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: Andrea Mendes
Location: Nashville, TN
Relationship status: Living together, not married/engaged
What type of home (e.g, condo, house) do you have? 850 sq ft. 1-bedroom apartment
Do you have any kids or pets? One crazy rescue pup, no children.
How long have you and your partner been together?
Five years this past November!
How long have you been living together?
Since October 2017 – we moved from our parents’ houses in Massachusetts to Nashville, Tennessee. BIG jump.
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 take the dishes out of the dishwasher every day and put them back. He usually puts them in, and we like to divvy up most things as a team. I also try to keep the apartment clean overall since I work from home, which doesn’t always happen if I’m busy. It gets messy pretty quick in a one bedroom with our active (and hairy) dog. Which is why we like to do bi-weekly deep cleans!
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 “deep clean” on weekends bi-weekly, and we trade off on which of us is cleaning what. If he cleans the toilet/shower/sink one of the weeks, then I clean it the next time. Bi-weekly cleaning helped us save money in the long run, too; we used to go out every weekend during the day and spend a ton of money!
How about your partner? What chores do they do daily, and how did they and/or you decide they’d do them?
He puts the dishes from the day into the dishwasher after we’re done cooking for the night. He usually uses more dishes/pots and pans than I do, so he is the one to load.
What chores does your partner do weekly and/or monthly, and how did they and/or you decide they’d do them?
As stated above, we try to split and take turns with weekly/monthly chores. A lot of chores just came naturally as we lived together and wanted to keep things equal.
Is the way you and your partner divide tasks similar to the household you grew up in? Why or why not?
Definitely. I grew up with one sibling, and we always tried to equally split up any housework. He also grew up with two siblings that split things between them.
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 that we handle housework really well by dividing equal work; however I could definitely take more initiative on staying on top of laundry. Since we do our own, we both have the tendency to forget we have clothes in the dryer and the other will go to put their wet clothes in and it’s full. Then the clothes get put on top of the dryer and it looks messy!
1. Who makes the bed?
I do! He wakes up much earlier than I do, sometimes before 5 a.m.
2. When you go out to eat, who picks the restaurant and/or makes the reservation?
We both decide on where to go, usually somewhere we can both get what we’re craving.
3. Who makes doctors’ appointments? Dentist appointments?
We each make our own.
4. Who picks up the dry cleaning?
We actually have a dry cleaning service in our apartment building from Tide (score!) so whoever used it goes and picks it up from the locker.
5. Who keeps track of friends’ and family members’ birthdays?
We both do!
6. Who pays bills? (Or if you divvy this up, who pays which bills?)
We split our bills in half and Venmo each other, but most are in my name. When we moved in together, I wanted to handle a lot of the financial aspects. Mostly because I’m a control freak and need everything in my control – both a good and bad trait to have.
7. When something in the house/apartment is broken, who makes sure it gets fixed?
He does, but I am usually the one home to let the service person in and point out what is wrong.
8. Who makes sure the tags on your cars are up-to-date?
We both do, though I am definitely more on top of it; I used to not be but learned my lesson with a ticket.
9. Who vacuums?
Both! More so me because I actually enjoy vacuuming.
10. Who was the last person to dust something?
Me, which means he’s up next.
11. Who was the last person to clean your toilet?
He was - that means I’m up next!
12. Who buys groceries?
We split them depending on the store. He buys more at one store and I just get a few things so he pays, then I pay for more of my things at another store but pay for some of his.
13. Who brings in the mail?
I usually do, as I’m home during the day.
14. Who irons?
Neither of us – whoops. #dryerlife
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?
I do, as my handwriting is more legible.
17. When planning a trip, who books the flights? The hotels?
We actually just planned our first trip – we did it together to find what would work best for us both!
18. Who planned what you did last Friday night?
19. Who planned your last date night?
He did, but I like to intervene.
20. You need a gift for a friend’s housewarming party. Who buys it?
100% me – I am the gift queen!
Interested in participating in FGB's Who Does What series? Email [email protected] with "Who Does What" in the subject line.