The Team Approach to Housework

How long is your honey-do list? If you’re like me, I’ll bet it’s longer than your honey’s DID list. And the honeys I’m talking about are my teenagers. And the list of chores that they weren’t doing.


That was before we implemented the team approach, of course.


There’s a lot to get done around our house – laundry, cooking, kitchen-clean up, and plain old organization are on the daily to-do list.  There are a million other things that I’d rather be spending time on – like soaking in the tub with a glass of red and a great book, hitting my boxing class at the gym, or going to a movie – than emptying the dishwasher or folding laundry. But, someone’s got to keep the household running.


I don’t have any desire to nag or yell to get the chores done. But I do want a clean house. So, through trial and error, as a group, we’ve come up with a happy middle ground. It seems to be working.


What’s our secret? Well, instead of lists and jobs we are running on a pitch-in system. To others, it may seem crazy that my kids don’t have assigned duties, but for us, it works. Because it’s on the spot, the household work gets accomplished right away, which leaves us all with more free time for the other activities that we love.


Here is our system:

1) I ask whoever is handy to do something that needs doing, such as emptying the dishwasher, taking out the garbage, carrying laundry baskets, bringing in the groceries or even unpacking them.


2) They stop/finish what they’re doing and get the job done.


That’s it.  No repeated requests, no arguing, no complaining, no punishments. No stress.


How it works:

It mimics real life. When you have a job or a house of your own, you need to be able to see what needs doing. Take a look at your job description. How much of what you do falls into ‘other duties as required’?


It makes chores fun. We do a lot of stuff together. I don’t know about you, but I relish every opportunity to spend time with my almost-grown kids. Even if it’s sharing the laundry routine with them, I’m happy.


We use our time efficiently.

With our Whirlpool Duet laundry appliances, we can get more than one task accomplished at once.

– The Quick Refresh Steam Cycle in our Whirlpool dryer eliminates the need to iron. We can just throw in the items we’d normally press, and while they’re having the wrinkles steamed out of them, we can do something else.

– No more rewashing clean loads. I’m notorious for forgetting that I’m doing a load of laundry, especially if I’m out running errands and I get held up. The six-hour TumbleFresh option on my Whirlpool washer periodically tumbles our clothes, keeping them fresh and wrinkle-free until I can get them into the dryer.


It teaches them to pitch in. I think that our informal approach takes away the negative aspect of chores (the possibility of forgetting or getting in trouble, having something hanging over your head) and instead inspires normally egocentric teens to view themselves as part of a cohesive unit.


They learn what they need to know. Sometimes it’s stirring the soup or folding towels. And others it’s helping Dad change the oil on his motorcycle, sorting the recycling, or cleaning the fridge. My job is to get my kids ready to fly the coop and I’m doing my best to teach them what they need to know. While getting help in the process. That’s a double win if I don’t say so myself.


Think this method is unorthodox? How do I know it works?


Well, on a Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago I heard banging and clanging sounds coming from the kitchen. My two sons were cleaning it up. Without being asked.


Mission accomplished.

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