Monday, November 16, 2009

Dividing the Work

Recently some friends and I have been discussing how we divide the work of the household with our husbands. It fascinates me to hear how different couples sort these tasks out. Naturally, I tend to think the ways my husband and I have settled into are great and I shudder to think what some women put up with. But they seem satisfied with their division of labor.

Although in our house, we stick to traditional gender roles for many things -- my husband works outside the home and I stay home and raise the kids -- we aren't perfectly traditional. I do most of the cooking, but my husband can and does lend a hand and cooks great meals. I may do most of the laundry, but I certainly don't do all of it. Those tasks aside, it is my husband who is the better house cleaner (except for bathrooms) and organizer. He's also the one with the better eye for decorating.

I admit to not using most of the power tools around here. Other than the Sawzall and drill, I stay away from them. I might try the jigsaw eventually, but I'll never be as good at fixing or building things as my husband is. I mow the lawn almost as much as Justin does, but I never weed eat. I also don't change the oil in the cars or check the tire pressure most of the time.

Some of my friends divide things pretty strictly along inside and outside lines. If it is in the house the wife does it, outside the husband takes care of it. One particularly energetic wife I know, does the cooking, cleaning, child rearing, power tool operating and everything else. I'm unclear on what help she gets, but since she doesn't seem to feel sorry for herself, I'm not going to feel sorry for her either (even if that situation would drive me crazy).

I know at another family with almost the opposite divide -- the husband earns most of the money while the wife stays home, but the husband also does the cooking, much of the cleaning and laundry, and takes care of all basic home maintenance and repairs not hired out. The wife does almost all of the yard work though.

So who does what around your house? Does it change with the arrival of new babies or the kids heading to school (or staying home for school)? With enough children around can both parents sit on the couch eating bon-bons?


Michelle Smiles said...

We tend to be pretty traditional along gender roles now that I am a stay at home mom. I mow sometimes and he cooks sometimes - there are some odd things I guess. He does his own laundry while I do mine and the kids. He bathes and puts the kids to bed every night. I make sure the cars get oil changes.

Thou Art Jules said...

I am recently a stay at home Mom again. We do things pretty traditionally as well. Although I absolutely LOVE to mow grass and have learned how to operate a sander and how to strip trim lol

Robbo said...

We have a running joke about sitting around in fuzzy slippers and eating bon-bons. (It traces back to an old Fusco Brothers cartoon about the "nagging headache" that would be too difficult to explain without I could find the actual strip on line.)

Actually, while almost all of the outside tasks fall on my own shoulders, I'm afraid that the allocation of interior work sometimes devolves to the level of who can't stand the mess anymore. And frequently, for whatever reason, I'm the one who snaps first.

Ellen said...

As a newlywed, it's been interesting to see how things have been divided up: We cook mostly evenly (many times it ends up cooking together). When it comes to cleaning, we do the kitchen fairly evenly, and somehow I end up doing most of the sweeping/mopping of the living/dining areas and he helps Jack clean up his areas. He does ALL of the yardwork. He puts Jack to bed. I handle the money. He does the powertools...

Meredith said...

We've settled into traditional roles, although my husband is truly better with organizing, cleaning, and interacting with the kids than I.

However, he's equally talented at work, and they keep him there for long days and sometimes nights.

I fill in when he is gone, but I do not mow the lawn.

Herb of Grace said...

We're pretty much organized along traditional lines, although in addition I do a lot of remodeling projects and he has one night a week when I'm teaching that he's "on deck" with kids/house/meals/bedtimes/etc.

This Heavenly Life said...

Where are my bon bons!?!

I am the traditional housewife, I guess. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, all of that pretty much is in my to-do list. Being at home all day, I kind of look at this as my job. My husband does everything outdoors, except my garden, unless I need help with something. He helps indoors if I get overwhelmed, and he always helps put the kids to bed.

I *wish* he'd be more...hmm...proactive on jumping in to help with the house cleaning, but I've yet to find a way to ask that doesn't seem naggy. Any advice?

Roberta S said...

We've always done the traditional split. And in looking back, and in defense of that, there were no arguments about who does what, the kids were equally committed to both of us because without mom there would be no meals or tidy rooms and without dad there would be no excitement of sand-box construction, bird-house building, or wild and crazy trips to unexplored places. Dad's who do outside work plus laundry and vacuuming are like mom's, they don't have the energy for a picnic by the river and a trip to the zoo. Life is too much about other responsibilities.
Now I look around me and see young families that are always at logger-heads over 'who did their share' and even more disconcerting children with no real respect for each parent's contribution because both parents do the same job. Parents feel in this climate that they must compete for children's affection because of their own insecurities. It might work for some but I don't often see it working as well as one would expect it to.

Tricia said...

We are pretty traditional...though these days my hubby works long hours and has a long commute, plus manages a small side business, so he has less time than he ever has to fill in around here.

Jay does offer to "cook" supper about once a week, his specialty is Boston Market, heheheh.

I (with some help from kids) take care of all household laundry except for his clothes, which he does himself, and which I greatly appreciate.

On Saturdays he usually manages the children for a few hours plus helps me by running errands for us (Sams club/Walmart) and taking 2-4 of them along and then out to lunch for some special Daddy time.

He cuts the boys' hair and manages boy showers.

And he is GREAT about all the fix-it, "guy" type things inside and out, plus changing lightbulbs, taking out trash, etc. As far as home improvements: while I am the head designer, he is the head contractor, implementing my various plans very graciously for the most part.

Due to some very real physical challenges he has, we pay a lawn service to do the yard, and one of my homeschooling perks is that someone comes in to clean the house thoroughly every two weeks. The kids and I do any vaccuumming or other work that needs doing in between house cleaning visits.

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