Who does most of the housework in your house? Its one of the biggest bug-bears of the mums we work with at Mumager. It seems like our mums aren’t alone. Research shows that working mums do on average 3 times more household chores than their partners. Women put in a whopping 17 hours versus 6 hours from their partners on a weekly basis.
We know that this isn’t true in all cases. There are some great teams out there who share everything to do with looking after the children and work around the house. In fact, I know a couple of dads who actually do more around the house and are a lot tidier than their partners. But for those of us who haven’t been blessed with such a partner what can we do to even things up a bit? Many of us have been known to:
Nag. Sometimes this may also masquerade as the Stomp, Huff or Silent-Evil-Glare. A commonly used tactic yet sadly it doesn’t yield much in the way of return. From our experience men don’t pick up on subtle hints, and they’re not mind readers. So stop – use one of the tactics below.
The conversation. The last thing you want on top of everything else is an argument. So now is the time to hold back on the sarcasm or snide comments. They’re not going to get you anywhere. As calmly and objectively, without any finger pointing, share how you’re feeling. It helps to start with the specifics e.g. ‘I’ve noticed that whilst I’m doing the laundry at night and tidying up the kitchen you’re sitting on the iPad’. Then go on to describe the impact this is this having on you. Try to link the impact to something that they care about e.g. ‘This is making me feel annoyed and upset. I’m so tired by the time that I sit down I just don’t want to talk to you’. Agree what can be done differently e.g. ‘what do you suggest?’ Let your partner suggest their ideas first before you step in with yours. They are more likely to make a change if they have come up with the idea themselves.
The 25-minute blitz. This is an idea of my husband’s that was a result of us having ‘the conversation’. He said that it would be easier for him if we condensed the big chores into set times. So we agreed that on a Monday and Thursday night we would do a 25 minute ‘hard-core housework blitz’ when the boys are in bed. Bar hovering, everything else can be done and it’s amazing what you can do when you set the kitchen timer and just focus for that time.
Give options. A great influencing tactic is to give choices e.g. ‘would you like to clean the bathroom or mop the floors?’ They may not want to do either, but will sound like a bit of a prat if they suggest you do both.
Play to strengths. Try to divide the chores according to who enjoys what –or who least minds doing something. My husband loves steaming the floors (he is a fan of gadgets) whereas I don’t mind doing the bathrooms.
Tell them what to do. I resisted this one for so long – I thought that (a) I shouldn’t have to and (b) that most people don’t like being told what to do. However, as my husband shared – often men just don’t see what is right in front of them. I used to think it was just an excuse to walk past the stuff at on the bottom step of the stairs (surely everyone knows that anything left there is to go upstairs and be put away?) but I’m coming to realise that men and women often do see different things. So now, when it’s needed, I will specifically ask him to do a, b and c.
Re-define your standards. We’re not saying its time to become a slummy-mummy, but once you have small children in the house, its near impossible to keep everything pristine all of the time. Decide what your priorities are e.g. maybe as long as the lounge and kitchen are clean and tidy you feel you can relax – the pile of laundry in the spare room can wait.
Praise. Telling someone that they’ve done something well, or thanking them is the surest way to get them to do it again. You may not feel that you should have to thank your partner for doing their fair share – but a spoonful of sugar does help the medicine go down. A well-timed ‘thanks for cleaning up the kitchen whilst I was putting the baby down, I really appreciate it’ can work wonders on their motivation for doing it again.
Sex Sells – Share the research that men who do their share of housework are reported to enjoy more ‘intimate relations’ with their partner!