When living with roommates, deciding who does what chores can become a nightmare. Putting off having the cleaning talk will only make matters worse. If you don't want dishes to start resembling the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you may want to establish a chore chart. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be a painful process. Here are a few tips for creating a roommate cleaning schedule:
What Needs to be Done
Start by figuring out what chores need to be done and how often. Sit down with your roommates and compile a comprehensive list that you've all contributed to. You all may have a different opinion of what "clean" looks like, so establish a definition that everyone can accept.
Categorize the chores by when they need to be done. For example, daily chores might include washing dishes or spot checking common areas to remove clutter. Weekly chores are things like vacuuming and scrubbing the bathroom. You'll want to clean the coffee maker and the bathtub every month. If you all eat meals separately, roommates should cook and clean up the kitchen after themselves. Keep one another accountable.
Pets are a part of the daily routine as well. Picking up after a cat or dog is the responsibility of the owner.
Make a Physical Chart
You can use spreadsheet programs to create a chore chart on your computer, or find one online. How you arrange the chart depends on how you plan on tackling chores. If the cleaning schedule fluctuates–meaning you all swap jobs regularly–you may want to arrange the graph by chore. On one axis, put the words daily, weekly and monthly. On the other axis, put the names of everyone in the apartment. One side of the page should have the complete list of chores. As each person finishes a task, he or she should put it under his or her name in a spot that shows whether it was daily, weekly or monthly. Then, cross that task off the list. This chore chart can be printed every month.
Talk about which chores each person wants to tackle. This can still change, but by deciding who does what most often, you'll know who is responsible for any slacking. If you want to create a rotation so no one is stuck doing the same thing all the time, talk about it and work out the schedule. Be prepared to compromise. You won't always have the best chores. Keep an open dialog going. If certain chores just aren't working out for one roommate, see if you can shuffle responsibilities.
It's important to have deadlines so that you are motivated to clean. For example, you might establish a rule that all dishes will be clean by the time you go to bed. If you have open Saturdays, make that your cleaning day.
Life gets busy and other priorities pop up, but you have to make sure there are consequences for not doing your job. Living with roommates means sharing a common space. Respect that space by completing the tasks for which you are responsible. When creating your chore chart, discuss the consequences of not cleaning. Will you have to pay the cable bill next? Do you lose dinner preference privileges?