Communication is key when working toward maintaining a home with others. Everybody is “wired” differently and may not be aware of the the same household tasks that need to be accomplished. For example, if the dishwasher contains clean dishes, my first thought is, “the dishwasher needs to be emptied as soon as possible.” My husband however may think, “the dishwasher needs to be emptied sometime.” Therefore, I may leave the house for the day and when I arrive home later, although he may have been home all day, the dishwasher will not be emptied. This is not a task that he felt needed immediate attention and piling dishes on the counter is acceptable to him. If I do not verbalize my expectation that the dishwasher should be emptied as soon as possible, it will not be done.
Our tolerance levels for clutter and expectations for when to do general household tasks varies greatly from person to person. Rather than setting yourself up for disappointment when you arrive home to find what seem to be obvious tasks have not been completed, communicate those expectations. For some people, leaving a “honey do” list is appropriate. I know I am more likely to remember to accomplish a task if it is written down. My husband, on the other hand, feels ambushed if he stumbles onto a task list left by me. Verbal communication works best for him. He may follow up our conversation by requesting that I email him a reminder. In that case, writing the task down is ok for him. Again, everyone is different and determining what communication style works best for each member of your family is essential to accomplish tasks.
For children, a chore list of tasks that need to be accomplished daily or weekly will help them create a routine around what is expected of them in maintaining the home. Furthermore, having concequences for not completing chores (ie. not collecting allowance money or eliminating television time) will help incentivise the work.
Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Communicate your expectations.