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9 Ways to Distribute Household Work Fairly

07 September 2021

Women have always beared the brunt of unpaid work. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, women in the U.S. spend around four hours a day of unpaid work compared to the 2.5 hours taken from men daily. 

Yes, the world has seen significant progress in terms of giving more seats to women in society. Women can now vote, report to work, have the platform to speak, and even take bigger positions than men. But even though the world has become relatively more egalitarian, the traditional practice still dominates the way a household runs. Women do a chunk of daily chores---from washing the dishes to cooking meals and cleaning the bathroom to doing most of the laundry. Men are left with mechanic and yard work, with the need to attend to these activities arising only once a week or just when a rare incident happens. 

Unpaid household work is deemed feminine while masculinity is measured based on productivity for paid work. Even though research continues to prove that “nurturing” or being overly compulsive with cleaning is not inherently a characteristic linked to women, we continue to speak of it in our vernacular. Our own mouths mindlessly utter, “She should know how to do it; she’s a woman!” “Of course, he doesn’t know anything here in the household, he’s a man.” And so on, and so forth.

The younger generation claims to be feminists and one with the fight for equal rights, yet we see women in heterosexual relationships continue to fall under the job of a household caretaker. It’s not to say that to be a caretaker is something to be ashamed of; in fact, it is the opposite. But when it gets in the way of a woman’s real dreams or living her best life, then there is a problem that must be addressed before it eventually ruins a marriage. 

When COVID-19 hit and most people were forced to stay more in their homes with only limited movement outside, the household responsibility for women became even more daunting. There were more meals to cook, more dishes to wash, and more time with kids who needed help with their online schools. This is the situation for a mother even though she also works a 9 to 5 job same as her husband. By now, they probably already both work from home; but still, women are deemed more responsible to take care of the household while men can play video games all day without anyone batting an eyelash. 

Women may grow resentful if this setup continues to go on for years. They might lose sight of themselves---their own career, hobbies, and life outside of the family. They would eventually feel the burnout of combined physical, mental, and emotional toil. But it’s not to say that when this happens, it’s already the end of the line for the couple. These individuals as well as us are just products of a broken system and we could all help one another fix it. Here’s how to distribute chores fairly in the household. 

Value each other’s time equally.

1. Value each other’s time equally. 

Eve Rodsky, author of Fair Play, said it best in a Time magazine article, “Only when you both believe that your time is equally valuable will the division of labor shift toward parity in your relationship.” male or female, you both have only 24 hours in a week. Every time you take a minute out of it for household chores is a minute of your time that could have been used for something else. Both partners should give each other’s time equal weight. 

2. Be vulnerable and open to how the situation makes you feel. 

Take the time to sit down and have the “difficult conversation'' with your partner. Instead of throwing all the blame to him that the house is a mess, focus on what you feel. Instead of saying, “It’s your fault that the kids don’t clean their rooms!” say instead, “I felt neglected when the kids didn't follow my rules.” 

3. Work on a compromise based on each other’s personalities. 

You are two different people with different personalities. For instance, when you want something to be done already while the other one is the type to slack off and forego household chores at a later time, find out the reason why and work on a compromise. Maybe it’ll work if you set a fixed time to clean or maybe it’s best if you look at a time done as second only to the quality of work. 

Cork Board Bulletin Board 36 x 24 Inch

4. Be up-to-date with each other’s work schedules. 

Assuming both of you work from home now, be updated with one’s schedule by putting it up on a spacious corkboard that both of you could fill and mount on the wall to see. 

*Where to find: Flexispot Cork Bulletin Board with Silver Aluminum Frame (EXACT SIZE 35.8 x 23.8 Inch)

Write a daily to-do list on a whiteboard so you could see what each one has accomplished on the day itself. 

*Where to find: Flexispot Lockways Magnetic Dry Erase Board (EXACT SIZE 35. 8” x 24”)

Tip: If you have a shared workspace at home, take care of your own workstation. Be responsible for decluttering your own desk but you may also opt for shared storage units. Flexispot has organized Lateral File Cabinets (Two-Drawer and Three-Drawer) as well as mobile file cabinets you may use in your room. Labeling is the key to not get it mixed up with your siblings or parents’ files if ever they ask to use it. 

5. Be flexible, understanding, and rational. 

Anything can happen anytime. A surprise meeting might come up. Your partner might get sick. Be open to changes to the schedule that you have set and roadblocks that you may encounter along the way. Volunteer to do the missed work if it’s impossible for your partner to do it. Do it out of love within reason. 

6. Allow your partner to take charge. 

Avoid micromanaging your husband by nagging him how to do a certain thing. Do not observe from a distance or record what has been going on. Most importantly, do not redo what your partner cleaned. This will make them think you don’t value their effort and skills. 

7. Give each other compliments. 

Boys want to be seen and appreciated. Most often than not, a husband will lose the will and energy to help in household work because he doesn’t feel valued. Make sure to compliment his sweeping or washing of the dishes. This will motivate him to help more, seeing that his work is appreciated. 

Give time for personal hobbies.

8. Give time for personal hobbies. 

Do not lose sight of yourself by not having the time out for personal hobbies. Not getting to rest and relax because of household commitments might lead to burnout and lack of motivation to live on a daily. Talk it out with your partner about how each of you will be able to allot time for your personal hobbies or social life. Adjust accordingly. 

9. Check in on each other. 

One sit-down chat won’t resolve these gender role issues deeply embedded in the household and human society. You have to check in again from time to time to see how your partner is doing. You learn from each other so take this by heart for a more sound marriage. 

Final Thoughts 

Women work now too, so it’s high time that household chores be distributed fairly in the US and around the world.