Learn to better share household responsibilities and childcare. Included: Three reasons for the inequality and what to do about it.
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Recently, author Darcy Lockman released her book entitled All the Rage: Mothers, Fathers, and the Myth of Equal Partnership where she explores how mothers and fathers in America are far away from the 50/50 split we all hope for when it comes to childcare and sharing household responsibilities.
Mother’s Spend 97 Hours a Week Parenting.
A recent survey concluded that mother’s spend 97 hours a week parenting. That is two full time jobs! A mother sacrifices sleep, eating and socializing to devote those hours to her children. It’s no wonder that mothers are feeling frustrated by the lack of division when it comes to raising children.
Lockman determined there are 3 reasons why women take on more of the responsibility.
Reasons Why Women Take On More Parenting & Household Responsibility
1.You don’t trust your partner to do it right – On time, the way you think it should be done or ever.
This may be in your mind because in the past your husband made a mistake or forgot to do something, or your kids weren’t fed how you would have done it, but you can’t take on all the work because of past mistakes or its not up to “your standards”.
You have to let him do things his way otherwise you will never let go of some of the responsibility. It’s good for your kids to see daddy doing laundry, making dinner or putting the dishes away. You need to break the cycle of inequality for their sake as much as yours.
They will never know that their clothes are a bit wrinkled, dinner was supposed to be grilled chicken but they got spaghetti or the fancy glasses are now mixed with the everyday.
Action: If you want him to help, let him do it his way.
- Create a list of areas that you need help AND that you can let go. Examples: Grocery shopping, dishes, homework help, picking up toys. These need to be areas where if he forgets to pick something up from the store you don’t make it a big deal. If you do, he won’t try to help again.
- Sit down with your spouse and let them know you need help and areas that you’d like them to participate in more. Don’t blame them for not helping sooner. Make the conversation about the future state of your household.
- To start, add some calendar reminders if you think they will help your partner remember to do something, but don’t micromanage or you will open the door for reverting back to doing everything.
“At the current rate it will take 75 years before men do half the work”New York Times
2. Your partner has no clue what needs to be done
Your husband may be blissfully unaware of all you do.
In his mind the clean towel fairy arrives weekly and the fridge stocking elf visits your home often and he is happy to take advantage. He may also think that some things you do in regards to parenting are nice, but actually unnecessary.
This may include things like picking out the perfect birthday party theme or getting the family matching pjs for Christmas card photos. Or Christmas cards in general.
Moms do tend to go the extra mile when it comes to their kids entertainment. Pinterest is a blessing and a curse for moms. We get great ideas, but put the extra pressure on ourselves to have Pinterest worthy homes, parties and family outings.
Before you start to feel bitter about something, take a step back and look at the real necessity of it. Making sure your kids are fed and happy are important, making sure your kids have socks that match their outfit – not so much.
Action: How to Divide and Conquer.
Have an open conversation about what your top 5 priorities are when it comes to your children and your household. For example:
- A clean kitchen
- Healthy meals
- 2 nights of after school activities for the kids
- Clean clothes
- 1 fun family outing on the weekends.
Some of the above may be very important to you and not so important to your partner, however because you are both creating this top 5 it makes it known that it is a big deal for you. It can also help you to learn what is most important to him. And will make you stop and reconsider some of the things that are taking up a lot of your time.
Next discuss how to make the above happen. Review your weekly schedules including your work hours, after work commitments and your child’s current recreational activities. If you are realize that meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning up after will put a strain on you then consider a meal kit subscription box. If you can’t add that in to your budget then look into batch cooking on Sundays for the week together.
If doing a deep clean once a month isn’t in the cards, break the tasks into smaller ones that can be done once a week with a calendar reminder or hire a cleaner once a month.
In our house, I hate cooking, but don’t mind doing dishes afterwards. My husband loves cooking so this works out really well. Find the things that you don’t mind doing and that your partner would prefer to do. Take turns on the tasks neither of you particularly enjoy.
If your kids are old enough start giving them some tasks too. Pick up toys, dust, etc. “Spread the love” to them too. It will not only take the stress off you, but also teach them valuable life lessons.
If you truly enjoy planning every single detail of your kids parties then continue to take this on, however if its negatively impacting your mental health and stress level then cut back. Expecting your husband to create a balloon arch to beat all balloon arches isn’t realistic.
However, talking about the event in advance and deciding together what tasks he would like to do will help.
3. Mom’s Personality
Some men blame their wives personalities for the labor disparity, jokingly saying their wives wake up Saturday mornings with a list to do. The women were described as uptight and the women believed if they didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done.
After speaking with the women, they agreed that if they didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done, not because they were uptight but because they had experienced in the past that their husbands were happy to let things slide.
Action: Just because he isn’t doing it, doesn’t mean you have to pick up the slack.
It’s important for you realize that you can’t do everything, nor can your husband. Things will slip through the cracks. If you are both working and have some disposable income, consider devoting up to 5% of your salary to making your life easier at home so you can enjoy time with your kids.
Amazon Family Subscription – don’t stress over how many diapers you have or if you can make it another day without paper towel. Amazon will send you diapers and household items on a schedule that fits your family’s usage. As a prime member you will receive 20% discount on diapers when you subscribe which will offset the costs of the prime membership.
Hire a Cleaner – Consider having someone else clean your house weekly or monthly depending on your budget.
Automate – As technology improves we can start to rely on it for helping with the household chores. Get a roomba (robot vacuum) that can clean your floors while you’re away. Groceries and can ordered online and delivered or picked up at store.
Get a Subscription Box – There are so many these days. You can have meals planned by chefs and delivered, you can have clothes, cleaning suppliers, toys, etc, sent to you monthly. Identify your pinch points and see if one exists. Most likely it does!
Get a babysitter – Or let your partner know you need a break. Take some me time and have someone else watch your kids while you do something for yourself. This is easier said than done as “mom guilt” is a real thing. But if you’re not taking care of yourself you can’t take care of your kids to the best of your ability. Go to the gym, get a massage, go grab a coffee and read a book for a few hours.
Sharing Household Responsibilities – The List Goes On…
Here is a list of discussion points you and your partner need to have to help make things more equal. You don’t have to talk about them all at once, but every once in awhile look at the list and see if you can: 1. Let it go 2. Share the load 3. Let someone else do it.
- Arranging child care – daycare, before and after care, camps, extra curricular
- Party Planning – theme, invitations, food, gifts
- Gifts for other kids – Christmas, birthdays, easter
- Kids get sick – who stays home, doctor visits, medicine stocked
- Taking a trip – planning, packing, passports, snacks
- Shopping – grocery, kids clothes, household items
- Laundry: kids
- Diapers: buying, cleaning (reusable)
- Doctors appointments – scheduling, taking the kids
- Toys – picking up, washing, buying, donating/selling
- Holidays – cards, gifts, events, outfits, food
- Drop off/pick up – who, when, where
- Food – meal planning, buying groceries, cooking, cleaning up/dishes, putting away dishes
Benefits of Sharing Chores:
If your partner needs some extra reasons to take on the chores, remind them that:
- Women are more sexually attracted to partners who help
- Happy wife happy life
- You both get more time to do what you love, you are partners and deserve it