One of the things I suggested when Jordan and I first started talking about living together was the idea of having “trial runs”. These were basically mini simulations of real-world situations that we would find ourselves in when living together. The thought process was that if we could stage enough of these trial runs then we could expose any unknown issues and differences we might have. That way we could discuss them and work out our options before the situations were a full-time reality. We tried our first one this week and it was a smashing success.
The first trial run we did was weekly chores. Generally, we do our chores in our own apartments separately and on different days. One of the biggest goals I have for sharing a home is to not let the mundanities of life get in the way of our happiness and enjoyment of each other. I’ve seen it happen too many times and want to reduce undue friction from regular day-to-day duties as early as possible. So I offered (and she graciously agreed) to help out with her weekly chores. This way I could get a sense of the number, intensity, and overall process of chores as she performs them so I would be able to help out accordingly when I move in at the end of the month.
One of the things I really dig about our relationship is that we’re both total nerds and it applies to a great many aspects in our lives. In this case, my girl emailed me a basic list of chores in the afternoon (in Taskpaper format no less … man I love her). I grabbed that and put it into my Dropbox and shared the Taskpaper file with her. When I got to her place later, we realized that the syncing between shared files in Taskpaper left something to be desired … namely, it didn’t sync them. So, I had the bright idea of using Avocado for this. If you haven’t heard about it, Avocado is a private communication app for couples and it rocks. It has a host of amazing features but the one were interested in was the shared lists. I copied the tasks from the original into a new shared list and it synced perfectly between our phones. We tested it to make sure that completing items synced as well and, satisfied with our tech solution, we were off!
Jordan started out by giving me a tour of her apartment, describing how she normally cleans each area and what process she usually follows. It was a very eye-opening experience for me. I’d spent hundreds of hours in her apartment over the last year but now I was looking at it from a whole new perspective. Along the way we talked about different procedures for cleaning certain furniture and problem areas of the house. Within the first fifteen minutes we hit a pretty tense point because, well, we couldn’t be more opposite in some of our cleaning regiments and I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. So, we decided not to push it and just got down to cleaning.
One of the things I love about cleaning and doing chores is that, for the most part, your body is on autopilot so your brain is allowed to meander and entertain itself. So, while cleaning the dust off of lamps and wiping crumbs off of the coffee table (I’ve got to build a new one of those for us) I kicked around all of the things we had just discussed. Here were some of the main difference we found right away:
- I’m a Windex kinda guy (I get it from my mother!) … Jordan is an all natural cleaner type of lady.
- I love a good scrubby sponge … she’d rather use a cloth and avoid the germs.
- I use copious amounts of Formula 409 on everything … she makes her own degreaser from orange peels and vinegar
- I use a bucket and dish detergent to mop the floor … she puts a capful of Pine Sol in the sink with hot water
The list goes on a bit but you can see a few patterns come to light. First off, I have obviously lived on my own without any female influence for too long. Second, I use a lot more chemicals than she does. Thirdly, well, a lot of her ways are just plain better for our health, the cats’ health, and the earth’s health. After a while I really came around to a lot of her ideas and appreciated the additional need to use a little more elbow grease. We will definitely have to find a better solution than hand towels for some of the cleaning tasks but I’m really digging the way she cleans her house and together, we were a chore-crushing powerhouse.
I am of the opinion that if we didn’t do this trial run, we would have waited until we were living in (and dirtying up) the same space. Then one of us, on our own schedule and accord, would have done some or all of the chores in their own way. This inevitably would cause tension which could turn into more stress and possibly residual animosity between us. By taking ourselves through this simulation we were able to expose, face, and accommodate our personal differences and come together for the good of our home. We have a few more of these trial runs planned for the upcoming month (including a 4-day non-stop sleepover!) so I’ll be sure to drop the details here. Got any tips for getting chores done with your girl (or guy)? Share ‘em in the comments!