Manners & Chores

It’s time to talk about respect at home. Manners aren’t just for public display; they should be woven into the fabric of your behaviour and practiced in the presence of strangers, friends, family and even roommates.  Just knowing someone doesn’t give you the right to treat them meanly or rudely, and living with someone certainly doesn’t give you the right to take advantage of them.

I won’t be able to sum up all household manners all in one post, so I’ll start with an obvious conflict starter: keeping shared living space clean.

Whether you live with roommates or your family, each individual in the home has an obligation to maintain the upkeep of the residence.  How this is done is left up to the individuals occupying the space.

For example, some choose the “chore wheel,” others have a rotating schedule, while some have no organized way of keeping the home clean.  Who takes out the garbage each week? Who sorts through the recycling? Who does the dishes? Who cleans the toilet?  These simple tasks are either squabbled over or simply left until the neatest person can’t take it anymore and cleans up everyone’s mess.

I have five rules for avoiding chore conflict that should leave everyone satisfied, if not pleasantly surprised.

  1. Reach an understanding.
    Some people are inherently neater than others while some people can be absolute slobs.  When sharing a living space, you must understand who you’re living with, how clean they might be, and how they like to do things. This allows for you to compromise and find a balance. I’m sorry, but I don’t advocate for changing a person – only his or her habits.  A messy person will always be a bit messy; so if you like to be neat but don’t relish the thought of pick up after someone, you probably won’t be happy in this situation.
     
  2. Determine a Routine
    Make sure an agreed-upon routine is established.  This can be done by holding a house meeting or having mom and dad tell everyone how it’s going to be.  This routine should explain how the chores are going to be completed each week.  Will you rotate a set schedule? Will you draw names out of a hat? Does each person have one chore they actually like doing and will commit to that each week? Will you post your routine on the fridge so everyone can look at it, everyone’s on the same page and there aren’t any disputes?
     
  3. Do your part.
    Once you have committed or agreed to the chore routine, stick with it.  As a responsible and polite person, you must follow through on your commitments and promises. As an individual with shared house space, not only will you be exemplifying your good manners, but you will also be preventing arguments, fights and inevitable disputes.
     
  4. Clean up as you go.
    If you make a mess, clean it up.  Don’t leave it for someone else to do or for it to be your own chore day. If your soup splashes the inside of a microwave, wipe it down.  If your bacon grease splatters onto the stove, clean it up immediately.  If you get water all over the counter in the bathroom, dry it up before leaving.  These are really simple things to do that will avoid a build up of mess, will make cleaning easier all around, and it is the polite thing to do when you share amenities with others.  Don’t be “that guy” who’s always making a messes for others to clean up.
     
  5. Be upfront and honest.
    If something is bothering you about your living arrangements, be honest. If you really don’t like a chore you’re doing or the way someone else is doing (or not doing) his or her own tasks, talk about it.  Don’t leave it so there is so much built up resentment you finally explode.  Confront the issue and the person directly.  Talking behind people’s backs eventually comes back to you, and not dealing with it will make you angrier in the end.  Give up the irrational fear of confrontation and just talk about it.  You’ll be happy you did in the end.

Most people do want to avoid conflict in the end, and they try to be good people.  Following these five simple rules will help you avoid conflict in the home, keep it clean and improve your household manners.  Those should never be in short supply.

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