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: Jack Prenter, owner of Chore Bliss
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Relationship status: Dating
What type of home (e.g, condo, house) do you have? Condo
Do you have any kids or pets? No
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.
- Cleaning the dishes
- Taking out the trash
- Cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner
My partner and I divvy up the chores with respect to preference. I do ALL of the cooking, no matter what. I can't remember the last time she cooked for me! I also take out the trash and do the 'disgusting' chores like cleaning the toilet and doing any particularly dirty dishes, which she doesn’t like to do. We were able to come to this compromise by discussing it. We created a list of all the chores we needed to do and then wrote our names next to one’s that we didn’t mind doing.
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.
- Cleaning the toilet
- Cleaning the microwave and oven
- Doing laundry
- Cleaning the garbage cans
Like above, we simply talked about which chores we wanted to do. I think this is the best way to split-up chores because it means that neither of us has to do something we we aren’t comfortable with. These four tasks tend to be the ‘dirtiest’, which she hates and I’m not bothered by them.
How about your partner? What chores do they do daily, and how did they and/or you decide they’d do them?
- Tidying up the living room
- Wiping the kitchen surfaces
- Vacuuming the main walkways
My partner does these tasks daily because they are relatively simple and don’t involve a huge amount of dirt. She also works in an office, whereas I primarily work from home, which means that I can do things like laundry and cooking, which she can’t do as easily.
What chores does your partner do weekly and/or monthly, and how did they and/or you decide they’d do them?
- Vacuuming every room
- Dusting surfaces
- Cleaning the bath tub and shower
- Changing the bed sheets
- Putting away clean clothes
I do the vast majority of the daily chores, at least based on the number of hours committed, and therefore she tends to decide to do more of the weekly and monthly tasks, particularly those that don’t involve a lot of dirt.
Is the way you and your partner divide tasks similar to the household you grew up in? Why or why not?
Yes, it’s quite similar. My father would usually do much of the cooking because my mother worked later than he did. Meanwhile, she would handle a large proportion of the household cleaning and laundry. In general, both me and my girlfriend share the workload fairly evenly, although we tend to specialize in specific tasks, much like my parents.
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?
One thing that we could improve on would be having more flexibility with our tasks. Sometimes I have no desire to cook and it would be nice if my girlfriend could takeover. Likewise, I’m sure there are times that she doesn’t want to clean the bathroom and in these cases perhaps we could trade chores. On the other hand, I’m very proud of how well we share the workload so that neither of us feels overwhelmed.
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?
Both of us
4. Who picks up the dry cleaning?
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?
10. Who was the last person to dust something?
11. Who was the last person to clean your toilet?
12. Who buys groceries?
Both of us
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?
Interested in participating in FGB's Who Does What series? Email [email protected] with "Who Does What" in the subject line.