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Vidhya Nagarajan for Fatherly

25 Small, Simple Ways to Chip In More At Home

Want to be a better dad, husband, and man? It all starts with equity at home.

This story was produced in partnership with Dawn and Swiffer.

When you have kids, keeping the house clean isn’t easy. They track in dirt, write on the walls, spill juice everywhere, and just generally leave messes wherever they go. Along with parenting as a team, it’s essential that you and your spouse clean as a team. It’s the only way to make sure your house doesn’t descend into messy, dirty chaos.

Unfortunately, many men as a group aren’t doing a great job as teammates. A recent survey found that twice as many women than men say they take on the main responsibility of household chores, probably because the average woman spends a whopping 100 more hours doing chores every year than the average man does. Too many men seem to think there is a “mom” in “team” but no “dad.”

What can you do to help solve this problem? Becoming a better teammate in your own home is a great place to start. Luckily, there are lots of little things you can do to make things a little easier for your partner, help the house run more smoothly, and earn some goodwill from the rest of the fam.

  1. Wake up early on the weekend to make breakfast while your partner sleeps in. The only thing better than waking up to the smell of bacon and freshly brewed coffee is spraying down the dishes with Dawn Platinum Powerwash and wiping them down as you cook so you can enjoy your meal without having to do the dishes afterwards.
  2. Spend a few hours on Sunday prepping meals for the rest of the week. You’ll thank yourself every weekday you don’t have to cook (and your partner will too).
  3. Make chores part of your existing fun routines. Let’s say a podcast you love drops a new episode at the same time every week. If you make it a point to Swiffer the living room while you listen, you’ll eventually form a habit that makes it easy to remember to Swiffer (and Swiffering even more enjoyable).
  4. Keep the kitchen stocked with foods that don’t require prep. That could mean getting a bunch of snackable veggies or always making enough for leftovers, but the entire family will appreciate access to zero-effort sustenance.
  5. Be the parent that makes sure the kids do their chores. The emotional labor of reminding your kids to clean their room is no joke, which means taking it on yourself is something your partner will appreciate.
  6. Do a dish check before bed. If you spray pots and pans with Dawn Platinum Powerwash dish spray before wiping them down, it won’t even take long to ensure you wake up to a delightfully empty sink.
  7. Laugh in the face of “women’s work.” There is no such thing.
  8. Clean when your partner is cleaning to maximize the time your non-chore time together. You can call it a life hack, but it’s really just common sense.
  9. Maintain a supply of the cleaning supplies you actually need. Not having the necessary drain cleaner or Swiffer dusters means either having to run out and get supplies (adding time and effort to the chore) or just putting things off. Either way, it’s an easily avoidable trap.
  10. Do as much as you can when you’re home alone. It’s a simple fact that empty houses are easier to clean, and in addition to enjoying the peace and quiet it’s a good idea to get some chores done while the rest of the family is out.
  11. Clean the dishwasher and washing machine regularly. Cleaning the things that keep your things clean means keeping those things cleaning your things cleanly.
  12. Do a refill check. There are probably lots of things around your house that need to be refilled every now and then, from toilet paper to Dawn dish soap. Ensuring that everything is adequately stocked can save everyone a bit of hassle when chore time rolls around.
  13. Come up with a detailed plan for every home project that makes things go smoothly. If you fail to plan you plan to fail is a cliche, but it’s a cliche that happens to be true. Taking the time to come up with a plan for big household projects—think spring cleaning or reorganizing the kitchen—will save you and your spouse a lot of headaches.
  14. Coordinate a family treat for the end of a long day of chores. Ordering takeout or splurging on a special family outing gives everyone something to look forward to and can be a useful motivator for kids who are less than psyched about doing chores.
  15. Get cleaning products worth geeking out over. Chances are you already value quality in other parts of your life, from tools that will last a lifetime to sneakers you can only snag once in a lifetime. Dawn Platinum Powerwash is the dish soap equivalent of these quality items. It’s oddly satisfying to squeeze the trigger and watch a thin layer of grease-busting foam coat your dishes. And as a bonus, it also smells way better than the overpowering citrus scents you’re probably used to.
  16. Do the little chores whenever they need to be done. Things like cleaning the streaky bathroom mirror or wiping down the counter only take a minute or two, so why save them for the weekend?
  17. Learn your kids’ tricks. Cramming dirty clothes under the bed and presenting their room as “clean” might be a childhood rite of passage, but learning your kids’ tricks—and making sure they don’t get away with them—is the only way to make sure their chores are actually getting done.
  18. Do the prep work before the chores begin. A thorough floor cleaning means rolling up the rugs. Cleaning the inside of the refrigerator means taking all of the food out (and throwing away anything that’s expired) first. Even if your partner is going to do the chore itself, you can make it easier on them by doing the prep work beforehand.
  19. Automate what you can. An automatic dog food dispenser means no one has to refill Fido’s bowl every day. A robotic lawn mower means more room on the chore list for other tasks. To the extent that it’s possible to live like the Jetsons, do it.
  20. Thank your partner for their efforts around the house. Sharing gratitude is Relationships 101, and thanking your partner is kind. Not expected, but kind.
  21. Also, don’t expect it in return. At the end of the day, chores are chores. They don’t need an audience or require appreciation. Don’t expect it and don’t ask for it. Your own internal sense of satisfaction should be enough.
  22. Break the rules and do something extra from time to time. It’s important to have a clear division of domestic responsibilities, but doing one of your partner’s more onerous jobs is a pleasant surprise that’s worth the extra effort.
  23. Volunteer to do the grossest chores. No one wants to clean out the litter box, which means the guy who does clean out the litter box gets a much-deserved gold star. Be that guy. Get that star.
  24. Turn chores into learning experiences. Teach your kids how to do chores and you’re teaching them a valuable life skill. In other words, you’re parenting.
  25. Define success for all of your chores. Different people have different standards of cleanliness, which means it’s important to get on the same page with your spouse on things like how often you need to wash the sheets and what constitutes a “clean” kid’s room. Doing so means avoiding the kinds of arguments that have sullied many an otherwise pleasant family weekend.