Who Does What: How My Wife And I Divvy Up Chores With 4 Boys Under the Age of 7

Tom Maryniarczyk

Tom Maryniarczyk

May 23, 2024 at 12:11PM UTC

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: Tom Maryniarczyk
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Relationship status: Married
What type of home (e.g, condo, house) do you have? House
Do you have any kids or pets? 4 boys (7,4,2,5 — all boys) 1 cat (way too old)
How long have you and your partner been together? 
12 years
How long have you been living together? 
9 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.
I do everything that involves tools, the pool, leaves, or snow. She manages the cooking, laundry, children’s needs, and social calendar. General domestic tasks are done by whoever has time / whoever is not holding the baby.
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.
Outdoor tasks, taking kids to karate, skiing, and soccer.  Part of the grocery shopping, during lunch at work.  General tidying up when walking by a mess — with four kids, it’s a daily occurrence.  I also do the cat litter, even though I’m allergic to the rascal.
How about your partner? What chores do they do daily, and how did they and/or you decide they’d do them?
Everything else: cooking, laundry, kids stuff.  She’s better at these, so she does them.
What chores does your partner do weekly and/or monthly, and how did they and/or you decide they’d do them?
There’s little spare time when you have four young kids, so when you have free minute or two, you do something that needs done.
Is the way you and your partner divide tasks similar to the household you grew up in? Why or why not?
Probably similar, except my father cooked more than my mom did, and more than I do.  Mom worked later, while his work schedule better aligned with being able to get dinner on the table.
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?
We could bring someone in to take more task off both our plates.  The split we have now works pretty well, although she would say I should cook more.  I’d like to, but I don’t have the time or creativity to work around all the young picky eaters we brought to this world. 

Lightning Round

1. Who makes the bed?
Who has time for that?
2. When you go out to eat, who picks the restaurant and/or makes the reservation? 
We have four kids. We don’t go out to eat.
3. Who makes doctors’ appointments? Dentist appointments? 
She does.
4. Who picks up the dry cleaning? 
We live in the suburbs; clothes that require dry cleaning are forbidden.
5. Who keeps track of friends’ and family members’ birthdays? 
She does.
6. Who pays bills? (Or if you divvy this up, who pays which bills?)
I do.
7. When something in the house/apartment is broken, who makes sure it gets fixed? 
I fix it.
8. Who makes sure the tags on your cars are up-to-date? 
I do.
9. Who vacuums? 
Whoever has time.
10. Who was the last person to dust something? 
The cleaning lady.
11. Who was the last person to clean your toilet? 
Don’t recall; could have been either of us.
12. Who buys groceries? 
Whoever has time. She makes the list when I do it.
13. Who brings in the mail? 
She does.
14. Who irons? 
Each iron our own stuff.
15. Who was the last person to clean out the fridge/pantry of expired items? 
This is a “thing /task” real people do?  I pick something up, if it’s good, we eat it; if it’s past expiry, it’s gets tossed.
16. You’ve been invited to a wedding. Who RSVPs? 
We have four kids. No one invites us anywhere.
17. When planning a trip, who books the flights? The hotels? 
I do.
18. Who planned what you did last Friday night? 
Putting kids to bed and falling asleep shortly after doesn’t require that much planning.
19. Who planned your last date night? 
Don’t remember.
20. You need a gift for a friend’s housewarming party. Who buys it? 
Take a wine off the rack.
21. Who goes to parent-teacher conferences? 
We both go, if we can.
22. When you need a babysitter, who is the one to book and communicate with them? 
She does.
23. Your child(ren) has a half-day at school. Who handles this, and how? 
Either, depending on work schedules on that day.
24. Who takes your child(ren) to their extracurricular activities? (If you divvy this up, who goes to what activity?) 
Whoever has the time /isn’t tied up with something else.
25. Who planned the last birthday party for a child? 
She did.
26. Who took your child(ren) to get a vaccination last?
We both did.
27. Your child acted out. Who will discipline them, generally? 
She is most likely to do it.
28. Your child needs a haircut. Who notices this, and who makes the appointment? Who takes them to the appointment? 
They’re all boys, so it’s easier to cut their hair at home. Either one of us does it.
29. Your child is about to outgrow their shoes. Who notices this, and who takes them to the shoe store? 
She does.
30. The last time you got a call from the school nurse that your child was sick, what did you and your partner do? 
Brought him home.
31. During weekends and vacations, who considers the children’s’ needs for entertainment, meals and their schedule (in general)? 
She does, unless it’s skiing. Then I do.

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