March 2, 2020
Target Audience: Parents, couples, housemates, families
Ages: 4 and up
Category: Household chores
Estimated Time: 1 hour
Difficulty Level: Ninja (regular follow-up)
Research by Jennifer Petriglieri, INSEAD professor of organizational behavior shows that the best way to ensure that partners and families are sharing the load fairly is to first lay out the bucket of work that it takes to run the household, including the planning, organizing, and often invisible mental work. Then get a clear picture of who does what. Then begin discussions about what would feel fairer. What standards you all agree to, and even what to drop. It doesn’t have to be 50/50. It just has to feel fair for everyone involved.
This is a WHO DOES WHAT list of responsibilities adapted from one that the marriage and relationship researchers at the Gottman Institute use to help families and couples see more clearly and share the load fairly that appears on therapist Laurel Holmes’ website. We’re borrowing the word “Choreganizer” from writer Amanda Ripley. We are immensely grateful for the work these practitioners and researchers do!
- Check out this list of chores. Who is doing which of them? You can make a copy of this doc and fill it out online, or print it out and write on it as a family.
- Gather the family, a partner, or housemates and begin to go through the list, talking about who is doing the task now. Each member should feel free to add additional tasks or responsibilities. This is the full bucket of work that it takes to run your household.
- Take a moment to analyze your results and talk about them. Is there an imbalance in the load? Does it feel fair?
- Look to see if there are certain tasks that no one wants to do, or really don’t need to be part of the bucket that you can drop, as Tiffany Dufu suggests in her book, Drop the Ball. If there’s inequality, start by reassigning one or two of the tasks from the person who does the most to the person who does the least.
- Experiment with the revised task assignments. Try it for one week.
- Gather at the end of the experiment and talk about how it went. Did it feel fairer? Are there further adjustments to make? Tweak and try again the following week.
Connect With the Better Life Lab
Are you going to try this week’s experiment? Do you have a story about how you and your own family solved a problem with the work at home? Is there a specific challenge you’ve been trying to tackle? Can this experiment be improved? Please let us know via this form, at email@example.com, or in our Facebook group for BLLx Beta Testers.
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