It's official. Women spend nearly double the time men do on domestic tasks - nearly three and a half hours a day on average for women, compared to less than two hours for men. So how do we shift the balance? Here are our top ten tricks to help you domesticate your man and change the shape of your home.
1. Starters orders
You've met your man, you think he's Mr Right and you want to impress him. Stop right there - now is the time to start as you mean to go on. If you're the one who cooks gourmet meals and does his washing all the time now, you don't stand a chance a couple of years down the line. Make sure that every time you invite him round to yours for a meal, an invite back to his is forthcoming.
And be wary when birthdays and Christmas come around. It can be tempting at first to buy pressies together, but make sure you are both doing the shopping together as well. Otherwise, you'll suddenly be doing all the gift shopping for both of you on your own every year.
2. What's the score?
Before you start whining that he doesn't help out round the house, work out exactly who does what and how long each job takes. If need be, keep a record for a couple of weeks or a month to get the full picture. Don't jump to conclusions - you might be surprised to find out that all those little chores he does actually even things out a bit.
3. Talk it out
Believe it or not, your man probably doesn't realise how little he does. He's probably grown up with a mother who's waited on him hand and foot and apart from your nagging (which he's become quite adept at blocking out), there's nothing to make him think that he's not pulling his weight. Pick your moment and let him know the score. Make sure you're not confrontational - it'll be impossible to domesticate him if you've rushed headlong into an argument.
4. Let him shine
Sharing the housework sounds all well and good until he washes your cashmere jumper in with his rugby shorts. And believe it or not, there are some things that he does 'just so' and won’t want you bodging. Watch him for a while and take note of what he cares about. If you know he won’t be able to go to bed without making sure all the doors and windows are locked, the dog’s been for a walk and the bins are out, then don’t tackle those jobs yourself. Spend your time doing the jobs you know he doesn’t notice need doing.
5. Spit and polish
If you’ve decided to tackle the issue head-on, then agree on a list of household jobs - who’s going to do what and stick to it. It might be that you actually have to write up a list and display it in a prominent place. Take it in turns to do the jobs neither of you want to do (or are any good at!) and don’t whine when it’s your shift down the u-bend.
Lots of couples decide to block out a period of time – Saturday morning, say – and attack the chores together. Get the rubber gloves on, turn the music up and get it all out of the way in one go – together.
6. Scrub that
It’s all about standards. If you can’t bear to look at the washing up, then he’s onto a winner. But if you let things lie for a little longer, he might crack. If your so-called 'high standards' just mean you’re always the one doing the ironing, then it's time for a rethink. And if you think you’re the only one who can do it right, then it’s definitely time to relinquish control and relax.
Would it make everyone’s life a little easier if you got some help? If your ironing pile is as big as you are, you may want to consider putting some money aside each week to spend on the luxury of a cleaner.
7. Bimbo bingo
If you do something well a couple of times, be wary of that responsibility becoming permanently yours. Far better to appear incompetent or mess things up every now and then – that way he’ll feel like he’s the expert and won’t even think about asking you to do it!
8. Reverse psychology
Don’t spend all your time nagging him to do his chorse or criticising his technique. If he throws his wet towel on the bathroom floor every time he gets out of the shower, scoop it up and put it in the laundry bin. When there are no clean, dry towels left, he’ll soon come to you to find out why. Act innocent - say you just assumed they were dirty and that they've not been washed yet. It won’t take long!
Appeal to his competitive instinct – tell him how your friend’s new boyfriend is a fantastic cook. You might find out yours has turned into Jamie Oliver next time it’s his turn to do the Sunday roast.
9. Cut loose
If you’ve managed to negotiate some time off from the chores, or if you’ve finished your share and he’s still slogging away, make yourself scarce. It’ll be impossible to relax with your feet up if he’s throwing resentful glances in your direction, and before you know it you’ll be helping him out or starting on another job. Get out of the house, pronto.
10. Points mean prizes
Now we’re not suggesting that you bribe your man to get him to load the dishwasher every night. But there’s nothing wrong with offering him a little bit of what he fancies every now and then if there’s a spring clean to be done...
If it’s really working out for you both, and you feel you’re sharing the workload, then make sure you reap the benefits together. If there’s one thing that’ll make you happy together (and take your mind off daily worries), it’s spending time together. Duvet days are a wonderful thing!