For most of human history, the “who does what” of housework was pretty clearly spelled out, with gender determining each partner’s specific role and contributions. Thankfully, that’s (mostly) no longer the world we live in, but there’s still no rule book for helping partners figure out how to divvy up household chores — the physical, mental, and emotional ones — in a way that’s fair and equitable.
So, what does the division of household chores for modern couples look like, really? In FGB’s Who Does What series, we asked couples to complete an exercise in order to share with us the amount and nature of housework they actually do, and how they decided to divvy it all up.
Name: Jeff Neal, owner of The Critter Depot
Location: Lancaster, PA
Relationship status: Married
What type of home (e.g, condo, house) do you have? House
Do you have any kids or pets? 3 kids
How long have you and your partner been together? 10 years
How long have you been living together? 8 years
What chores do you do daily, and how did you and your partner decide you’d be the one to do them? Please describe.
Right now, it’s my daily chore to put our 1 year old to bed. This kind of fell in place. My wife helps the two older kids go to bed, and I just took the 1 year old, and helped her go to bed. And that’s been the daily routine for the past two years.
What chores do you do weekly and/or monthly, and how did you and your partner decide you’d be the one to do them? Please describe.
I take out the trash weekly, pay all the bills, keep the cars serviced, and deal with home repairs. Again, these sort of fell in place. I find these more critical than other chores, so I naturally gravitated towards these. And my wife didn’t interfere.
How about your partner? What chores do they do daily, and how did they and/or you decide they’d do them?
My wife helps our two older kids get their days ready. She cooks, and cleans the kitchen. And she drives our oldest daughter to school, and picks her up.
What chores does your partner do weekly and/or monthly, and how did they and/or you decide they’d do them?
Laundry, bathroom cleaning, giving all kids a bath, keeping the house clean.
Is the way you and your partner divide tasks similar to the household you grew up in? Why or why not?
I would say no, because my mom was the only parent around, and she had to do everything.
What’s something you and your partner could improve on when divvying up and completing household tasks? What’s something you feel you’re doing well?
I feel like we’re not arguing about who should be doing what chore. We both know our routines. But when the kids become more self-managed, I wonder if my wife will pick up extra chores, if I’ll still be doing the same, and she’ll be doing the same, minus the kid stuff.
1. Who makes the bed?
2. When you go out to eat, who picks the restaurant and/or makes the reservation?
3. Who makes doctors’ appointments? Dentist appointments?
4. Who picks up the dry cleaning?
People still dry clean?
5. Who keeps track of friends’ and family members’ birthdays?
6. Who pays bills? (Or if you divvy this up, who pays which bills?)
7. When something in the house/apartment is broken, who makes sure it gets fixed?
8. Who makes sure the tags on your cars are up-to-date?
9. Who vacuums?
Mostly my wife
10. Who was the last person to dust something?
11. Who was the last person to clean your toilet?
12. Who buys groceries?
13. Who brings in the mail?
14. Who irons?
15. Who was the last person to clean out the fridge/pantry of expired items?
16. You’ve been invited to a wedding. Who RSVPs?
17. When planning a trip, who books the flights? The hotels?
18. Who planned what you did last Friday night?
19. Who planned your last date night?
20. You need a gift for a friend’s housewarming party. Who buys it?
21. Who goes to parent-teacher conferences?
22. When you need a babysitter, who is the one to book and communicate with them?
23. Your child(ren) has a half-day at school. Who handles this, and how?
Wife. She’s a stay at home mom. It’s what she’s supposed to do.
24. Who takes your child(ren) to their extracurricular activities? (If you divvy this up, who goes to what activity?)
I take them to art class. Wife takes them to libraries during the day.
25. Who planned the last birthday party for a child?
26. Who took your child(ren) to get a vaccination last?
27. Your child acted out. Who will discipline them, generally?
28. Your child needs a haircut. Who notices this, and who makes the appointment? Who takes them to the appointment?
Haven’t done these yet. But probably wife.
29. Your child is about to outgrow their shoes. Who notices this, and who takes them to the shoe store?
30. The last time you got a call from the school nurse that your child was sick, what did you and your partner do?
Wife picked up the kid.
31. During weekends and vacations, who considers the children’s’ needs for entertainment, meals and their schedule (in general)?