In the comic strip “Hi and Lois,” a frequent topic of humor is the cartoon couple’s “job jar.”

Lois puts slips of paper, each listing a household chore needing to be done, into the jar, which the family draws from during their free time. Usually the plan backfires, providing the comic relief.

We don’t have a “job jar,” per se, at our house, but we do have lists of tasks. Some people call it a “honey-do” list. Honey, do this and, honey, do that.

I’m guessing the lists at our house are fairly typical. Repaint the peeling wood trim around the door. Fix the leaky faucet in the bathroom. Replace the switch for the ceiling light.

You‘ll notice I wrote “lists,” plural. There are two lists; my list and his list. My list includes things like: buy graduation gift for neighbor’s son, put away laundry, vacuum living room, iron clothes. His list includes — Well, I’m not sure; I’ve never actually read his list. He writes notes on random scraps of paper and shoves them in the pocket of his pants. But, I notice lots of things getting done, sometimes before I even know there’s a need.

I write my own lists in the mornings, thinking of the day ahead. Then, when I accomplish an item, I cross it off the list with a satisfying stroke of my pen.

Some days nothing on the list gets crossed off. I hate those days.

Prior to a big event, like going on vacation, or hosting a family celebration, the chore list seems longer than usual, but amazingly it all gets done. Funny how a deadline can drive our productivity.

Just before my husband and I were married, the list of chores was incredibly long: Pick up cake. Get marriage license. Pick up visiting family at airport. Put towels in guest bedroom. Repair torn screen door. Get wedding dress fitted for alterations.

I made a list for myself and one for my husband-to-be.

“Here’s your to-do list,” I said, handing him a sheet of notebook paper. With a gentle smile on his face, he read it and handed it back.

Establishing expectations early, he said, “I don’t do lists made for me by other people.”

Note to self: New husband has adverse reaction to direct instructions; must find creative approach to get things done.

So I wrote all the items on a single sheet of paper, and said, “These are all the chores I can think of to be done this week. Can you think of any others?”

Then he took the list, and did it all (except be fitted for the wedding gown).

Over the years, divvying up household chores has been a fairly even and natural split. There are chores he enjoys, like mowing the lawn, and others I enjoy, like vacuuming. Tasks we both dislike, such as painting the woodwork, seem to linger. Eventually we tackle the chipped paint, just on a prolonged schedule.

I once knew a couple who argued many months over an uninstalled bathroom towel bar. She nagged him every weekend to hang the bar, but he never did it. Unable to install the bar herself with appropriate skill, she threatened to hire someone to do it. He said paying someone else would be a waste of money.

You can guess where this was headed. The towel bar conflict was a symptom of bigger problems and they eventually broke up.

Hi and Lois have the right idea. The job jar serves a purpose, but it’s best not to take it too seriously and share a good laugh instead.

Contact Susan Hazlett at or write to her in care of The Pantagraph, 301 W. Washington St., Bloomington, IL 61702-2907.


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