As a small bit of background, I have lived with my boyfriend for about three years now. A year ago, my younger brother (20 at the time, 21 now) moved in with us after hitting a rough patch on his own. This was agreed to by the boyfriend, so that hasn't been much of a problem, aside from having two 20 something men in the house "competing" for the "alpha" spot. The only real issue was space, as the apartment was very small.

So, in May, I bought my first house and we all three moved into it. A couple weeks later, we took in a second cat that a friend needed to find a home for. A week after the second cat, my brother and I adopted a brother and sister set of puppies.

Fast forward to today. I (25, only female in the house) work an 8-5, Monday-Friday job a 30 minute drive from the house. My boyfriend (22) works 4pm-12am on normal weekdays for a large company, but it's their busy season so he's generally working a lot of overtime. His job is also 30 minutes from the house. At the same time, he is enrolled in an online college to get a different degree. My brother is about to return from a class to start his new job as a semi driver, meaning he will be home only a few days every two or three weeks.

While we have had money and bills sorted out since moving to the house, chores have fallen by the wayside. Thankfully, we have at least kept up with house training messes with the puppies, and we are keeping food cleaned up. But this still leaves a lot of clutter and is making this very nice house look like crap.

The problem comes in three facts:

  1. My boyfriend sleeps a ton, especially during this busy part of the year. When he wakes up, he has enough time to take care of the dogs, make sure the cats are fed and their boxes are clean, eat something, and do homework. After that, he has to get cleaned up and head to work.

  2. Before he went for his intro class, my brother worked overnights at a gas station down the street. On top of this, he didn't eat well. This, at least in my (uneducated) opinion led to him sleeping a lot and generally not wanting to do anything but go to work. He didn't even want to help with the dogs, though the girl is his and they absolutely adore each other. (It's been very, very heartbreaking to watch her look for him the couple of weeks he's been gone.)

  3. I have medical issues I am working through that I believe have led to my incredible lack of energy when I get home. Despite this lack of energy, I have tried my darnedest to make sure the puppies are going outside as regularly as they should be, make sure they have water and their last meal of the day, and work on training them.

You may be able to see how we've not gotten much done in the way of chores.

I want to work to correct this, and my brother and I have even discussed a few points with this, mainly with yard work. I want to have a conversation with both men to work out a plan and how we can hold ourselves to it.

What I want to do is basically create a chore list and hold us all to it. However, there are some chores some of us can't do, and there are chores that suck (ever smelled a cat box that needs changed?) and the same person shouldn't always get stuck with them.

The problem with the chore list is that it's never worked. The boys never do their part, and I never do mine. We need to work out how to get this under control, and soon, so that the mess doesn't begin to affect our health, the health of our beloved animals (I would pretty well die if I caused something bad to happen to any of them.), and visits from my mother, who has threatened to stop visiting if the house looks the same on her next visit.

How can I convince the boys of how important this is and get them to work with me to both make this list as fairly as possible and actually hold each other to it without letting the chores go undone? (My boyfriend and I have tried a "If you don't do your chore on your day, you have to do it the next day!" and it backfired miserably... For what I'm sure are obvious reasons...)

  • 1
    It sounds like you are all really busy! Do you have enough money to potentially afford a cleaning service?
    – Kat
    Commented Dec 12, 2017 at 23:53
  • @Kat Unfortunately, no. Especially not while we're saving up to buy fencing for the back yard and replace the dishwasher.
    – Kendra
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 14:18

1 Answer 1


I'm horrible at chores, because I'm very comfortable with a bit of chaos and tend to over-estimate my ability to be in lots of activities, so maybe I'm not the best....

With money and bills not an issue, maybe introduce a financial incentive into the mix? $10, $20, $50 chip in per week/ two-weeks/month.... you guys would have to come up with an amount that wouldn't break anyone, but would be more than they'd want to just throw away.

Money goes into the "chore jar." When the time period for doing chores is done, some system of either reclaiming your money for doing your own chores and claiming their money if you do theirs, and money staying in the jar if no one does them can be figured out. Taking 10 minutes out of a day to clean dishes or clean out a litter box seems a lot more convenient when it means not losing enough money for a round of drinks. Also, if you wind up doing more than your share, it's not as much being taken advantage of because you are claiming their chore money, in return.

  • 1
    This is a very interesting way of handling it. We all make enough money to be comfortable, but not enough that we'd want to so easily give up even five bucks just to skip doing the dishes... If they buy into this agreement, this is an amazing solution!
    – Kendra
    Commented Dec 12, 2017 at 22:59
  • 1
    @Kendra - usually the person who most wants the others to do more is the one most motivated, so there has to be a way to get the others on board. I tried to find some kind of motivation that would be agreeable to all and would not involve berating and arguing until everyone gets fed up with each other. Expect the one most likely to forfeit money on a regular basis to claim it's "not necessary," though. :D Commented Dec 12, 2017 at 23:02
  • 2
    After this has been going for a little while there is a huge chance that the person paying the most will argue for the chore money amount to be reduced, or the person doing the most chores to argue for it to go up. Hashing out exactly how much everyone thinks it is worth, and exactly what must happen for this amount to ever get adjusted seems to be quite essential for this solution to remain operational for any decent amount of time
    – Jesse
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 7:17
  • 1
    @Jesse - or, possibly, instead of a steady stream of money going out and being collected, behavior might change and roommates will develop the habit of doing chores, possibly to the point of not needing this incentive system. Hey, we can dream, right? Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 15:26
  • 1
    I'm accepting this because 1) My goodness is this the most creative 20-something chore incentive I've seen! and 2) Even just talking about putting this in place might help the boys see how serious I am. Thanks again for this amazing answer!
    – Kendra
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 22:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.