Saturday, October 31, 2009

The division of labor

All fellow bloggers, I need some perspective here. Talk to me about the division of labor at your house- you work at home, your spouse works somewhere else. What does he handle as far as child care, cooking, laundry, housework? How do you manage to get time for yourself while still making sure that all the other needs of the house are attended to? Who gets up in the night if the kiddos wake up? Who puts them to bed?

Bonus round: how did you determine who would do what? Did it just flow naturally, involve some discussion? Compromise?

Link back to your own blog posts dealing with these issues or leave me some tips and tricks in the comments. Thanks!

Edited to add some posts related to the above topic...

Equally Shared Parenting An entire website, complete with blog and soon to be released book, devoted to the idea of 50/50 parenting.


  1. I think I'm pretty lucky when it comes to this. My husband is a hard worker and when he is better at something, he doesn't mind doing it as a regular thing. For instance, our 2.5-year-old always goes to bed quickly and without a fight if he takes her. She even lets him brush her teeth without whining. He does most of the cooking, too, I'm ashamed to say. It's hard for me to get much cooking done when I'm alone with the two girls, so we frequently end up making dinner together or he makes it while I'm breastfeeding/entertaining the baby. I do most of the laundry and dishes, but he doesn't mind doing them if I don't get them done. It happens more frequently than I'd like, especially if I'm out for the day with the girls.

    What he does NOT do: Thank-you notes. If they must be written by him, I have to sit him down, give him a pen and the stationery, and sometimes even tell him what to write. Buying Christmas and birthday gifts is another big one. I have to rack my brain twice a year (three times if you count father's day) to think of what to get for his minimalist dad. Finances--I have to make sure we stay on track, get all the bills paid, and don't overdraw. I also put away our kids' outgrown clothes in containers for later and take care of other organizational things. He hates long organizational tasks (like when we cleaned out our storage room over the summer).

    I think we are pretty much at 50/50 now. I didn't want him to do 50% of the housework (although he does do a lot). After all, he's working full time. Right now it can get rough during the days so he helps out when he gets home, but within a couple of years I'd like to get nearly everything done myself before he comes home. The times when we do argue over this, it's normally not because I think he isn't doing enough, but rather because he isn't doing certain tasks to my specifications. But then again I have OCD so they're probably a little unreasonable :-)

  2. Hi Jamie,

    I'm very blessed because my husband is totally awesome - he actually does MORE childcare than I do so that I can have time to do all of the household things I do, like cooking, shopping, finances, etc. We divide cleaning chores by what we're willing to do - he hates vacuuming, I hate cleaning toilets, whoever is home does laundry. As he sees it, taking care of the kids and giving me time to myself is a gift he can give me and he's happy to be able to give it. And of course, I'm grateful and happy to receive it.

    While this particular division of labor has evolved, I have to say that from Day 1, my husband has always treated me like a treasure. I definitely couldn't do half as much as I do if he weren't so supportive.

    Take care,

  3. Most of our divisions of labor happened naturally.

    I was an accountant before I stayed at home so I enjoy handling the finances and all the details of everything. Of course, we discuss major decisions and purchases but I handle day to day stuff. We also both get "free money" each pay day so we don't feel micro-managed.

    I do all of the housework, laundry, and cooking during the week. On weekends we divide and conquer. Anything that needs to be done we work on together and split up big tasks. My husband is an awesome cook so he often cooks on the weekends so I don't have to :)

    He takes out the trash, mows the lawn, and fixes stuff around the house. He also handles car maintenance. My husband is also in charge of the boys' evening routine. Basically, when he gets home he sort of takes over with the kids and gives me a mental break. He gives them baths and reads to them before bed so I can have an hour to myself (yeah!).

    If the kids wake up in the night Daddy takes care of them. He can live on very little sleep...I can't. The exception of course was when I was breastfeeding :)

    As far as taking care of myself goes...
    I spend about an hour every day working out while my baby takes a nap and I can get my four year old to watch a video (or I occasionally do it when my husband gets home). I try to have some quiet time in the morning before the kids get up. I shower when I can :)

  4. We actually had a, um, discussion about this recently where I ended up emailing all my friends asking them the exact same question. My husband is absolutely wonderful with the kids. He bathes and puts them down every night when he is home, and he usually gets up with them in the morning, gets the breakfast, and makes their lunches. He also tidies up the den and anytime I want to be gone, even if it is all day Saturday, he says go. But that's it. Everything in the house - and I mean just about EVERYTHING - I do, including bills, taking care of repairs, car maintenance, laundry, cooking, cleaning the garage, you name it, I do. We have yard guys but I still make sure the gutters get done, etc.

    We had a little chat about how I need more help with household items - without having to ask. He will (usually) (eventually) do things if I ask him, but I hate having to ask. He power washed the driveway today - but I am the one who suggested it, told him what Home Depot to go to, etc etc. I still feel like the boss sometimes, and if I don't do it, it just doesn't get done. Lots of pressure on me and I always feel overwhelmed.

    Problem is both of us come from families where the mom did everything while the dads sat on their butts and watched TV. So we have naturally fallen into that. He does way, way more with the kids then either of our dads did - he is a wonderful hands-on dad. But I still am doing all the household stuff, and it is just too too much. It's fine as long as no one gets sick or he doesn't go out of town or no one has a birthday to plan etc. Which is like, never.

    Old habits are hard to break though!!

  5. These things are so hard. Sometimes I look at our division of labor and think I'm being pampered and lazy, and other times I think I'm getting the raw end of the deal. How can it be both?? I guess it's all perspective, and whether it's in a moment that I'm doing (or avoiding) a task I abhor, or when I'm appreciating not having to do something annoying.

    Sam & I both work from home. He does almost all the cooking, and he does a LOT of the playing with Mikko. I do all the breastfeeding, ha ha. I do all cleaning, except for sometimes dishes. I do the laundry. I do the personal finances and business finances, and Sam does more of the day-to-day business routines, to let me concentrate on my writing (that's one of the things that makes me think he's awesome and I don't deserve him, because he's a writer as well). Sam mostly does garbage duty, though I'll pitch in if it's smelly or out of control.

    What bugs me is that Sam's threshold for when the place is messy and unliveable is SOOOO high. Wait, is that the right direction? I mean that he can let it go to entirely new depths of disgustingness and be absolutely fine with it, whereas I'm not a neatnik by any stretch, but I do have standards. Low standards, but some. And that's why I always do the cleaning -- because I'm the only one who cares.

    The other tasks (cooking, finances), we divided up from the start according to who liked to do them or felt more competent. That part seems to work well.

    I'd like a live-in housekeeper. That would simplify everything!

  6. Hi Jamie, I put another post up at inspired by you. We use this little chore chart to divide up recurring tasks and it really helps. There are so very many small moving parts to run a household and I do not believe they should all fall to mommy.

    If mom is home caring for the child(ren), that is a very full day and maintaining a spotless and well-run household may not be on the agenda.

    I am struggling to find a paying job right now so I am acutely aware of the many pressures of being at home and being at work. All I can say is UGGGGGH.