The Division of Labor at Home
Tips for sharing childcare and household chores
I should have known that my stress was way out of control when I sent my husband an email with the subject “What you do vs. what I do.” In that eloquent rant, I listed 32 household and childrearing duties that I was responsible for, versus his eight measly chores (taking out the trash once a week? Puh-leeze!). I was peeved; a few months later I quit my full-time job so I could find more balance.
While I know quitting a job is not an option for many moms, I also know I’m not alone in feeling like I started a second full-time job when I got home from work each night. It wasn’t so much the housework that got me down, it was all the “extracurriculars.” To me, planning the birthday parties, shopping for gifts, entertaining the relatives, and getting the kids to their various activities was physically and mentally exhausting!
Disparity of Responsibilities at Home
My girlfriends and I often share stories about the uneven division of labor at home. It’s therapeutic: We feel good when we vent to each other, and our solidarity keeps us strong.
But data gives us the muscle we need to ask for more from our partners: A September 1, 2007, article published in the Journal of Family Issues shows that when men and women live together, women are more likely to bear the brunt of the household chores. Women aren’t just the servants, though; a more recent Pew Research Center survey on gender and power showed that women are the bosses at home. According to the survey, women were more likely to be responsible for choosing shared weekend activities, buying major items for the home, managing the household finances, and even deciding what to watch on television!
Maybe this isn’t new—haven’t men for years been saying that they have to “ask the boss” before they agree to a round of golf? But with evidence showing that women’s role as home managers is a real phenomenon and not just male eye-rolling, the times could be a-changin’. And why not? With men and women more frequently on par in terms of leadership and responsibility at the office, shouldn’t this equality spread to the home?
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