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Division of Household Labor: Always a Work in Progress

Bigstock--35211106---Vegan-CoupleI work from home. I write, edit, try to maintain websites. I take care of my daughter. I grocery shop. I try to cook a reasonably healthy dinner most days. And I try not to let the house become a total disaster.

That last one? I do not do such a hot job. Clutter is everywhere. I clean the toilets only when the grossness becomes really obvious. I can construct entire pugs out of the hair I sweep off the hardwoods on a weekly basis. I do not vacuum nearly as often as I should. I knew this, but it really hit home when my crawling daughter started scaling the stairs, and I discovered just how much dog hair lines the edges of the stairs. Oh my gosh, it’s a lot.

The book excerpt from yesterday—from Lisa Bloom’s Think: Straight Talk For Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World—talks about a) the ridiculousness of commercials that show how chores are so fun! b) how housework is a job best to pay professionals to do and c) how if you don’t have someone do it for you, at least divide it evenly at home. While her sources say that when a woman gets married she adds an additional seven hours of housework per week while the man’s burden decreases by an hour, a new article in Time magazine says that women and men are on pretty much equal footing when it comes to work. Women may do more around the house, but men are often putting in extra hours at the office.

My husband and I have had a few discussions since our daughter was born on the division of labor front when we were both feeling overworked and under-appreciated. We both felt like we were doing so much to keep the household running, keep our daughter happy, dry and fed, and keep our professional lives somewhat intact. When we pictured the day-to-day grind from the other person’s shoes, it really put things in perspective. We were both doing a freaking ton of work every day. My husband has to go into the office and put in long hours. I take care of my daughter all day, trying to write and get laundry done during naps. I may cook and do most of the grocery shopping, but he does all of the toilet-replacing and floor tiling and major home improvements. I mow; he runs the weedeater. We’re really a team. And when we both took a step back and really looked at the fact that we were both super busy doing really important things all day, we started appreciating the other a lot more. We both accepted the fact that the house likely would not ever look perfect as long as we have a kiddo running around, and we stopped keeping track of who was doing “more.” It’s made for a lot more peace in the house. After all, we both have an amazing lack of free time, and who wants to spend their precious free moments fighting about dishes anyway?

How do the chore wars shake down in your household? How do you split up the housework? —Erin

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