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How Husbands Can Avoid Arguments About Spring Cleaning

Updated: Mar 18

How Husbands Can Avoid Arguments About Spring Cleaning

It started with my wife making a list and sharing it with me when I was relaxing for the first time all day. I nodded my head back and stared silently at the ceiling, listening to the list. 


Her minimum standard of care was much different than mine, so I'd quietly disagree with what needed to be done. I'd usually delay it until I pulled in one day and saw her working on it alone. That's when I knew I was in trouble. 


I'd pitch in, and about half the list would get done. My wife would resent me for at least a few days. Deservingly so.


Clearly, this is unhealthy, but it doesn't happen anymore. We have systems in place that work like a charm.


Here are four ideas to help you avoid arguing about spring cleaning from someone who spent years doing it wrong. 


1. You Make the List


Take the initiative to make your own list of spring cleaning tasks. Review it with your spouse for feedback during your weekly household management and money date meeting. 


Tackling the ownership of this task comes with a mental load. If this is followed by a spouse who wants nothing to do with the list, then there will be an argument. 


2. Use Coexist


We love Coexist, the mobile app that simplifies home management. One of our favorite features is the task tab, where we can add one-off tasks we don’t have time to tackle at the moment but know need to be done. 


We usually tackle these tasks together a few times a year, such as during the spring. Below is a screenshot of our list on Coexist.


How Husbands Can Avoid Arguments About Spring Cleaning


Coexist is kind enough to award the Modern Husbands community with 10% off annual subscriptions made via iOS by using promo code MODERN10. 


Click here to learn more.


3. Stick to a System


How Husbands Can Avoid Arguments About Spring Cleaning

My wife and I use the Fair Play System, developed by Eve Rodsky, to structure our home management responsibilities, so we’re usually on the same page. We’ll still overstep from time to time, which previously led to an exhausting argument or my wife just taking the task over and giving me the cold shoulder of resentment for the rest of the day.


Now, whenever someone oversteps, I can just throw Eve under the bus as long as I stay true to the principles of her system (😊). Yes, I’m being a facetious, but thus far, it’s worked every time. And of course Hope and I adore Eve.


Anyhow, before our conversation can gain enough steam to evolve into an argument, I can change the subject by simply stating jovially, “That’s not what Eve would say. Boundaries.” 


Beyond my wife responding with an occasional deep breath, we move forward without lingering frustrations. We’re teammates with a system we agree to use, so it’s not as if I’ve won an argument; we’ve successfully avoided it. 


Here are the essential ground rules that work for us.


Establish a minimum standard of care 


Establishing a minimum standard of care is difficult for us, as it is in many marriages. In a previous post, Why spouses argue about whether a chore needs to be done, we highlighted recent research out of the University of Cambridge that argues that:


“Through societal norms, women are more likely to see crumbs on the counter, believe the kitchen is not clean, and feel it needs to be cleaned right now. Whereas men don’t see the crumbs.”


A friend once told me that when he was a child, and his grandmother would visit, she would slap on a white glove and search for dust throughout the house, judging his mother, who worked full time. Ugh, imagine how women feel, the societal and sometimes generational pressures of being perceived as responsible for the home while working hard in their careers. 


Empathy is in order, and so is defending our wives. The home should be our responsibility, not hers. When folks say otherwise, it’s up to husbands to defend their wives. 


One important caveat regarding spring cleaning is that we establish an acceptable amount of time we will devote to it before we begin. 


Consider all that is required to get the job done. For example, a common frustration originating from spring cleaning is when someone ends up with a bag of clothes intended for Goodwill, a bag that stays in the trunk for six months. Include the time to take it to Goodwill.


Ownership 


This has been the most important aspect of the system for our relationship. When you own a card, you own everything about that task. I don't assume the mental load of ensuring my wife's tasks are finished, and she doesn't do that for me. 


I cannot stress enough how liberating it is for both spouses when you accept the responsibility of ownership and trust your partner to do the same.


Boundaries 


We all have our own way of getting things done. My way might be different from my spouse's, and your way might be different from yours. Set boundaries. Do not micromanage your spouse and vice versa. 



4. Hire Help 


Schedule a Junk Removal Service


Only some have a truck or easy access to one. If you uncover a truckload of junk (e.g., an old mattress or bookshelf), hiring someone to haul it away is worth it. 


Hire a Professional Organizing & Decluttering Service


Those looking to declutter and organize but feeling overwhelmed or even paralyzed by the clutter should consider hiring a professional organizing and decluttering team to solve their problems. 


How Husbands Can Avoid Arguments About Spring Cleaning


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Common Spring Cleaning Tasks


Decluttering


Start by decluttering your living space. Go through each room and identify items you no longer need or use. Consider donating, recycling, or selling these items to clear up valuable space in your home. Not only does decluttering create a more organized environment, but it can also positively impact your mental well-being.


Dusting and Wiping


Dust accumulates in unseen corners and on surfaces throughout the year. Take the time to dust and wipe down all surfaces, including shelves, countertops, and furniture. Don't forget to dust ceiling fans, light fixtures, and baseboards. Use microfiber cloths and all-purpose cleaners to ensure a sparkling finish for a thorough clean.


Vacuuming and Mopping


Carpets and floors can trap dirt, dust, and allergens, especially in winter. Vacuum carpets and rugs thoroughly, paying extra attention to high-traffic areas. For hard floors, mop with a suitable cleaner to remove grime and stains, leaving your floors refreshed and revitalized.


Deep Cleaning Appliances


Your kitchen appliances work hard year-round and can benefit from a deep clean. Clean the interior and exterior of your refrigerator, oven, microwave, and dishwasher. Remove food remnants, grease, and grime to keep these appliances running efficiently and looking their best.


Organizing Cabinets and Closets


Take the opportunity to organize cabinets, closets, and storage spaces. Sort clothing, linens, and household items and neatly arrange them for easy access. Consider using storage bins, baskets, or shelving to maximize space and keep items tidy and accessible.


Freshening Up Bedding and Linens


Swap out heavy winter bedding for lighter options suitable for the warmer months. Launder and air out bedding, pillows, and linens to remove dust and refresh fabrics. Consider rotating mattresses and fluffing pillows for added comfort and longevity.


Cleaning Windows and Mirrors


Brighten your home by cleaning windows and mirrors to let in more natural light. Use a streak-free glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth to make the glass shine flawlessly. For a complete overhaul, also clean window sills, tracks, and blinds.


Purging Unused Items


Spring cleaning is also an excellent time to reassess your belongings and remove items you no longer need. Purging unnecessary clutter, whether it's old electronics, expired pantry items, or unused cosmetics, can free up space and simplify your life.


Outdoor Maintenance


Extend your spring cleaning efforts to outdoor spaces as well. Sweep patios, decks, and walkways to remove debris and dirt. Clean outdoor furniture, grill grates, and gardening tools to prepare for outdoor gatherings and activities.


 


 

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