Almost half of couples who have lived together for less than a year argue about changing bed sheets and replacing the loo roll, according to a study by E.ON.
They've found that 40% of couples only do a task when it needs to be done, while only 3% organise a schedule or rota for cleaning.
To change these trends, E.ON have partnered with professional declutterer Juliet Landau-Pope to find out how to have a calmer clean…
Cleaning the house shouldn't be just one person's responsibility! “Even if the division of labour isn’t entirely equal,” says Landau-Pope, “you each have an important role to play in creating a peaceful home.”
Don't wait for a moment of motivation, or until the problem is so bad you have to deal with it. Make the decision to handle chores at the same time every day, or every week. Landau-Pope suggests deciding in advance that whoever cooks dinner, the other person does the washing up.
Do yourself a favour by making jobs as simple as possible. Instead of keeping spare loo roll in a closet, keep it in the bathroom, so it's there when you need it. Or clear a path for the hoover before turning it on, instead of stopping every time the cord gets stuck.
Talk about it
Something your partner does, or doesn't do, probably bugs you. Changing that behaviour means talking about the problem, and talking about it in the right way. Landau-Pope says to be “polite and specific about requests” and avoid “critical generalisation and rhetorical questions.” So instead of saying, “You never remember to turn off the lights” or, “Why do you always leave the lights on?” you can say, “Next time you leave the bathroom, please turn off the lights”.
Communication isn't just about who has to do what, when. Giving and receiving sincere appreciation for a job well done can make all the difference in how you both feel about doing chores. In a similar vein, if you need help with something, ask. And when you're asked for help, handle it graciously.
“If it irks you to waste electricity by filling the kettle with too much water, point this out, but perhaps be willing to overlook a dirty mug or two in the sink,” says Landau-Pope. You don't have the time or energy to pick a fight over every little thing, so choose your battles carefully.
Use technology to your advantage
Sometimes, tech can do the job for you. Like smart meters, which read themselves, so neither you nor your partner needs to crawl into the back of the cupboard. Other times, new tools will make mistakes not worth fighting about. The E.ON marketplace makes it easy to find energy-efficient appliances, so if the lights do get left on, it's not such a big deal.
There's an app
Your smartphone can help you get organised and get going. Chorma, free on this iOS app store, is a tool for divvying up your duties. You can set tasks, claim responsibility for them, and even assign points to turn good habits into a fun game. Because you can share the list with your partner, it's an easy way to keep on top of what's been done, and what still needs to be.
Practice makes perfect
E.ON's study shows that couples that stick it out, figure it out. Only 32% of couples who have lived together over 21 years argue about cleaning the house, compared to 71% of those who just moved in together. While most couples will struggle to figure out how to manage a place together, most couples will figure it out.
How do you avoid arguing over cleaning? Tell us in the comments box below