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To ask what a fair division of labour looks like irrespective of gender

(26 Posts)
stumblymonkey Tue 08-Mar-16 08:28:45

So I've read with interest lately many threads where SAHM are outraged that their DPs expect them to do the lion's share of housework and childcare in the evenings/weekends.

I've also read threads where those with DPs at home (SAHD) have been slated by the breadwinning female for the very same.

Can I ask for views on what people believe is a fair division of labour where one partner works full time and gets in at say 7.30pm and the other is a SAHP?

I may be in this situation with my DP at some point and want to be fair (it will be me as breadwinner and him as SAHD)....

stumblymonkey Tue 08-Mar-16 08:29:49

Not sure if my OP makes total sense: first lot of threads slated the working men for expecting too much of them. Second lot of threads slated stay at home dads for not doing enough.

AStreetcarNamedBob Tue 08-Mar-16 08:33:02

My DH and I run it that we are both "clocked on" for the same hours. If I get home from work at 5pm I don't clock off I then either make dinner or look after the children and one of us does the baths and the other tidies downstairs. We BOTH sit down for the evening at the same time.

Same in the morning. We both clock on at the same time. One person might be walking the dogs and the other doing washing etc etc

Problems arise I suspect when someone is lounging on the sofa and the other is still busy

Junosmum Tue 08-Mar-16 08:39:25

I'm currently on mat leave. I willingly do the lions share of housework as I have more time, DH helps out with 50% of anything I haven't managed or will do it whilst I look after DS or vice versa. DS is breastfed so there's a certain portion of child care I HAVE to do, including all night care (DS only wakes to feed. DH does 50% of all other child care unless he has to do something for work.

I think the person most time should do most child care/ housework so that both parties have the same amount of 'free time'.

Katenka Tue 08-Mar-16 09:11:38

Tbh I don't get people have a clear division of labour. In our house when we first moved in we picked the big jobs we preferred doing. I don't mind washing and sorting clothes. Hate cooking.

So I do the washing dh does the cooking. General tidying, vacuuming are all just done as they are done.

Because neither me or dh expect the other to do more, it's not an issue.

Personally I think a sahp should do most of the day to day housework. For us the whole benefit of me being at home was so that we had more family time that wasn't filled with jobs. That doesn't mean that dh didn't Hoover up at weekends. When he was here if jobs need doing either of us did it.

Every relationship is different and what right for one couple isn't right for the other.

For me it's about respecting each other. If you are a sahm and do nothing around the house and expect the working parent to do it all when they get in that's not ok. If you are the working parents and expect the sahp to do it all its not ok.

ToriaPumpkin Tue 08-Mar-16 09:14:34

For me the biggest bugbear is night wakings. Neither of our children has been BF for a very long time so there is NOTHING stopping him helping if they're up more than once or twice a night. Yes, he has to get up and go out to work, but I have to get up as well, and look after two children/keep the house/cook the dinner.

To be fair, other than that we're mainly equal. I do the cooking as I like it and he's of the "use every pot, pan and plate in the house" school of thought, load the dishwasher, clean the kitchen and bathrooms, do the food shopping, organise the kids' clothes, activities, nursery events etc. I also do the laundry and bits and pieces in the garden.

He does the vacuuming, cleans the cars and does the majority of the gardening, and usually baths and gets them ready for bed while I'm cleaning up after dinner. We either alternate or take one child each to bed.

Things like bins/recycling/emptying the dishwasher fall to whoever is there at the time and we generally alternate getting up with the kids.

I'm about to go back to work PT though so it'll be interesting to see what happens when I'm not home to make tea!

BoomBoomsCousin Tue 08-Mar-16 09:31:15

You can't know what a fair division is until you know what the children are like and how you (and he) cope with them. Also, it isn't just about a division of labour. There's also the division of opportunity. Is the job (or a job) one you really want to pursue? Is being a sahp what your DH really wants to pursue? Are you getting equal validation from your roles?

You need to juggle things so that you are both getting an equal share of the burden and an equal share of the joy of your life together. That isn't entirely about how much work you do, but a good starting point is to share out the burden free time. With a baby at home, for a lot of people there is no real free time. So the work that needs doing in the evening and at weekends should probably be split. A sahp should be trying to do what they reasonably can around the house, but if they're doing most night wakings the days are not going to be smooth and they will need plenty of support. Looking after a baby can be quite physically and emotionally draining and that will bleed over, just like a highly stressful office job. As a male sahp he may find he's even more isolated than a woman would be in the same circumstances, so you need to take that into account too (he may not, but it seems to be slightly more likely he will feel like he doesn't belong at the sorts of groups lots of women go to to keep themselves sane in the early years).

Also, regardless of hours worked, very few people like to feel like a skivvy. So little things like putting the dishes in the dishwasher and wiping up after yourself go a long way to making things feel fair, even if they make little difference to anyone's workload.

peggyundercrackers Tue 08-Mar-16 09:32:20

I don't believe in a division of tasks - I think the stay a home parent should do whatever they can do without busting a gut during the day then anything left over is shared.

BirdInTheRoom Tue 08-Mar-16 09:34:25

The thing is, being the SAHP can be bloody monotonous, and thankless. Yes, I could clean and do household jobs, run around after small children all day long - there are always things that need doing, however doing stuff like that all day, every day is bloody boring and can feel like ground hog day - and is never ending, never finished. Appreciation of that by the working parent goes a long way, and understanding that things around the house might not be perfect.

By the same account, the SAHP needs to appreciate that the other parent has been working hard and may be stressed out too, and won't necessarily want to come in and start vacuuming, for example.

You both need to cut each other s bit of slack, help each other out where you can, and have roughly equal leisure time. Don't expect too much from each other.

peggyundercrackers Tue 08-Mar-16 09:36:01

I agree what boomboom says in that no one wants to feel like a skivvy - everyone should clean up after themselves and put things away as they go

BumpPower Tue 08-Mar-16 09:36:07

I think like so many things it's about talking to each other. I remember sitting in my new baby's room crying and full of hate because DP was downstairs doing the washing up and cleaning the kitchen. I had been with my screaming bundle of joy all day and would have done anything for 30mins peace, watching TV whilst cleaning the kitchen! My poor DP was rather surprised by the screaming rage of hormones that berated him for cleaning and scrubbing after a day at work. Talking through who did what job helped!

BirdInTheRoom Tue 08-Mar-16 09:37:25

Also, as the wohp, try not to create extra work for the SAHP. Clean up after yourself, put your own stuff away, don't just leave things for the other person to do because they are at home. They are not your skivvy!

BirdInTheRoom Tue 08-Mar-16 09:37:55

X post!

peggyundercrackers Tue 08-Mar-16 09:50:10

bloody monotonous, and thankless. Yes, I could clean and do household jobs, run around after small children all day long - there are always things that need doing, however doing stuff like that all day, every day is bloody boring and can feel like ground hog day - and is never ending, never finished

a lot of people think that's what work is like everyday but they have to do it - they don't get a choice...

BirdInTheRoom Tue 08-Mar-16 09:51:54

Did you not read where I said the working parent should be appreciated too?

BirdInTheRoom Tue 08-Mar-16 09:53:00

Many people have interesting rewarding jobs too but the SAHP role is generally the same for everyone that does it.

BoomBoomsCousin Tue 08-Mar-16 09:58:04

It's not just about the monotony of the role, it's that it feels like it doesn't stop. With a job, even if it feels like drudgery, when you go home there is a change. When you're a sahp, if that feels like drudgery, it will Be the same drudgery in the evening and at the weekend too if no-one takes the burden away.

BirdInTheRoom Tue 08-Mar-16 10:02:40

A lot of SAHP don't have a choice about staying home either if the family are worse off after paying out for, and juggling the logistics of childcare.

peggyundercrackers Tue 08-Mar-16 10:14:03

bird I don't believe that the SAHP role is the same for everyone - your day is what you make it how you do it is different. yes I agree some people have a limited choice whem it comes to thinking about working and SAHP but that's not what the OP is speaking about.

boomboom my job doesn't stop, a lot of peoples work doesn't stop - if I don't do something today it will be waiting for me to do it tomorrow - just the same as if I don't vacuum today it will still be waiting on my tomorrow to do it. I know what it feels like to stay at home and do whatever needs doing, ive done it and there is a comparison between them.

Oysterbabe Tue 08-Mar-16 10:30:26

I have a highly demanding 9 week old. I do what I can during the day but sometimes it's nothing more than looking after the baby. DH will often sort out the kitchen and put the dishwasher on. He takes the baby while I cook. We both do laundry and other chores as and when we get chance, we don't have defined job roles, whoever isn't holding the baby does what needs to be done. When (if?!) the baby gets easier I'll take on a lot more housework during the day meaning we'll both have more downtime in the evening. He certainly doesn't expect me to do everything in the house just because he's going out to work. We tend to have the same amount of time relaxing and doing our own thing.

BirdInTheRoom Tue 08-Mar-16 10:36:40

You brought up the choice thing Peggy, not me!

Anyway my post was saying you should both appreciate each other and not expect too much from each other - not arguing that one thing is harder than the other.

BoomBoomsCousin Tue 08-Mar-16 14:28:35

Bird Yes, the job is still there. But it's there at work. You aren't. That's the difference I've found between being a sahp v. a wohp. If you work out of the home you get a change in what you are doing for a bit. And while I don't go quite as far as suggesting a change is as good as a rest in all circumstances, it's normally a lot better than no change, which is what the sahp gets.

arethereanyleftatall Tue 08-Mar-16 14:34:26

Depends completely on the child. With both my children I had no problem whatsoever fitting in all the housework whilst he was at work and I was at home with the children.
In my situation (easy Independant children who slept and fed well) it would have been very unfair of me to have not done the hw.

cuckoooo Tue 08-Mar-16 15:20:56

I am a SAHM. It is my job to clean the home, prepare meals and do laundry/ironing. DH doesn't do very much in comparison. Sometimes I wonder if it is a control thing as well - DH is terrible at cooking and cleaning and can't iron to save his life - so it is just less stressful if I do it.

I know its old fashioned but I really do see it as my job to make sure they are all taken care of and that DH can relax when he gets home and spend quality time with DS and me. I even get his and DS breakfast and make both of them a packed lunch. I sometimes even drive him to work (if I need the car).

That said, he does set the table for dinner, clears table and does the washing up (we don't do dishwashers), puts out the rubbish, helps to sort the laundry for washing, and on weekends he cleans all the bathrooms/toilets. Of course, I have to keep praising him for everything he does!!

I am not quite sure when I turned into this Stepford wife. Yes, sometimes I feel like a complete slave but DH is always so appreciative and doesn't take it for granted. Besides if I am ill or even have a headache, he takes up all the slack.

blobbityblob Tue 08-Mar-16 15:49:25

I was very fortunate in that I worked 12 hours on a Saturday after maternity leave so dh had sole care that day. I used to come home to a total mess. As such dh has never cared what state the house is in when he gets home from work or whether there's anything for dinner. I was at home with dc for 6 days a week at that time.

I'd do the dishwasher, usually get something on for dinner but cleaning was mostly done at the weekend together. I don't know how people do it. I used to have to take dc out all morning of they'd be climbing the walls. Mine didn't sleep much in the day and if they did, I'd sleep myself to make up for being awake half the night. If I got the hoover out they'd just keep pulling the wires, switching it on and off and getting in the way. I certainly couldn't have ironed in their presence without putting them in a cage or something.

so I agree with do what you can without busting a gut

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