Sunday, March 18, 2012

Splitting the Housework - Advice to Newlyweds

I wish I could remember when it happened, that infamous day when we sat down and divided the household duties between the two of us.  I do know this, it was only in the last few years!  I wish we had sat down earlier in our marriage and set the ground rules before I reached the boiling point and exploded.

OK, I didn't really explode, but I was mad and I don't get mad very easily.  I felt like all the time he was spending coaching the kids, working, fulfilling his calling at church, etc. was really putting a damper on his ability to get things done around the house. Nothing specific, just stuff.  And Sunday, my precious day of rest was also turning into his day to nap, but not mine.

I have the responsibility of making sure that the entire house stays clean, including our bedroom.  I felt like he needed to be in charge of the bathroom and once it got dirty enough he would start cleaning it.  I acted like a child and refused to shower if the tub was too dirty so eventually he would clean it.

I am ashamed to admit that out of anger and spite, I let other things go too, like the garage.  There were days when there wasn't a path from the door to the laundry room and it just irked him.  Another bad idea.

The problem was that he didn't know how much it was bothering me until I finally exploded and while crying I told him.   I let him know how tired I was of doing everything around the house and then I expressed my desire to have one day where I could rest from all the things I HAD to do during the week because he was doing what he WANTED to do.  I felt "stuck" caring for the kids, cleaning the house and spending a lot of time alone and it was starting to get to me. (This was before I went back to school or had started writing much.)

So, we sat down one day and decided which thing around the house would be his responsibility. We decided that he would be in charge of cooking on Sunday, especially breakfast, but also dinner.  I cooked the rest of the week and struggled with getting the kids to clean up, so I wanted there to be one day I didn't have to do it.  He likes to cook anyway and I don't eat breakfast so it was going to be his by default whether he liked it or not.

I told him I needed him to be in charge of our bathroom.  I would keep my makeup and the kid's hair stuff put away and collect the laundry, but the deep cleaning was going to be his responsibility.

We usually take care of the yard as a family, but the garage just makes him crazy.  I know he is busy, so I do my best to keep it  picked up and organized.  Most of the stuff in there is holiday related or kid related so it is really just an extension of our house.  I'm happy to straighten it up every once in a while.

So, except for those things, I pretty much take care of everything else around here that pertains to children or house and he coaches and works and takes me on a date once a week. I like our system of knowing what is expected of each other and taking care of those responsibilities.

I'm curious how others swap "chores."  I know a lot of moms who work outside the home and so I assume there is more equal division of labor, but is that really true? I just assume that is how it is because that is how it would be at my house if I had to go back to work.  For you stay at home moms, are there certain things your husband knows he is in charge of?  How do you divide your jobs and are they assumed or assigned?

Post Script:  We have church at 9am now and Ben starts his meetings at 6am on Sunday so we are back to eating cold cereal or yogurt and toast.  Sometimes he doesn't get home in time for dinner so I'm back to cooking.  But, I'm ok with long as my bathroom stays clean.


  1. The day Burt said to my newly potty-trained boys, "you know, you can stand up and do that" is the day I quit cleaning the bathrooms.

  2. Just to clarify, I supervise. I don't clean them...except the guest bathroom:)

  3. I think we were married 13 years before I honestly, with words, expressed my frustration about having to do ALL the housework, and demanded help. I agree--that discussion should've taken place within the first week of our marriage, and I would've avoided SO much frustration, manipulation, anger, and grief!! Now, he's on the chore chart, he's in charge of the front yard, dinner when I have class, and has almost committed to take care of all the bills/checkbook (still working on that one). :)

  4. I've always thought that my biggest mistake was to automatically do laundry and make dinner from day one of my marriage. No one told me I should discuss the division of chores with my spouse. Of course, I've been married 30 yrs and things have changed for new brides, I hope.

    My philosophy is if I'm doing it, you get what you get, plus I don't do yardwork or outside stuff unless I feel like it. I recognize that my husband works all day and my work is the house and related stuff since I don't have to take a full-time job away from home.