I’ve been asked a couple times lately how Chris and I handle sharing household responsibilities, especially with a new baby coming. I should start this off by saying that dividing household chores to a point where you are both comfortable with the way the load falls on each of you takes time. And some arguing. And some whining. And some temper tantrums. Finally, after almost six years of marriage, we seem to have it figured out for our family.
But, like they say, babies change everything.
When we’re not pregnant, we share responsibilities almost right down the middle. I think the key to finding a good balance is finding what each of you are good at and what each of you can’t stand doing. For example, Chris cooks most of our dinners during the week. He enjoys it (or at least he doesn’t complain…) and it saves me from making huge messes in the kitchen. I’m a complete disaster when I cook. The food tastes okay, but the mess I make is hardly worth it. Chris likes to do the cooking and then he cleans up, too, because he is such a perfectionist that he can’t stand a mess in the kitchen. Whereas I just kind of roll over everything with a sponge, throw all the dirty stuff in the sink, and call it a day. After YEARS of arguments over how messy I make the kitchen, Chris just took over that chore and life has been better ever since.
On the other hand, I can’t stand the way Chris does laundry. He leaves it in the washer until it stinks, he waits too long to fold everything so it’s all messy, and he doesn’t know where to put my stuff away (though, that drives me crazy because how hard is it to find my pants?!?!). Besides all of that, Chris hates doing laundry. It’s not that I enjoy it, but out of the two of us it’s just better if I do it. So, I’m the laundress in our house. I fought it for the first few years of our marriage. I mean, why should it default to MY responsibility when he wears more things that have to be washed on a daily basis than me? But I gave up that battle a long time ago. I like my clothes the way I like them and Chris breaks out in hives in our laundry room. So, why wouldn’t I take that on?
Of course, Bean and Molly like to help with the laundry, too…
For daily cleaning, I’m the primary when I’m not pregnant. Picking up, straightening up, sweeping, wiping up messes and spills, vacuuming, getting up the dog hair – that’s my job. I keep our house neat. Seriously, Chris could sit in the middle of piles of dog hair and toys and opened mail and not bat an eye, but clutter and messes drive me crazy! But for the deep cleaning that happens about every two weeks, that’s normally Chris. Especially in the bathrooms. His attention to detail makes him really good at this and the fact that I’m not so great at paying attention to things like mildew makes me horrible at it. So, once every couple weeks or so, Chris will deep clean the bathrooms and kitchen. It works out for us because I’m better with organization and tidiness and he’s better at details and really nitty gritty stuff.
For Bean, we actually split things dead even kind of naturally. Again, when I’m not pregnant, I do Bean’s dinner and bath time while Chris cooks our dinner. Though, he’s eating more and more of our meals instead of his own special ones, so we’ve started eating those together. Generally, I do diaper changes and I don’t normally mind. Chris will do them if I ask or if he smells something, but I’m more the one who keeps track of when Bean’s last diaper change happened. Being pregnant though and not being able to lift Bean because of my back has meant that Chris has really had to take over in his area. I can’t lift him to the changing table and so I now just ask Chris when it’s time for a diaper change.
Actually, being pregnant has changed our chores in a lot of ways. In the beginning of my pregnancy, I continued with my responsibilities. It only seemed fair. But as I got bigger and as my back got worse, I really became limited as to what I could physically do and not do around the house. Gradually, Chris has pretty much taken over everything while I’ve become restricted to sitting on my butt to let my back recover from long days teaching on my feet. And, unfortunately, that will continue for a while after I have Gracie because recovery from a c-section leaves you pretty helpless, too. But Chris is a saint and he doesn’t complain, doesn’t have to be asked, doesn’t hold grudges. He just does what needs to be done. He even goes so far as to get irritated at me when I TRY to help.
When it comes to household responsibilities, I am keenly aware of how lucky I am to have married someone like Chris. Not all husbands take on chores as willingly as he does and I actually credit his dad for this. Chris grew up living with his dad and so in their house, it didn’t matter if you were male or female, you cleaned. He watched his dad do their laundry, he saw his dad cook their meals, he learned from his dad how to keep a house neat and clean. And so in our house, he doesn’t divide chores based on gender or more traditional roles. To Chris, we both live here and so we’re both responsible. And I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that about him and how glad I am that he’s already started teaching Bean the same way, too.
So, that’s about it. It took us a couple years in our marriage before it all balanced out, but that’s how we divide our chores. It doesn’t make us the neatest or cleanest people in the world, but it gets the job done. Usually…