Recently my partner and I started ‘friendly arguing’ more than normal about who does the most housework. It seems that for a while now my partner and I have both been secretly thinking that the other has less work.
Why does one tiny baby create so much disorder in a house?
As soon as you bring baby home, housework multiplies – taking up every spare moment you have. And then once you go back to work, you have even less time for it. But if you stay home, cleaning feels like it’s your new full-time job. And there is the challenge of working together as a team to get everything done.
So what is the solution? Sure, we could hire everything out. Get a housekeeper, ask the nanny or sitter to pitch in. That sounds lovely. But it doesn’t necessarily help the day to day “stuff.”
So here’s my genius idea: Chore swap.
I breastfed my son for most of his first year, so I naturally fell into taking care of feeding, bathing and settling him in the evenings. My partner focused on grocery shopping, cooking, washing up, vacuuming and doing the laundry. But on the weekend, we decided to change it up and swap duties. We both thought it would be a good idea to see who has the “better deal”. And of course we thought the other would realize just how much more work we were doing, and how much more sympathy we deserved!
But the opposite was true.
Before our son was born, cooking dinner was one of the most relaxing parts of my day, a chance to be creative. I expected it to be the same now. As I discovered, it’s completely different when you need to prepare food for a one-year old (who currently only wants to eat red things) and two adults (who like to eat a variety of things), along with getting other chores done like washing up, laundry and vacuuming – all before collapsing into bed ready for the inevitable 5am wake up (cry).
For my partner, he experienced being in the firing line of his son who currently views food as the perfect tossing toy, and watching you hunt for food on the floor, the walls, under furniture, and behind his ear, as endless fun. And he discovered that bathing and settling, while a fun and lovely bonding time, can also be physically and mentally exhausting (try changing a baby who prefers to stand, surf or sit on the change table).
Amazingly, we both learned that our division of labour works, that we both work as hard as the other one does, and that swapping chores every so often changes things up and is a great idea. We now get through evening tasks with the support and understanding of the other partner, and can relax together with a glass of wine once everything is done!
I’m fascinated to hear about how other working parents juggle their work schedule, fun time with their kids, and getting the housework done. How do you divide up your time, and share responsibilities with your partner? Do you have a nanny or a housekeeper to help?