Do women do more housework than men? Who does the brunt of child care? Who looks after the pets? What about the Christmas and Birthday gift shopping? Do men really have more free time to use as they please?
According to research published by UK parenting website Mumsnet, who surveyed 1,000 working mothers, it found that on average men spend 5 hours a week doing housework while women spend double that even if they put a full day in at work! Men were found to be primarily responsible for just three household chores – taking out the trash, replacing light bulbs and do-it-yourself projects. Meanwhile, women were primarily responsible for 36 household chores! Women are also primarily responsible for managing their children’s lives – birthday parties, buying clothes, and packing school lunches; and responsible for making the Christmas or other holiday arrangements. How does your household compare to these stats?
A few years ago I was struggling as a working mother and the primary caregiver of my daughter. I felt like I was constantly behind the ball when it came to the housework and when I did try to stay on top of it, I felt like I was the one doing most of the work! Throw in child care and I felt like I never got a break! After several arguments with my then fiancé, I decided to visually show him just how much work I do in comparison to him and my daughter!
I first started by creating a table with a list of all the household chores that I could think of. Then I placed each of our names across the top and marked an X in the columns that represented who did what. I then colour coded the table so it was clear who did the bulk of the work and how often!
Then I found a program online (Found Here) that allowed me to punch in the amount of effort (minutes or hours) that each of us spent on the household activities. After I plugged in the data, it prepared a pie chart and a summary of how many hours of work I did inside and outside the home including unpaid and paid work in comparison to my partner and how satisfied we were with these.
After I reviewed these two things with my partner, it was hard for him to argue with the data. Being able to show him and not just tell him, helped things improve including my sanity and our relationship. He acknowledged that I was in fact doing most of the work with my 94 hours of effort compared to his 58 hours and that there was more he could do to help out. Having the list of chores showed him that I was taking on responsibility for 27 tasks while he was scraping by with a measly 7 chores. The list also helped us to discuss how to make it more fair and equitable and now we are happily married.
When we welcomed our second child, there was a period of time when I once again had the responsibility of most of the child care and housework. I was a breastfeeding mother and our baby didn’t take the bottle all too often. In addition, I was no longer working outside the home during my maternity leave. Now that I have returned to work, there has been a shift in the labour and it is shared between us both again. In fact, my husband stays home two days a week with our little one, while I go to work outside the home, so he is starting to really see how much work it really is! It’s really a nice treat to come home to a hot dinner prepared for you at the end of the day and I feel blessed to have someone to share the responsibilities of running a household and caring for our family with.
If you find yourself struggling with how the division of labour is split in your household, perhaps some of these tools and visuals will help improve your situation! I’d love to hear from you if you implement some of these!