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Home management for married couples

Does it feel impossible to get things done?

Are you drowning in clutter or waiting for your spouse to clean the shower?

Home management is something that most couples know they need, yet few have a plan on how to tackle it all. Do you assume your spouse should be able to notice when something needs to be taken care of and just do it?

Maybe you’re struggling to cook for the kids before rushing off to hockey and by the time you’re home you’re too pooped to imagine picking up the duster.

What about the you keep detailed records or do you just hope it balances by the end of the month?

You’re married. You’ve entwined your life with your spouse and now you really don’t have much of a choice but to get that whole “adulting” thing down. (It can be hard at any age!) It doesn’t sound glamorous - I’m not sure cleaning the toilets ever is - but having a plan in place can dramatically reduce the stress you feel about getting everything done. It can also reduce the occurrence of the “who does what” or “why didn’t you…” arguments!

What is home management?

Home management is the plan you make for organizing the necessary tasks and routines to keep your household in order. It ensures smooth functioning and efficiency. It’s not just a chore list, but comprehensively covers everything from the planning to the execution of your desired lifestyle.

In this post we’re going to cover all the steps you need to take to put a plan together.

We’ll give you advice on 6 key areas of home management that you’ll need to establish plans around and help you ask the right questions to get your plan ready to implement.

Most importantly, you’ll be able to answer the question…”whose turn is it to do the dishes!?”

6 Key areas of home management

You know what it feels like when the dishes pile up, you grab takeout for the third time this week because the fridge is empty or you come back from vacation with a surprising balance in your account. We’ve all let a few things slide from time to time. It feels overwhelming, right?

The whole purpose of home management is to make a plan that makes your life easier!

When you’re looking at managing your household, you want to find a plan that helps you avoid the stress of just surviving. Making plans proactively removes the urgency of always living in reaction to whatever is on fire right now!

We’ve identified 6 key areas of home management that will be standard for most couples. Your lifestyle and budget will make the execution of these key areas look different than the next marriage, but it is important to discuss how each of these areas will be handled.

  1. Cleaning and home maintenance

    Let’s face it, we’re not all Monica Geller’s who love to clean. I don’t get any sort of satisfaction from making my bed. Anyone else? But Monica was onto something. Keeping your house clean and staying up-to-date on any maintenance is a must for a long lasting home…or your security deposit back!

    Cleaning and home maintenance includes everything from taking out the trash to replacing your furnace filters. Having even a little understanding of what your home needs will save you a lot of repairs and hassle in the future.

  2. Meal Planning

    Meal planning is an underutilized home management tool. Knowing what’s on the menu goes a long way in the health of your family!

    Eating out consistently of course affects your wallet, but restaurant food is loaded with extra sodium, fat and sugar…even the “healthy” places are not that great for you.

    Instead of staring into an empty fridge and ultimately running for takeout, you’ll be able to know you have exactly what you need to make the meals you love. You can use eating out as a treat instead of an expensive necessity.

  3. Declutter and organize

    When you’re surrounded by an overflowing bookshelf or a closet full of clothes that don’t fit, it can feel like you’re drowning. Maybe you have more toys laying around than your kids could ever play with. Clutter can be a major contributor to stress.

    Letting things build up just causes a lot of work for later. This is why organizing gurus like Marie Kondo became so popular. We can all use a little inspiration and direction in this area!

    I’m not talking about throwing away your sentimental items, but that box of old cables you’re saving for just in case isn’t fooling anyone. They’re not going to bring back the 2-pin barrel jack to charge cell phones, just throw it away.

    Adding decluttering to your regular plan can greatly reduce your stress.

  4. Budgeting

    Your finances are probably one of the first things you’ve talked about and I’m sure it has been an ongoing discussion in your marriage. Money is not only personal but it can affect almost every aspect of your relationship. It’s one of the number one reasons couples call it quits.

    While we aren’t going to tackle that BIG topic in this post, we do want to stress that you can’t just leave this one alone. Talk about your finances, spending habits, budget and make a plan for your money! Even small plans will yield big results.

    If the two of you can get on the same page with finances, you’ll be in great shape!

  5. Scheduling

    Do you know when your spouse has planned a night with their friends or do you find out 30 minutes before it happens?

    The best way to handle your scheduling, like everything else on this list, is together. Talking through how to manage two (or more) sometimes conflicting calendars while still making time for each other can be a challenge.

    A shared calendar with everyone’s activities is a great tool for everyone to know what’s going on with each other.

  6. Your family

    Building a home management system includes being sure that you are being taken care of. This is where communicating your needs directly is very important.

    You need time to yourself to do the things you love, time with your spouse and time for your family and friends.

    Be sure yours and your family’s needs are being met. And if they aren’t, evaluate what is contributing to the imbalance.

A weekly planner laying on a bed with pen and coffee mug

First, identify your expectations and goals

Now that you know your areas of focus, you’re going to start by looking at the big picture.

Talking through your expectations can help you understand your spouse better. You both likely have different standards of cleanliness and what things get under your skin. What’s important to you might not be important to your spouse. So coming to an agreement of the most important standards is really where you want to start.

Once you’ve talked through your expectations, it’s time to set goals!

Setting goals helps you establish focus and direction in managing your household. It allows you to prioritize tasks, make informed decisions and allocate resources effectively. Goals provide a roadmap that guides your actions and helps you stay on track towards achieving what you want to accomplish in your household.

Understanding your goals in household management also allows you to be flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances.

Every time one of us is sick our whole routine goes out the window. The other has to pick up the slack. When unforeseen circumstances arise, having clear goals helps you adjust your plans accordingly while staying focused on your overall objectives.

Second, assign tasks

We believe that it’s both spouses' responsibilities to take care of the home regardless of your work status. You both live in your home so you both have a stake in making it a livable place for your family.

Who does what and why can have a lot of argument ammunition behind it, but it doesn’t have to. While deciding who is responsible for what task, it’s wise to consider each other’s strengths and preferences.

Are you a math wiz and your spouse is obsessed with making those fancy lines while mowing or vacuuming? Then it’s probably clear who should be the budget master and who should mow. Play to your strengths and preferences instead of what your gender role stereotype says you should do. If you prefer to do the cooking, have your spouse take care of the dishes.

Your health, work status and physical ability all play a role in your capacity to help each other out. If you have children, discuss what their responsibilities should be.

Also consider your time commitment. If you’re retired and spend a lot of your time at home while your spouse is still working, then maybe you decide to take on a few more tasks than they do.

Ultimately these are just suggestions. The point we want to make is that there should be plenty of communication around all of these decisions instead of trying to keep a tally of who did what last. When things aren’t clear, there is a lot of room for an argument to brew.

Successful household management isn’t an area that lends itself to being spontaneous. Failure to plan is planning to fail…or a spouse that is taking on dramatically more than the other.

Don’t forget to revisit this conversation during any significant change in your life. Anytime a spouse isn’t able to complete their household duties, you need to discuss how you’re going to tackle them.

Communication will keep resentment far from you!

Make your plan:

Talk through your expectations and goals for each of the 6 key areas. You may need a few conversations to get through it all.

Make a list of all the punch list items you can think of and discuss who is going to be responsible for them. Here’s how we did it. We started with choosing the ones we were each naturally good at or enjoyed doing, then we chose the ones we didn’t mind doing until only the undesirable ones were left. Then we split those between us. In our household we both work, we both parent so we find ways to split our duties evenly.

Once you get these basics decided, come back and learn how to get it all organized! Next week we’re going to share how we stay on the same page and why we never have to wonder where anything is!

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CommunicationConflict ResolutionExpectationsFinancesHousehold Management
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