Friday, January 18, 2008

He Does, She Does

The other night as we were all sitting relaxing, we heard the sharp beep of the fire alarm. It wasn't the constant shrill never ending beeeeeeeep that means bleeding ear drums for anyone within a 15 yard radius, but the interval beep. The one that wakes you up and you can't quite identify. And then just as you are about to fall asleep again, another beep. And another. In well timed intervals. The beep of the smoke alarm battery dieing. Why is it these things never beep during the day like that? Anyway, I had to give hubby a good poke to do something about it. That is his job.

Laundry is piling up downstairs and it's about time I get to it. It's just been so busy around here lately. Cries of "Where's my green shirt?", "Can you iron my pants?", and "Have you seen my blue hoodie?" abound. But you won't hear me telling hubby to get down there and throw a load in. At my house that is my job.

But you will hear me tell him to take out the garbage, mow the lawn, shovel the walk, paint the fence, clean the garage, trim the trees and blow out the underground sprinklers in the fall. You will never catch me outside climbing a ladder, or on the roof fixing it or changing the roof tiles. Anything "fix it" falls into his capable hands. Including anything electronic or techy.

But it seems laundry is mine, cooking is mine, ironing is mine, for the most part vacuuming and dusting is mine also. How did these definite divisions occur. As I sat thinking on it, it seems, that even though both of us work full time, the chores definitely seem to fall into a "old fashioned" kind of division with "guy" chores and "wifely" chores. I've always marveled at friends and aquaintances who in passing conversation might mention that the male counterpart of their household ironed his own shirts or was hurrying home to cook dinner or had to throw a load of laundry in before they left the house. How did that happen in that household? How did they get their hubbies doing those chores?

I had a fleeting emotion of being jealous that their hubbies would do this but then in quick reality and amazing revelation, I thought that if I started demanding suggesting that he take on some of these chores, there would then be suggestions that I grab a hammer, paintbrush, or lawn mower starting to come my way. And do I really want all that equality of chores flourishing between us. Not that I think there is anything wrong with either gender doing any of these chores. But did I really want to take on some of those other chores in exchange for getting out of the ones that now lay on my side of the divide.

After some thought, my comfort zone side won out. I am comfortable cooking. I love it. Did I want to give it up to push a heavy lawn mower in the heat, sweating up a storm. I don't mind doing laundry. In fact, I don't think it's as much of a chore as some of my dear friends do. I almost really like the mindlessness of it. It lets my thoughts wander. I am comfortable with it. Do I want to trade it to start climbing ladders to clean out gutters or paint the side of the house? I think not. I am comfortable with a vacuum in my hand as compared to a wrench or hammer in my hand. I have "my" chores down pat, so that I can do them lickety split. Do I really want to shake up the status quo or rock the boat? Nah, I'm thinking. So I think I will stay with my "Leave it to Beaver" divisions of household work load. But I didn't fight my dear hubby when he volunteered to clean the stainless pots and pans each night. I may be practical and all about comfort zones but I am not crazy!

Which begs the question: Is there a definite expection of division of household chores in your home? Or is it all mixed together and everybody participates in doing everything?


Cyndi said...

Great post, Susanne! And a good question. At our house, our chores seem to fall in a "division of labor" sort of way but then I have taken on projects like putting Christmas lights out in the yard (and taking them down), using the drill and other tools to install hooks and shelves, etc. I have found that it has helped my daughter become a do-it-yourselfer and not think power tools are for men only, and it has also caused my son to pitch in and help and "take over" some of those jobs that he'll one day assume as a husband I'm sure. This morning my husband had to iron his own pants because I just haven't gotten to it this week. (It's on my list for today!) My son irons his own shirts, too, when he needs to.

SO, I guess my long answer is: a little of both. Usually division of labor, but willing and able to "see the need/meet the need" when necessary.

Pam said...


I love this. Our division is quite similar to yours with the exception of kitchen clean up. Long ago, when I had 3 preschoolers at home, age four and under, DP suggested that as long as I cooked he would clean up the kitchen. I have LOVED that!

Everything else is pretty similar to yours. Now that the kids are older we are trying to incorporated them into the daily routine as well.

Jen said...

I do most of the housework. Scott will vacuum on occasion and mop the hardwood floors....but he keeps the outside up and the garage. And this is fine with me. Madison helps clean the kitchen after dinner. And she most of the time puts her clothes up after I threaten But I do most of the the housework bottom line.

Kelly said...

Enjoyed these thoughts. Although I am blessed to have a husband who is more than willing to help clean and lvoes to cook, I generally pick up this part of the household duties. I wouldn't trade, though! He mows 8 acres and remodels--I would be useless with much of this.

Beck said...

I do most things when I'm home - I put up the Christmas lights because my husband is always too "busy" and I'm in charge, apparently, of laundry, grocery lists and vacuuming - but my husband cheerfully folds laundry, loads the dishwasher, cooks the occasional meal, baths the kids and tucks them in... While growing up, he watched both of his parents work full-time and then his mother would come home and do EVERYTHING, and he decided that wasn't right. Quite a guy I've got, eh?

Barbara H. said...

Our "chore" divisions are pretty traditional, too. I'm like you, I like it that way. I don't know how to do most of the things he does, and what I do know how to do, I'd rather do my chores than his. :-). For a long time when I was recovering from an illness, he would clean bathrooms for me, but as I recovered, I took it back on. It was nice to have someone else do them, but his time is limited because of the hours he works, and I had other things I needed him for more.

He does do a lot of grilling when the weather's warmer, and on Mother's day he makes a full-fledged nice meal (with the boys' help). I like that so much better than waiting in a restaurant on their busiest day.

He's always been good to pitch in when I'm sick or when i was working or sometimes "just because."

My boys are given chores like dusting, unloading the dishwasher, taking out garbage, etc. They can even cook a little. They've done laundry when they've been away from home, but here it's just as easy for me to do it.

Faith said...

I am laughing my head off because my husband and I just had this "arguement" this past week. I work part time and have since 1995 when my oldest turned 2. He works full time plus has taken on a role at church that is like a part time job. My roles at church are less demanding so...We actually do a little of both. Because I am the one home the most while the girls are in school, that is when I do the typical "wifely" chores: food shopping, laundry, vacuuming, etc. However, his mother, my awesome MIL, taught him how to do all those things. He is actually a better cook than me! At times he helps out especially on weekends. (not so much lately, thus the arguement). He also leaves most of the yard work up to me as i LOVE to mow the lawn! am not kidding. I LOVE it. I consider it great exercise. He does things like repaving driveway, the bulk of snow shoveling, painting, etc. I guess we both do a little of everything and my oldest is starting to do her own laundry so.....(oh, and yes my husband can and does iron his own shirts. In my house it is a rule: if ya wanna have a pressed shirt, ya gotta do it your self!)When it comes to cleaning the kitchen..I prefer to do it as I am kinda picky..but on weekends he does help out as do the girls. I guess it comes down to what is going on in our lives at the moment or on the agenda for that day/week/weekend.

Chappyswife said...

Ours is divided normally for the most part, especially since I am not working during this season of our lives.

There are certainly different circumstances that change up the order sometimes, like when my husband happened to be working out of town in the summer, & the lawn needed mowing. Of course I had to do it, and really didn't mind it, even when all we had was a push mower. (Just getting it started was the hard part!)

My husband is an excellent cook and gets in the kitchen often. I just hate to clean up after him. When we both worked, we had the rule: if you cook, you clean up after yourself. But now, that doesn't fly.

My husband's mom taught her sons to do household chores. I am so glad. Also, he was in the Navy so he does an excellent job ironing if needed.

Around here, there isn't a lot of yard work & repair that goes on in the winter months at all, so all in all, it shakes out pretty fairly - but don't ask us that if we're arguing! :0)

Julie said...

My husband is always doing dishes WITHOUT being asked. Of course we've been married now 24 years and having 5 kids with both of us outnumbered, we have had to just pitch in where needed through the years. My husband has been great about that. Of course it didn't start that way. I had to learn to ask for help.

Now with 3 teenagers in the house and a 10 year old (20 year old is out of the house now), they all have chores assigned to them. Which helps alot.

They started doing their laundry around 11 years old. Each one has a laundry day. The boys share theirs.

That's our story.


Linda said...

We are pretty traditionally divvied up, as well, except now there are certain things I can't do as well due to allergies, so he's doing those. And, just about every weekend, he does what I call the "water sports," that is, he scrubs tubs and mops because of my skin condition. He's a great guy. Thanks for making me appreciate him again!

Tammy said...

This was such a good post. Susanne! :)

We have the same division of his jobs\her jobs here, too...sometimes hubby does start doing laudrey if I get behind, but I actually don't like it! He mixes cold water clothes with warm and dries hang to dry items on high.
We don't iron much here, but if there is an occasional shirt that must be ironed, he does his own without even telling me. That is a good thing, since I never liked to iron!
And maybe the reason he does even take the initiative is that he was a bachelor until age 34. :)

And you're so right...I don't want to suddenly get out the drill and have know...drill things. LOL

dcrmom said...

I could have written this post. EVERY WORD. Ditto.

The Trier and Jen said...

interesting post Susanne
I think most men do the outside jobs

My son is responisble for putting the rubbish out in the bin. I seem to be the one that puts it out by the road for collection though.

Mr Wonderful does like cooking occasionally. He will vacum clean the house a bit more often.

I dont do ironing.

I have mowed the lawn sometimes, I quite like it, I see it as good exercise but Mr Wonderful prefers to do it for some reason

I am afraid my laundry gets like yours often

We have a rule in our house the cook cooks the others do the dishes afterwards while the cook relaxes. So I seldom wash or dry the dishes Mr Wonderful and My Trier do that :)


A Chelsea Morning said...

You know, there is definitely a set program around my house, wife chores and husband chores. But then there's also this - Rob is an absolute sucker when I whine. So really, I think these days he does more laundry than I do. It's not that I mind laundry - like you, I actually like to do the laundry.

It's just that I'm really really busy doing more important stuff. Like the Christmas ornaments I'm already working on for next Christmas.

Whining. Works for me! LOL

Sandra said...

Great post Susanne. I just do all the home stuff, hubby goes to work and then takes care of any repairs or outside stuff that needs to be done.

He does help with the trash and if I ask him to do something for me, he will. But for the most part, I just feel better doing all the home things myself...guess it's how I feel I'm contributing since I'm a stay at home mom? I don't know.

Shalee said...

The only thing signed in our marriage contract is this: He does the vacuuming, I do the bathrooms. And no one does the dusting until we have to do it. The rest is shared because we both work and we both take care of the house.

Anonymous said...

Our division of labour is generally along traditional lines. Although sometimes hubby pitches in here and there, but as I'm a homebody right now the general housekeeping type stuff is mine. My hubby's a great cook, lol, I wish he had more time to dedicate to this! He makes the most delicious meals, better than I can.

Linda said...

My home is much like yours Susanne (although I could never have written this as well as you have). My husband is home all the time now (that took a bit of adjusting to) and so will vacuum occassionally and that sort of thing. But the chores remain pretty much divided just as they've always been.
However, now that the nest is empty it is much easier. If my husband sees I seem a bit tired he doesn't run into the kitchen and start preparing a meal - but he will take me out. I can live with that!!

ellen b. said...

Well in my house we do have some traditional lines drawn but we cross those lines too. I enjoy mowing the lawn and I do it most of the time. Painting always goes to Dear because his family had a painting business for a long time and frankly "he's a pro" and does it better than I could ever and in half the time. I do most of the cooking but he's a great cook and will cook every once in a while. Now my boys are really good cooks and my married son does most of the cooking in his marriage. I pay all the bills and spend most of the money. My husband's masculinity and leadership is not threatened by this. I think this is one of those areas where each household needs to come to their good division of labor to keep peace and unity in the house! Blessings....

Org Junkie said...

I know it's funny how that happens isn't it. Our division is very similar to yours especially now that I'm not working outside the home. Although every once and awhile on a really nice day I do enjoy getting out there to mow the lawn. Strange, I know :)

gail@more than a song said...

Oh I liked this post! Interesting....we sorta have a traditional division here, sometimes hubby wants to and will wash his clothes but I prefer him not to! He likes way hot water for his and I don't do it that way, so I have to remember I'm not always right. I'm comfortable with it being divided traditionally...I like to do the cooking and laundry.
Cleaning is not my strong suit though but I do house is a wreck now from me being gone a week, I'm trying to catch up and clean up!

Carol said...

Leave it to Beaver. Definitely.

"Ward, I need to talk with you about the Beaver."

Melanie said...

Ours is the old fashioned division, but it is OK for one of us to ask for help. No one's feminity or masculinity is offended.

One exception. I cook, but he does the dishes. When we first married he wanted to help me cook but I can't have help. It stresses me out. So I asked for him to just do the dishes. Even exchange.

He travels, so I do end up with the "man's" chores at times- the yard work, etc. Last summer my neighbors called me Pioneer Woman. :>)

I want my daughter to see me doing the "typical" chores but that I am capable and willing to do the others. I also am glad she sees her Daddy doing "Daddy" chores, too.

GiBee said...

Well, I can't do things that throw my back out, like scrub the shower, which is disgusting right now; mop the floor, which is also disgusting right now.

I can, however do just about everything else, but we share the load because we both work full time out of the home, and we find that we're never home to do "stuff." So, we help each other out.

I don't want to even THINK about the mountain of laundry waiting for me!