Scheduling and allotting chores around the house

Yesterday you guys were asking about dividing up and scheduling chores around the house, so I figured we should do an entire post on that. I'm not making this a Q&A because I have little practical knowledge of how to divide up chores in a way that makes everyone feel OK about it. I know what I think should happen, but I'll leave the actual advice to those of you who have functional relationships.

What I think should happen is that each partner does their work (whether it's paid work or childcare work) and then the partners split the other chores 50/50. That doesn't mean that you keep a log and alternate who washes dishes, but that the total tasks that need to be done end up being done so each of you has an approximately equal share. So if one of you is fine with laundry and the other hates it, the person who doesn't hate it does it, and the other one does something else.

To me, the key assumption here is that child care is actual work. Which, duh, of course it is. (In Manhattan, it's work that gets paid at $15 an hour for one child.) And, yes, it's certainly possible to get a load of dishes or laundry done during the day (if you're home all day and have your own washer and dryer), just as it's possible to be a novelist or academic or other person who works full-time at home and do some chores during the day. The same way it's possible to be someone who works in an office all day and pay some bills online, schedule doctor appointments, and do some online shopping. But you can't do chores to the detriment of your primary job, whether it's writing technical manuals or trading bonds or caring for a three-year-old. That leaves most of the chores for "non-work" hours.

So, those of you who have or are working this out, what have you done? How often do you readjust and reassign? (I'm assuming that all this stuff changes as the size of the family changes, kids get older, job situations change, etc.) Those of you for whom it's not working, have you identified ways you could make it work better for everyone? (I can't really recommend divorce as a solution, although it has, technically, eliminated the problem.) Is the problem something you can change easily, like by hiring a bi-weekly cleaner? Or is this part of a bigger issue?

0 thoughts on “Scheduling and allotting chores around the house”

  1. A friend of mine just told me she was pregnant with her first, and that she was thinking about hiring a cleaning person after the baby was born. I told her that kids are the best excuse ever to outsource chores. We have a person who mows the lawn, a twice-a-month cleaning service, and we get our groceries delivered through Peapod. Obviously those things cost a little bit more, but it’s cheaper than a divorce.

  2. Thanks for adding this discussion. We had a long talk about this issue over coffee this morning after dropping monkey off at daycare. We’re actually pretty good about splitting chores and if one is working, the other is also working. Where I have problems is that I’m almighty Oz behind the curtain. My brain needs a rest and sometimes I get tired of being the one who has to organize/plan it all. We talked about having a Monday night family meeting to organize our week and set house project priorities. Right now in my head, “Is it time for a toilet lock?” seems to have the same priority as “Hmmm…how are we going to save enough for a second adoption?” There is so much clutter in there. And being exhausted doesn’t help either of us think clearly. We also need to set those priorities together. And communicate. A lot. We’ve decided to meet for lunch during the week just to have our time and eat dinner just the two of us once a week (right now we try really, really hard to eat as a family). I really don’t want the three (or future four) of us to be working so hard that we aren’t enjoying our family. I want to still feel like a family and a couple and a me. And having clean laundry would be nice too. Am I dreaming?

  3. I have to say that overall, our working/taking care of child/chores are really divided up the way Moxie describes. I always say that we share the work equally because we are partners in this. But like Moxie said, it doesn’t mean that each chore is shared equally. I hate taking out the trash and I won’t touch the lawn mower, so my hubby does those. I do more than half of the dishes and I wash and put away all of the baby’s clothes (he does his own laundry). He does the bills, I make all doctor appointments. Etc. It is possible, but both partners have to be on board with the division of labor.One of the best things I did for my marriage was hiring a cleaning person to come every other week. I highly recommend it. It’s been so worth the money. I will give up internet before I give up the cleaning person.
    My big issue isn’t usually the chores. It’s the build up disorganization. Everyone said to just let things go when we had the baby. We moved when I was pregnant, and I was too tired to get everything in the right place and there was only so much my hubby could do. So we let things go. And let them go. And now, I’m freaking out! In fact, last night I had a big flip out about the disorganization and clutter that is my house. Lately, I feel like I’m flipping out pretty often over this same issue (usually about different rooms). We just need to get everything organized, but I need his help, and the weekends aren’t long enough and who will watch the into-everything toddler if we both need to be moving around boxes and furniture?
    At least this inspired a big clean up in the kitchen. And I talked it all through with the hubby so we can try to figure out how to remedy this. We’ve got some ideas, but if anyone else has suggestions, I’ll take them!
    (We can’t afford a professional organizer to help. We probably don’t need one anyway. It’s not like we are ready for Clean Sweep or anything. Just clutter. Oh, and Fly Lady does not work for me.)

  4. If you have the resources I highly recommend hiring a cleaning person. I actually had one before my first baby and I still think of her fondly as the saviour of my marriage. Some things are easy: my husband enjoys cooking, I don’t – so he cooks and I do the washing up. But, for me, it just was not worth arguing about who cleaned the toilet last, what is the correct frequency for dusting the living room, etc. I actually consider the cleaning lady so important to my marital happiness I would absolutely cut back in other areas to be able to afford her (ie. weekly dinner date with spouse is less important to me!). Because, after 10 years, I have finally realised that I am married to someone who just. doesn’t. get. it. We can make lists out the wazoo about who is responsible for what and when things are going to get done – but a week or two goes by and….nothing has changed. And I HATE feeling like a nag. So…. I HEART the cleaner.I read a good quotation once that said “I would hire a cleaner for my home, even if it meant I had to go out and work as a cleaner to pay for it”. And I agree. Because it’s not the work that’s so hard, it’s the power imbalance in the relationship, the resentment that builds up over time.

  5. I realize that this may get me into a lot of hot water, but having been on both sides of the fence, I respectfully disagree that chores can’t be done while being a SAHM FT parent to a 3 year old. Or multiple kids. I am not arguing that ALL of the chores should be done by the non-work outside the home parent, but really if you are home all day, you can make dinner and tidy up and at least do light cleaning. My mother did it, I did it and my kids were none the worse for wear. And I am currently working FT outside the home so I’ve seen both sides. It would not have made any sense for me not to make dinner for everyone when my husband walks in the door earliest at 6:30pm. And children should be taught both directly and by example that being part of a family means doing chores and taking on this stuff. As I said, I know lots of people, Moxie included, differ with me on this but it just seems to make sense. And I am not arguing against housecleaning help for thos who stay home, but an even 50/50 split does not make practical sense.I think what it really boils down to is that in a healthy relationship you are not keeping score. Each member is putting in the most that they can and appreciating and trusting that the other person is as well. And if that means that the outside the home spouse doesn’t do laundry, then maybe that just makes the most sense.

  6. Ditto ditto on the cleaner–having one before baby helped obviate a lot of relationship arguments, and we upgraded to once weekly after Mouse came along…not because the mess is so much worse, but because the consequences of missing one visit due to illness or something became huge. 3 weeks is too long for my house!Day to day, I like to cook and Mr. C doesn’t, so I do dinner and he does breakfast (which is much less complex). I’m a clutter person and he’s neat, so he restrains me on excessive crap lying around (but I like to *see* things I’m thinking about so it’s always a minor tension). I hate hate hate folding laundry–I do the wash, but then it sits in the basket–so I’m thinking of asking Mr. C, who researches Japanese methods of t-shirt folding on the internet, to take that over entirely. He does the grocery shopping but I make the list–that one still feels a little unfair. I’d love to figure out a way to get him more involved in the mental tracking of everything (not just that but appointments and so forth). I just haven’t figured that one out.
    In general, I’m better at making sure the dishwasher gets started before we go to bed, and he’s better at spring cleaning/reorganizing that you do every few months. We know this, so we try and remember it when the other isn’t being all that helpful with the thing we’re good at. I do feel frustrated a little that I took a part time job mainly to allow myself to write, but the time often gets eaten up by house/kid stuff (though this is vastly better since Mr. C stopped commuting 1 hour each way).
    I don’t know, we keep working it out–there are minor resentments, fights a couple times a year, and a general sense that everybody means well and we can keep making it better.

  7. My kids are 14 months and 3 1/4. I was at home for a year with each. I came back to work a couple months ago.The lucky thing for us is that both my husband and I seem to be on the same page in terms of how clean and organized we need to be to be happy on a day-by-day basis. We are pretty on top of things and I take pride in that because it hasn’t always been my natural inclination but a number of years ago I consciouly changed and have been the happier for it. I try to keep a few things in mind when I consider our household chore situation.
    1. I don’t have to want to do it, I just have to do it (I might have read that here).
    2. No scorekeeping. Constant bickering about who did what last just makes life miserable.
    3. There really is no “later”. Something will always come up, so if we don’t get a chore or errand done it’ll just pile up till forever and mess up our chi.
    4. Streamline your life and your stuff so you can focus on what’s important.
    It’s good to get this sorted out pre-kids. I have several friends who gave their partners a pass on household responsibility pre-kids, when the demands weren’t too great, and thought that they’d pitch in when babies came along. Um, no. If you couldn’t stay on top of the laundry when it was just the two of you, you haven’t got too much hope of staying on top of it when you are 4.
    Also this might be controversial but I don’t personally buy into the philosophy that childcare should take up 100% of my time 100% of the time when I’m home with them. Of course there are always Those Days but on balance there should be enough time to do some picking up, wash a couple dishes or put them in the dishwasher, throw in some laundry (like you said, if you have the facilities) or put some away, and cook a meal.
    My beef isn’t about chores per se, but rather about things like meal planning, making appointments, birthday party gift buying, financial planning, setting up social stuff with friends, baby clothes sorting etc. I do a disproportionate amount of this kind of household work and it’s wearing to be the one to keep the household’s mental calendar.

  8. I’m feeling pretty good about where we are with this right now (with le Petit almost a year old!), so I’ll share what works for us.(Mostly I credit my husband for being a sensitive and caring person who has learned well over the last ten years what keeps me sane.)
    1) Divide the tasks, as Moxie says, according to who hates what the least.
    2) Every once in a while take over one of the tasks your partner does, just to truly appreciate the effort it takes.
    (I thought watering the plants and taking the recycling to the basement were five-minute tasks. I was so wrong. And after my husband was gone for a couple of weekdays I started to understand just how difficult it is to get the Baby Road Show out the door in the morning.)
    3) Talk about it. Frame sentences with “I feel like… when … happens.” And ask for what you need simply and directly. If you just can’t face the dishes tonight even though it’s your turn, say it.
    It is so easy to fall into either feeling guilty or blaming your partner when things start getting chaotic, and it NEVER EVER HELPS (me, at least). I cannot count the number of times when just getting honest about what was frustrating both of us helped us work it out.
    4) Prioritize and be realistic about how much you can actually do. Decide what absolutely needs to get done every week (for me, that’s vacuuming and cleaning the kitchen and bathroom. For my husband it’s laundry, grocery shopping, and bill-paying). And make time to do fun stuff, too.
    5) Throw in one annoying task a week, like dusting or cleaning the fridge, so that they get done in rotation. Then give yourself a huge pat on the back for having done it. Give yourself extra kudos if it is something that isn’t just transitory, like reorganizing the closet, that will stick and make life easier for a few months, at least.
    6) Try and remember the big picture. Having a kid helped me let go of some of my perfectionism. I still freak out occasionally since I learned somewhere in my childhood that Good People Have Perfectly Clean Houses, but I’m getting over it.
    Which brings me to…
    7) Understand your partner’s baggage on the subject. (I’m carrying a lot of it.)
    8) Aim for 80%. So it slipped this week. Big deal!
    (Which probably means I should be off to vacuum now to catch up…)

  9. #1 for me is that we do our own laundry. We’ve got a tiny washer/dryer so we have to do tiny loads anyway, but washing another adult’s clothing makes me crazy.The organization of chores is, in itself, a chore. I usually go for the approach of “Hey, do you want me to do the dishes or keep E out from underfoot?” But it is all so much easier though when you’ve got the same basic understanding of what chores there are, how often they need to get done, and how much effort each one takes. My ex & I used to drive each other crazy because I would “clean” and he would “tidy”…so I would scrub floor, and get rid of all the dust and dirt, but still leave the room cluttered so that he felt I hadn’t done anything at all. Or he would tidy everything into nice organized piles, leaving the room all pretty, but still really dirty. We drove each other nuts. I think everyone who is suggesting more communication regarding chores is on the right track.

  10. @caramama, I had to glance down at the signature on your comment because I thought it might be epeepunk for a moment!I noted some of our methods on yesterdays, but I’ll try to break them out more cleanly here:
    1) Many methods, not just one. JUST scheduling like crazy doesn’t work for us. We need that plus a dozen backup plans.
    2) Divide roles but don’t lock to them. Like, for us, I’m the ‘stuff facing outwards’ person, and he’s the ‘stuff facing inwards’ person. That is, I make the calls, schedule the appointments, take care of the yard (excepting mowing and trash, one involving the machine that kicks off my asthma, and the other involving schedules I can’t remember), and handle most service issues. It isn’t that he can’t do those, he doesn’t enjoy them. Likewise, he is main housekeeper, because he’s better at it than I am, and dislikes them less. But each can do the other’s tasks in a pinch. This could be described as ‘play to the strengths, but don’t limit collateral development’.
    3) Employ others – cleaning person, yard help, anything labor intensive needs either complete distraction of the kids (babysitter?) or someone doing it on the off hours. Paying someone to do it even randomly is better than not. For instance, we have the cleaning service every-other week. We also have a gift from my mom in the form of her paying my BIL to handle yard work as assigned (maximum billing amount is set by her, but I assign the tasks). Slowly gaining some traction against the invasive vines, as a result of employing his strong back. Reduces stress on me, reduces resentment all around.
    4) understand ‘big long job’ vs ‘many small jobs’ as equivalent. I’m better at the dig in and panic cleaning type work, he’s better at the daily tidying stuff. I’ll admit it took us more than 15 years to figure out that we could split things that way, with him taking the small bits on week days and me taking the big chunks on weekends, and the other party having more of an eased experience on the alternating times. (compare this with ‘everyone works at the same time’ – which is also a good approach, but may not work as well if your cadences are different)
    5) Employ prioritizing software or other systems. Lifehacker, for instance. I am more of a ‘bits of paper’ person (have to physically feel an item to know it is there), but sticky notes also work.
    6) Daily touchdowns or updates. In my in-box nearly every day is “Today’s Daily Reminder and Email Newsletter” which is a form ep has made that he completes with a variety of information- drop-off stories, daily goals and activities, what’s up at work (deadlines, pressure, stress), scheduled events for later in the week, etc. We’ve worked out what works for us, and I still fuzz out some of it anyway, but it is better than trying to remember it all without having it written down. Makes for a good prompt, as well, things to remember to talk about.
    7) regular venting to one another. If we’re letting disgruntlement build up without mentioning it, we get off course with each other. Just like with the kids, allowing the disconnect and then reconnecting is better than trying to either scramble to prevent the disconnect AT ALL COSTS, or letting the disconnect drag on without reconnecting. Stating our needs, what’s not happening, how we feel, all crucial to the process.
    8) Cycles of different lengths that alternate. We alternate periods of time working the bills/taxes – a couple years of one, followed by a couple years of the other. It evens out the angst and distress issues, and makes sure we both keep up some degree of skill. We alternate whose goals/dreams take priority, so that someone can accomplish something important. Finishing school, getting the licensing, writing a book. Making sure the ‘non-working/positive time’ is also balancing back and forth on a cycle is important, too. Recognizing the cycles are long but not endless helps keep perspective. It’s like recognizing that the kids will be dependent physically for X years, or the phase ends, or there’s a good period coming, or they’ll transition eventually from Daddy centered to Mommy centered… all of that helps make things seem less interminible. Knowing that an end point is coming, and WHEN, that eases up a lot of stress.
    So, that’s not all about the chores/housework, but it all ties in. (oh, and JAC, I detest cleaning at home, but used to work as a cleaner in college! There’s a lot of emotional processing in cleaning one’s own/shared space, and not so much in cleaning someone else’s!)

  11. Hi… this is an area where we are STILL trying to work on the balance. In terms of childcare – I think we have a very healthy balance. My usband is definitely more than pulling his weight in that arena.It is definitely the running of the household where we have issues. He’ll help but I ave to create lists and remind him to do things. That is the part that can get rather tiring (a previous poster wrote about this much better than I can) – it is the constant knowing that you must think of everything or something will get dropped. My husband will help with the laundry (folding) but amazing never notices that the laundry basket is over full. When the arguement comes up, he just says “I would have done that”… but when?
    We do need a cleaning person – I think that would dramatically help. Still not there for some reason – not sure if it is the ordeal of finding someone, scheduling, etc. that has held us up. I think I keep waiting for my husband to take this one on (for my birthday in November, I said all I wanted was for him to find someone to come clean our house one time… never happened, although that was my present). That sounds so passive- agressive, doesn’t it? I guess it is; I am…
    I think that tacked on with the idea that I am the one that needs to read all the parenting books and get us on a plan of action for discipline, knowing safety issues, etc. and then parlay those to my husband – I am just warn out trying to think and remember and catalog it all in my head. We are getting closer and closer to this being an issue that breaks us.

  12. Without wanting to sound like a whiner, I’d like to throw something else into the mix: what about single parents who have to do it all and don’t have the luxury of worrying about how to divvy things up?Here’s what I do to keep my sanity:
    1. Housekeeper! I’m with everyone else on the importance of that, if it can at all be afforded.
    2. Creative outsourcing. Finding friends who are willing to be my lost partner and who can help with yardwork, laundry, cooking, etc. This is very difficult, especially for someone like me who hates to ask for help, but it’s important.
    3. Babysitters or friends who can watch the kids so that I can sometimes do errands w/o kiddos.
    Figuring out how to divvy up household responsibilities is a very important discussion–I remember talking about it a lot with my husband and never coming up with a great solution, especially for the mental work of keeping on top of the social calendar, meal planning, etc. That said, I’d love for any of the other single-parent readers to post about how they stay on top of the household stuff in the absence of a partner.

  13. I’m a SAHM who does most of the chores.I actually don’t mind this. My son naps for roughly 2 hours a day, and that’s more than enough time to clean, do laundry, whatever. I don’t really see it as an issue of who is “working more.” On a practical level, I spend a lot more of my time in the house. I’m on duty when most of the messes happen. So more of the burden falls on me, and I think that’s okay. I also like the thought of modeling chores for my son, because I want him to grow into a man who understands that taking care of the house is real work.
    But I have complaints nonetheless! DH is a peach in that he will do whatever I ask. If he comes home from work tonight and I say, “clean the toilet,” he’ll do it. No question. The problem is, he rarely takes initiative. And delegating is so annoying that I would rather just clean the damn toilet myself. I don’t want to be my husband’s boss or his mother. So I don’t need a way to divide up the work better, really. Just a way to get my husband to think, “hey, the kitchen floor is a mess. Obviously my wife was too busy to get to it today – let me pick up a mop.” But he just…doesn’t. I don’t know if you can change the way a person thinks!
    When I go back to work in the fall, we’ll be hiring a bi-weekly cleaning lady, even if between that and daycare I’m bringing home peanuts. Because I don’t want to spend my precious weekends telling my husband what to do.

  14. No kids yet, but this is still an issue for us… We divide, mostly based on who hates what least and who cares more about X being done…So, I do the mowing ’cause he gets migraines, he does the finances because he cares more. He does the vacuuming and dusting because he cares more. I do the cooking/meal planning/dishes because I enjoy them (mostly). He does the laundry (because we were unbalanced) and folds his own clothes (because he doesn’t care how they are folded). I fold my clothes (because I care how they are folded)… I feed the cat and dog… Mostly it seems fair, but it is the most common discussion topic… Usually I feel like I’m doing EVERYTHING and the pressure builds up until we have a blowout and then we rebalance… Not the best plan, but at least knowing that’s the pattern, I can try to release the pressure before the blowout.
    The bigger problem for me is that I’m one of those ‘If someone’s working, we all work’ types, but he isn’t… So, if he’s doing something, I feel guilty about not, start working, then his ADD kicks in and he gets distracted by something shiny (like his email) and I’m doing the work alone…

  15. @JinMomma- I , too, get tired of being the one who keeps it all organized. But realistically, it is just not my Hubby’s strength, so it has always been me, even before Pumpkin. The key to keeping me from going nutso about this is that Hubby recognizes that the organizing of play dates, doctor’s appointments, family visits, etc is a chore, not fun, and gives me credit for it. So we really just consider it another one of the chores in the big chore mix.We divide things much like Moxie says, and that works well for us. Like I mentioned yesterday, what hasn’t been working so well was that most of Hubby’s big chores MUST be done during daylight hours (they are things like yardwork), while many of my chores CAN be done after Pumpkin goes down (they are things like researching estate planning). So Hubby was getting his chores done during the day, mine were waiting until night and not getting done. We had a big talk about that recently and are trying to rebalance.
    Some practical things we do:
    1. We keep a to do list for big, non-recurring chores (i.e., not “clean bathrooms”) in Google Docs. Either of us can add to it, and this way we always know what we “should” be working on, so don’t waste a lot of time re-discussing that.
    2. We try to set aside some weekend time for fun every weekend, and we also try to take Pumpkin for a walk once/weekend. The fun time makes us feel like a family and not just a couple of people running a household together, and the walk is a great time for discussing things like scheduling of chores. Pumpkin loves to sit in her stroller and point out birds, so she is happy and we get time to really talk.
    One tweak we’re trying now is to say that we’ll do the cleaning chores on two consecutive nights during the week (one person cleans while the other does Pumpkin’s nighttime routine), rather than saving it all for the weekend. We’re just starting that this week, so we’ll see how it goes. We could afford a cleaning service, but are both kind of ambivalent about getting one (for years I thought it was just Hubby who was ambivalent, until he said I could hire a cleaning service and I just couldn’t do it) and also have other things we’d rather spend the money on. So we’re still doing our own cleaning. This is only possible because Hubby is more of a neat freak than I am.

  16. I grew up in a single family household so I was used to seeing my mom do everything without complaint. I had my chores, so seeing her never complain about the mountain of dishes was an example to me to not complain — we just chipped in together. I think moms and dads need to do that too. No keeping score and no griping or you;re going to get it with your kids.As a consequence, I do whatever needs doing because I am used to seeing the woman running the show and having been independent pre-marriage was used to doing it by myself, too. But I know my limits and I ask my hubby to do some stuff I just can’t deal with for whatever reason. I won’t play the martyr (just like my mom didn’t — if you need help ask for it!)
    That being said, my hubby contributes a lot around the house. He gets home before me so he does the dishes and cleans the kitchen then when I get home he runs out and gets the groceries while I cook dinner.
    He picks up the living room while I put the 3 and the 1 year-old to bed. He is with the two of them all afternoon so I don’t expect him to do much but relax a bit after I get home. Then he cooks dinner for us and we have the evening to ourselves.
    We never planned it that way, it was just the way it worked out. I do the laundry and we have a woman come in once a week to totally clean the apartment — if we didn’t have her we probably would be at each other’s throats suffocating under the dust, crud and grime. Also it helps to have the same clutter/mess/dirt threshhold. Both of us have a pretty high level of tolerance. We can put up with a lot of nastiness before we start getting grossed out. We both know that is because we both grew up with very busy moms who thought spending time with their kids was more importnat that scrubbing a shitty toilet. Amen to that sisters!

  17. I look forward to reading the comments as this is becoming a growing problem in my household.My husband works outside of the home. Other than his job, his responsibilities are bath and bedtime for one of our our two children. He also takes the trashcan from the side of the house to the curb about once a month.
    I handle everything else home and childcare related including the finances. I finally broke down and hired a house cleaner every other week when one Saturday my husband go mad at me for leaving the kids with him while I cleaned the kitchen. This has worked out beautifully.

  18. Couple of practical points:We have just started working on a shared Gmail calendar, that both can add things to (including to-do lists as well as events). I am hoping this will help.
    For couples where one person is doing a lot of the mental energy/organization work, try delegating one set of mental tasks, as an experiment. For a while, mr. flea was in charge of all doctor’s appointments – scheduling, taking the kids, etc. – since he had a more flexible schedule. Sometimes I went along, but it was not my job to remember to make the next appointment. If you can segment out mental areas like this, it can be a start to achieving parity (or at least lessening the burden).

  19. Lest I make it sound like I have a perfect system or anything, I just wanted to mention what I think is the biggest challenge for us.We have very different standards for certain tasks (like vacuuming, for example!) which means that either one of us ends up taking it over entirely or is unsatisfied with the other’s work.
    (I think the NY Times article linked to here recently about 50/50 parenting mentions this problem.)
    You end up in a battle of “Well, I was perfectly willing to help, but you criticize me!” versus “You just don’t make an effort,” etc. etc. until it everyone is just hurt and unsatisfied, and things still aren’t divided evenly.
    My solution is mostly to just talk our expectations over, and to the extent we can, let the person who is the most perfectionist about something be in charge of it. Which means I vacuum and he does fridge inventory. It is important to explain what ‘doing it your way’ means concretely and why it is so important to you, and yet be willing to compromise.
    This kind of communication eventually works most of the time, but I predict it will still give us something to grump at each other about when we’re seventy.

  20. I’ve got to add something… This whole “don’t keep score” thing… I’m behind the sentiment in general, but there is a usefulness in paying attention to who does what.I don’t exactly “keep score,” but I do pay attention, and I know my hubby does as well. This helps me realize how much he does do and helps me figure out when things are getting unequal on both sides.
    For example, I absolutely track how often he takes out the garbage so that I don’t feel resentment when I’m the one who has to clean out the fridge once again. Also, I’ve been putting the baby to bed 95% of the time for 15 months, and now that she’s not falling asleep while nursing, it’s time for him to take on that activity for a while. I know that means that I will have to feed the animals while he is putting her to bed, so we’ll switch those roles.
    I guess this goes back to Moxie asking how often you readjust and reassign. We do it when one of us needs some sort of break or if we feel it’s not been equal.
    But communicating about it in a non-arguing or nagging way is vital. So it’s not really scoring to win, but paying attention so it is equal and everyone is happy.

  21. Hmmm, so interesting to me that most of us females in hetero partnerships are “keepers of the flame” when it comes to just keeping the place running. And so far NONE of us like it. Amen. I was up until 1:30 am last night researching for a medical appointment my little guy had today. My husband, who really is a good guy and equal partner for the most part, just doesn’t think about these things.Here’s our split, roughly:
    me: all laundry
    all grocery shopping
    majority of cooking/meal prep (he gets breakfast for our daughter pretty much daily and lunch on weekends more often than not, also does a lot of dinner in the summer when we grill)
    most bathroom cleaning & dusting
    gardening chores–weeding, fertilizing, etc.
    assist on fixit projects
    bill paying
    general life maintenance: gift buyer, card mailer, babysitter procurer, social director, etc. I make all my appoinments and those for the kids.
    He does: lawn maintenance
    takes out trash (he hates grocery shopping. I hate taking out trash, so we agreed to each do this)
    everything to do with the dog
    much litterbox changing (the one benefit of IF–of the last six years there’s been like one where I was either not pregnant or could not possibly be)
    cleans up after dinner if I cook
    anything to do with his family (b-day cards, etc.) unless I volunteer to help
    car maintenance
    most fix it projects, unless I just can’t stand it anymore (he is Mr Procrastinator Half-Ass)
    We both do general daily tidying, recycling, emptying of dishwasher, etc. He takes more of a lead on childcare on weekends. I work at home part time, he works outside the home full time. And right now with a 3 yo and a young baby I just feel there is no time ever.
    I wish we could afford a clenaer, not so much because it causes friction but because we both HATE to clean, HATE HATE. So the house is generally dirtier than either of us like.
    Caramama, we just went through a BIG organizational push around here about seven months ago. It’s totally helped. And we have no space and no money and I swear we’re both ragingly ADD and we’ve still managed to make it work. Shoot me an email if you want to hear my story!

  22. A shout out to Snickollet and the point she brings up: that all of this talk of divvying is moot if you’re a single parent. I think it’s important to acknowledge that.Yes, yes, yes, to so many comments and opinions posted here.
    I’ll talk nuts and bolts about a system that concerns one aspect of the chores that we stumbled on and that works great for us: Previous to last fall, I did all the cooking and grocery shopping. I enjoy the cooking and, truthfully, don’t have a desire to relinquish control of that task. But the addition of doing all the grocery shopping drove me crazy. But I had to be the one doing it as, since I did all the cooking, I knew what was in the pantry, fridge, freezer, etc, and so would pick my way through the grocery store while running a tally in my head of what we had at home. The, last fall, through this community (of course!) someone recommended a service called Six o’clock Scramble. This service provides a weekly list of dinner recipes along with the grocery list. There are a lot of services like this. So, now, I print out the weekly list and then create a list from that for me (co-op) and for DH (conventional supermarket). We each do our separate run during the weekend. It has worked really, really well. I highly recommend menu services like this. In addition to helping to equitably split the task, I know the dinner every night of the week is covered. Our grocery bills went down and we now only eat meat about once a week, too.

  23. @MLB & Stacy — ME TOO! As a SAHM, part of the bargain is having “housekeeping” be solely my responsibility. I have no problem with that — I think the conflict comes in (as most pps have stated) when both people do paid work (at home or elsewhere) and housekeeping ISN’T somebody’s “job.” Raising our kid(s)during his workday, cooking and cleaning is my fulltime job. DH does the outdoor chores on the weekends, takes the trash to the curb and takes care of the pets. Everything else is mine and if he helps (which he does when the spirit moves him) then that’s gravy.As such, I have a very detailed, specific schedule I keep in regards to cleaning, cooking and shopping because it is a huge job to do it all and I have to address its giant-ness seriously.
    That’s not to say I wouldn’t love a cleaner to come in and help out. There’s parts to hate about every job and mopping is mine!

  24. Wow, we do the complete opposite of what you suggest!I work outside the home. My husband is with the baby all day. Our division of labour is that he does ALL the housework and we split childcare 50/50. I’m on baby duty before I go to work, as soon as I walk in the door, and most of the weekend. He does a little housework when I’m at work, but most of it gets done during the times I have the baby (including after baby and I have gone to bed).
    This works for us because I really wanted to be a near-equal parent despite being the main breadwinner. Mornings, evenings, and weekends add up to nearly exactly 50% of her waking hours.
    The hard part is that I have no time to myself at all. I’m either at work, or I’ve got the kid. I have to negotiate “extra time” for my husband to take the baby so I can take a bath. But it’s nice that I never ever wash the dishes, wash the bathroom, vacuum, take out the garbage and recycling, etc, etc. I do occasionally help him with larger jobs. For example, I’ll dry the dishes if there are more than fit in our drying rack (and the baby is ok on her own) or I’ll help him take our clothes to the laundromat.

  25. I wonder if there are others out there with my problem–before our daughter was born my husband participated a bit more actively around the house, especially when I was pregnant, but now it’s all my responsibility. The baby, the house, everything. I also work more hours per week than him and earn more. He says it’s because I’m emasculating him that he won’t help out more. We’ve been to therapy and it hasn’t helped. Is it just us? I have been honestly thinking of leaving him since I’m practically a single mother anyhow. Any ideas?

  26. I love the idea of a 50/50 split in theory, but that is a difficult thing to put into practice. We’re more of the “do the best you can and be sure that your spouse feels appreciated/respected with the work he/she does”. My husband is a firefighter and works nine 24 hours shifts a month. This means that he works full-time, but he’s home way more than I am (full-time outside of the house 8-5 job). So he ends up doing a lot more housework and childcare than I do. I don’t always feel good about the amount I contribute in comparison to him. I try to counteract this by: planning meals, grocery shopping, and running errands on my lunches, and getting up early on my days off to cook for the week. I also get up early during the week to do some of the housework. Things are still off balance between us though. This is where the appreciation and respect comes in. I make a real effort to notice everything he does throughout the day and to compliment him on the work. And I bite my tongue when things aren’t done in a way that I would do them. How important in the scheme of things is it that the towels aren’t folded correctly in the linen closet?

  27. @ caramama — we did the SAME THING. We moved when I was a mere month away from delivery (and even painted about 1/3 to 1/2 of the house interior), and we still haven’t caught up. Most days, I’m lucky to just keep the house semi-running, much less to make progress.That reminds me. The 3yo is at school, and the 3mo-old is napping. Guess I need to get back to organizing, ack. How the heck will I do grad school…and when? Eeeep.

  28. @Samantha- no ideas, just hugs, and a kick in the butt to your Hubby. I have always made more money than my Hubby, sometimes quite a bit more. We work roughly equal hours outside of the home. We split the child care (not 50/50, because, well, he can’t nurse, but he pulls his weight) and the chores. He has never once mentioned that he feels emasculated. I think he would laugh at the idea.However, I don’t think you are alone. The research numbers I’ve seen always indicate that women do more work around the house than men. I also hear other women complain about this issue quite a bit. The fact that this has never been an issue for us is one of the reasons that I love my Hubby so much.

  29. I feel like I do more of the housework and childcare (2 children, ages 1 and 2) despite us both being working parents. I tried to get him to see it my way. That never worked for us. But what has worked for me is to accept that this is part of my role as a their mother and a wife. Once I let go of the resentment it really did not seem so onerous to me. It helps that we have a cleaning service once a week, so my main jobs are shopping, food prep, getting kids dressed and ready in the morning, picking up, dishes (we don’t have a dishwasher), laundry (75% of it, I’d say), baths, putting 1 kid to sleep each night…in addition to working 55 hrs per week. I do not do any lawn maintenance or car work or litter box. For me, this is one way that frame of mind really mattered.

  30. We mostly just let our standards slip. Beyond minimally functional (grocery shopping, cooking, kitchen cleaning, taking out garbage, and laundry) the person being driven the most insane by the chore not being done does it when they finally feel like they must.

  31. Our main issue (more mine than my DH’s, actually) is that it’s very difficult for me to do chores while my DS is awake and at home. Not that I can’t…he’s getting pretty independent with playing and such. It’s that I have a mental block about it. I don’t think he’ll end up in therapy if I fold clothes instead of play cars, but I’d just rather leave the housework until he’s asleep.This, as you can imagine, results in a big pile-up of work for the evening (when we’re too tired to do it) or the weekend (when we’d rather do fun things as a family).
    I telecommute 2 days a week, and do get some housework done on my lunch hour then. But I need several hours to do some serious clear-out/organization.
    Ack. I feel really stuck and unhappy with my house. Is anyone else out there a procrastinator? I know all the techniques, like take one room at a time and just do 10 minutes, etc., I just need to DO it. Hmm.

  32. Though I work almost full-time, I do it all on nights and weekends. My child has no idea. I also do most of the animal and child care, and the housework and a lot of the yard work. I do most of this while I am with my child since when she is asleep is when I do my paying work. It’s not too much trouble to do stuff with her around–she likes to “help”. Playing and helping while moms and dads get stuff done is how most children spent most of childhood for thousands of years. Anyway, I AM around the house during the day and he isn’t so I can get these things done.My husband, who works full-time outside the home, fixes things, runs a lot of the errands, plans, shops for (we do this as a family, and makes dinner, helps where I ask or where he chooses to (usually with the dishes), and mows and things like that.
    For the most part this is okay with us. If one or the other is not feeling well or really busy the other does more. The fact that we have built up lots of goodwill over our ten years together makes this easier. Lately I got annoyed that there are various things (e.g. shave the cat) that need to happen and that I haven’t been able to do because I need free evening time to do them, and my husband responded by asking me to tell him a day and we’ll do it. This prevented me from stewing on the topic.

  33. @Maureen…it is like you were in the car with us on the way to daycare this morning. This is the exact conversation that we had! We can let our standards go and organize ourselves (love the Google ideas), but I’m not sure what we can do about the fact that I wind up as the responsible party of our family. I’m sure some of it is me (I know some if it is me), but there is also an element of not taking responsibility in him. It is hard for me to understand how DH can’t pick up a book or do a little reaserch regarding parenting. I don’t over research, but isn’t it nice to get some ideas? We were laughing this morning about how little monkey finally wore a hole in his shoe. I could see it coming and had mentioned it for the last week. DH still thought they were good enough to wear until I showed him that I could get my whole thumb in the hole! I guess we just have to keep working together on those different perspectives. Luckily, I love him to pieces.

  34. @Eva…sorry, but I just almost spit my Diet Coke on my laptop when I read “(e.g., shave the cat)”. I know you didn’t mean it to come across funny, but that being on your list of chores just struck my funny bone. :o)Do you really shave your cat?

  35. @Eva, the modeling thing is huge, isn’t it?Which brings me back to Samantha, as well – what was your DH’s model? What did his parents do?
    We tend to creep out of the model a bit as adults, if we work on it. But changes are incremental unless we’re REALLY intentional about it.
    I’ve noticed that my kids are better at picking up if I pick up when they’re watching. Otherwise, it’s just the house cleaning genie doing the work. I can SAY I did it, but they can’t grasp it enough to do it themselves. A lot of the housework when I was a kid was done while I was at school. Only big huge crisis cleaning was done really ‘on the hoof’ in front of me (and with me). Guess which I’m good at?
    But the role change = behavior change thing tends to say to me ‘I had a model, it doesn’t apply, so I’m clining to the parts I can cling to’ – did his dad earn the money and do little around the house? He’s feeling emasculated (maybe) just because his picture of men and masculinity was ‘what my dad did’ and he’s not living on that planet, but he had no other images to hang his identity on… also, has he read ‘Real Boys’? It may help him see into himself a bit more clearly. Counseling would probably work IF it was addressing men’s issues specifically, since it is a ROLE issue he’s struggling with. Anything more superficial will not work. It has to go to the core need, the need to be heroic and provider and then be able to rest on his laurels and be admired for producing safety and sanctuary (financially speaking). Current model doesn’t have any of that, and the only thing he can cling to is resting on his laurels, but he doesn’t know why he’s doing that, and without a reason, he ends up only with emotional defenses, and not logic.
    That’s my read, anyway. Just like the whole Madonna/Wh*re syndrome works – the change of roles in the family creates a crisis in the person who too-strongly set up their role structure. “Women who are sexy can’t be mothers, mothers can’t be sexy, please don’t tell me otherwise.” In his case, somewhere in his mind maybe he expected that once you had a baby, you’d turn into his ideal of motherhood, which would make him into his ideal of fatherhood, and everything would be peachy. Just the term ’emasculating’ makes me think he’s dealing with a male role crisis.
    Could be totally wrong, I’m winging it on armchair reading of one comment, here!

  36. I am, like others, the Organizer in my household. My husband is not a details person; I knew this long before we married so ages ago I accepted that this is my role.The one thing that’s saved my sanity (and marriage, no doubt) is to ask him for help when I need it. I ask in a specific way: what exactly I want help with and what the deadline is. For example: it’s Wednesday and we’re having company on Saturday so please clean up your pile of papers on the dining room table before Saturday’s lunch. Giving a reasonable deadline is key because it gives the freedom to do the chore on his schedule.
    The other sanity- and marriage-saver: house cleaner. Worth every penny.

  37. @JinMomma- there was an entire post about the difference in researching child care issues at some point. Either that, or we all hijacked the comments on a different post. I don’t have time to find it now, but I’ll bet you could find it in the search. I suspect you can guess the consensus, though- the moms do more research than the dads.The key for keeping me sane about the disparity in research and organizational tasks (i.e., the fact that I do almost all of it) is to recognize these as chores and put them on our list. That way, I get “credit” for the time I spend on it, and it gets balanced by some chore Hubby will do but I won’t. Hubby can correctly say that I never spend anytime digging holes in the garden, and he has spent quite a bit of time on that lately, because the previous owners of our house had made some seriously weird gardening decisions. To be honest, I’d rather research toddler feeding issues than dig a hole, and he’d rather dig a hole than do the research. So once we recognized the research as a chore and put it on the balance sheet, I stopped feeling bad about doing all of it. Hubby will listen to a summary of my results and help me decide on a course of action, though, and that is very important to me.
    We’ve also done what flea suggests- if there is a specific topic that needs researching or a specific thing that needs organizing, we might assign that to Hubby. Luckily, Hubby has yet to try assigning me any holes to dig.

  38. One thing to add- writing my last comment made me realize that I strongly agree with Caramama- don’t keep score of who does what, but do keep track. The fact that we each know what the other one does keeps us from having acrimonious arguments about who took the garbage out last (almost always him) or who last cleaned the toilets (almost always me). Also, remember to say thank you when your partner does something out of the ordinary. Heck, we even try to thank each other for the little chores we do all the time. It helps to feel appreciated!

  39. This reminds me so much of the discussion here about who in the couple does child-related research. What gets me is perpetually having to be the one who thinks of it, whatever “it” may be.My husband is really quite good at Doing stuff, but will never, ever Think to do it. And being the voice of all things negative gets exhausting.
    Family google doc is genius, I’m getting right on that. Thank you.

  40. cautionary tale, not that it applies to anyone:I never learned to clean properly because my mother’s mother is a crazy neat freak and always did everything: even when my mom was an adult and I was a kid. Seriously, my grandmother would come over 1-2 times a week to clean everything and bleach the hell out of our laundry. even cleaned my room. I felt guilty even as a kid but I didn’t learn to clean. My mom says she doesn’t know how either.
    like to the point where people talk about “dusting” or “mopping” and I can’t really picture what that looks like. If something spills…I wipe it up…sooner or later. Dishes get done…eventually. Laundry when I’m out of underwear. (though how many times have I forgotten it in the washer until mildew set in)
    My 18 month old son picks up his toys better than I would, mops up his spills, and when dinner is done he stacks everyone’s dishes up like the world’s tiniest busboy. Doesn’t get it from me!
    I could never hire a cleaner because I am embarassed about the mess in the house. And what would he/she do with all the crap that just doesn’t have a home? You know, the top of the TV junk pile and stuff…or am I the only one who has that? I don’t even know where to put it, why would some stranger?

  41. @meggiemoo – I could have written your comment! We just moved cross-country, though, and it has given me a lot of perspective on things that were holding me back in our previous home. I realized that I was trying to clean, etc, based on what I thought the ideal was instead of my desires for our home. It’s helped to replace the “should/else”s with “want/so”s. (e.g., “I should fold the laundry, or else I’ll be a bad housekeeper/we’ll have nowhere to sit” vs. “I want to be able to sit on the couch and to have clean clothes at the ready if I want to go somewhere fun, so I’d better get this laundry folded and put away.”)Thinking in terms of what a clean house would let me do (cook dinner without having to work around a mess, let E. play in the empty laundry baskets instead of worrying about her dragging clean 3-day-in-the-basket clothes across the dirty kitchen floor, etc) really helped. Where we lived before I didn’t have much to look forward to, so there wasn’t any positive motivation, but now with that I am getting SO much more done!

  42. OK, I gave the specifics of how things work in our house on the previous post, but I wanted to chime in about the “child care is actual work” statement.Yesterday, my husband worked for 12 hours at his office.
    Yesterday I took a morning nap, messed around on the computer, went to playgroup, went shopping, watched some TV, and went to a baby shower. Sure, I also checked/responded to some work e-mail and nursed/tended to my 4-month-old former preemie all day long, but I had a lot of fun and basically did what I wanted when I felt like it. That’s hardly the equivalent of getting up early/commuting/putting in a long day at the office/reverse commuting. What I do on my “at-home” days is much easier than what either my husband or I do on our “office” days. Even the days I watch my friend’s 3-year old are fun, playful, flexible, and pretty relaxing.
    I can imagine a situation (maybe you’re parenting a special needs child or homeschooling a half-dozen kids) where childcare alone takes 100% of your daytime concentration. But child care isn’t necessarily hard or demanding and it’s not too tough to do some housework (or WAH office-type work) at the same time. I basically pay my occasional babysitter to read while my son naps.

  43. I think we are the most successful when we are the most flexible, in our house. We each have our own list of things we’re usually responsible for, but if somebody has a crazy day or if company is coming over, we shift things around so that it all gets done.

  44. Just rushing out but will come back and read comments later for sure!I just wanted to say – we never really have worked it out. Both of us were raised in homes where chores were the subject of terrible conflict. In typical fashion we almost recreated that dynamic.
    At a certain point it was divorce over the chores, or deal with the majority of them myself. Upon reflection, in therapy, I decided that if my gift to the marriage was to do the chores, I could live with that in the context of the other amazing stuff. But it was one of the hardest decisions.
    I’ve worked on getting as efficient as possible – FlyLady, for all the tone issues I have with it, really has helped.
    More later, at the very least reading!

  45. Well, Ashley, I dunno, I don’t get shit done when my kid’s around and he’s no half dozen homeschoolers. yesterday he was well but waiting the 24 hour quarantine period after a fever, and I was working from hoome and it was the longest, screamingest day EVAR, he watched elmo 3 times, crushed an entire sleeve of saltines on the floor to a fine dust, and wouldn’t get off my lap for hours.

  46. @hedra, the modeling stuff is really interesting–I think that a lot of well-intentioned 70s parents taught their sons to take care of their own stuff and not expect it all to be done for them…but HUGE GAP, didn’t teach them to expect do things for others. This one comes up a lot with Mr. C and me–he will automatically clear his own dishes from the table, scrape and rinse them, neatly put them in the dishwasher, and wander back to his laptop. That’s ingrained. However, it takes huge concentration, or me bugging him, for it to occur that he could clear Mouse’s and my dishes at the same time. If he’s got something on his mind, he reverts to the model. He recognizes it and works on it, but as you say…creeping.

  47. I guess we are pretty close to 50/50, but I need to be reminded sometimes that dh does a lot of the stuff I can’t see or don’t want to see, and stuff I just can’t do due to the complexity of Italian bureaucracy. For example for the 10 hours I work a month sometimes, he is putting as much time in just sorting out the paper-work, and obviously not getting paid for it. I mean he has even gone as far as saying it’s not worth me working for all the added work he has to do. But that’s another topic.My issue is that I don’t ever get a rest from the kids (3.5 years and 17.5 months). Unless I go to work and then my MIL steps in, but she only ever takes them off my hands for work, important errands, not because I want to go shopping, have a nap, read a book, you know fun stuff. My husband was good with our older child, shared a lot of the duties. With my daughter, he does sweet FA, but to be honest that is due to her bed time, which is always before he gets home. We both talk about the day that he will put both to bed when he gets home, like he does with our son, but we’ll have to wait a while for that. I know he does so much else around the house: all the gardening, the extra-ordinary maintenence, book-keeping, vaccumes and washes the floors, dries the dishes/unpacks the dish-washer, but just one time, I would love him to offer to feed the little one or give the kids a bath.

  48. I was going to say something similar to shirky. Let’s all remember that each child has unique needs and personality.Some days when I’m home watching my hihg-enery, clingy toddler, there is no way I could get anything else done. I usually have way more energy to get things done after a full day WOH and commuting.

  49. OK, you guys are making me feel pretty guilty. I work full time in an office, my husband works from home (flexible schedule, but at least as many hours as I do, I think). He does all the shopping, cooking, laundry drop-off and pickup, anything that needs fixing, bills… basically all I do is wash the dishes, keep my own clothes off the floor, and help organize garbage and recycling once a week.He doesn’t complain, and seems to manage to get things done fairly effortlessly. I’m as appreciative as I can be, because I know I have it good.
    For those of you who are more like my husband, would it make a difference if you were praised/appreciated more? I make sure every day that my husband knows how much I appreciate him running our home life. And of course, if he ever asks me to do something, I’ll do it (errands, shopping, etc), but in general he takes care of things.
    We’re expecting our first kid in 10 days. I have 4 months maternity leave, so I’ll try to do the lion’s share of childcare during that time, but once I’m back in the office, I expect he’ll take on more than his “fair” share of childcare work as well.
    Anyway, it’s working for us for now. The whole “what’s fair” thing is a little perplexing to me, because although our situation isn’t fair at all, we are still fairly happy!

  50. “But child care isn’t necessarily hard or demanding…”WHAT THE EFF?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope that was a joke.

  51. I think the extent to which child care is demanding can be highly variable, depending on one’s personality and one’s child (and the same child can have phases of very easy and very hard, as she ages and develops). For example, when I went back to work when my first child was 3 months old, I thought my job (librarian) was SO MUCH easier than caring for my kid. In comparison, when I went back to work (same job) when my second child was 8 weeks old, I did miss some of that “sitting around the house with a baby hanging out.” But it was *me* who was different (and the babies, although neither was super-difficult).It’s very hard to do housework with an 18 month old who wants his arms around your neck or legs every single moment, except when he’s grabbing for the knives. It’s easy to do housework with a 4 year old who likes quiet play and likes to help sort laundry. It all depends.

  52. Keep in mind, folks, Ashley has a 4 month old. One. Apparently with a mild enough temperment that she can mess around on the computer and watch tv in one day. Both! Yes, former preemie, so she’s had some stress in there. But …Ashley, I sincerely hope you end up with as easy a crawler, toddler, and preschooler as you have a baby. Otherwise it might be a bit of a shock. I do know someone who did. And then she had a second child, since she had it so locked up. Totally flattened her, and her husband, in one go. I know someone else who got two easy kids, and stopped. But she kept her friends from leaving her in droves because she knew she was an exception, not the rule. I was lucky to get to a playgroup once a week, and usually late… so, um, consider that perhaps your situation is easy because you have a) an easy baby, and b) a skill set that intersects beautifully with your child’s needs, and c) a temperment that isn’t completely at odds with the schedule set by/around/with your child.
    All that said, there is equal point in what Ashley said to ‘not keeping score’ on the work-at-work vs the work-at-home, just like on the my-chore/your-chore lists. If you’re keeping score, someone’s gonna lose, and that’s not a good plan. If you’re just aware of what the other is doing, that’s useful info, and allows us to be grateful for what was done, either side. It would be as problematic to say ‘I’m working in a stressful job with the company going down the rat hole, so my job counts more than yours which is at a nice company with a future’. Understand, not measure or compare.
    I don’t compare childcare to my work – no contest, my job is easier than childcare. Granted, it’s hard enough that we’ve had to fire a few people, and not-extend-contract (*cough*) on a few others, and maybe 1 in 15 people who look qualified can actually DO the job. So, um, not at all ‘easy’ – but easier than childcare, to me. But I still consider both childcare AND my job to be ‘real jobs worthy of paying attention to and doing fully’.

  53. There’s so much I want to respond to here- I’ll try to keep it on the shorter side…I do 90% of our housework right now since my husband is working 65 or 70 hours a week temporarily (probably through the summer). I get done what must be done but no big cleaning right now.
    I’m another one with a mom that didn’t clean or teach us to clean- she let everything go until it was so bad you could hardly do anything in the house, and then we’d have a cleaning weekend where everyone had to work and clean all day for 2 days and she would “supervise”. When we first were married we really struggled with this because my husband was raised in a super sterile house and my house was the complete opposite. 7+ years later we’ve reached a medium where I get done as much as I can with occasional help from him, and if something bothers him bad enough he takes care of it. My oldest will be 3 soon, and he does a lot of chores along with me- he really likes to vacuum and wash dishes, but he’s not so impressed with laundry. I do find a lot of value in asking him to work with me so that he knows that the house is not just magically taken care of (as my husband seemed to think even as a grown man) and so that he knows how to do things thoroughly.
    Also- who mentioned the “almighty oz” thing? That’s me since we had our first child. I manage everything child-related, our social life, our finances, our EVERYTHING and my brain is going to explode soon because I also own a business and I deal with those things for the business as well. There is just too much in my brain.

  54. I think the “child care is easy comment” is because Ashley’s child is only 4 months old. Yes, infancy is hard but if you have a decent sleeper/napper, you have a lot of down time (which many moms need to catch up on sleep if their child is not sleeping through the night). Advance forward to the child being awake 8+ hours during the day, active and into everything and I think that comment would change.My boys are 3. We have a nanny and the only chores we expect of her to deal with while watching them are their laundry (can be folded while they are taking their afternoon nap), unloading the dishwasher (again during nap), and getting their meals together (much of that is already prepped by me the night before). Otherwise, we KNOW it is a full time job just to make sure they are safe, entertained, protected from each other (fighting, biting, hiting, etc.), interacted with, etc.
    On the rare day I stay home from work, it is a lovely change and yes, I can get slightly more done around the house than those days I’m at work. The biggest one is just getting dinner ready a little earlier while the boys are napping which makes the evening go so much smoother/on schedule. Otherwise, I don’t have time to do vaccuming (sp?), cleaning the bathroom, etc.

  55. Yes to the Oz thing!! My husband actually carries the weight on household chores but I’m fairly positive absolutely nothing would get accomplished if I didn’t tell him the whats and the whens. Yes, sometimes I feel like his mother but then I remember how long it has been since I cleaned the litter box so I shut my mouth. Delicate balance:).And to add to my WTF standpoint on Ashley’s comment, I had a very undemanding easy first baby that allowed me to get housework done and some fun stuff too, but I would have never made the outrageous (IMHO) comment that childcare is neither demanding or hard. To me, it’s unfortunate and disrespectful to those struggling.

  56. Man, I remember calling my husband in tears the first day I was home alone with our one-month-old and telling him that it was the hardest thing that I’d ever tried to do in my life. Work ain’t nothing compared to months of anxiety and broken sleep. And I wasn’t even trying to do anything more complicated than shower and brush my teeth during the average day.So I’m another person who’ll just have to say that the baby’s temperament and sleep habits matter a LOT.
    That said, I’m relatively glad that we got a trial by fire at the beginning, because if we’d gotten one of those napping-in-the-carseat-20-hours-a-day models that I hear exist, I would in no way have been prepared for toddlerhood. Assuming I’m prepared for toddlerhood now… he’s currently crawling everywhere and he’ll be walking any day now, it seems, so wish me luck!
    My Wednesday off is the most fulfilling day of the week, but also the most tiring. Some days (like today) a twenty-minute nap in the stroller is the only nap time I get.
    Thank goodness for my mother-in-law who lives nearby and is very happy to take my little energizer baby off my hands from time to time.

  57. I’m with Liza–my standards have slipped. And I hate it. I am thinking about hiring a cleaning service, but I just haven’t gottten up the nerve to do it yet. Seeing that so many ladies on here have help makes me feel not so bad that I just can’t handle it all on my own!

  58. @Samantha- You are not the only one! DH and I haven’t reached the therapy level yet…but we have similar issues.-When he is talking about feeling emasculated, does he mean henpecked over the housework? or outshined regarding your jobs?. This strikes me as really important, in terms of understanding where he is coming from.
    -I’ve had the best luck getting DH to agree to do a few, specific tasks on a daily basis. I have to consciously leave him alone and not comment on his performance. I’ve had terrible luck with the “I am so overwhelmed and if you cared about me you wouldn’t be such a couch potato” speech. But maybe that’s just us.
    -I will say that I have a lot of sympathy for anyone trying to figure out whether you’re just hitting a rough patch or whether you’d be better off apart. Ultimately I decided that housework is a stupid reason to get divorced and that, if need be, I would rather let most of my chores just go and live in filth than split up. But I can easily see ending up with a different conclusion if the problems went much deeper than that.

  59. I have become a SAHM to our two-month-old baby. I maintain the appearance and food supply of the household. I dont like to think of what I do as “chores” b/c I see what I do as part of my job. I take care of the child and the house while my husband is at work. I do not usually work while my husband is home b/c I want to spend time w/ him or do some things alone w/ out the baby. On weekends, I rarely work outside of normal daily functions such as putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Dh is off work on the weekends, so it is our family time, not work time. We share childcare duties when he is home.The way Im able to manage this is I have a specific room to clean on each weekday. I clean it while dd is napping. When the room is spotlessly clean (dusted and everything), I can be done cleaning for the day if I so choose. I have tried FlyLady in the past and found it too scattered for me. I do best if I only focus on one room at a time. This also makes my cleaning go faster as I clean my bathroom once a week, so Im not faced w/ scrubbing out lots of soap scum. Theres just no time for it to build in a week. I see the cleanliness and maintenance of my home and child as my job. Dh works a full-time job w/ long hours and occasionally works a part-time job as well so that I can stay home w/ the baby. I do not think it is fair to expect him to be gone from the house and working for 12+ hours and then ask him to do chores as well. Okay, he does have 3 chores: taking out trash, lawn mowing, and bill paying, but he did those before dd was born and we both know that if I were in charge of bills, we would have lost our house long ago, haha. This is working very well for us & I think it helps us to appreciate what the other does all day. It also gives us lots of down time together, which is nice.
    I agree w/ posters who said that what I do all day is WAY less demanding than what my husband does all day. I have taken naps, gone swimming, visited friends, & gone shopping while he writes shift reports and manages a lot of difficult people. Even my paying job, before dd was born, was easier than his paying job, and that was being a teacher to 10 2-year-olds while pregnant!

  60. re: But child care isn’t necessarily hard or demanding and it’s not too tough to do some housework (or WAH office-type work) at the same time.I could not disagree more. But I have a three year old that is constantly demanding my attention. It is non-stop. And then his sister will chime in with her needs, and then his other sister… and that is besides the tying the shoes for the 10th time, bandaging the inevitable summer boo boo, bathing, clothing, feeding, giving snacks too, approving that “yes you can ride your bike up and down the street,” and it goes on and on and on. In my book, the MOST demanding job is caring for my children… it is 24/7 and never stops. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE them more than anything, but they cause more “work” for me than any other thing in my life. Just my thoughts. Wish it was play all day… but I do work too (a real job), and have the job as parent… gets to be a lot 🙂

  61. hmm, well, it’s great that you are so awesome at this job/life, but put it down as one I am hopeless at, along with sales and truck driving. Good thing I kick all kinds of ass at my actual job or I might feel like crap reading this.And it’s an interesting system you have there, but I can’t even picture how one goes swimming with a two month old, and I have no concept of what spotlessly clean means. I feel like a winner when I can move the chairs out of Roomba’s way! Like See, I helped Roomba! I RULE! Bonus if I empty its little dirt cup.

  62. I think we might be the only people who have let their cleaner go, and have felt great relief for that fact. The PRESSURE to have to tidy the house every week (or every other week) so that she could actually CLEAN THE HOUSE was more than we could bear. Since letting her go, we do what needs to be done about a week or two past when it should have been done. But that’s tolerable for us. The stuff that we really struggle with (like folding laundry) is stuff she didn’t do for us anyways. Now we’re free and saving the money we’d use to pay her for other things. We really don’t miss her. But if you were to come over to our house, you would definitely know we do our own cleaning.

  63. The side debate about what is “harder”- child care or outside of the home work is interesting. I think a lot depends on the personality of the child. But I also think some of it is due to the fact that, like any job skill set, some people are better at child care than others.I think those of you who think your job at home with the kids is much easier than your husband’s job outside the home are underestimating how good you are at what you do. Maybe for you it is, but that doesn’t mean that it would be for me. There is a saying about how when you find the thing that seems easy to you but hard to lots of other people, you have found what you are meant to do for work. Loving your children and being really good at child care aren’t the same thing. Child care involves skills, which some people will be better at than others. I love my daughter to bits, and I work hard to be a good mother, but I realized very early on that full time child care was NOT something I was particularly good at, and that we were all better off if we paid someone else to do some of the child care while I went to work and did something I AM good at.

  64. wow. Just read the rest of the posts. Um, childcare is not easy at our house either. I THINK it was easier when Alex was 4 months old (or 2 months old or ANY months old) than it is now. I have vauge memories of doing crossword puzzles as he rolled around on his gym mat staring at the purple elephant. Lots of tv watching during nursing time. And playdates were really for me and the other mommies, not so much for him. Long in-depth (and uninterrupted except for crying silenced by a boob) conversations about sleep and eating, losing weight, husbands, whatever. Now if we schedule playdates at parks, we can pretty much forget about visiting with each other because the kids don’t necessarily want to do the same things that would allow us to chat while they play.There are definitely some tough things about caring for newborns…..mostly the not knowing what it is they need, the sleep regressions, the huge learning curve of a new role and new job. But I don’t recall it being as emotionally and physically draining as caring for a preschooler is. But preschoolers are also much more fun. Usually. Most of the time. Except when they’re not. YES! NO! I DON’T KNOW!
    Living with a preschooler is sometimes like being a personal assistant to a high-strung movie star.

  65. Well, I was a single mother until May, so I don’t have a huge amount of experience with this.I do know that Flylady helped me enormously when I was single — I went back to her website earlier this month and was a little disappointed that it wasn’t really speaking to me anymore.
    We tend to split the chores evenly by the simple technique of almost always doing them together. What can I say — we’re newlyweds. Sometimes I clean up the kitchen and run a load of laundry while I’m home with the kid — sometimes it’s still there to be done when he gets home. I am working on BEING OK with this — he certainly is.

  66. @hedra, good call re: the roles. His mom stayed at home and did EVERYTHING. She readily admits that she spoiled him. I had almost broken him of this by the time our daughter came around then it all went to pieces again. So he could very likely be going back to what he learned/saw as a child. But the difference is that his dad earned a whopping big salary and DH definitely does not. And I think this is affecting his self-image pretty negatively right about now. It has come up in therapy and the therapist has suggested individual counseling to him but he has yet to do it.I feel like Shandra and Michelle that unfair chore division is a bad reason to divorce so I’m trying to make it work even if I have to do most all of it myself, but some days it just seems so UNFAIR. And I wonder why I should stay with a person who is not attempting to make this into a partnership or get help.
    All I can do at this point is try to get help for myself, I guess. I am thinking a housecleaning service might be a good step. Even though I hate spending money on something I can do myself, it’d be nice to have that spare time and peace of mind.

  67. we just allocate two-three hours on sundays to cleaning – all hands on, including the four year old’s. I do nothing else (besides load dishwasher, and other minor daily things) any other day of the week. works beautifully.i remember though, growing up, that the ammount of work one was doing for chores was a constant argument.

  68. @Samantha, I hope you find a solution that works for you soon. I think one of the hardest things about marriage is accepting our partner’s limitations, making peace with what you know you cannot change, knowing what of things are OK for you and what things are not- and then somehow making all of that work out.My Hubby may sound great on the housework front (and he is), but he is not perfect. No one is. Sometimes his imperfections chafe, but they are things I knew about when I married him and decided I could live with. I find that when I am fuming about one of his limitations, it helps if I remember the positive things that balance that out and make me want to stay with him. I’d guess that if the positive things ever stopped balancing the negative things, it would be time to leave, but I am very, very glad that I haven’t had to think about that too deeply.

  69. Our situation: I am married, have a 13-month-old. I am a writer and mostly work from home. My husband works outside the home.I have found that so long as there is a clear set of expectations and everyone is making a good-faith effort, things are remarkably relaxed.
    I am definitely the homemaker. To the point that if people knew how we divided our responsibilities, they would be horrified and wonder if I was some kind of oppressed wife, I imagine. (As a feminist, I somehow feel vaguely defensive about how I organize my domestic things, so I tend not to talk about it.) I really do not ever feel that awful sense of resentment building because E. doesn’t notice his socks on the floor: the deal we have is that most things in the domestic sphere are mine. And I don’t think E. ever feels resentful that I don’t even open the cable bill, I just it on his desk.
    It’s like we’re both specialists within our marriage, and because the expectations and boundaries of what our specialties are are so clear, and because… I almost want to say that because we’re both so specialized, instead of resenting the other person not pulling their weight, we’re full of appreciation that they do such a great job, if that makes sense. I am very appreciative and thankful that he is willing and capable in the areas of money management and car maintenance, etc, and he is happy and appreciative that he always has clean clothes and that food magically happens.
    It was really one of the things I was expressly hoping to do differently in marriage than I did, say, in roommate situations: I am no stranger to the “Seriously, do you just not notice that we’re out of toilet paper?” resentment building over time, and I really, really wanted to organize my marriage differently. I never felt that I wanted a straight down the middle split of responsibilities, I just wanted to feel like I was partnered with someone who had the same end goal of a happy homelife.
    Of course, I’m very lucky to have a career that allows me a lot of flexibility, and equally lucky to be partnered with a man who was also interested in a kind of more traditional division of labor.

  70. Is it just me who thinks that the actual work and the actual chores are just irrelevant? All the active work time in maintaining our household is probably less than 5 hours a week (so our standards are pretty lax). Split by two able-bodied adults that is nothing. The real issue is the responsibility. The planning, managing, juggling and decision-making. THAT is what is wearing me down. Waltzing around with the vacuum for half an hour is ba humbug in comparison.

  71. Did you see this topic was front page of the NY Times magazine not this past Sunday but the one before?Anyway, my husband and I share all the household stuff very evenly… but we don’t keep score and we still specialize. (He cleans the kitchen nightly, I pay the bills, etc.) But the key is that he wants to and always expected to because that’s how it was done in his house growing up.
    One of the reasons I’m happy I have a boy is the opportunity to raise another male to believe that it is natural to share household and parenting tasks equally!

  72. re the comments about childcare being undemanding….I have a 10 month old who crawls like the wind and is cruising like crazy and is just about to walk.
    When he was 6 months old, for example, he was delighted to jump in his doorway jumper for 45 minutes at a time while I worked (I was working at home at the time). Or did laundry. Or cleaned. No problem.
    Those days are long past. I find it a challenge to get anything done around the house while he’s awake– he’s just into EVERYTHING and really needs a constant eye to make sure he’s safe. And my mentally-demanding work is out of the question if he’s awake. This certainly wasn’t the case when he was younger and less mobile. I now go into the office 4 hours a day– the only way I can keep up with work. And I expect that it’ll become more challenging before it becomes less challenging.
    As for chores…my mom’s house always was and is spotless. It’s therefore hard for me to adjust to not having a spotless house. My husband, on the other hand, had a working mom (separated from his dad). He grew up doing his own laundry, making his own dinner, cleaning up after himself. She also keeps a very neat/clean house, but he doesn’t expect me to take care of the housework. On one hand that’s great– he recognizes that we split the childcare and outside-the-home job time 50-50, so the housework doesn’t all fall on me. But I’m much more troubled by messes than he is!
    We’ve been married just 3 years and are still new to this parenthood thing, so I feel we’re still figuring things out as far as roles go. We both do our best; we try to keep the other’s needs in mind; we try to be considerate. We try to keep it a partnership, not a me vs. you situation. For us, that’s the most important thing.

  73. “Living with a preschooler is sometimes like being a personal assistant to a high-strung movie star.”WORD. Precisely. Julie, you are my soul sister.
    I am a SAHM (except when I freelance, very very late at night, sometimes–so irregular I can’t get a babysitter), and I have a very hard time getting things done during the day. My two year old tries to use the dishwasher as his own personal jungle gym if it’s open. Both my kids (2 and 4) will jump around in the laundry, so that is folded/put away at night. They will help (esp the 2 year old) to do some small tasks–put clothes in the washer, clear their [plastic] dishes–but the thing that frustrates me is that I never get a chunk of time to get things accomplished. The 2/5/10 minute increments between requests for food and having to stop the hair pulling are not good for anything.
    Sometimes I manage to get things done while the little one is napping. Sometimes I have terrible nights prior and just need to, you know, eat lunch and watch Bravo and breathe slowly in and out before he wakes up. Or, on very rare occasions, nap with him so I don’t kill anyone later in the afternoon.
    Also I have come to acknowledge that around here, sometimes the messes are for a good reason. Lately every morning the kids take all the bed pillows in the house and drag them to the living room. They pile on the comforters and pretend. I live in an apartment so there is not a lot of room to do this–it takes up a lot of the living space. But they are playing together! Creatively! and not hitting or pushing for whole minutes at a time! Worth the mess! Do it all day! We need a house with a playroom, STAT!
    We have a cleaning lady. She is not the world’s best cleaner but she is reliable and lovely. Wednesday night is totally stressful because I am trying to get the house in shape for her; all the other tasks get piled up and HAVE TO GET DONE. But Thursday afternoon my house is clean and it’s worth it, until the next Wednesday.
    My husband will do anything…if I ask. I hate that I have to ask. Nag, really, in an outrageously bitchy way. I hate the dynamic. He pays lip service to the idea that staying at home is a JOB and is EXHAUSTING. Does he believe it? I think he does–but then why won’t he do the dishes take out the trash or change over the laundry unless I beg?

  74. I found the comments so interesting today. It is such a great debate and one I have thought about and discussed with my husband and friends on several occasions. I feel that childcare is very demanding, yet I would SO rather be home taking care of my 16 month old daughter than sitting in my husband’s office all day! It’s not that I think his job is harder or easier than mine…I just know I would not enjoy sitting in a cubicle all day in front of a computer. I also hated my job before I had my daughter. There is nothing I can think of that I would rather do than care for her everyday. I try to keep up with the housework, mostly during her naps, but we also pay a cleaner to come very other week. It is very hard to do everything involved in really cleaning and managing a house (especially with three cats) without neglecting/ignoring my daughter in some way for at least part of the day. At this age, she is very clingy and demanding of my attention while she is awake, but I love it. I do get to go to playdates and swimming, which I enjoy, but is also part of raising her and giving her meaningful social experiences. It’s all part of the job and it’s a job I love and a job I feel that I am good at. I think Cloud had a good point about that.I also just want to mention that the amount of sleep you are getting SO plays a role. My daughter just started sleeping through the night (I mean ALL the way through the night) a week ago and I feel like a different person. In the early months, there were days when the smallest thing seemed like the end of the world. I could barely keep up with cutting my toenails, let alone mopping the floor!

  75. Things have definitely fallen apart around the house here since having a bub. I have been considering getting a cleaner, to get rid of some of my stress at the mess. But then I worry what this will model to our son as he grows up. Although it must be better than what I am currently modeling. I’d rather him help me with the chores, when he is old enough. But that isn’t what is happening now. Maybe a cleaner for a while would be a good idea for me, and phase them out when bub is old enough to help (or at least watch without screaming).

  76. So, I’ve thought about this all day and finally have time to comment (well, actually I don’t have time as I have folded laundry that needs to be put away, about 40 essays to grade by tomorrow, oh and it’s 11pm here and as husband and I had a “discussion” about how he needs me to be available to care for #3 tomorrow morning when he wakes the baby at the crack of dawn b/c baby still co-sleeps and DH has to get to work early I really should just be going to bed… but I digress).I realized as I thought about it today that in terms of household “chores” I’d say we’re pretty much 50/50. We split the normal chores along predictable lines.
    My real beef is with the STUFF and childcare. The childcare imbalance is the pretty standard “they prefer you”. But, omg, why does all the STUFF belong to me? Why am I in charge not just of my stuff but of all three kids’ stuff as well? Why is it my job to organize and then clean out the baby’s bag? Why are the older kids’ lunch boxes my job? Shoes? My job. Swim bag? Mine. Mail that doesn’t specifically have his name on it? You guessed it.
    This drives me crazy because my inability to manage all this stuff drives him crazy. He’s found of saying we live in a “sh!t hole” and as the daughter of a hoarder who comes from a long line of hoarders herself, our house is a far cry from a “sh!t hole.” Yes, the swim bag hangs on the front closet door knob (empty of anything wet). There are shoes on the stairs. The baby’s bag is sitting on the dining room floor. There is folded laundry on a chair in the den. There are toys here and there. But nothing about our house is unhygienic. It is certainly not a “sh!t hole.” Quite frankly, I wouldn’t even call our house “messy” (of course, this could be b/c I grew up in a “messy” house). I called him on this tonight as he was in one of his rants. The problem is… he’s not interested in helping. He’s already doing his share… all the rest is up to me. Really, more than anything in our marriage… the STUFF causes all of our problems.
    @Samantha–Do NOT split up because you already feel like a single parent. As a divorced mom, let me tell you that unless you have other issues going on, his lack of help around the house is not a good excuse to irrevocably change your child’s life. I do not regret my divorce (our issues ran deeper than the fact that he was rarely around to help), but I ache for my older children everyday as I watch them juggle life between two homes. I often joke to my mom that I went from being a single parent to 2 children to the single parent of 3 (b/c my husband/father of #3 does so little actual childcare). But even the little bit he does do is better than none.
    And I’ll wrap up this seriously long comment by weighing in on which is harder childcare or a professional job. My years as a SAHM were much more stressful than my current position as a WOHM with #3 in daycare. Give me an hour with 30 college students over an hour with 3 small children any day of the week.

  77. My husband has been a SAHD for the last year and a half, and is now back at work just as I’m starting my summer vacation from teaching. So we have a pretty good understanding of each other’s experience.We each seem to be able do quite a bit of the household chores while watching the kid, but it is difficult, and our focus is different.
    My husband is more consistent–he kept up on the laundry and dishes and always had dinner on the table when I came home, every single day. That’s more than I used to do when I was a childless student, lol.
    My focus is more on organization. I’ve tried to keep up to his standards (at least with dinner) and do a bit more straightening/decluttering. I started up my FlyLady emails again once my school year ended. I think it’s fair for the person with higher cleanliness standards to do more work to achieve that.
    Together my husband and I have a similar vision of a fairly tidy, functional house. We keep things fair by dividing work by time. During the day we both do whatever we can at our respective jobs. In the evening, one of us plays with the kid while the other does housework (dinner, clean-up, etc). After my daughter is in bed, we both relax.

  78. @Samantha, my suggestions: a) do things that work for you – get the cleaner, do individual therapy on your side. b) Name the game, gently – that is, when he’s feeling emasculated or resistant to changing his defined role’s parameters, just say, ‘I hear that you’re unhappy that the life we have cannot be what you learned to expect as a child.’ and ‘It seems uncomfortable to constantly live in a world that is so foreign to your expectations.’ and ‘It sounds like you really wanted to grow up to be the hero for your family, and you don’t like not knowing how to do that in a different way.’ All the non-violent communication stuff (there’s a website, and books, if you want to look into that…) – not only does he need to hear that this really IS hard (changing, needing, not getting), but it is IMHO important for you to say it for yourself, too. It makes it so much easier to let go of stuff in the process when we take the position of being open to their pain. Harder to resent him when you can state clearly how deep the wound is for him, name the boundaries and identify the jagged edges… It also makes it harder for him to resist change, because he then has a safe place in which to explore the wound himself. Yes, individual therapy would be ideal. But to get to the point where he can feel safe going into it, he may need space around the pain – you *may* be able to provide that. Not a free ticket to dodge the painful place, but a safe place to feel the pain. Granted, I’m not a therapist, but it seems a place to start.@Ashley (and Nic, too), it IS useful to hear that there are people who are a superior fit for child care who are enjoying it and who find it less demanding than their spouse’s work. The full range does exist. JUST saying that it is hard is as false as JUST saying that it is easy. For many it is hard, for some it is REALLY hard, for some it is easy. Most of the people who landed here are in the middle ranges – hard easy hard easy hard easy hard easy, sometimes on a 5 minute cycle. Just bear that in mind on the tone… it’s easy to make your words sound superior and arrogant, and much harder to stand in a point of compassion and understanding, especially if you have never experienced it for yourself.

  79. I came back to say a bit more. Random thoughts really.The number one thing to me, beyond basic sanitation, is that I want to raise my son in a home where chores are a fact of life but not punitive or gut-wrenching. I would rather that he never clean the toilet than that he clean it crying.
    I have vivid memories of my mother letting all the ‘crazy’ out during chores. I remember getting chemical pneumonia at 7 when I dumped bleach and ammonia in the bath together. I remember bringing my first serious crush home to find all my clothes, including stained underwear, on the front lawn because my mom had a fit that day.
    Looking back I think a lot of this was because my mother’s power was exclusively domestic. She used chores as a way to get back at my father, control us, and as the source of her frustration. I hate to say it but one of the deep satisfactions I have as an adult is that her home is cluttered, since growing up the party line was that it would be perfect were it not for us terrible children.
    I have spent a lot of time learning about space and cleanliness and myself. The most important thing I think was that my home is not me. But sometimes chaos in the house does reflect (or cause) internal chaos. So learning to care for my environment not out of fear of failure, or anger, or disgust, has been an important journey for me. Letting go of resentment (although not 100%) has been really important too.
    Also important has been to make sure our home reflects our true lifestyle. We packed away our knickknacks for now and keep art on the walls instead. We don’t bring things into our home that we don’t love. We try to have storage for the spaces the way we really use them (we may be the only people to have gift wrap in our kitchen cupboards) rather than some idealized version. And maybe most importantly we bought an unpretentious 1960s bungalow built for raising kids, not for entertaining corporate clients.
    One thing I’ve learned (and this speaks to Ashley) is that every person, and day, is different. I remember feeling like I’d arrived when I could wash the floor with my son in a sling. But then there was the period that followed it when a) he was climbing on everything and had defeated our child safety locks and seemed determined to both kill himself and coat the floor in everything, b) was having a sleep regression so we didn’t dare make noise if he was sleeping, c) was terrified of the vacuum cleaner and d) was suffering serious separation anxiety. That was not a banner 6 weeks for the state of our rugs. ☺
    I don’t find my work status changes the work that much. When I was home I had more time to clean up, but we were also making a lot more mess – AND it was more important to me because that was my 24/7 environment. Now we make fewer messes but our weekends and evenings feel more precious.

  80. Oh and since I find it fascinating to read others’, here’s our divisions:DH – does all morning stuff with our son – breakfast, clothes, off to school. I generally do organize the stuff that needs to go, but if I don’t, he is pretty capable of stepping in to figure it out.
    – he also does car maintenance on his car, gutters, and big landscaping stuff
    Me – I do daycare pickup, dinner, and bedtime most nights (although DH does some playing after dinner too)
    – I do all meal planning, shopping, and prep for anything not breakfast
    – I do all the gift-buying, card-writing, clothes shopping with a few exceptions for DH, and all that kind of stuff
    – I do the laundry, cleaning, and financial planning/bill paying, although of late DH does jump in on the weekends to do some of the cleaning which is new! And lovely! So he does maybe 20% of cleaning currently
    – I do the lawn mowing most of the time (3/4 times)
    – We both take out the garbage and take care of the cats, although I probably do the litter boxes ¾ time
    Weekends we have family time which is “childcare” although DH works a lot of weekends so I have the responsibility for those times.

  81. Our level of stress (at least mine) about cleaning has gone down exponentially since hiring a cleaning person. She comes for one hour per week and does the floors downstairs, plus upstairs vacuuming/bathroom/other bathroom on a three week rotating basis. This is not super-deep cleaning but it does let us walk around without stuff sticking to our feet. My husband really resisted this, since his mother took care of their enormous, immaculate house all by herself, but since I work 30 hours a week, plus do all the childcare outside those 30 hours, I said that was not a realistic expectation for me, and furthermore it wasn’t what the two of us wanted to do on our weekends. He works 80-90 hours per week, and is often gone Monday through Friday, which is a whole different problem. Suffice it to say, if he’s going to spend any time at all with his kid or his wife, it’s on the weekends, so doing chores on the weekends is a terrible idea.Things are better now. I’m still the mastermind pulling all the strings behind the scenes and yes, I’m a bit resentful of that. I feel like he’s responsible for himself and I’m responsible for all of us. I don’t know very many families in which the wife ISN’T the mastermind. I’d be interested to hear some examples. I don’t think it will ever change in our house because my husband is just physically not here (he’s literally in a different time zone most of the time) enough to know what’s going on.
    I’m starting full-time work in January with an hour commute. I’m trying not to let it stress me out too much wondering how the heck it’s going to work without emotionally damaging Toddler, but oh, it does. I just re-read my post and it sure doesn’t sound like I’m less stressed out, does it? But things ARE better now that I’m not worrying about vacuuming up dog hair and scrubbing toilets.

  82. I [heart] Cloud. She said it so perfectly: “Loving your children and being really good at child care aren’t the same thing.” Lately, I find I’m thinking a lot about how so many ideas can really stand to be stripped of the idea that they are *value statements*. I.e., my way is not good or bad or better or worse than your way, it is merely different. Period. So once you are able to distance yourself a bit, there is an idea that has been stripped of judgement and has been removed from a hierarchy. I am noticing hierarchies everywhere and oftentimes a hierarchy is good, and useful, and helps gets things done, but also many times I think we unconsciously are placing things/ideas on a stratum unecessarily and maybe even harmfully. I see this play out in the whole WOHM/WAHM dynamic, the nursing/formula/supplementing thing and on and on. And also, now, here–with the childcare is easy! No, it’s not! Well, what’s wrong with you that it’s not? Well, what’s wrong with you that it is??? I’m not saying people here are attacking each other (they’re not, at all)–but I just love that Cloud so effortlessly and easily sliced through the value statements to say: being good at childcare is not hooked to our love for our children. Boom, done. Value statement removed. Thank you, Cloud.I have a lot to say on other aspects of this whole conversation–primarily the “Oz” aspect but I am thinking I need, instead, to sit my husband down in front of the computer tonight and say: read this. Read what these people say.
    To Samantha–my thoughts are with you! You’re having a rough go of it!

  83. @Samantha….I just went back to re-read your comment. Does he feel you are emasculating him because of the work/$$ difference? That seems rather passive aggressive of him to refuse to help with childcare and housework because you earn more money and have a better job. While I agree that divorce might not be justified simply because your husband does not help out around the house and with the kids as much as you would like (if that were the case, many of us would be doing it alone), please don’t feel guilty for considering that perhaps this person is not someone you can have a partnership with long-term. I think it is sad that he blames you for your success/his lack of success and that he thinks the best way to “punish” you for that is to isolate you with all of the work. I might be reading this wrong, and perhaps others would disagree with me, but this seems beyond just split of housechores and childcare issues. And I suspect your desire to leave him has less to do with feeling like a single parent with all the chores and more to do with being deeply hurt that he chooses to resent you and leave you hanging in this way.

  84. @Julie, I agree it is beyond the ‘chores/work’ issue – it is a deep personal issue. And yeah, it might not be fixable, or livable. Or what is good for the kids to grow up with as a model themselves. Even with a true and valid reason for the wounded thrashing around, sometimes we have to step far enough away to just not get injured by it – doesn’t make it or less valid underneath, but… well, my mom suggested that love is not the same as compatible or livable. One can love deeply but be unable to live with that person because of the state of their wounds and how they respond to them. Safe still comes first.@Cloud, I agree that the removal of value statement was brilliant. I love my kids, I am not at my best with children (any, mine or others). Doesn’t play to my strengths, and I’ve had to build a lot of skills on not much talent in that regard. (though I’ll say that my best friend said that she was great with kids – she was a teacher – until she had kids of her own! So sometimes it isn’t just ‘skills with kids’ but ‘skills with THESE kids, complete with the complex meaning and emotional burdens on both sides’…)
    @Shandra – I forgot to mention the whole ‘breakfast/morning’ vs ‘evening’ divide, myself! Ep does breakfast, in general, I do dinner in general. He also packs the lunches.
    Oh, and CG – Ep (DH) does most of the planning, coordinating, and tracking of the calendar. He sets up, prints out, and updates the home calendar (custom so we can spot school events readily). I add in my things, but he sends ME the daily reminders of what is coming up, events we’ve RSVP’d to, things we need to plan for, etc. I schedule the doctor and dentist, and make the RSVP calls to invitations, but often enough forget to put them on the calendar… so, yeah, he’s Oz. Not that he likes being Oz – he dislikes it as much as anyone here does. Doesn’t want to feel like the grownup, doesn’t want to be telling me my schedule. But… that’s what works. Other way around, and we’d be missing appointments and birthday parties right and left.

  85. @hedra, you’ve hit the nail on the head: I feel like the grownup and it bugs me. And maybe truly being a grownup means that you get over that, but I don’t know yet!

  86. I am feeling sensitive about this right now because I am 15 weeks pregnant and still battling some nausea. (It’s better, though.) Each time I’ve been pregnant, my husband and I have had a big end-of-the-first-trimester fight about what a disaster our house is. He’s okay for the first five or six weeks that I’m reduced to wanly surveying the mess, but then he’s done.We have three issues here that are making me nuts. One is an old problem that we’ve had for our whole marriage: he values tidy over clean, and I am the reverse. With the time and energy that I have, I’d rather vacuum and mop than pick up clutter. Clutter doesn’t get to me the way that dirt does, but it really gets to him.
    I guess the other two issues are really different sides of the same coin, and that’s expectations. His mom was at home when he was a kid; his dad was a traveling salesman who was gone all week and did his own thing on the weekends. With that background, I guess it’s natural for him to think that he’s doing his share and more, and to feel that I’m being demanding if I suggest that he’s not (issue #2). He also assumes (issue #3) that I’ll take care of things I hate to do, like arranging for home maintenance. He has a long list of reasons why I ought to do it, but I think it really boils down to his preconception that it’s my job.
    I suppose the right thing to do is to sit down and talk about it, but I’m not very optimistic about that. I’m not only saying, “Could you please call a few masonry companies to get estimates for repairing the brickwork?” What I’m really saying is, “Could you please take another look at your assumptions about my role, especially since I’m not a full-time mother like your mom was?” And re-evaluating assumptions, which has to happen for him to call masonry companies without thinking he’s doing me a favor, is harder than flipping through the Yellow Pages.

  87. Have to jump back in here…@Samantha–Re-reading my comment about not leaving because you already feel like a single parent, I hope it didn’t sound too harsh. My reasons for leaving ran into something that Julie and Hedra said. Yes, I was doing all the work while working full time myself which is a bummer… but I also felt like I was getting beat up by his expectations of how our life should be even though our life was far from that. I’m not sure I can explain it any better without going into great detail–which I’m happy to do if you need someone to bounce things off of on email.
    Oh, and to add to the expectation thing… my husband (not ex) is found of saying “We didn’t do that when I was growing up and I turned out okay” as his excuse for a 1960s lifestyle. It’s not that he doesn’t want to help (for example, he’s developed a real passion for being the one who picks #3 up from daycare!) I think he just doesn’t know how to get started a lot of the time. He likes being the smartest man in the room and when it comes to childcare he’s often not… so giving him the chance to learn to do something without his feeling self-conscious about it has been key to helping him get more involved. For example, I take the kids to the university pool most days. I was sick the other evening and the kids asked him to take them. He said no because he said he wanted to “get the lay of the land” of the pool before he was responsible for 3 kids by himself up there. Now, I would never think such a thing… I’m a learn as I go kind of person. But it is clear that he needs more prep before heading into something new… especially with 3 kids in tow. Realizing this has made a huge difference in how I prep him for new childcare responsibilities.
    @Cloud–I took #3 to daycare this morning even though I have #1 and #2 home with me. I’m working from home today and I just HAVE to get stuff done. By personality, I can only be an “in your face 100% mommy” in about 10 minute intervals. This was great for #2 who only wanted to be engaged for about that long as a baby, but #3 pulls at the computer and is visibly disturbed by my not giving him 100% for long periods of time. So, while I adore him with all my heart, and while I am a very good mommy, I took him to daycare today so he can get more of what he needs… stimulation in longer that quick bursts. It’s taken me a loooong time to come to grips with the fact that I;m a better mommy when I’m not with them all day long. And while I do love the leisurely day with all 3 doing something really fun (beach, zoo, pool, etc), I do not want to go back to doing that 24/7.
    As for splitting the chores, as I read through Shandra’s list it dawned on me that there are chores my husband does that I don’t even consider chores (though they certainly are) like the bills or watering the yard. I really think he and I need to climb into a nice hotel bed somewhere with a bottle of champagne and no kids and take some time to reconsider our expectations rather than reconsidering them on the fly when someone is already upset that something isn’t being done.
    And finally, on the actual cleaning front, I have NO recollection of ever seeing my mother clean. I’m sure she did as our house wasn’t dirty (it was cluttered… but not dirty), but it means that I grew up without any real sense of how to clean. I’ve learned along the way, of course, but I wish I had a system versus my “Wow, how long has it been since I cleaned the tub?”
    Sorry this is so long… I guess I need to start my own blog again to get all of this stuff off my chest…

  88. @rudyinparis and Cloud, YES…and even more, there are things that you can be good at effortlessly and things that we can be good at, but that cost us a lot of effort. For me, foreign languages are in the first category, and childcare is waaay into the second. I’m sure plenty of people are the reverse. But the fact that childcare is effortful for me in no way means I’m not a good mom or that I don’t love my kid. It does mean it’s a natural choice for me to get help with it.

  89. Just to had to the datapoints:Husband and I both work, both in scientific/academia setting. We both have jobs that will end if we don’t produce a lot of research findings (me: get tenure as a professor, him: get a great scientific article to get a tenured-track scientist job)so in theory, we would both like to work 60 hours a week to be productive and we have one son that is almost three years old, and we would like to spend all of our time with him = conflict over our time. So it affects what we do as chores and when. There is no doubt that our arrangment is not typical, I have no friend of the same age that seems to have this really equal sharing of home duties (and maybe I would say he does 60%). He is perfect at thinking what goes in the diaper bag, what lunch we should pack to go biking, he never forgets to put sunscreen on our son, he cooks 90% of the time and we are the type of couple that alternate each night who cleans the kitchen and who cleans and put our son to bed (and we get a week each of taking care of bath time with our son), yes very geeky. I do the scheduling of appointments for our son and we go together to the appointments. I would say I do 60-70% of laundry and folding but I usually do it on the week-ends when we are all together and I fold sitting in the living room with them. we also do grocery shopping as a family. Our son already mimick his father and does a lot of “cooking” next to him when my husband prepares supper and we all clean the living room togetehr when nightime arrives, to do some modelling. We have a cleaning lady coming every two weeks for 4 hours and we make a point of not cleaning before she comes. She knows that if we did not declutter, say, the living room, she is not expected to do it for us. So we all feel better and unstressed. My husband’s mother was a nurse and worked a lot of night shifts so his father was very hands on for a seventies father, cooking, cleaning and raising them while his wife worked. I think that may have influenced my husband. My parents were both academics and none of them touched a thing in the house (they were never their and ften arrived late at night, compared to our approach of working at night when our son sleeps so we can spend time with him from 4pm to 8pm) as they had a nanny-cleaner-cook (life saver would be abetter name to call her) that practically raised me and my sister. So I may be doing not more than 50% of the chores because I never learned how to do it altough I am a woman while he did altough he is a man?
    For the “I am the master of all organisation topic”: I told him only once that organizing and getting appointments and calling people to get things fixed like electrician etc..(and finding the pediatrician, etc) was a chore in my opinion and he agreed that I was better at it (he is super shy) so I think he feels that cooking more is making up for it (and I more than agree) and the topic never came up again.
    In summary, our upringing were opposite of the average in that as a girl I was told to become financially independent and nobody taught me about taking care of a house (mostly just plain lack of modelling) and neitehr my father or mother parented in a traditional way and as a boy he saw a lot of hands on parenting from his father while his mom was the bread winner (although she is also a home bread and cookie maker, fantatsic cook and very proud cleaner and gardener). Maybe our arrangment has something to do with it, which is in accordance with what many other posters are saying on this topic.

  90. More data points, albeit from a sometimes dysfunctional relationship. We’ve thrown the d-word around many times, but are working it out.Hubby handles: daycare drop-off & pickup (he has the car and daycare is at his work site); walks & feeds dog sometimes; changes diapers often; balances checkbook; cooks most meals; makes our travel plans; sometimes does laundry but rarely folds/puts away, and once in a blue moon he fixes something around the house, or takes night duty for baby – but only after i’ve had a nervous breakdown and issued some awful ultimatum about leaving him. Real healthy of me, right?
    I handle everything else.
    I usually have to help hubby finish any/all of the above. Or I get to answer all of these passive-aggressive questions like “Hey, WHERE IS THE….” which drive me batty. Get off your behind and find it for yourself where you last left it, fool!!!!
    But I have resigned myself that a true 50-50 split of household duties is a pipe dream in my current relationship, and somehow I just need to find a way to get over the bitterness and resentment about it because despite these relatively minor issues, my hubby is a good man & my neuroses are just way out of control when it comes to household maintenance.

  91. Thy and CG and others who talk about the responsibility and the masterminding of it all….I had such a lightbulb go off when I read that. My husband and I are both full time work out of the home parents, but only one of us (guess who) makes the mental note to pick up milk when running low, or to get some clothes the next size up when the pants are turning into capris….those kinds of tasks that are not particularly unpleasant or time consuming, but that have to be thought of. And I do resent being the only one to think about them. And I refuse to ask him to do it over and over, because I just hate that dynamic and plus it still means I’m the one thinking about it, but I also don’t want to be milk-less 5 minutes before running out the door, so I end up doing it. And then over time it becomes my job. Sigh.I thought that we’d done a pretty good job of relaxing our standards to get through this, but maybe I have to relax them a bit more. Maybe if I just forget about the milk and let him struggle through it, things will evolve a little. But boy is it hard to let go. Plus I don’t like black coffee…..

  92. I, too, like what you said, Cloud. And, yes, I *did* just so happen to choose childcare as a paying profession. I also happen to have a BS in it, too. I get asked a lot if my daughter is my first child b/c people say I do not act like Im a first-time mom. So, yeah, my take on childcare juuuust might be a bit different than yours. Childcare is my favourite job. This is prolly why I dont find it to be difficult. Mechanics and nurses prolly dont find their jobs to be terribly difficult, either, but I do. Them being good at it doesnt make me feel bad or want them to feel bad for doing well, either. The difference between what they do and what I do is that you dont need to take classes to be a parent & that is a huge part of what makes people defensive, I think.

  93. I agree with MLB which I realize other people disagree but while my husband gets home at 6:30 (rarely) at the earliest. He gets up at 6:00 in the morning he is gone all day every day doing hardwood flooring. I am home all day and find plenty of time in raising my four and two year old to just seriously sit around and watch a movie all the way through if I so choose. I certainly can do the dishes and laundry and picking up.Granted in general we don’t adhere to or give a crap about stringent cleaning. Our house is cluttered, you can’t use the kitchen table half the time because I make the kids put the bags of pretzels or caramel popcorn or whatever they had for a snack back on the table and then don’t put them back in the kitchen. There’s laundry perpetually in the hall way because that’s where I tell them to toss it and shoes, toys and, empty soda boxes are often in the living room. Everything is “clean” there’s no bugs, mold, or gross here. It’s just not “tidy”. And we’re okay with that.
    The only thing I request is that people don’t make my job harder. Put trash in trash bins not tables, put your laundry in the hamper (or hallway, heh) so I can do it, Put dishes in the sink. Basically, basic cleaning up after oneself. I don’t go to his work and start throwing garbage around or leaving my crap all over the place I require he does not do the same.

  94. To everyone – thanks. Awesome. The comments have been so helpful for me as I deal with very similar things.Especially to Shandra, for this:
    “Also important has been to make sure our home reflects our true lifestyle. We packed away our knickknacks for now and keep art on the walls instead. We don’t bring things into our home that we don’t love. We try to have storage for the spaces the way we really use them (we may be the only people to have gift wrap in our kitchen cupboards) rather than some idealized version. And maybe most importantly we bought an unpretentious 1960s bungalow built for raising kids, not for entertaining corporate clients.”
    AWESOME ideas. Thank you, thank you.

  95. @ Stacy — “If he comes home from work tonight and I say, “clean the toilet,” he’ll do it. No question. The problem is, he rarely takes initiative. And delegating is so annoying that I would rather just clean the damn toilet myself. I don’t want to be my husband’s boss or his mother.”Funny you say this because I always say to my husband that I want to be a TEAM, I am tired of being the COACH. I don’t like having to tell him what to do or what needs to be done. It makes me feel icky, but he prefers it.
    He has requested that I make a chore chart for him so that he knows what to do each day.
    Ummmm, no one is writing it down for me…and how old are you?? In some ways I think it is a cop out, but on the other hand, most men just can’t see dirt.
    Sorry for the vent, but I am tired of ASKING for help even when he jumps in without hesitation.

  96. Great topic and postsThis is a big source of conflict that goes in ebbs and waves due to how our family has changed over the years. Before we had children we pretty much did 50/50 and our marriage relationship was great.
    After the first child was born, my husband who was down sized when I was pregnant, was the stay at home dad so he did more than his share of work though I still did a lot. I in turn took up more freelance work to earn more money. I often traveled for days or weeks for business. I wasn’t happy to be away from my infant son, but given the circumstance, it was necessary and I felt like that at least I had great childcare from someone I trust.
    However, as my son got older I found fault with his care giving skills since my husband felt uncomfortable setting up playdates, would let my son watch TV as a daily activity or feed him food I didn’t think were nutritous enough. I hired a nanny to take care of my son 3 days a week which turned into 5 days when my son was really thriving with more stimulation and attention. I of course was happy since I had a say over my son’s daily activities without getting into a heated argument with my husband.
    My husband on the other hand was not doing so well. I think he felt like his major “job” was taken away from him and he went into a bit of depression. Instead of helping more with the household chores as I had expected since he had more time on his hands, he would either sleep most of the day or would go golfing every day. I was so frustrated and this situation started to put a major strain on our marriage since I felt like I was carrying everything on my shoulders financially, keeping house and raising my son. And to top it all off I had to worry about his feelings. I really thought about divorcing him since I was starting to feel alone with all of our problems and not feeling like I had a true partner.
    What saved us was I really loved him and when I let go of my anger and saw things from his POW, I realized he was suffering from a confidence problem in not being able to take care of his family in both financial and care giving terms. He really really needed a job to give him purpose. So I stuck by him, helped him and encouraged him in his job search. It took a few years but he did find a job and though I still make quite a bit more than he does, he really likes his job, he is happier and has a sense of purpose. We still squabble over chores. I still do more than he does but I have come to let things go if its not that important. We live by the rule of “do it if you find it important”. I like a clean bathroom so I clean it more. My husband takes out garbage and washes the clothes and does the shopping because these are activities he thinks are important. I am thinking of hiring a cleaning lady though so I can spend more time with my children.

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