Family life

How do you divvy up housework?

Tracy is curious about how you and your partner tackle chores (and shares her division of labour)

By Tracy Chappell
How do you divvy up housework?

Photo: the italian voice via flickr

I’ve got a great husband. Let me just put that out there front and centre. My mom sometimes gives me pointed looks because she sees how great he is and I think she thinks I expect too much of Sean. (She thinks I should iron his shirts, for example, which I don’t, but I do buy him those never-iron shirts at Mark’s Work Warehouse! See how we make things work?) And while I don’t think anyone deserves a medal for doing his or her fair share of housework and parenting, I do truly appreciate that duties at our house are shared pretty fairly.
Neither of us is a clean freak. That is both a good and bad thing, I suppose. No one gets mad at the other about mess, but we both end up in a “man, we better clean the house this weekend” situation fairly often. Sean was tidier before he met me  — his mother talks about him making his own bed and asking to learn how to do his own laundry at a strangely early age. (Sean also didn’t drink beer before he met me, so I’ve clearly been both a good and bad influence on him.) We’re not hoarders or anything…just don’t come and visit us unannounced, OK?
I know lots of different things impact how you run your household — mostly the personalities of you and your partner. Here’s how it works for us (more or less):

  1. Laundry: I pretty much own the laundry. Sean doesn’t like doing laundry and I don’t mind it. It smells good when it comes out of the dryer or off the line, and folding clothes means I get to sit and usually watch TV, which doesn’t feel like hard work. I also put all the clothes away. It’s best not to leave that task to Sean — I’ll just leave it at that.
  2. Bills: Sean handles the bills. I’ve been a freelancer for the last half of our life together, so it makes sense that he, with the regular paycheque, pays the bills.
  3. Cooking: I do all the cooking. Not because I like it, but because I’m the one who is here when food needs to be prepared. Sean never complains that I’m not a great cook and has even trained our children to say, “Thanks for making a yummy dinner, Mommy.” Bless him.
  4. Outdoors: Sean owns the great outdoors. He cuts the lawn. He takes out the garbage and recycling. He shovels snow (though I shovel during the day when I’m here). We both share in the gardening, but he definitely gets that “the garden must be weeded” feeling much more urgently than I do.
  5. Dishes: We share dish duty, though Sean always does after-dinner clean-up, which I appreciate. Sometimes if we’re having a rough day with the girls, we’ll fight over who gets to do the after-dinner dishes.
  6. Tidy-up. Sean just looks at the clutter in this “I have no idea where any of this goes” way, so that is me. However, Sean is awesome at tackling things like a massive re-org of the basement/playroom, which sometimes feels too overwhelming to me.
  7. Sweeping/mopping: Mostly me (this is something Sean really doesn’t like doing).
  8. Groceries: Sean does the majority of our grocery shopping. Many people think this is odd, but my dad always did the grocery shopping as I was growing up, so it seems very normal to me. I usually make the list, he recruits a kid, and off they go.
  9. Bathrooms: Sean used to take this on because this has historically been my most-hated household chore. But I find we’re sharing this more these days.
  10. Cleaning the fish tank: All Sean. Because it’s disgusting, and as I said at the beginning, I have a great husband.

I’m curious how you and your partner divide up household responsibilities. Do you feel it’s a fair division? And how many of you hire a house cleaner?

Photo by the italian voice via Flickr

This article was originally published on Jan 16, 2012

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