Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Division of Labor in your house

As a sociology major in College - I read a lot about division of labor and gender roles, etc... The whole topic fascinated me even before I was married with kids and gave up my "office job" for the 24 hour job of staying at home.

Before we had children, my husband and I were both very neat in our own respects so it wasn't like we really had any huge mess to clean every week. (we were only home at night)

I typically did all of the HEAVY DUTY cleaning - the bathrooms, kitchen, vacuuming, etc... Dave has always been good about doing dishes and cooking - he loves cooking and he won't object at all if I ask him to do any of the other stuff... I just always kind of did it myself. (I was always home more than him too as he commuted to work and I didn't - so that might have been part of it.)

I don't think we ever discussed who would do what - we just sort of fell into that habit and it worked.

Then when we had our daughter and I decided to stay home I sort of started to feel like it was my job to do all the household stuff.
Grocery Shopping, Cleaning the rooms, Organizing her clothes, Laundry, Vacuuming, Mopping, Bathroom cleaning, etc.

Luckily, my husband would do all of this stuff and he does help me (especially now that I'm preggo again) however, I have found that I have a system and it's fast and his system is slow and it makes me crazy - so I'd much rather just do it all myself while he entertains Katie. So the fact that he doesn't "do more" isn't because he isn't willing, but more because I'm a control freak and would rather just do it myself. I also work PT doing online consulting - which adds to the home/work/life balance on my end and my husband is very supportive of it.

I don't work much (I try to do between 5 and 10 hours a week) and I don't make that much money - I do it because I feel like I NEED to be contributing something, even if it's just enough money to cover shopping sprees for Katie and I. It's something I do for myself which adds some stress but makes me feel better in the long run so for now, we make it work.

At the end of the day, my husband is usually the one who runs the dishwasher and he still does the boy jobs like going up into the attic and taking the garbage out but everything else is pretty much all me. He does like to cook and on weekends, I love when he takes that on because he has way more patience and makes much better stuff than I do! However, I don't think I've ever heard my husband say - I think I'll clean the toilet today.

As far as childcare goes - I think we have done an excellent job of splitting the job. (that is not my family in this pic but I thought it was fitting!)

Granted, Katie is a daddy's girl and prefers to be with him at night once he gets back from work - which means I get some "down" time to a certain degree as he does bath and bedtime - but we trade off on mornings waking up with her and trying to keep her quiet so that the other can get a few more minutes of sleep and we've always done that.

Even though my husband has a full time job that he goes to every day - we are lucky in that it's only 5 minutes away so he doesn't have a long, taxing commute or anything to worry about - so he has always been more than happy to help me with whatever I need. He has NEVER made me feel like it is my job because I'm home, to be on duty 24/7 and I love him for that! He truly understands just how hard it is to be a stay at home parent, even though he hasn't had to do it full time and I realize that I am one of the lucky ones!

How does it work in your house and why is that so? Are you happy with the division of work at home?

I'm not looking to start any fights between spouses (comment anonymously;))- just want to start a conversation.

I have to admit - I take a lot of pride in staying home. I get a HUGE rush of adrenaline when I save large amounts of money through planned grocery shopping and coupon clipping. I enjoy managing our household finances (even though it's my husband who makes the money). I love making a nice meal for my man when he comes home at the end of the day.

But, I will admit that being a stay at home mom is harder and more stressful than working any job I have ever worked and that I need time outs and back up a lot and I thank my husband for providing that for me every day! On the flip side, I also believe that my husband is entitled to down time as well and we try very hard to make sure that we each get a little time each week to ourselves so that we don't lose who we are as individuals in the shuffle of life/work/parenting.


  1. Life in the Bouchard house is all sorts of crazy. My husband works and 8 day on 6 day off schedule and my father (JC's Popeye has he calls him) works the opposite 8 days. So when we discovered how much day care would cost we guilted Popeye into helping us out. I make the higher income so there was no way I could leave work plus I carry the benefits (sometime this bothers me but then I sit back and remember I didn't marry Gene for what he did in life but who he was). So 2 days a week (because that is the least amount of days they will let JC go part time but TOTALLY worth it. So childcare is mainly done by my husband which means I get night time duty (JC is a mama's boy so even when I just get home I am on duty- nothing like 30 seconds to decompress form the work day). Division of labor in the house is pretty even- though I must admit I don't live the way Gene dusts and it takes him 3 days to get it all done because he stops to watch tv while getting things done. So on my weekends that Gene works I take JC's 3 hour nap to clean top to bottom and then through out the week we run the swifter or vaccuum to get the dust and dog hair that drives me insane. Bi-weekly I manke up a menu and grocery list. Gene and JC usually accompany me on this shopping outting but if not I don't mind going myself. I handle the bills for no other reason than I balance the checkbook daily but Gene is always kept up to date on what is in there to be used (usually nothing).
    I guess when I sit and write it out we do handle things pretty equally in the house. Though I will admit I have never mowed the lawn once in my life but I do take care of the gardening. I wonder why at the end of the day I am the one that is usually exhausted and I am fustrated that I came home and did a million things- must be all the stuff women handle mentally that men just don't.

  2. I try to get all of the major cleaning,, grocery shopping, household management things taken care of so that the hubs doesn't have to worry about that. I think it's nice that he goes to work and comes home to a nice clean house (usually!),meals are all taken care of, and bills are paid. I was starting to feel weird about the whole not having my own money thing (even though of course it's family money but still) - so that's what pushed me on getting a PT job (which is awesome since it's from home) - also because I felt like the household/ mommy stuff was all I was doing and it definitely wasn't enough. Mike does take care of fixing things around the house and he will do occasional cleaning/ dishes.
    I am definitely getting more of a balance by working PT, watching Jake (& the new one coming), and managing the household things. and at first I did this stuff because we agreed that I would stay home (since I made much less than Mike and we didn't want to do the daycare thing), but now I am enjoying the things I do and I feel like I am definitely contributing to this family!

  3. We do it Cleaver-style down here. Barry goes to work 5 days a week, works at least 50 hours a week while I stay home with the kids and handle basically everything that goes on under (and around) our roof. Laundry, meal-planning and cooking (all three meals; I make breakfast & lunch for Barry every morning before he leaves; dinner when he gets home), grocery-shopping, bill-paying/budgeting, tending the pool, cleaning the house, and exercising A&F's little brains and bodies.

    Never, ever would I have expected to live like this - before I got married, I assumed I'd have some really progressive split and my husband would load the dishwasher and sweep the floors and help fold laundry - HA! I'm the official garbage taker-outer in this house and the occasional lawn mower, too.

    Let me openly admit, though, that at first I felt very alone and very pissed that 'so much' was expected of me...but after the last 5 years of adjustments and talks and (reading a book that I initially found very offensive, but totally changed our dynamics) and figuring out my role in the family/partnership, I have grown to like it like this. I'm the master of our domain and when I think of all the stress that B has to go through at work to keep us living in this beautiful house, on the canal with our boat, and how hard he's working to get to the next level/place, I know my contributions to him and our family staying healthy and happy is just as important as what he does. I am extremely grateful that I'm the one who gets to stay home, enjoy the kids, be my own boss and pursue my own hobbies (writing & photography) as I wish. Yes, it's exhausting, but at the end of most days I've earned a great sense of accomplishment.

    Barry has to go to a football game tonight with some visiting VPs and I was running a tally aloud of what it was going to cost, when he stopped me and said, "You know, I'd rather just come home and be with you." Which is what he does every night. And that's how I know I'm good at, and what keeps me embracing, my job.

  4. "our family staying healthy and happy **ARE** just as important as what he does." oops.

  5. Well In the Bastos house we both are full-time workers. Our daughter has been in daycare since 9 weeks. We have pretty traditional roles. I do most cooking and cleaning. My husband does the yard stuff and bills... When it comes to our daughter. He takes mornings and I do evenings. And boy do we have a schedule... With both of us working full time, by the time we get home, we are not left with much time. So its pretty much go go go till bedtime. And its exhausting but fully worth it. We love the social aspects of daycare and both love what we do for our careers. Best of luck moms! No matter how your house works, its tons of work...

  6. I have to say - after staying home, I don't think I could go back to work FT unless I could hire a house cleaner and a cook! I don't think I could manage the whole house AND work AND a kid - so Kudos to you FT workers out there!