She asked for a List of Household Chores for Men. Then she added, “I have not seen a man do housework. What could my husband do?” Yes, these beliefs are still kicking around. Sexist or what?
The phrase women’s work is often unpaid work comes to mind. I would be insulted if my hubby made a List of Chores for Women for the little wifey. I feel dismayed when I hear women say, “My partner helped me clean the house” or “My husband babysat the kids”. Help? Babysit? Isn’t he cleaning your and his house? Isn’t he spending time with your and his children? When I shovel snow I do not say, “I helped my hubby shovel the sidewalk”. We are a team. We are not helping the other with the family or household chores. We do the chores as a partnership. And, yes, a chore list can help with distribution of responsibilities.
Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg did a TedTalk called, Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders. In it she encourages us to ask why more women don’t step into roles of significant responsibility at work and society. Although she respects women’s rights to focus on family and remain at home, she examines the workplace struggles women continue to have as leaders and want-to-be leaders. She cites these statistics:
- There are 190 heads of state with 9 being women.
- Of all world parliaments 13% of the members are women.
- Only 15% to 16% of top positions and board members of corporations are women.
- About 20% of top positions and board members of non-profit organizations are women.
- Of married managers, 2/3 of the men have children while 1/3 of the women do.
Sandberg talks about women having two jobs–one at their place of paid employment and the other at home. She said that studies show when both partners work full time, women do approximately 3.5 times as much housework. According to Sandberg more equitable partnerships have half the divorce rate. To assist in the shifting of this heavy load on women I offer the chore list below. Use it to take stock of your home life and to invite sharing the load.
Family Contribution Work Inventory
Exercise A: Determine Who Has What Time
Write beside the categories below the initial of who does what and roughly how many hours are used up.
- Paid Employment:
- Volunteer/Community Involvement:
- Other Commitments:
Have a discussion about the spare time left for each person. When doing Exercise B take this information into consideration.
Exercise B: Determine Who Does What Home/Family Tasks
Write beside each item below the initial of who does what family task and roughly how long each task takes to do each week:
- Put away my property/other’s property
- Dispose of old newspapers, magazines & junk mail
- Clean my project mess/other’s project mess
- Straighten house
- Sweep & mop floors
- Clean Venetian blinds &drapes to the cleaners
- Wash windows
- Clean attic or basement
- Make the bed
- Make children’s/guest’s bed
- Change sheets
- Hang up my towel/other’s towel
- Wipe down the shower/tub
- Clean facial hair from sink
- Clean the bathroom
- Clean up after own snacks/after other’s snacks
- Meal plan
- Shop for groceries
- Put groceries away
- Cook meals
- Set the table
- Clear the table
- Wash the dishes
- Put dishes away
- Prepare for parties & gatherings
- Clean refrigerator
- Play with & take on outings
- Discipline & referee disputes
- Help with school projects
- Take care of them when ill
- Take to the doctor
- Take to the dentist
- Take shopping for clothes & other needs
- Nurse, change diapers and potty train
- Feed children
- Give a bath
- Dress & find shoes
- Put to bed
- Chauffeur to activities
- Arrange for a babysitter
- Hang up my clothes if still clean enough to wear/other’s clothes
- Put my clothes into hamper/other’s clothes into hamper
- Do the wash and drying
- Fold laundry
- Iron my clothes/iron other’s clothes
- Take clothes to and from the dry cleaners
- Put clean clothes away
- Take it out
- Attend to recycle
Maintenance & Repairs:
- Paint & papering
- Fix & mend broken things around house
- Purchase parts needed for household repairs
- Arrange for repairs done by outside help
- Replace light bulbs & fuses
- Mow the lawn
- Water lawn
- Rake the lawn
- Trim trees & shrubs
- Care for garden &/or flowerbeds
- Delitter grounds
- Shovel/sweep walks & sidewalks
- Clean out garage
- Clean the inside of car
- Wash outside of car
- Refuel car
- Arrange for repairs
- Take car to repair shop
- Check & maintain oil & water
- Run my own errands/other’s errands
- Pack my own suitcase/other’s suitcase
- Feed & clean my or our pet(s)/other’s pet(s)
- Hire professional cleaning when needed
- Make my dental/medical appointments/other’s appointments
- Plan & purchase my clothes/ other’s clothes
- Pay my bills/family bills
- Arrange my social life/other’s social life
- Organize my things in closet/other’s things/closet
- Care of aging/ill relatives
- Maintain relationships with supportive family and friends
Total the scores. How many hours do you have for your self-care, fun and intimacy? How many does your partner have? If the numbers are significantly different, how might you create a more equitable distribution?
Have a conversation. Keep to the facts. Explore what is the best use of each family member’s time and talents. Do your best to invite family and home cooperation?
There is place for making a list of house chores for kids based on their developmental stage, capability, and sense of responsibility.
Consider holding regular Family Meetings to better share the load of household chores.
Warning: do not get caught into believing it takes five minutes to comfort a hurting child. Those kinds of parental tasks take the time that is necessary–anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours depending on the situation.
Please, let me know how you negotiate an equitable work load at employment and home.