Home and Housework

“Remember, the reason to clear clutter is because,
somehow, that clutter is diminishing your happiness.”
– Gretchen Rubin, Outer Order, Inner Calm

When we talk about housework, we mean all the time we spend on housekeeping, washing, cooking, gardening, buying food, clothing, and other goods, solving domestic issues, shovelling snow, repairing cars or other devices, purchasing services (internet, mobile, repairs, insurance, etc.), payment of taxes, etc.

Our households are full of things to take care of every day (cooking, cleaning, washing, caring for pets) and full of just as important non-routine tasks – management of unplanned events (caring for sick family members, death of relatives, repairs, moving, organisation and management of various home-related services, repair of faulty items, etc.). It is normal that these things take a lot of our time that we would rather spend on more pleasant things, like sports, recreation, extra work, etc. Keeping this area of life in control takes good coordination and planning skills, creativity, flexibility, and equal involvement of people who are building the household together.

How to find more time?

Organise and plan. Manage your household efficiently. We often spend a lot of time doing various domestic tasks that we could automate, share with other family members, or organise more effectively. For example, you might occasionally hire external help (e.g., several times a year hiring a cleaner to tidy up the entire house, clean windows, etc.), buy a dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand (if in your home it’s truly a big problem that consumes a lot of your time, this investment may pay off much faster than you might think), or other appliances that make it easier for your household. You’ll be able to spend the time you save on things you really love, quality communication with people close to you, more rest, or other activities.

Look for time-saving solutions. Sometimes, instead of cooking at home, you can order dinner or eat out (two birds with one stone – quality time with your family and a break from cooking at home), instead of going to the store – shopping online, instead of cleaning the house daily – devoting more time to it over the weekend, etc.

Buy food less often for a longer period. Choose a specific time in the week that you will dedicate to shopping. Then, shop for the whole upcoming week. Do you want to save even more time? Get groceries delivered to your house or buy online and pick up the order at the store once it’s ready (several of the main grocery stores in Lithuania provide this service).

Include all members of the household. Share housekeeping responsibilities with other family members equally. Each one must contribute. Try making a clear timetable of who is responsible for what and when and follow it. This will make it easier to see the distribution of responsibilities and create less ambiguity about who should do what.

Be creative. There are plenty of tricks to save time on housekeeping. Maybe you can cook more food and freeze some of it for days when you don’t have time to cook. Go to the grocery store with a shopping list. Mobilise the entire household for a 15-minute “public management session” when everyone devotes 15 minutes only to housekeeping (washing the dishes, cleaning surfaces, putting things away, etc.). When you order take-out, order extra food for tomorrow’s lunch. The potential for clever solutions is endless!

Be more lenient towards mess. Nothing horrible will happen if, from time to time, you allow yourself not to clean your home, leave your dishes unwashed, or do laundry the next day. It’s much more important that you have time for quality communication with family, recreation, and activities that enrich your life and recharge your energy. If that means that you will sit on a sofa with a book instead of cleaning, do it – it won’t be the end of the world.

Sharing household responsibilities

If you live with your significant other, family, or children – sharing household responsibilities is a must. If you want a better work-life balance, housekeeping should be the responsibility of both partners and other adult family members. Children should also contribute to household chores.

According to the data of the European Institute for Gender Equality, women and men share family care and housekeeping work very unevenly in Lithuania: 41% of women and only 24% of men spend time every day caring for children, grandchildren, elderly, or disabled family members. As many as 79% of women and only 29% of men make food and do other household chores every day.

Our beliefs and social expectations are the principal causes of this. Usually, it is women who deal with housekeeping, raising children, and caring for elderly, sick, or disabled relatives, as it has traditionally always been considered a “female” job. In today’s world, there are few families with only one partner/parent working. In most couples, both people work full-time because the family needs both incomes. However, studies show that when a relative needs constant, long-term care, women bear this responsibility more often and tend to downsize their working hours or even leave work altogether, thus sacrificing their professional commitments and career opportunities.

If you want to achieve an equal division of household responsibilities within your family, it will likely require a lot of patience and consistent work from everyone involved.

Some tips that may help:

Start by making invisible work visible. Often, women’s work at home after hours of paid work is called “invisible work” precisely because people are reluctant to see it as actual work. In scientific literature, this is referred to as the “second shift” because, in terms of volume and responsibility, it is equivalent to the amount of time people spend in paid work. If you want the attitude towards housework to change in your family, start recording housekeeping tasks completed by you and your family members. Make a list of all the tasks in your household and share it with your partner. It will be a great way to start a conversation about the division of household responsibilities. To make the distribution more equal, for some time try writing down how much time you each spend on specific tasks: shopping, cooking, taking children to and bringing them back from school/extracurricular activities, washing, cleaning, caring for family members, and other necessary daily work. You can also use mobile applications to do this. If you notice that the division is unequal, discuss it and try to distribute housework better for the following week.

Share the work fairly. It’s impossible to share everything equally, but it’s important to be conscious about who spends how much time and energy on housework. During certain phases in life, you might need to help your significant other by freeing them from their usual responsibilities. In times like this, it’s normal for someone in a couple to take the lead and bear more responsibility in household management and maintenance. This must be discussed and agreed upon in advance, not left to run its own course or follow the traditional division of labour by gender.

If your children are of different sexes, pay attention to what housework your sons and daughters contribute. Don’t divide chores by the sex of your children. When this is not deliberately re-thought, girls usually perform more chores, and boys are not even taught how to do certain tasks such as doing laundry, cooking, and ironing clothes. Let your children learn different skills – believe me, it will really come in useful!

Discuss the work for the upcoming week in advance. With your partner, create a habit of discussing the housework and the schedule for the coming week every week. It would be best to write it down on a piece of paper and hang it in a place that is visible to everyone (or buy a board specifically for this purpose and hang it in your house). This way you’ll see how long each task takes, be able to plan, decide who will take care of what, and assess whether you share housework equally. Plan and work as a team.

Be attentive. Since society’s perceptions that childcare and homework are the woman’s responsibility seeps into our personal lives, it is essential to notice and change this in everyday practices. This is possible only by working in two directions: men need to get more involved and take on more responsibilities and day-to-day work at home; women need to encourage and allow this without micromanaging how the work is to be done. Support each other in this process.

Respect each other’s time and treat it as equally important. Both to each other and to the whole family. For example, just because one of you works a full-time, paid job and the other spends more or even all their time raising children does not mean that the employed person should not be involved in housework. Your time spent with your family is valuable in and of itself, and so it must be shared fairly.



The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Marie Kondo, 2016). A book on tidying up, decluttering, and determining which items spark joy. Reorganising your home space by the KonMari method will give you more space for personal improvement, hobbies, happiness, and lightness. The tidiness of your home, according to Marie Kondo, is related to our relationship, past, and, of course, ourselves.

Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life (Gretchen Rubin, 2013). The author tries various experiments over a couple of months to make her home a safe, pleasant, and comfortable space for everyone in the household. The book discusses family, marriage, raising children, time management, and tidying up. Each month she chose a new topic with concrete resolutions and ideas, including all members of the family in her experiments.

Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (Eve Rodsky, 2021). The author started this book as a personal project on equal partnership when raising children. “Tired of being the main parent responsible for all aspects of her busy household, Eve Rodsky counted up all the unpaid, invisible work she was doing for her family — and then sent that list to her husband, asking for things to change. His response was… underwhelming. Rodsky realized that simply identifying the issue of unequal labour on the home front wasn’t enough: She needed a solution to this universal problem. The result is a time- and anxiety-saving system that offers couples a completely new way to divvy up domestic responsibilities and live in a partnership that compliments each person in the couple.” The book offers a detailed discussion of all the tasks related to family life and offers accessible ways to divide them among the couple.

The Home Stretch (Sally Howard, 2020). A book on the unequal share of housework between men and women. Howard combines history, scholarly research, and practical insights with journalistic and academic approaches. Full of valuable insights to rethink why inequality between women and men persists and how to move towards a fairer division of responsibilities.


About sharing domestic responsibilities with your partner: How to split the chores with your partner — minus the drama and fighting. Jennifer Petriglieri PhD: https://ideas.ted.com/how-to-split-the-chores-with-your-partner-minus-the-drama-and-fighting/