Key Takeaways: It’s so easy – and perhaps even fun – to do your part in household chores, whether or not you or your family have housekeepers. It shows you are responsible, independent, and that you care for your environment and for others. Here are a few such things you can do that fit into your daily routine.
In the Philippines, and other Asian countries, a middle-class family can usually afford the services of a stay-in housekeeper or several, officially known in the Philippines as kasambahay and informally as maids or domestic helpers. Sadly, it is not hard to imagine scenarios where these “angels” of the home – as my friend’s family calls them – are abused, either physically, emotionally/verbally, or technically. The last one should be noted: even by treating them with respect, their services can still be abused if they are overworked or given many menial tasks to do that could interfere with their general productivity.
Traditionally, these people have been referred to, and treated, as slaves or servants. In fact, maids still carry a connotation of being personal servants. However, look at the other terms: domestic helpers. Kasambahay – “kasama sa bahay”, literally, “companions at home”. They help out, not serve. When do we need help? When we cannot do something on our own. Helpers are there to share our responsibilities with us, not take on them completely.
If you or your family live literally alone, with no housekeepers – stay-in or not – then it stands to reason that you bear the responsibility of caring for your home. But even with housekeepers there, as a resident of that home, it is also still your responsibility to care for it. Ordering them around does not count. Of course, the members of the family may be busy doing their own things and, realistically, cannot reasonably get the house fit for living on their own without exhausting themselves or needing an unrealistic amount of time to get the job done – that’s the very reason they hire housekeepers.
That said, there are a few ways you can contribute to your share of the housekeeping, and these can be easily inserted into your daily schedule. As a dutiful son or daughter, and a good leader, doing these yourself shows responsibility, independence, maturity, and that you care for your environment and others. Furthermore, it’s good practice for living on your own! I present seven such chores below.
1. Make your bed.
Time: 2-3 minutes
It’s said that how you fix your bed reflects your personality. There’s some truth to it, I guess – by doing it yourself, you show you are responsible and assume a take-charge attitude to things. By not, you show you are not independent and are pampered.
It’s easy to fix your bed when you wake up in the morning: You straighten out the pillows and pillowcases, bedsheets, blankets, and comforters, lay them flat on top of the bed, and smooth out any wrinkles. When I sleep on a futon, I fold up the futon as well and put it away in the corner. I fold up the blanket and put it on top of my pillow, then “roll” the bedsheet to cover them and pick them up easily – a technique taught me by my mother.
WikiHow provides a detailed, meticulous way on making a bed very neatly here.
2. Unplug unused appliances.
Time: 3-5 minutes
If you charge your gadgets during the night, as I do, it is important to unplug and pack away the chargers and cables in the morning. There are two benefits to this: One, you show you are responsible for yourself. Two, you avoid racking up your electric bills with phantom power (here’s a post I wrote previously about it).
It should be fairly simple to do a run-through of your room and unplug everything – of course, you should switch off the appliance first properly, where applicable – and, for bonus points, you can do the same across the whole house, too!
3. Do the dishes.
Time: 10-15 minutes
If you know how to cook, you should be able to do the dishes too. It’s actually easier than cooking, and it is for me the “last part” of the kitchen process, and thus a must for integral personal development. Even with a dishwasher, you should know how to do the dishes manually as basic housekeeping and “just in case” or emergency skills. We don’t have a dishwasher so we still do everything by hand.
You can insert a few minutes after your meal to wash the dishes on your own, so as to showcase your independence and not cause a need for the housekeepers – if applicable – to delay other tasks as they go about the house. Besides, I find it therapeutic!
Instructables provides a handy guide for manual dishwashing here.
4. Do the laundry.
Time (washing machine): 15-20 minutes (excluding machine’s operating time)
If you have a washing machine at home, it’s good practice to learn how to use it properly – how much soap to use, how to separate your clothes, how to care for it well.
But if you don’t have one, or you have clothes that necessitate hand-washing, you’ll need to learn how to do manual washing. Actually, like dishes, it is still important to learn manual laundry. It’s very useful for us abroad as well.
Although manual laundry does take more time, it would be nice to do at least a few of your clothes and towels on your own, right?
WikiHow provides a washing machine guide here, and Good Housekeeping a list of tips on such here. Better Homes and Gardens provides a manual laundry guide here.
5. Take out the trash (or recyclables).
Time: 10-15 minutes
Every Wednesday morning, our neighbor who’s part of the Tzu Chi Foundation sends their helpers to pick up recyclables from houses around the village. On Tuesday nights, though not consistently, I bring down my recyclables myself and give it to one of the housekeepers so he can put it in the plastic bag we give our Tzu Chi representative. (I usually have no non-recyclable trash except for food waste from cooking, and I arrange for plant-based waste to be turned into fertilizer.)
Taking out the trash and recyclables yourself for recycling companies or trash truck staff to pick them up more easily without delaying their schedules is a responsible and environmentally-conscious thing to do – though I also do advice you to evaluate your trash and see what can be reduced, reused, or recycled (or upcycled!). Plus, it feels rejuvenating to see a cleaner house!
6. Clean up after yourself.
Time: 5-10 minutes
If you spend your time at home in front of a computer, eating or drinking at the same table, it is inevitable that your desk will need to be cleaned. Before you leave the desk for, say, the kitchen, or the bedroom, it may be a good idea to clean up after yourself by getting a tabletop towel or rag, and wiping the table (and even chair, if it comes down to it) clean yourself.
The same thing goes for the kitchen counter, especially with messy cooking. Also, before you do the dishes, you can tidy up a little before eating by moving your chopping boards, cooking utensils, and whatnot to the sink already.
7. Clean your shoes.
Time: 15-20 minutes
I wrote in a previous post just the other week on the importance on having clean shoes and doing so regularly. For a little bit of physical exercise when you get home, I think it would be fun – and responsible – to take the initiative in cleaning your shoes so that you yourself as well can get the results and care you want exercised on the shoes.
Because most of my leather shoes – in particular my boots – have rubber soles, and my Timberlands are waterproof, it’s easy to wash them, and wash them we do. In fact, if your shoes are made from rubber or canvas, you can wash them in your washing machine. But for non-waterproof leather shoes, and leather soles, a different approach is needed.
WikiHow provides a guide on washing sneakers and similar in the washing machine here, and on cleaning leather shoes here. HowToCleanStuff.net provides its leather shoes guide here.
What chores do you personally do at home? Comment below!
Featured Photo copyright 2013 Allister Roy S. Chua.