For most of human history, the way we talk about household labor divisions has rotated largely around heteronormative gender roles. Thankfully, the idea that gender should determine the "who does what" of housework is (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 readers to complete an exercise in order to share with us the amount and nature of housework they actually do, and how they and their partner decided to divvy it all up.
Name: Reyna Morales
Location: Richmond, CA (Bay Area)
Relationship status: Married
What type of home (e.g, condo, house) do you have? Home
Do you have any kids or pets? 2 daughters, Abigail (8 months) and Gianna (25 months)
How long have you and your partner been together?
How long have you been living together?
What chores do you do daily, and how did you and your partner decide you’d be the one to do them? Please describe.
I pick up and drop off the girls to daycare; it works with my schedule and it's on my way to work. I will also start dinner, and he will join me when he gets home. I also sweep daily since we have wooden floors and the baby likes to get into everything; we just have to be mindful of her. I also am the one to wake up at night with the girls since he does get up early for work.
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.
We do grocery shop together weekly, as we plan our meals ahead of time. When he has the energy and time, though, he will do it early Sunday morning and let me and the girls stay in.
How about your partner? What chores do they do daily, and how did they and/or you decide they’d do them?
He usually washes dishes, which includes all baby supplies. Our 2-year-old takes a lunch and snacks to school daily. He washes all her supplies and preps all her meals. I prep our youngest daughters’ meals, but he will fix the diaper bag in the morning with diapers, bottles, food, and pacifier. I hate washing dishes, so that naturally fell on him. He started doing it more when I became pregnant and it kind of just stayed with him. He offered for the most part to do the items mentioned here as I was always tired from being pregnant, since my girls are pretty close in age.
What chores does your partner do weekly and/or monthly, and how did they and/or you decide they’d do them?
My husband does laundry on the weekends. Again, I was pregnant, and it was easier for him to take this on. He also mops weekly. He is just better at doing this than me.
Is the way you and your partner divide tasks similar to the household you grew up in? Why or why not?
No. We are both Mexican, and culturally and traditionally, most of the home and children duties fall on the woman. My way of thinking is that this is a partnership, and we are equal. We both help, as we both live here and we both work. So trying to find the most effective way to get things done was important for us both, given we are limited on time once we get home and the girls go to bed. He was pretty on board with most things. I also am not afraid to ask for help when I need it, especially when I was pregnant with our second. Gianna was so attached to me. She was premature, so I was warned to not carry her through my pregnancy with the second baby, as we were not sure what caused the early arrival of our first child. He really had to become more active and take on full duties with her, like putting her to bed. It was a challenge, but we overcame it.
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?
As I write this, I do feel like he does a lot more of the duties at home, haha. But there are so many areas not covered here — I do a lot for our home too. I think we communicate well and feel we support each other when needed.
1. Who makes the bed?
Both, but he makes it look prettier.
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?
5. Who keeps track of friends’ and family members’ birthdays?
Me, but we have a calendar so we both know what is going on.
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?
We are responsible for our own car.
9. Who vacuums?
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?
People still iron?
15. Who was the last person to clean out the fridge/pantry of expired items?
I clean the pantry, he usually cleans fridge.
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?
Every Friday we go to his parents for dinner; it’s the way it’s been for years.
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?
Me; I will either find alternative daycare, work from home, or take a day off from work.
24. Who takes your child(ren) to their extracurricular activities? (If you divvy this up, who goes to what activity?)
We don’t have any set activities yet.
25. Who planned the last birthday party for a child?
His family for my 2 year old. I had different plans in mind, but somehow they planned a different day altogether. I just went with it.
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?
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?
This has not happened, but I would be the one to pick them up. My job offers a lot more flexibility.
31. During weekends and vacations, who considers the children’s’ needs for entertainment, meals and their schedule (in general)?
Interested in participating in FGB's Who Does What series? Email [email protected] with "Who Does What" in the subject line.