One problem for working women is the proverbial “second shift.” Women often find themselves working double time to cook, clean, do laundry and perform other household chores in addition to working full-time outside the home. This additional workload leaves women who are subject to it with virtually no free time -- a condition that leaves them frazzled and exhausted and less able to compete effectively in the workplace.
I cannot pretend that my husband and I have an absolutely even division of labor, but I don’t feel disrespected or taken advantage of. Our division of labor has evolved over time until it has become something we are each comfortable with. My job outside the home has more demanding hours (12 hour workdays most of the time and lots of working on weekends) whereas his is an 8 hour a day, 5 day a week job. I should also note that my husband has a disability, although that doesn’t really have an impact on his ability to do most household chores, except yardwork and cleaning the inside of his car. The following is how we split up the chores:
Cleaning the house (i.e. tidying, mopping, vacuuming, scrubbing, dusting, etc.) I will generally spend 4-5 hours on the weekend (or if I’m really motivated on Friday night) cleaning, scrubbing, etc. This is my job about 70% of the time. It tends to be my job because, true to gender stereotypes, I have less tolerance for mess and grime than my husband does. My husband does not think it is necessary for either of us to clean every single week, other than tidying up clutter.
30% of the time, when I am superbusy or in trial, my husband will, on his own and without prompting, do the cleaning. I hope to hire a cleaning service one day but at the moment we are saving aggressively for our house.
Grocery shopping and other errands. My husband and I generally do our grocery shopping together. When we go shopping together my job is to take the groceries in from the car and his job is to put them away. My husband really enjoys shopping whereas I would rather spend my time in other ways. He does the shopping on his own about 20% of the time when I am too busy or just don’t feel like going.
Laundry. We each do our own load of clothes each week. In addition, I do the sheets and towels and, occasionally, just to be nice, I do my husband’s laundry too. I am also in charge of taking the drycleaning to and from my office where a service picks it up.
Bills. My husband is in charge of making sure the bills are paid on time, and researching how best to conduct our finances. I have veto power over major financial decisions. (I also, ahem, make 1.5 times his salary, although that could easily change to something more equal if he were to decide to leave the non-profit world.)
Cleaning the cars. It is my job to clean the interiors of both our cars. In theory, I think I should do this once a month. In reality, I do it once every 3-6 months.
Cooking. Generally, we each fend for ourselves every night (canned soup or frozen dinners) or we get take-out, like Chinese food or pizza. My husband cooks something simple like hamburgers or pasta, maybe 2-3 times a week, plus cheesy eggs on Sunday morning, and I’ll rinse dishes and stick them in the dishwasher. He tends to do more cooking because he cares more about having that kind of meal, whereas I’d be happy to just make do with stuff you can grab and stick in the microwave for a couple of minutes. For a while, I made a practice of cooking a more elaborate meal on Sunday nights and I am hoping to re-institute that after the New Year-- but I view that kind of cooking as a hobby, not a chore.
Taking care of the dog. I play with, feed, brush and clean up after our corgi each morning. My husband is in charge of him at night and our relatives check on in him and play with him during the day. (We used to put him in daycare, but we’ve cut that out of our budget for now.)
Yard work. We pay my nephew to do the yard work.
Building our house. My husband is in charge of figuring out the initial planning stages on building our house, although I have veto power, and will likely get more involved as the project progresses. Right now he is perfecting the floor plans and reading "The Dummy's Guide to Building a House."