Splitting Chores in Marriage – Deja Vu Episode 193

Figuring out how to split chores is one of the hardest things in marriage, so I thought this would be a good re-run.

Original episode show notes.

Producer: Drew Erickson

[00:00:00.180] – Hilary Erickson

Hey, guys. Welcome back to the Pulling Curls Podcast. Today in Episode 193, we are visiting a favorite episode of mine. We’re talking about splitting chores. Let’s untangle it.

[00:00:20.320] – Hilary Erickson

Hi, I’m Hilary Erickson, the curly head behind the Pulling Curls Podcast: pregnancy and parenting untangled. There’s no right answer for every family, but on this show, we hope to give you some ideas to make life simpler at your house. Life’s tangled just like my hair.

[00:00:40.560] – Hilary Erickson

Okay, why did I pick this episode? It’s pretty popular, I have to say, and it’s something that everybody struggles with. I see this echoed so much on social media, and I think it’s a fun episode to listen to me and my husband hash out who does more around our house because there’s always going to be points where you feel like you are carrying the load. And in reality, there’s always points that your partner is carrying the load. So yeah, let’s take a listen.

[00:01:07.330] – Hilary Erickson

Well, hello, Mr. Erickson. Welcome to the Pulling Curls Podcast.

[00:01:10.690] – Drew Erickson

Hello, Mrs. Erickson. So fun to be here.

[00:01:13.580] – Hilary Erickson

I don’t actually respond to Mrs. Erickson. That’s your mom.

[00:01:15.800] – Drew Erickson

That’s very true.

[00:01:17.800] – Drew Erickson

Anyway, my wildest dream is that we will come close to Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard today. So we’ll see.

[00:01:23.500] – Drew Erickson

We’ll try to keep it civil.

[00:01:24.730] – Hilary Erickson

All right. So I want you to describe our chore system. It is a chore system that I mostly created while I was the loner stay at home mom. But I want you to describe it for the people at home.

[00:01:36.600] – Hilary Erickson

So we have specific days that are devoted to specific rooms. So for example, we do our kitchen on Monday, we do our bathrooms on Tuesdays, we do vacuuming of the entire house on Wednesdays. Thursday, you tend to work and I’m teaching and plus got a bunch of other stuff going on on Thursday. So that’s a light day.

[00:01:53.540] – Hilary Erickson

Friday is really just catch up where other things didn’t happen before. Primarily, that’s catch up on laundry and finish additional laundry for the week and things of that nature. Saturday is our big clean. Doing the cleaning schedule with the kids and getting them involved and making sure that we’re all at least for 20 minutes, very focused cleaning and get it done really quick. Then we can move on with the rest of the day.

[00:02:16.570] – Hilary Erickson

Okay. So how do you know what’s supposed to be done?

[00:02:20.170] – Drew Erickson

We use an app called Tick Tick.

[00:02:22.460] – Hilary Erickson

And by we, he means me.

[00:02:24.590] – Drew Erickson

Well, no, I use it to keep track of what’s on my list of things to do that day. So the Tick Tick helps me communicate to you what it is that has been done and vice versa. So that when, for example, if I am teaching in the morning, come back, then I know what I need to focus on the rest of the day.

[00:02:41.000] – Drew Erickson

Now, that’s been really useful. We’ve also learned over the years that there are certain things that are on my list or that are things that I have to do that don’t actually qualify or that don’t make your list on Tick Tick, for example, folding laundry, things of that nature. The folding laundry just has to get done. It’s not on the list.

[00:02:57.950] – Hilary Erickson

Yeah, but you know you can make your own list on Tick Tick, right? I have my own blog list.

[00:03:03.110] – Drew Erickson

Yes, I have my own list as well.

[00:03:05.410] – Hilary Erickson

And how much time would you say on average cleaning takes?

[00:03:10.860] – Drew Erickson

Monday and doing the kitchen sweeping and mopping, an hour, maybe an hour and a half.

[00:03:16.130] – Hilary Erickson

Wow, you’re really slow at that.

[00:03:18.030] – Drew Erickson

That’s all right. I can edit that part out.

[00:03:20.030] – Hilary Erickson

So I have a super popular post called Why We Don’t Have a Cleaning Lady. And one of the reasons is it really doesn’t take that much time. Mondays is the worst because we have a ton of tile, and so at some point you have to sweep and mop all of that. But that would have to happen.

[00:03:33.210] – Hilary Erickson

If we had a maid every other week, we’d still have to do something with the tile probably weekly because we have kids and they are like elephants. That’s very true. Do you feel like it takes a lot of time? No, not at all. Actual cleaning of your house once you’re organized and stuff, I think.

[00:03:46.050] – Drew Erickson

Maybe an hour. On that same token of the post about why we don’t have a cleaning lady, where it takes so little time and you own the home, you’ve got to have some skin in the game and keeping it up to date and keeping it clean and making it the place that you want to be in. Otherwise, it becomes, to me anyway, it becomes a sterile environment that somebody else deals with and you just happen to sleep there.

[00:04:07.010] – Hilary Erickson

Yeah. Although my main reason is that the kids, I don’t want them to think that having a maid is a normal thing.

[00:04:12.830] – Drew Erickson


[00:04:13.560] – Hilary Erickson

I want them to be… Our kids actually, besides sweeping and mopping, our kids, they clean two of our bathrooms. They vacuum extra rooms. On the Saturday clean, we add other things into it that a maid would normally do. And so for us, that’s just how we’ve decided to do it. I’m not saying that it’s bad to have a maid, and I hope to have one as soon as my youngest moves out of this house. But until then, I want her to think that everyone just cleans their house on their own.

[00:04:37.070] – Drew Erickson

Well, and I think it’s important for kids to have that same buy in that they have a part in the place that we live. I will say that we stopped doing our kids’ laundry when our oldest was 12.

[00:04:49.860] – Hilary Erickson

Maybe a little older than that.

[00:04:51.260] – Drew Erickson

A little bit older than that. But we realized that if we want them to be learning basic life skills, they need to actually be doing it. And so particularly, the two older boys have been doing their own laundry, not just folding their own laundry. They’ve been doing that for a long time. But actually washing and scheduling their own when they’ve got plenty of dirty clothes that they are actually taking care of their own laundry. They’ve been doing that now for quite a while.

[00:05:15.090] – Hilary Erickson

Yeah. And our youngest is 10, and I think probably this coming summer, we will transition her into doing her own. Her big problem right now is that we have a… It’s no longer like a front loader, it’s a top loader, and she can’t reach the clothes in it unless she’s on a stool.

[00:05:30.260] – Drew Erickson

Yeah, she does have to get help to get the wet laundry out, but she does a pretty good job. She’ll do the towels by herself if she forgets to take care of the bathroom towels in the morning. She can take care of getting it started by herself, and really she can start her the wash cycle of her own laundry pretty well.

[00:05:45.130] – Drew Erickson

She’s now getting to the point where if she’s just tall enough, if she stands up on a stool, she can actually reach in. But it is a little bit easier for her to get some help to reach in, put it in, and she can run the dryer herself.

[00:05:55.450] – Hilary Erickson

Yeah. Right now, I think our chore system is that you do the basic cleaning. I maybe do some deep cleaning and organize. Is that what you would say?

[00:06:05.870] – Drew Erickson

Yeah. And I would say that I also, as I’m going about the week looking around for other projects, because usually on Saturday, we’ll have the kids do an extra special cleaning, whether that might be cleaning corners of the walls where their hands touch a lot as they’re going down the stairs or what have you, or something that because of our schedule of this week just didn’t happen between you and I cleaning, but it is something that they can do.

[00:06:26.540] – Drew Erickson

That’s something that gets tacked onto their list. So I look at that part of the organization as my job to make sure that there’s an extra job list that we can pull from for the kids on Saturdays.

[00:06:38.590] – Hilary Erickson

Yeah. So if you guys are looking for more information on this Family Saturday clean, I actually have a whole chapter about it in Family routines, and I will put the link down in the show notes. That’s not today’s sponsor, but it is a super helpful thing for families if you want to get into a routine of cleaning together.

[00:06:53.100] – Hilary Erickson

Okay, so currently, Drew and I each have part time jobs that we work out of the home some, but we mostly run Erickson Creative, LLC. And so for most of our marriage, I was the one home 90% of the time. And now, Drew is probably home a little bit more than me. He’s definitely not as involved in the writing process of the blog, but he is actually the podcast producer. So he has a little bit more free time, probably, than me, so what..

[00:07:18.680] – Drew Erickson

Which is why I take up more of the cleaning duties myself.

[00:07:22.310] – Hilary Erickson

Okay, so, Drew, I know a lot of women are like, Oh, that must be such a dream to have your husband home full time. That is a podcast for another day. But today, what was the hardest part of splitting up chores when you worked full time outside the home?

[00:07:35.040] – Drew Erickson

When I was a band director, it was the constant… I mean, there were so many weeks where it was 60 to 80 hours of work at week at school. So then coming home and finding the time to actually be contributing to all the stuff, I constantly felt guilt that you were having to do the vast majority of the housework while I was just trying to scrape by making a living and make my contribution to our home.

[00:07:58.730] – Drew Erickson

Since making this career shift, I find it much easier. I think our relationship in terms of diversifying what’s happening at home is a lot better. I think it’s better balance. But for the band director life, it doesn’t ever slow down to a point where things would get better. It just changed gears. It just was constant all the time, having to be at school or having to be doing basically a pseudo parent for somebody else’s child instead of being able to be a parent for my own.

[00:08:24.470] – Hilary Erickson

We did have summers, though, where I would then go to work. We have shifted this way before because during the summers, I would usually work more towards full time if we weren’t on vacation, and you would be at home doing the chores, which is why Tick Tick has always worked so well because we have balanced off. When you worked full time at school, though, you pretty much just folded the laundry. That was your main assigned, air quotes, assigned chore.

[00:08:47.720] – Drew Erickson

I remember doing a lot of sweeping and mopping of the kitchen floor when I got home from marching band practice on Monday nights.

[00:08:53.470] – Hilary Erickson

Drew is hallucinating. All right. See, I think every couple feels this way. He thinks that he’s swept and mopped, but I promise you, Drew swept and mopped maybe 10 % of the time. And I did a lot more than he did. But he wasn’t home. And so I was home much more.

[00:09:09.840] – Drew Erickson

Let’s just say, suffice to say that I was not home a lot of the time because my job requirement had to be someplace else.

[00:09:16.850] – Hilary Erickson

A lot. Yeah. So if you’re at home and you’re struggling with a spouse, you’re at home with small children and your spouse is not doing the housework, I would recommend, like, he didn’t like the way I folded laundry. And so clearly that needed to be his job.

[00:09:30.550] – Hilary Erickson

And so that is one way that we diversify things. And then if I was sick or whatever, or he was sick, then I would help fold laundry, or he would help sweep and mop. Yeah, sweeping and mopping, if you can’t tell, is our biggest job here in this house. And so it does take a lot of extra time. What is the hardest part about splitting chores now that you’re home more?

[00:09:48.020] – Drew Erickson

Now that I’m home more, I don’t know that it’s terribly difficult to try and split up the jobs so much anymore. I think it’s, like I said, since going through this career shift, I think that aspect of things has become much better balanced.

[00:10:00.780] – Hilary Erickson

I have the problem that I feel like things need to be done on the day they are assigned because that’s the nursing school in me and sometimes you don’t do them on the day that’s assigned. Do you ever feel pressured that your wife is so anal that you would like to put her in the mop bucket?

[00:10:15.760] – Drew Erickson

I don’t know that I’d say put you in the mop bucket necessarily. That seems a little dark. I wouldn’t put it. But that is a difference in philosophy. I think if by Saturday or within a given time frame, the work gets done, that’s the primary goal. Having it done on a specific day, having been in our relationship for as long as we have, I get where you’re coming from, but I still have the same philosophy of get it done when you can get it done, and that’s the end of it.

[00:10:41.520] – Drew Erickson

Well, I believe everything in life has a due date. Anyway, is there anything that you would change with the chore system that we have now?

[00:10:50.610] – Drew Erickson

No, I think our chore system actually works really, really well. I think it works well for our kids knowing their expectations of what’s expected when they come home from school, and it gives them a benchmark for when they can get things done. I actually do enjoy having specific days where the due date, if you will, is consistent because even if it doesn’t get done on that particular day, then I know it’s first priority on the back burner.

[00:11:16.530] – Hilary Erickson

I don’t even have a back burner.

[00:11:17.890] – Drew Erickson

I have many back burners. Just as a matter of survival.

[00:11:20.900] – Hilary Erickson

Everything’s front burner for me. I know I’ve talked with other people and I’ve mentioned to use Tick Tick or any to do list feature. You could do it on Tess, on Google. Tick Tick is nice because you can share one of your task lists, but then you can also have your own. It’s free. The one we use is free. You can upgrade for Ro or something like that. But what do you think about using that type of a thing? It was not the easiest to get you into that zone.

[00:11:45.130] – Drew Erickson

I think in hindsight, after doing it for many years now, I think it’s actually a great way, and I’ve actually recommended it in the scouting life for my scouts that are doing personal management to keep track of what they have to do.

[00:11:56.580] – Drew Erickson

One of the things they have to do is to make a to do list and do it for a specified amount of time. I think Tick Tick is a great tool in order to be able to do that. And not only that, it allows, again, communication with everybody who’s on the team to know what is expected and what has to be done.

[00:12:12.360] – Hilary Erickson

I think initially, though, you didn’t love being told what needed to be done.

[00:12:16.190] – Drew Erickson

No, I did not.

[00:12:16.410] – Hilary Erickson

But I feel like it’s a way to be like, this is what needs to be done without me needing to nag you because the nagging is what bugs you and it bugs me that I need to nag because I’m not your mom.

[00:12:25.510] – Drew Erickson

Yes, the nagging part of it was the worst.

[00:12:27.560] – Hilary Erickson

Even though they call me Mrs. Erickson sometimes. Yes. Which is your mom.

[00:12:31.370] – Drew Erickson

Well, I am still Mr. Erickson, but I more frequently go by just by my first name these days.

[00:12:36.660] – Hilary Erickson

Do your students in college call you Drew?

[00:12:38.360] – Drew Erickson

If they call me anything, they usually call me Mr. Erickson or Professor Erickson, but I always sign my emails with just my first name.

[00:12:43.990] – Hilary Erickson

Wow. You’re growing up or growing down. I don’t know. I don’t know what that is. All right, so let’s share. What’s your least favorite job around the house?

[00:12:51.680] – Drew Erickson

Sweeping and mopping. Yeah.

[00:12:52.950] – Hilary Erickson

I think you guys are getting a sense that it’s just a long job and it has steps and there’s a lot of corners.

[00:13:01.300] – Drew Erickson

Yeah, but I say it’s my least favorite job by anymore because I’ve got a system going, it’s not as bad as it used to be. It used to be a lot worse.

[00:13:09.900] – Hilary Erickson

Well, and one thing that we do, it’s the kitchen area that really gets the dirtiest. And so we do split up the other areas of tile in tick tick so that you know where you’re rotating to. And that makes it a little bit easier because we don’t always need to sweep them off the entryway because it doesn’t get that dirty.

[00:13:24.870] – Hilary Erickson

We also have a little robot vac that I will link to in the show notes. We had one robot vac commit suicide. It was so sad. And we bought a new one that I really like. You like the new guy? And the robot vacuum has been so helpful. So if you guys are thinking about something that maybe both of you could love for Christmas, a robot vacuum really has it.

[00:13:44.230] – Drew Erickson

The robot vacuum has really been great in terms of getting the food particles falling off the table cleaned up because I’ll be honest, our kids are not great when it comes to cleaning up after dinner, about making sure that the counters and the floor is cleaned up. So the robot vacuum is really taking care of that aspect of things.

[00:14:03.880] – Hilary Erickson

Yeah, and I love it. What’s your favorite job to do, cleaning wise?

[00:14:06.970] – Drew Erickson

Probably doing the laundry because one shot it’s done. It’s like two minutes.

[00:14:10.450] – Hilary Erickson

Mine’s totally cleaning counters.

[00:14:12.450] – Drew Erickson

I do enjoy cleaning counters. I’ll agree with you on that one. I would say my second least favorite job is probably checking the water schedule. Although I will say with Tick Tick, being able to have all the information on Tick Tick to know what day is what.

[00:14:25.530] – Drew Erickson

Initially, when it was first on the schedule, we didn’t have that information and I hated it because then I had to go and find what information however many days we were supposed to be irrigating, all that garbage and then go deal with the sprinkler system.

[00:14:38.150] – Drew Erickson

So if you guys are wondering what in the heck Drew is talking about, because we live in Arizona, during the winter you can water, it’s like 20 days between waterings. But during the summer you have to switch it to every three. We only have a very small amount of grass. Please don’t think we’re like, ruining the world with our grass consumption. But every month it pops up in tick tick to change how often the watering schedule is.

[00:14:59.560] – Drew Erickson

And it’s, again, because we live in the desert, it makes sense because we’re wanting to conserve water and not abuse those privileges. But the other primary reason is because we live in Arizona and going out to check the water system means that we have to go outside and it’s 110 and just miserable and ugly.

[00:15:17.360] – Hilary Erickson

So great living here. What a blessing it is to live in the desert. Yeah. All right. Any other tips you would give for a mom who’s at home with kids and who feels like she has to do all the housework coming from someone who was on the other side?

[00:15:29.260] – Drew Erickson

Even though I resisted it a lot, making a consistent schedule using some an app where communication takes the nag part out of it makes the relationship so much better. But having that cleaning schedule and a consistent schedule, I remember growing up, we used to have basically Saturday was the clean day and every other day was whatever happened happened. D inner clean up was consistent. But it just made Saturday a dreadful day because we had a ton of cleaning up to do versus going through and doing it consistently throughout the week makes the weekend much more enjoyable.

[00:15:59.550] – Hilary Erickson

Yeah. So we do do a 20 minute clean, which usually spreads into 30 when we ask kids to deep clean. But that’s really all we do on Saturdays. And that comes from I couldn’t do all the cleaning on Saturdays because I worked every other weekend for such a long time of our lives.

[00:16:12.910] – Drew Erickson

And I will say that living on a schedule, I realize a lot of people, there’s people out there that don’t like being on a schedule, but I can promise that living on a schedule and having some a schedule actually frees up more time, either later in the day, later in the evening, or on the weekend when you really want to have some time to relax and chill out a little bit. It really allows that time to happen rather than constantly having something that’s nag at you that has to be done.

[00:16:36.690] – Hilary Erickson

Yeah. Well, and I use Tick Tick for all variety of things, and it’s just so nice to have things pop up on there instead of having to be like, When was I supposed to do X, Y, Z? Check the watering schedule. When was I supposed to? Instead of having… It just takes all that out of my brain so that I can just check tick tick, do the things and move on. I’m not stressing about them all the time. And we have.

[00:16:56.670] – Drew Erickson

Certain things that they’re not a weekly thing or a daily thing that’s a regular schedule thing. So it’s nice to have tick tick come up and remind you that oil needs to be changed or the registration needs to be done so that we’re not somewhere out of state when the registration becomes due as has happened before. And then we are technically violating the law because our car is not registered, things like that, things that are a little bit more far spaced out in terms of house maintenance things. It’s really nice to have that on the schedule so that when it needs to be done, it pops up and there.

[00:17:25.720] – Hilary Erickson

We go. And again, there’s tons of to do apps. We started tick tick so long ago. There’s probably there might be better ones now, but I’m never going to set up anything else because it just has everything set up already. It is a little bit of a task to get it on there, but once it’s on there, it’s easy to add new things or whatever. Anyway, so if you’re a mom who is feeling frustrated that your husband doesn’t help or you don’t want to nag him, tick tick might be a great thing. You can share one list, keep a list for yourself. But I think now that I’ve been on both sides of the chore table where I’m working more than Drew right now, but he’s worked more than me for most of our marriage, I just think it’s really easy to feel like the other person hasn’t done much all day and that is not helping anyone. Don’t feel like your husband hasn’t helped out the house when he’s been at work all day because somebody has to have the money so you can buy groceries and pay your mortgage. But also he needs to feel like that even though you’ve just been at home with the kids all day, you’ve still been incredibly busy and that is sucking the life force out of you.

[00:18:19.370] – Hilary Erickson

And so you each need to have some give and take in that. And we’ve just felt like tick tick made it so everyone could see what got done and what needs to get done. Because really, all you need to focus on is what needs to get done versus what has gotten done.

[00:18:31.100] – Drew Erickson

And like I say, it’s been very powerful in improving our communications on the basic house stuff. I think.

[00:18:37.970] – Hilary Erickson

Building a strong marriage can be difficult. And the more you realize that everyone else struggles with the same things that you struggle with, the more likely you are to maybe stick it out or find a solution that helps both of you be happier in life.

[00:18:49.420] – Hilary Erickson

Stay tuned. We have some great episodes coming up. One of my favorite Tick Tick nutritionists is coming on next week to talk about prenatal nutrition. Then the week after that, I am talking about the hardest parts of parenting right now.

[00:19:00.520] – Hilary Erickson

Thanks so much for joining us on today’s episode. The Pulling Curls podcast grows when you share us on social media or leave a review. If you do, please tag us so that we can share and send you a virtual hug, which, frankly, is my favorite hugging. Until next time, we hope you have a tangle free day.

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