Tuesday, May 21, 2013

And the award for toilet bowl cleaning goes to...

In the midst of a life are the things that must be done: the cleaning, meal planning, cooking, bill paying, yard work. Sometimes we find solace in these things - I like a clean home and I am tickled pink when I've organized the shit out of something - but the fact of the matter is that these are typically the things that must be done that no one really wants to do.

Traditional gender roles have women doing the cooking, cleaning, and shopping, while men do the yard work, bill paying, and auto maintenance. The fact is that gender roles have changed tremendously over the past few decades. When both people are working full time, no one can take full responsibility for running the home. Even stay at home moms or dads should not be expected to bear all of the responsibilities of the household.  It's too much. It has to be shared. 

In our house, I do the hausfrauing, shopping, cooking, scheduling, and bill paying. MFD does the yard work, takes out the trash, and does some chores. I will sometimes hear him yell up from the basement, "Powder room is cleaned!" Or down from the top floor, "I cleaned up the green room!" My typical response is always, "Do you want an award?" Then he laughs or gets huffy. I know other husbands do this too, the grand announcements. And I often see women praising their partners for doing ordinary tasks or for taking care of the kids. I find myself doing it sometimes. 

Then I ask myself, why are we giving people accolades for doing housework in houses that they live in and dirty up, or for taking care of kids that they helped create? I neither expect nor ask for recognition when I clean a toilet.

Don't get me wrong, I am all about showing appreciation for my spouse and what he does in our household and life to make things better. That's important in any relationship. I'm grateful for his contributions and he's very appreciative of mine, and we pat each other on the back for various things, especially when the other one goes above and beyond. But I also expect his contributions. He lives here. He is responsible for maintaining this house just as much as I am. Similarly, if we had kids, he'd be responsible for raising and entertaining them just as much as I would be. I do not get all that thrown on me just because I have boobs. So there are no trophies for toilet cleaning in this house. It needs to be done so it gets done. 
I think the men and women of my generation are further along in the sharing of duties than previous generations. i know many men who are the cooks or who handle the child care. With that being said, I think we have a long way to go. We're all complicit in this, me included. MFD is a good cook, but I've made the kitchen my arena. I'm sure he'd cook more often if I didn't box him out in there. Likewise, sometimes there's a mountain of trash and I'm sure he'd like me to help him put it out, but I can get prissy about trash removal because I don't consider it my job.

The important thing is to find the balance in your home - no one wants to feel like they're responsible for everything. You have to share the load in a way that makes sense to you. 

No person should feel put upon - if you need your partner to do more, you have to ask them to do more. If you don't ask, then that's your fault. I think women are guilty of complaining about doing everything, but they don't actually work out a better plan for their partner to share the load. You can't just say, "I need you to do more," and not be specific. What do you need? Make a list. Communicate.

I can't discuss gender roles without touching on the most hated word in all the land. For the record, asking someone to do something is not nagging. Nag is a total asshole word, and you can't find an image of it on the googles that's not inferring that all women are nags. It's a word men fall back on when they're pissed off about being reminded of something they said they would do and did not do. No one asks me to do my daily chores - I know they need to get done so I do them. Here's a tip - don't make someone ask you to do something ever, let alone 10 times. Then you won't feel nagged. Problem solved! Boom.

How do you deal with the division of labor in your home?

My thoughts are with the people of Oklahoma. Go to www.redcross.org to donate.

p.s. Tuesday sucks.
p.p.s. Thanks to Angi at Into the Forest Dim for my new sidebar button! Now you can take me with you. Just don't put me in your pocket, I'm claustrophobic.


  1. My husband was really sick for a few years and even though I knew he was really ill, I sometimes felt SUPER resentful that I had to do everything(I was so overwhelmed.) Now as he's recovering he's been taking care of the kitchen and living room. ANd I swear to god, I throw a parade every time. ha ha

  2. I fully agree. I often get the...I cleaned the bathroom. Or I emptied the dishwasher grand announcement. And I just stare at him in silence. And he gets it.

    I was feeling bad one day because he was outside doing yard work and I was inside reading and then I was like fuck that. I cleaned this house top to bottom by myself while he sat on his ass. I don't feel bad at all.

    I hate the word nag. Hate it. You are so right that men use it to make women sound like assholes. I get it all the time and then he compares me to his mother. It is all some sick game to get me to stop asking him to do things I think.

  3. There is no testosterone in my house, only estrogen and expired estrogen. Hence, all the chores are relegated to females. Er, to me. Grace and Notso are prima donnas. They are no help whatsoever.
    I do not have to be nagged and I do not have to nag. If things go undone, I can choose to do them or observe their undoneness - no scapegoats, other than the occasional blame for those who don't keep their hair attached to themselves... I won't mention names.

  4. This is an interesting topic ... I grew up in a very small, southern town where culturally, men made money and did stuff outside and dealt with cars (oil changes, tire rotations, etc). The women also typically worked full time, but also took care of the kids - food, clothes, homework, sickness, story time - you name it. They also bought the groceries, planned and prepared the meals, cleaned them up. Also, they kept up the house - cleaned bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchen, vacuum, you name it. I have always thought that shit was bass ackwards, especially if the woman is working outside the home as well.
    I married a WONDERFUL man, also from NC, but from a larger area, and he does just as much (if not more!) around the house than I do. I think that some of it is that he likes things done a certain way, but our "division of labor" works for us ... and older women especially tell me how good I have it. While I recognize that I do have a wonderful spouse, I think he "has it good" too. Why is it such a rarity that a man "help out around the house"? Why was it ever the woman's job?
    Good post!!!!

  5. I am fairly sure you read my mind when you wrote this post. I say almost word for word once a week. Sending this along to Mr. G right now!

  6. Like you, we have certain tasks that we consider "mine" or "yours" that we simply fell into - it reduces resentment that we came to that routine naturally.

    However, one huge chore pet-peeve of mine: If you ask me what I want you to do to help (like when we're preparing for company) and I tell you to do X, don't turn around and say "Should I do Y?" If you know it needs to be done, don't ask, JUST DO IT!!!!!

  7. THANK YOU! Our house is totally not equal - and it causes a lot of issues. I am a total advocate of once you move in together - those decisions need to be made then. Not later. But I was also raised in the South where the women basically do everything minus cars, yard, and bills. I'm curious to see what will happen in years to come. I have noticed that the men aren't as manly as they used to be. Not knowing about cars, how to fix things...I own more tools than my husband... and now I ramble. You have my brain going!

  8. As you know, in my house gender plays very little part in household chores. And of course we don't have kids, but one of my most hated things is when I hear a dad say "I can't do XYZ because I have to babysit." You don't "babysit" your own kids, douchebag. I've never heard a mom say it. Ever.

  9. michael is actually pretty great about mopping the floors and cleaning the kitchen. we try and make things even but I know he really does more than I do (don't tell him that).

  10. Amen and say it again!!! I will say that Ross and I are very 50/50 in our house for the very reasons you stated...he helped make our babies, he use the toilet and makes messes...let's all chip in together and be one happy little family. :)

  11. This is so great! We do pretty well dividing up duties. Except for the litter box...that is all me. WHICH IS RUDE. And he prefers to vaccuum which is the greatest part of my life.

  12. One of my biggest pet peeves EVER is when I hear a woman say "my husband/boyfriend/baby daddy is babysitting the kids." He is NOT babysitting. Babysitters get paid. He is taking responsibility for the life he helped create.

    Steve is actually much more of a neat freak than me. I'm messy, but since I've been home I do much more of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping. He does the bills and all the outside maintenance since I can't be in the sun. It works for us

    Love your bew button, you look beautiful!

  13. we had to sit down and divvy up the tasks after kayla was born. while i don't mind doing the majority of it, throw in a kid who absolutely destroys everything and you are constantly cleaning. so i straight up told my hubby: if you don't want to come home to an angry, stank biatch then you need to help out more. so we sat down, wrote out all of the chores/child-rearing tasks and assigned a name to each one. we now split everything right down the middle and we couldn't be happier!

    with 2 sets of hands doing the work, that leaves plenty of time for us to spend time as a family and with our friends or take time out for ourselves.

  14. Men DO expect an award for doing those things. Obviously I do everything alone, but if I lived with a guy, I'd still do all the cleaning because they'd never get it right. But they'd have to pay bills or do anything outdoors, I don't do those things.

  15. I don't ever have to "nag" Shawn to do things, but you know where I'm really sick and tired of having to nag? At work and in my voiunteer life. Colleagues, if you tell me you'll get me something, please do. I am not your boss NOR your subordinate, and I hate having to be pleasantly persistent two, three, four weeks in a row over something you have sent when you promised to. And don't even get me started on pageant girls and sponsors who promise to send me paperwork, logos, photos, etc!

  16. I get really bothered when I hear women say that their husband is "babysitting" their kid. No he's not, he's being a dad!

  17. Gender roles annoy me. I have a relative in GA & his wife always posts how she is doing her "wife duties" (cleaning HIS clothes & making sure everything is ready for him the next morning, cleaning the house, cooking, etc.) They both work full time (he has a more demanding job). But I'm just bothered by it. He relies on her to have his clothes ready for work! Come on ladies, they have arms & legs and we do our fair share of the household "chores".

    Onto me. I was laid off in November so I am the one taking care of our son almost every day for 6-8 hours (he is only awake for 12 hours a day). My husband works retail full time & if I ask him to do something (dishes, clean, etc) he gets pissy & tells me I am the one who is laid off so I should do everything while he is at work....ummm....NO! He also doesn't understand that when he comes home, I need a break from diapers, potty training & tantrums! But he feels like that is still my job as a S.A.H. mom! UGH, this is NOT 1955!! I need to go back to work so I can break away from this whole gender-role craziness! He also thinks that when he does do "chores" that he should be entitled to HOURS on the computer at night, and not spend time with me! HA, and he wonders why I run off to Mummers stuff whenever I can!!

  18. Laura - that's stressful! If I was home all day I'd try to tackle most of the chores, cooking, and child care, but I would definitely expect, need, and deserve a break at the end of the day!

    I think we get rewarded as kids for doing chores, and then some people expect it their whole lives.

    Mare - when these dogs start vacuuming, then maybe they'll earn their keep. Lazy!

    SusieQ - I am constantly befuddled as to why no one needs to ask ME to do anything, but I am supposed to be Grand Master Chore doling out duties.

  19. Absolutely agree! You just have to ASK and COMMUNICATE! My husband is a big help (and I don't always give him enough credit) but I do have to ask becuase he doesn't think like me and can't read my mind with what needs (I want) to get done. When I find myself getting frustrated its because I am wanting him to read my mind and do something off my "to-do" list. If I just would ask he would be more than happy to help

  20. Jen B - It is often about what *I* want done versus what NEEDS to be done. I think people have different standards and communication is always the key.

    @Shelby, I hear that, too, sister!

  21. Great article ! It’s very amazing advice , extremely helpful,
    I’m really appreciate thanks for your sharing !!!!!
    Toilet cleaner is very important issue for our daily needs.


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