May 28, 2012

Division of Labour - Full-Time Work

I loved this thought-provoking post Division of Labour at In a Garden...Somewhere 

Along similar lines, more recently I also loved this post Arguing With Your Partner, and Other Feminist Work at the excellent Blue Milk

Both of these posts really crystallised my thinking around how work is divided up between partners - not just "chores" but the "mental work" which is often overlooked and discounted when tallying up lists of who does what.  Like many women I have often felt disgruntled about doing more than my partner around the house, and then felt frustrated or confused as to why I felt like I was doing more when "on paper" we have split the jobs evenly. 

When Y and I were both working full-time, here is how our division of labour looked:

  • most of the cooking
  • supermarket shopping
  • school lunches
  • after-school-care pickup 2 days
  • help kids with homework
  • read reader books with kids
  • bathtime
  • laundry - washing, drying, folding
  • change sheets on beds
  • tidy kids' rooms
  • clean bathroom
  • feed dog and cat, change kitty litter, walk dog
  • rose-pruning, weeding (infrequent!)
  • admin: bill paying, school notices, banking, mail, etc
  • take kids to swimming
  • kids' stuff planning and shopping - clothes, books, presents etc
  • weekends: usually everything: on my own with the kids

  • get kids ready and do school drop-off every school day
  • kids' breakfast 2 days
  • school pick-up 3 days
  • dishes & kitchen clean-up
  • cook dinner 1-2 nights a week
  • take kids to Greek school
  • fruit and veg (market) shopping
  • vacuum and mop
  • tidy loungeroom
  • hedge-trimming and lawn-mowing
  • light maintenance jobs
  • put rubbish out, bring bins in
  • collect mail from letterbox 

I think this was mostly fair(ish), but I always felt like I did more. That's probably because I shouldered most of the "mental work" - all the planning, worrying, remembering and organising that goes around family life. And I think like most women I probably worry more about the kids - Y tells me too much, which is also probably true.  If I worry too much and he not enough, then it all evens out and the kids get looked after the right amount. 

But look what happens as a result of Mum being responsible for Worry:
  • kids: GAIN (net result of too much worry from mum and not enough from dad = right amount of worry on their behalf)
  • dad: GAINS (doesn't worry = relaxed)
  • mum: LOSES (worries = stressed, tired, resentful)

OK, I will concede the above is not a scientific weighted analysis of all factors. But you get the idea.

I must do up another one of these for our current situation - now I'm working part-time. The division is now very different!


  1. I know the feeling well. Both of us work and Dad is not a worrier - he has had much bigger stresses in his life in the past, so like yu, I do most of that worrying and most of the thinking/planning.

    Not sure there is a solution!

    1. Thanks Robyn, glad its not just me then! My husband too came from background of "bigger problems", which no doubt contributes. I agree: no solution!



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