Thursday, April 30, 2009

All’s Fair

Who knew that men’s legwear was such an organized movement? Not I, for one. The pro-men’s legwear contingent will be happy to hear that we gave a pair of tights to another boy in the class. (We asked permission first because we weren’t sure how traditional this kid’s parents might be.)

The whole discussion about gender “appropriate” clothing made me think about what goes on in our family; what messages might we be sending HB re: gender roles. And since I love lists, I made one.

Below are the main household/family duties and activities I could think of. I’ve highlighted the more traditionally female ones in pink (since we’re being traditional, you know) and the male ones in blue. I put an item in one person’s column if that person does it 70-100% of the time.


Work longer hours

Make more money
Power tools
Buying presents
Home repair/remodeling
Buying clothes for kid
Baking (with kid)

Work shorter hours
Make (slightly) less money
Assemble toys and furniture
Schlep kid to & from school
Stay home when kid is sick/has day off
Trips to playground etc.
Kid birthday parties
Clean cat box
We’re pretty even on bathtime, story reading, taking out trash, doctor’s visits, and getting the kid dressed and fed in the morning.

These divisions were never really spelled out, we just kind of fell into them, but we are both committed to being—or at least feeling—equitable. And either of us will do the things in the other person’s column if specifically asked to do so.

This list looks pretty reasonable to me—and I think we’re setting a gender-equal message to HB. I’m curious—what goes on in your family? Is it a struggle? Do you have to negotiate?


Anonymous said...

we also have fairly (nontraditional but equitable) division of household duties though my husband does more of the hands on childcare at the moment. Anyway lately my son (4) has started announcing the he can't wait to be a momma when he grows up. When I point out that he'll be a daddy, he gets upset. He doesn't watch much tv so I wonder if he's figuring out what constitutes male/female roles on his own. Also he delights in pink :-).

Just me said...

I've only been married for 3 years, so we're still hammering some of this out. We recently had a "discussion" (more heated than a discussion, but still not really an argument) because I feel like, if we were to make a list, it is definitely divided pretty evenly. But a lot of the visible things (fixing stuff around the house, straightening up, taking the trash out) he does. A lot of mine fall into things like making joint appointments, taking care of almost everything dog-related, arranging any travel plans and/or vacations, paying all the bills and dealing with our finances, ... we share cooking, dishes and hired a cleaning person every other week (though I organize anything related to that- scheduling, payment, etc.)

Something I've thought of doing to try and make sure we both have a healthy perspective is to sit down and have each of us make a list of what the other person does- then swap lists and add anything we think the other missed...

I am pretty sure once we have kids, much of the child care responsibilities will fall to me. Partially because I have worked so much with kids and partially because of the requirements of DH's job. But I guess only time will tell...

ann ominous said...

I would appreciate a list that I can link to about why people I work with should not be freaking out (seriously. crying) about the Swine Flu and that some people at the medical center on campus have been diagnosed with it.

today's student newspaper "SWINE FLU HITS OSU" huge letters, above the fold. *sigh* students freaking out....

L. said...

Ours falls out along more traditional gender lines, which I have thought about and don't love, but it just doesn't make sense to reorganize things based purely on theory. We do certain things because one or the other of us is better at them or enjoys them more. I've been cooking since I was young and am a decent hand at it. My husband has a knowledge of car and home maintenance and repair that utterly escapes me; I always wonder how he knows what he knows, but when I ask him he can't tell me.

There are some things that are less traditional: my husband cleans the bathrooms, we participate equally in gardening, we're pretty close to equal participation in managing finances, I work in science, etc. Also, I've worked part-time/consulting for a long time just because it's suited to my personality and skills, so that leaves me falling into the "woman" category more often because my time is much more flexible.

I do try to participate and learn about the home repairs, as I would really like to have these skills, though these days we have so little time that I can't as much. I also plan on exposing my children (one boy, one upcoming girl) equally to these tasks. I don't want to raise a son who is incapable of cooking, or a daughter who doesn't know the first thing about cars.

Anonymous said...

When I was married about 5+ years ago, the majority of responsibility for everything fell to me. Husband was an Executive Chef with seasonal increase in business. In the on season, he would sometimes be up and out the door at 4 am and home around 2 am, on Fridays and Saturdays. The rest of the week, his schedule would be somewhat normal, although he might not be home until 8 pm. He usually had 2 days off a week, mid week. In the off-season, he worked a more or less traditional schedule with Sat and Sun off. During his off season, I often worked longer hours than he did.

Husband would do nothing around the house, on season or off season. I cleaned the house, bought the groceries, cooked, took care of the dogs, did the yard work, did the laundry, took care of the cars, paid the bills, etc. Conversations about the division of duties ranged from him promising to do more to him telling me that he worked much harder than me and need a day or two off each week. I got two days off every week, after all. I pointed out that on my two days off, I simply switched work venues. Saturdays and Sundays are when I shopped, cleaned, did yard works, etc., etc.

Although not the sole reason, this may have been one of the reasons I divorced him. In the days preceeding the filing of divorce, we had another conversation about how much work he did around the house. I told him it would be nice if he at least vacuumed occassionally. In a moment of honesty, Husband said, "I bet your dad never vacuumed." I burst out laughing because my mom doesn't vacuum because of back trouble. My dad vacuums. Husband's never did. He was a Colonel in the military- wonder if that had something to do with it.


Marin said...

Obviously I have no input on this, since I'm unmarried and without children, but I'm interested to read the comments.

Jennifer Bedingfield said...

Hi Fordo,

I'm sorry to hear about what happened to your married life. Since you are a hardworker and a sweetheart in my book, I still believe that God will give you a loving husband for a change. Take care.

Jennifer Bedingfield said...

I'm not married yet. Then again, I haven't been much of a successful dater either. Maybe my putting career and better education before marriage is what kept me single. Still, I never conceded without proper compromise. After my last horrible date a couple of months ago, I still haven't decided whether I even want to married let alone to whom. I like the idea of planning ahead of time on how to divide the tasks between the two in a couple. I have been convinced that if I can make it as a happy single, then I won't have a bad marriage. I hope so. I'm used to doing everything as a single but should and when I get married, I won't let my future husband exploit that either.

mMm said...

Cat box changing is traditionally a male chore? Dang, i married the wrong guy - he wouldn't even change it when i was pregnant and had hyperemesis(two pregnancies! the third was just regular morning sickness)... I wore gloves, mask, and hoped that my barf would land in the trash bag.

JK said...

Great topic, if you don't mind, when I get time, I'll blog about it more fully.

In the meantime, one thing my husband does that is amazing is he does dishes EVERY SINGLE DAY! I never do them. We didn't really discuss our division of labor, either, but we fell into a nice rhythm and it's worked for 12 years. I think we were lucky in that I like to do stuff he doesn't and vice versa and we just complement each other really well.

More soon.

emily said...

What's interesting to me is that you BOTH have more pink items in your columns than blue..... meaning that on overall count, there are many more household tasks that are "supposed" to be done by a female than male. That whole scenario where the man comes home from work and is done, but the woman comes home from work and just keeps on working. Or maybe my viewpoint is just warped by the non-equitable division of labor in my marriage, a reliable source of arguments. *sigh*

painting with fire said...

When our kids were little we were more equitable in how we divided chores. It was easier then since we both worked at home. These days he's got a very demanding job and I'm self-employed so have more control over my schedule. I do more cooking and errands, he does more driving of kids. We both rearrange schedules based on who's got what going on though and he's very supportive of my career although it brings in far less income than his job. We've been married for 24 years and have 2 teens still at home, one off at college.

Marta said...

funny you should ask! i just wrote a really long-winded post entitled "Homemaking: Whose Job Is It?", a topic jo at the modernity ward is also tackling today. go check it out!

by the way, kuddos to you and TH, you got a good thing going on.

ScienceGirl said...

I cook, husband does dishes and laundry. Being married to someone who thinks its fair to do their share of housework should never be underestimated :)

Anonymous said...

You have to do what's right for you and your family. I'm a mostly stay at home mother who works every other weekend. My husband works full time out of the house; however, he does the bulk of the grocery shopping and laundry. I on the other hand take care of the odd jobs. Yesterday I cut a 12 foot tree down in the yard, I'm currently working with a roofer and painter on home repairs, and I always take the cars to the mechanics. We've been married for 10 years and I did the bills/finances for the first 9. I got sick of doing them so I passed it off to my husband. So long as he doesn't pass the laundry off to me we will be in good shape. My husband would never think of cleaning out the dining room hutch, decorating for Easter, or arranging play dates for the kids. That's OK because there are lots of things that aren't on my radar.

By the way, we have 2 boys (3 and 6). I think it's great that their Dad shops and folds laundry. In a few years they will be out on their own and it will be their responsibilty. It's just as important for boys to learn to make a cake and play pretend kitchen as it is for girls.

Don't sweat the tights. My 3 year old loves anything pink and I don't worry a bit.

Still wished you lived next door. HB sounds like such a neat kid!

Anonymous said...

Married 26 years, no kids, both work full time. We took a one-week on, one-week off approach to grocery shopping, cooking, and kitchen cleaning from the very first year of our marriage (i.e., he does it one week and I do it the next) and it has been a great ride. He's now a very good cook and can follow fairly advanced recipes. His saturday afternoons in the winter are often spent making something elaborate for dinner, something I would not have expected 26 years ago. It's great to sit down to a meal lovingly prepared by someone else. He has always done his own laundry, and I have always done mine. Bills are all automatically paid, but I do the taxes. And we have a house cleaner come for 3 hours every other week, which costs $54. Overall, we spend almost zero time thinking about chores and never argue over who does what.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have been fighting/negotiating about an equitable division of labor for YEARS. Finally, ladies, I put my mother f*cking foot down. I will not be a second-class person in my own home. It took me recognizing that it was a human rights issue to fight the fight in earnest.

I threatened to stop doing his laundry, and he stepped up. He had to know I was serious. And you know, he thought we had an equal marriage, he really did. But we didn't.

I have to say I never had to fight for equal parenting.

Jul said...

My situation's a little unusual... {@Boyfriend} and I each helmed single-parent/single-kid households before combining forces. While we've become pretty homogenized in some ways (our kids are basically siblings), we also maintain some of our old ways. We each handle feeding, clothing, transporting, amusing and disciplining our own kid (although there is more and more overlap). And while some tasks are clearly assigned (I almost always cook, he almost always does yardwork), most of 'em fall to whoever is most-tired of living in squalor or least-tired in general.

You'd think that kind of Commie-style arrangement would lead to chaos and resentment... but most of the time, it works a-okay. We're BOTH used to handling everything. We're BOTH used to doing so intermittently, whenever we have the time and energy. We're both grand masters of feeling guilty for slacking off. Ergo, The People's Republic of Jul & Boyfriend works pretty nicely (and sans any human rights violations).

kris said...

my husbands business is season based so when he works (gets up at 3am, home at 5 or 6 pm, bed by 8, seven days a week) i do about everything. lawn, cooking/cleaning(ha,ha)/laundry(hate it) all grocery shopping and all childcare all of about everything. the months he is off he does almost all the laundry, all the cleaning (cause i=he is WAY neater than i am) lots of child stuff and he loves tocook but hates the shopping/etc. he's really a better husband than i am wife.

Cari said...

My hubby and I have pretty evenly-divided the pink and blue tasks as well. It's something I've been thinking about lately - my parents divvied their own jobs up VERY traditionally, but my brother, sister and I all had to do everything. (We all mowed the lawn, we all did housework, etc.) Having two boys that will NOT be growing up with a sister, I sometimes feel a little more pressure to model the "girls can do anything boys can do" and vice versa mentality - when I grew up, it was just a given. We're all only a year apart, so we just all grew up doing all the same stuff. Without a sister to make it a "given", I'm hoping that Mom will be able to make it a given. Happily, I'm quite handy with the power tools, and can throw a pretty decent spiral. And older son (2.5) seemed pretty into my toe nail polish today, which may be our first lesson in "boys can do anything girls can do". :)

Unknown said...

My husband and I are still hammering out a lot of this, but right now we are "switched" in a lot of way: I work full time out of the home with some travel, make multiple times the money he does, he works part time at home, does more hands on child care than I do. He generally does the housekeeping, we split dinner, even though that has tilted more towards him lately because I am so late from work. I know he wants me to do more around the house, but honestly, I would rather pay someone than do it myself.

Anonymous said...

Long time reader. First time contributor. :)

17 years married, and we share the responsibilities pretty well, with both of us contributing to income and jobs completed. We both work outside the home, and our kids now are 11 and 14.

He's a great hands-on dad, and he's also a great cook and cleaner.

We're an AF family, and my husband travels a great deal, so when he's gone, I need to be pretty independent.

We both are pretty equitable about the things we contribue to the house in terms of kid-care (11 and 14 years) and life tasks.

Now that I think about it, however, it's actually a lot easier, for us at least, if we do have our own specialities to a point. He takes care of finances, for example, whereas I work with the kids' appointments at dentists, orthodontists, doctors, and oral surgeons. We keep each other in the loop, however, because we always want to be able to take up the slack in the other person's 'area' if we ever need to be able to do so. With the dangers of his job, I need to be prepared to carry on alone if need be. The kids need me to be able to do so, and so do I.

What made our lives a LOT easier, btw, in terms of sharing chores (and feeling that sharing was equitable) was finding someone to clean the house. We both equally hated (and avoided)that task, and so any arguments we had focused on that issue most of the time. Now we've outsourced that onerous task, we feel a lot more composed about the things we contribute to the running of the house.

You might consider that one day; our cleaner comes in every two weeks, so we clean in between, but I can't tell you how great it is to have that task outsoourced for the most part.

Anonymous said...

It's first time commentator again.

I intended to note that our oldest son, when he was three, adored (just ADORED) Minnie Mouse and that he wanted to be Minnie for Halloween. Visiting Minnie Mouse's house was the chief reason we went to DisneyLand when the boys were little. My son's over that now he's 15 :), but the craze went on for a year or so, with Minnie Mouse pillow cases, cuddly dolls and puppets, and many conversations between Minnie and my son about life.

It was a very sweet period, we thought. I don't think he wanted to BE Minnie Mouse; I think he just very much loved her persona--kind, sweet, loving, patient.

Anyway, your small guy's craze on tights reminds me of my son's Minnie Mouse craze. Thanks. I hadn't thought about that for a while.

Unknown said...

Interesting. On your lists of chores I counted two that my ex-husband might have done a few times. I guess that's why we're divorced.

ozma said...

Wow. His would be almost all pink. Except for the yardwork. Oh, wait. He assembles the toys and furniture.

Oh, crap. My husband does everything. I just work and make money.

I guess this is a total gender reversal here. Not total though--because of the yardwork.

Big Dave said...

I believe this list is irrelevant if you have a trophy husband (or a trophy wife).

My wife and I fell into our roles. She commands the kitchen. I help out pretty much everywhere else.

E. said...

Your list looks a lot like ours. I work more hours, and my paltry salary is a bit more than my husband's paltry salary. (Teachers, you know.) He takes the child to school, cooks dinner about twice as often as me, cleans the catboxes, and does the grocery shopping. But he also takes out the garbage and mows the lawn. I take the kids to doc most of the time, do more of the cleaning (though he cleans up after cooking, even when I cook - for this I am eternally grateful), make the bed and pester kid to make his. He pays the bills, but I do the taxes. I buy the kids' clothes. I also tend to stay home with sick kids, but that stems more from my man's insane work ethic and unwillingness to be parted from his students if at all avoidable.

I like sharing. I could never be married if we didn't do it that way, let alone have a kid. And if my man hadn't proven himself so willing to take on traditionally "feminine" aspects of the home and kidcare, there's no way in hell I'd've ever even considered having a second kid.

It's funny. Our son seems to have picked up the perception that cooking is more of a man's role. Women do it too, sure. But it's really a guy thing.

Anonymous said...

I have always been single and hope to stay that way. I adopted a perfectly wonderful child five years ago. I still can't believe my good luck.

I do it all and I like doing it all

kirsten said...

i am honestly worried that if i did a list like this, i would come out on the low end of the domestic responsibilities side. not that that's a bad thing, i guess, but it makes me feel a little like a slacker. today's example: i am about to take a nap while the husband takes the kid to a skating lesson.

shriek house said...

My husband and I have definitely had our gripes about domestic labor over the years. He's the primary breadwinner and I'm the primary homemaker/child-rearer, but we do have a fair amount of crossover (for example, he can sew and iron circles around me, and I'm the queen of Friday night freelancing). When we're feeling overstressed and overwhelmed, though, is when we tend to perceive the other as having an "easier" workload and start resenting each other and keeping score about who does more. I try to stay away from making lists like this, because it seems to only foster *more* resentment. Is so interesting, though, to hear about everyone's varied experiences and approaches to domestic equity.

Anonymous said...

Well holy crap. I've always felt like I did way more than my husband (married 12 years, 2 kids)

I just copied out your list, and put your jobs into columns for myself and my husband. Then I skimmed your comments section, and added other jobs that some of your commenters posted.

I came up with 15 jobs in each of our columns. Even steven. Not only that, but some of the jobs in my column my husband pitches in with. Most of the items in his column I don't help with. (house repairs, computer and electronic repairs, yardwork, dog poop scooping etc)

Ummm wow. Thanks for the wakeup call. Seriously.

DoctorMama said...

I just want to say, I am really into these comments.

I showed this post to TH somewhat apprehensively (he only reads this blog when I show it to him), and he found it very accurate. We both tend to worry that the other person might be doing too much, which works out overall, I think.

Mignon said...

I didn't read them all, so I don't know if a stay-at-home mom responded. I go back and forth about our lists because I can endure only a few of the pink items. And yet I'm at home. It makes sense that I should do them. Right? RIGHT? If Jim were at home, I'd expect him to do the pink stuff, so I guess that answers my question.

Anonymous said...

Two years in and I think we have a pretty even split. We both do the things that we're better at (like I do the cooking because there is only so much spaghetti a girl can eat). And as I'm the cook I'm also the grocery shopper. We also each do whatever bothers us first - when I'm tired of looking at dust, I dust. He runs out of underwear first which has led to the happy situation where he does all laundry. My husband is a sensible man and when it started to look like I'd end up doing more I just pointed out that we both work the same number of hours. Case closed.

Cloud said...

I stumbled on your site, and have to leave a comment on this one, because it is related to some things I've been thinking about a lot lately.

Hubby and I have a very equal division of household chores and parenting duties, and like you, we mix up the gender roles a bit- not on purpose, just how things fell. I've never had to fight to get him to do his fair share around the house. He just thinks that's how it should be. I once tried to ask him about why he thought that (for a friend, whose husband is less enlightened), and he looked at me like I was loony and said "its just obvious."

Like you, I make a little bit more money than he does. I always have. I wonder if that has anything to do with the equality? I like to think not, but it would be an interesting set of statistics to see- women's rating of the equality of the division of work in their house, divided up by which partner makes more money.