Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Domestic division of labor

Slynnro recently posted about the way she and her husband divide up domestic tasks and it got me thinking about the same thing. Torsten and I do not do the inside/outside division, and we never sat down and said, OK, I'll do this chore if you'll do that one. The way the chips have fallen is pretty much based on who is good at what, who has time for what, and who absolutely can't stand doing what.

Also, these things aren't set in stone. For example, occasionally I mow the lawn, and sometimes Torsten takes the dog to the dog park. But I've only filed the task under "both" if it's split fairly evenly between us.

  • Mows the lawn
  • Trims the weeds with the electric trimmer
  • Does the laundry
  • Mops
  • Goes to Costco
  • Deals with things that break
  • Researches big purchases
  • Does handyman type stuff (installs towel racks, seals cracks in the driveway, etc.)
  • Shovels snow (though we haven't had to do much of this since it's only snowed a couple times since we moved into our house, so this could change)
  • Manage finances/pay bills
  • Take the dog to the dog park
  • Run most errands
  • Take out the trash
  • Pull weeds by hand
  • Deal with paperwork (i.e., mortgage, taxes)
  • Plan vacations and logistics
  • Straighten up the house
  • Change lightbulbs (don't ask me why, since I'm eight inches shorter)
We both:
  • Vacuum
  • Cook
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Fold the laundry
  • Feed and bathe the dog
  • Drive
  • Grocery shop
  • Kill bugs (only under extreme duress)
  • Walk the dog
For us, it works out fairly evenly. I do a lot of life management type stuff, like scheduling and organizing, but I am more detail-oriented and I also work less at my actual paid job than Torsten does, so it works out. Neither of us feels like we do too much or too little.

What about you? If you have a significant other, how do you divide up the tasks?


  1. Ooh, this is a good one for me to do today. I was just trying to think of something to talk about besides ranting any more about health care, and maybe it will make me appreciate my husband more if I really think about how much he does!

  2. The husband deals with mowing and most other lawn work. I warned him this was the deal before we bought the house. He also handles all our finances because I worry and fret way too much about them. (I'd check the accounts multiple times a day and lose sleep, seriously.) He takes care of the trash and all poo -- diaper pail and litter.

    I do all the laundry and most of the house straightening, errand running and kid wrangling (ie doctor's appts, daycare drop-off/pick-up, bathing, etc). I cook dinner during the week and do most of the meal planning because of that.

    We both go grocery shopping and we cook together on the weekends. This is practically a date for us and always has been. We share the big chores -- mopping, vacuuming, dusting, etc -- depending on who can't take it any more.

  3. he does most of the outside maintenance and the handyman stuff as well as the heavy house-restoring stuff like removing driveways and installing sprinkler systems. I do a lot of the day-to-day stuff and I do all the laundry because he would ruin my stuff. :)

    We both take care of the baby, clean up the kitchen, go grocery shopping (90% of the time together), and do fun yard stuff and fun house-restoring stuff.

  4. My boyfriend cooks and I clean and do laundry, but we both grocery shop.

  5. I do about 99% of the day-to-day stuff (cooking, cleaning, laundry, child maintenance) and he does about 75% of the occasional/seasonal stuff (pool maintenance, lawns, snow removal, major projects). It works for us, although we are getting a cleaning service starting in September to even it out a bit.

  6. We handle it pretty much the same way as Lori. It used to be a lot more equal in the house cleaning and cooking departments, but when I became a stay at home mom it was just easier/made more sense for me to do those jobs on my own. Phillip only cooks once a week, but he washes the dishes nearly every night. But I can count on one hand the number of times he's cleaned a bathroom since we got married. And that's why I make him vacuum the stairs.

  7. Steve and I don't live together, but I've told him that when we do, he has to take out the trash, because it's a boy job :)

    Of course, since I live alone, I take out my own trash now, but I hate it, it is my least favorite chore to do! It probably doesn't help that the dumpster is behind my building and super sketcky!

  8. DH:
    Handyman stuff
    Major purchase researcher/buyer
    Kids' music lessons/practice
    Snow shoveling
    Put the kids on the bus in the AM (in the fall)

    Grocery shopping
    Girl Scout leader (2 troops in fall!)
    Purchaser of kid clothes, etc.
    Drop off/pick up kids from daycare
    I do light bulbs, too!

    Kids' chauffer
    (DH does most of the sporting events. I do the GS and Boy Scout and kid parties, etc)

    It's better now that the kids are older. When they were babies, I was primarily responsible for... well, EVERYTHING. This man refused to change diapers. He didn't do baths. He got "out of" feeding them as I nursed them. I was very exhausted and resentful a lot of the time.

    Now that they are potty-trained and can feed themselves, he pays more attention to them and does a lot more things with them than I feared he would when they were little. He's definitely improved with the kid help.

    He also improved after we bought a house. In that: when we rented there was no yard work, and he did NOT help with housework unless we had company coming (which was NOT often). Now, he has his yard work, and I don't feel quite so much resentment about our work balance.

    Now, if only I could get him to help around the house. At least do the dishes every now and then..? Cook a meal once in a while..? *sigh*

    (And I should probably mention the growing list of handyman stuff that has NOT gotten done in the last three years, but...well, I'm sure you want to hear from other folks!)

  9. Oh yeah. DH takes the trash to the curb. But he NEVER goes through the house first. So, I always end up running out there (usually at 8:00 at night when it's dark and raining) dragging out the bathroom/kitchen trash bags. APPARENTLY it's MY responsibility to empty the house of all trash, and he just sets it out to the curb????? Lexilooo said, that's a BOY JOB!

    (Can't wait for my son to get older so that I can teach him "right!")

  10. Our divide also happened naturally, and looks a lot like yours. We have baby related tasks in there as well, which are split evenly other than bath & bedtime. I do bath & bedtime daily unless I really need a break from it. It's "my" time with Maddie, since Jimmy is with her all afternoon.

    I hoping to someday hand off the finances to him - I fret about them a lot, like Hillary said. But I have several milestones I want to reach before I do so - more sense of accomplishment, even though we'll be doing it together.

  11. Our divide happened like yours did... just sort of naturally. Mr. C loves a good-looking yard so he does the mowing and weedeating and stuff. He also fixes everything.

    Now that I'm jobless, I do a lot more of the cleaning than what I used to.

  12. Sweets and I are really lazy, so we generally don't do the tasks at all (I so wish I were lying). But if we have to ... I pay most of the bills (a few are assigned to him). I mostly get meals prepared (though he is grill master). I make salads for lunch. He cleans bathrooms and vacuums. He mows the lawn (though that is shared with neighbors). He does anything that involves putting things together or fixing things (because he's good like that and loves me). He definitely does more than I do ... because if I had my way, I'd just pay someone else to do it. Guess I am indirectly by paying the bills. ha.

  13. i need a sig other so that i have someone else to do things like clean the bathroom and mow the lawn. which is also why i don't HAVE a lawn at the moment, because i don't want to mow it.

  14. We're both pretty even. We both love to cook, but we both hate doing the dishes, so we alternate. If he cooks, I clean up and vice versa. Andy actually LIKES cleaning the bathroom and mopping the floors, while I don't mind doing laundry, ironing, etc. It seems to work pretty well!

  15. This THIS is why I need a reliable partner. If only to divy up chores. I do, however, make my teenage son do some chores. He occasionally does the dishes, sweeps, takes the trash out and cuts the grass. I do everything else, including re-doing what he's done sometimes. I'm sort of a control freak it seems.

  16. Ooooh. I'd do everything on his list if he'd just tackle Costco. That places tugs at my very souuuuul.

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  18. ooooh, where the HECK do I start?

    Call any company that needs calling (for bills, gym, etc).
    Manage the financials (pay bills, budget, etc).
    Clean the living room, bathroom, foyer, bedroom & kitchen & do floors & vacumm.
    Change kitty litter.
    Do all steps of the laundry except for putting away.
    Plan vacations.
    Change fuses & lightbulbs
    (and I ALWAYS have to take stuff out of the oven because he's scared he'll burn himself. I find this RIDICULOUS.)

    We both:
    Cook dinner
    Grocery shop
    Take dog out
    Take garbage out
    Run errands

    He does:
    Steam cleaning
    Putting the laundry away.

    Hmmmmm....something tells me this isn't an exact division of the chores?!!!

    I really hope we can afford a maid sooner than later, lol.

  19. Let see. Dave takes the laundry to the cleaners and I put it all away upon it's return. Dave takes out the trash, hangs/fixes things, and kills bugs. We both wash the dishes and cook. I organize more. We both go food shopping. I think I've got a pretty sweet deal here! Haha.

  20. Let's see...

    lawn and garden (minus shrubs, which I do.)
    empties dishwasher
    helps evenly with bedtime for kids
    kitty litter
    helps a lot with the kids, when he's home

    everything else

  21. Sorry I haven't posted in so long! I've been so busy! This is a great topic! I was just talking to Achoo the other night about this, how I don't think I'd want to be in a relationship where "traditional" inside/outside separations exist. If I cook, he can wash the dishes, and vice versa, ya know? He was so supportive and so in agreement that it made me cry!

  22. We've always been pretty uneven with our division of household/childcare labor, largely because our standards of cleanliness are radically different. I am by no means a neat freak, but he'd pretty much live in squalor left to his own devices. This is an issue I've had with college roommates, too (on both sides) - it seems like whoever cares the most about the home loses, in a way, because they're always going to be the one to take care of things first.

    The unevenness in the cleaning has been an occasional source of tension throughout our time living together, but these days we talk through frustrations about it before they get to be huge problems (doesn't change the way we do things but at least we're not stewing in our own resentments). For the most part I'm actually okay with the division as it is now, with the one exception that if he destroys the bathroom and doesn't clean up after himself it drives me absolutely batshit crazy.

    Regular cleaning (bathrooms, dishes, tidying, etc)
    Diaper changes
    Toddler daycare prep (lunches, appropriate clothes packed, etc)
    Vendor research (but not calling)
    Bills and budget
    Paperwork (insurance, school registration, etc)
    Cat litter

    Any bug or pest removal
    Big purchase research
    Vendor calling/takeout ordering (I am not a big fan of making calls to strangers)
    Toddler pick up/drop off from daycare
    AV club duties (computer/TV configuration and maintenance, etc)

    Take out trash/bring in trash cans
    Cat feeding/watering
    Grocery shopping

    No one:
    Vacuums the stairs
    Dusts high bookshelves
    ... unless we have company coming.

  23. We split things up more by the time of day. Kev gets up in the morning and feeds the animals, makes coffee, makes my lunch (I know, so spoiled!), walks Chloe. I sleep in, because I am NOT an early-riser, nor am I very pleasant to be around in the morning.

    But when I get home from work, I'm on fire! I do a lot of evening things, like run or walk Chloe, water and work in the garden, mow grass...I also do most of the cleaning, because I am anal like that. Kev does the laundry.

    We equally take turns making dinner and grocery shopping.

  24. I guess we kind of do the inside/outside thing on some levels. He mows, weedeats, takes out trash...but also does all of the handyman stuff. I typically do the cooking, laundry, house type items but we are both always willing to help one another out. He takes care of all finances - me doing that would just be scary for all involved :)

  25. Sometimes I think the best reason to get married is for the division of labor benefit. I have to do everything on those lists! Maybe I should get a houseboy. ;-)

    Also, I am surprised changing the light bulbs is on your list, too. Not because you're shorter, but because wouldn't the person who notices the bulb burn out be the one who just changes it right away?

  26. Whatever I hate he does, whatever he hates I do! :-)

  27. We have always had the traditional 50's division of labor - I did everything and he'd mow the yard. Until the last couple of years, he does all the outside stuff including the dogs and I do the grocery shopping and we are fortunate enough that the cleaning lady does all the rest. Took me over 25 years to get that deal...

  28. Wow that does break out pretty evenly and I love that you have a list that you do together too. SO perfect!

  29. My boyfriend and I split things pretty evenly, like if I cook he'll do the dishes after. We keep our bills and finances separate, and plan to merge them after we get engaged. Our house is a little complicated though because household stuff is actually split between THREE people, as we live with his mother. She is forever making him food, doing his laundry for him and cleaning his stuff, which drives me insane. Not only because he's 25 and therefore old enough to do things for himself, but because I feel constantly undermined. I look forward to the day when it is just the two of us, and I think then I could respond to this post in a much more...normal way. :D

  30. These days, the lawn is looking rather neglected (save for all the work my inlaws did while they were here) and dividing chores usually comes down to "which do you want to take, heinously poopy diaper or child screaming bloody murder in bathtub?"
    My dad is constantly impressed with my husband's willingness to pitch in the baby chores since when my brother and I were little, most of those things were still considered just the "Mother's Job."