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Friday, August 19, 2011

Mom vs. Dad Household Chores

I must admit that I was a little embarrassed when I first started dating my now husband, Roland, because I wasn't a skilled cook. However, to my credit I could make simple dishes like spaghetti, but didn't really "put my foot in it" like Roland does. Chores weren't something that we discussed at premarital counseling unlike expecting mother, Monika Alston-Miller. She stated, “We discussed this (chores) during premarital counseling and decided to play to our strengths. He's the better cook so he does most of the cooking and I do most of the cleaning. But at times it depends on our work schedules. If I wasn't working, I would do everything in the house, just because I would want that to be my contribution to our home. Oh and outside is his domain and he enjoys that."

Fast forward six years later with two boys under 4 years old. Like Monika, my hubby is still the better cook and I've "thrown the towel in" most days and stick with the dishes. This arrangement works for us and we've agreed to share household responsibilities. We always keep our house presentable, but Sunday afternoons are set aside for a thorough cleaning. We even have a clean-up song that our boys sing. (I think this melody is copy written by Barney.)

I have to say that my husband and I are a pretty good team. We have an unspoken rule, though once spoken in order to establish the rule in regards to dirty diapers. We rotate who changes our youngest sons diapers. Our household roles aren't that stereotypical, but I'd be the first to tell you that I don't jump to clean the toilets.

Opposite from my household, Becky Greenspan Slemons, working mom of three is the cook in her family. She stated, " I cook and he cleans up, but it depends on the night. If he's extra tired or if we eat out, we split it. Sometimes he takes out the trash, sometimes I do (usually me, but I'm the one at home most often). I do laundry across the board. He manages the outside of the house, and I'll do the toilets. We both pitch in when needed, and it's all hands on deck with the kids. When we first lived together, I was so concerned that it was 50/50, when in reality it was more like 70/30, me because I like things done a certain way. Now that we have kids and both work, it's mostly a "stay afloat" type situation, and we both do what we have to do. I'd say it all comes out in the wash."

With three small children, Meca Mack has someone come in and clean their home. She explained, "Having someone to come in really makes a big difference. We split the bill. My husband says that's why he works so hard so he doesn't have to do things he doesn't want to do. With three small kids the real heavy cleaning could take days. I tried it once and ended up sending everyone to my mom (husband too). Right now I would rather have help than to get my nails/toes done."

Some couples don't mind if chores aren't 50/50, because one spouse or partner may prefer chores done a certain way, while others may feel like certain chores should be done by a woman or a man.

Darrick Grimmett, father of three, talked about some of his colleagues who believe women should take care of the home. He stated, "You know it's sad because a lot of guys I work with will not do anything that is considered woman's work. I know guys that would come home first, not pick up the children from daycare, don't clean, and won't start dinner. Then they try to call men like me weak. I'm not weak. I love to have a clean house and see my wife smile. If I can take some of that burden off of her then I will."

Yolanda Innis, mother of one believes that men and women can help out with chores in order to support each other and the family. She stated, "It boils down to where a man comes from (learned behaviors). A lot of men will hoot and holler about what they will and won't do but a man who knows how to take care of himself cook, clean, tend to his children will look at it from a different perspective. A man that appreciates what a women does and who is willing to do the same because it benefits the family as a whole is the man who usually won't object to sharing any of the household responsibilities."

I believe that household chores should be shared not only with your spouse, but also with your children. Kids can learn the "clean up" game and song early in life. In the end, I think whatever needs to be done around the house usually gets done. I'm sure if one person continues to have to pull all of the weight in the household, then he/she eventually will ask for help.

How do you decide who does which household chores? Are chores done as a team? Does he take out the trash? Do you do the dishes? Who cleans the toilets?

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