A friend of mine recently emigrated…well actually almost a year ago now.
She whatsapped me this past weekend with a question;
it’s a question often posed to me by women, particularly once they have had children. It concerns household responsibility and how, by the end of the weekend she was resentfully run ragged by the sheer enormity of it all.
It’s a familiar story and supporting studies abound, which cite that even mothers who work full time will spend twice the time on childcare every week than dads do – in fact I’ve seen stats that say three times as much.
So what to do?
Other than send your coaching buddy a desperate whatsapp halfway across the globe, when in a country in which household help does not come cheap!
Step 1: The first step concerns awareness. I am willing to hazard a guess that the average partner has not the foggiest clue of the distribution of workload within the household.
So first things first, open a clean spreadsheet and list every task that needs doing from washing dishes to renewing the car licences. Try and allocate a rough time estimate to each task.
Step 2: Sit together and ask your partner to review all the tasks to be sure that you have everything covered, including planning holidays and supervising children during the dreaded exam period.
Come at this from an ‘us versus the workload’ perspective rather than ‘he versus she’.
Step 3: Together colour code the current situation to do determine who does what? Try to gain an accurate picture of who does what?
Step 4: Look at the picture and ask yourselves how you would like it to be different? What would you trade if you had the choice for example, about a year back I asked my husband to take dinners for Friday – Sunday so that I didn’t need to think of 7 dinners a week.
Step 5: Finally is there anything you can outsource that just isn’t worth the fight? In our household we have the recycling collected, so that it doesn’t heap up and cause a health hazard! I’ve also recently found an efficient online pet food service whose delivery reminds us to deflea the cats too! No we don’t all have a boundless budget but some of these tasks can really save hours of hassle and expense.
In short, like the wage gap I think there will always be a level of inequality in the household and if a 2015 article is to be believed, a housewife should be earning upwards of R50k a month for the services she performs.
But reviewing this spreadsheet like a budget and making annual adjustments as the kids grow and lifestyles change is a worthy investment in your relationship.