as it is with your spouse. Chart out the household chores, teach children how to perform tasks safely, and praise them for follow-through. Rewards don't always have to cost money. Consider privileges such as time playing outdoors or sleepovers with friends. For young children, just getting to work with Mom or Dad can be a reward in itself.

Making a game out of household maintenance is commonly recommended. Speed competitions, playing music, and letting kids dust with socks on their hands are just a few of the creative ways to make the activities enjoyable.

Guidelines for Age-Appropriate Cleaning Tasks

Experts agree that choosing age-appropriate chores is key in getting kids involved in housecleaning. Here is a checklist of some tasks that align with abilities for most children:

Toddlers (ages 2-3): Pick up toys and return them to the toy box. Put books back on shelves. Take dirty clothes to the hamper or laundry room.

Preschoolers (ages 4- 5): Dust furniture. Set and clear the table. Help put away groceries.

Young Kids (age 6- 8): Take out the trash. Vacuum small rooms. Fold and put away laundry.

Older Kids (age 9- 12): Wash dishes by hand. Load or unload the dishwasher. Help make simple meals. Clean the bathroom

Teenagers (age 13-17): Help with laundry. Wash windows. Vacuum most of the house. Prepare meals. Shop for and put away groceries.

What About Adult Children?

Adult children returning home after college to look for a job, save for a house, or for another reason is a growing trend. Here are some tips for parents who want to involve these boomerang children with home maintenance.

Communicate. Communicating family needs and setting expectations will smooth the adult child's transition from living on his or her own to once again residing under a parent's roof.

Agree on chores. Whether done in writing or verbally, agree on a list of household chores your adult child will manage. This list could include just about any cleaning task on the overall list of household chores.

Meet and talk. Regular family meetings will help work out potential conflicts or misunderstandings.

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