Sharing household chores @ Reward Me

Busting the domestic goddess myth

We all like to take pride in the things we’re good at, but just how important is it to be the ‘housewife’?

Now that most women work in a variety of different fields, at least until they have children, and increasing numbers return to work when their babies or kids are older, few of us would ever have sat at school wishing for the day when our dream man whisked us off to become perfect housewives.

Instead, the role of homemaker is one we might well have drifted into. At first taking on more of the cooking and cleaning when we moved in with or married our partner, then being the one who was going to stay at home after the arrival of our first child. Of course the physical reality of childbirth makes this kind of domestic arrangement a much more common one, but habits like who cooks, cleans, tidies and decorates the home evolves for many less cut-and-dried reasons.

You don’t have to label yourself ‘housewife’, but however your tasks around the home divide up, there are unavoidable jobs that as adults we all need to accept, and sometimes even enjoy. Taking time to think about this might actually help you feel more like you’re part of a domestic partnership and less like a maid!

How much of a ‘housewife’ are you?

Whether you feel you do more, less or just about the right share of the household chores, it’s worth standing back and looking at how your current situation came about. In the partnership you have with your other half, how did specific tasks become either shared or placed on one person’s shoulders?

For example, cooking the meals:

  • Because one of you was more skilled at cooking than the other?
  • Because the other person needed to get on with other household or career chores when the cooking needed doing?
  • Because one of you felt it was the other person’s ‘role’ to cook, not them?

Look at all the main tasks that get done on a daily and weekly basis. How do they divide up into who does what, exploring the reasons above. This is not an exercise to make you feel even more put-upon than perhaps you already feel, but a great way to get some perspective and possibly draw out a plan of action, whether you currently go out to work as well, or you’re at home most of the time.

Housewife heaven or hell?

If you feel you are doing too much of the housework without support from your partner or children, set out a plan of action.

For each main task:


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List down the pros and cons of why you currently do this job.

 For example, if you love cooking and don’t like the dishes your other half makes then acknowledge this – it’ll bring a more positive outlook to a domestic job you actually excel at. If you don’t want to end up cooking every meal, assign a couple of meals a week to him, maybe Friday night supper and Sunday brunch. If he decides that taking you all out for these meals is easier than making them, so be it, he’s paying!

If you end up doing certain tasks because your other half is at work when they need to be done, think about whether any of them (for example cleaning) could be put off until the weekend each week, when it can be a job split between you.If not, be pragmatic – for now it’s just part of the partnership if you are at home and he isn’t. But also don’t just resign yourself to your lot – think about how this plan could change over the next couple of years, for example when an older child could start taking on a task with you or for you.

Enlist help.

 Think about getting a cleaner or someone to do the ironing. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get outside help on just part of these tasks – look at one saving you could make each week to justify this expense, such as £20 less on new clothes each month, or giving up takeaway pizza night. These luxuries are nice, but if you’re swamped with housework just a little extra help will make a big difference to you.

Conversations about housework might go round in circles.

 If there are jobs your partner will just never do because they’re not on his radar and you don’t fancy having a stand-off about sharing the chores, be positive and consider other jobs he could be doing to make your home life easier or more enjoyable. For example, being stuck in the kitchen doing the cooking and cleaning is much nicer if the drawers and cupboards are nicely painted and the shelves above the washing machine have been cleared up and sorted out for you.

Have a plan.

 If you are really unhappy about having to do most or all of the housework and you don’t feel your partner appreciates this, have a heart to heart with a good friend about creative ways in which you can address this. Don’t just think about tomorrow’s washing day, think about how you can make changes over six months, a year and five years. First of all weed out duties like ornament dusting that really aren’t going to cause a crisis if they don’t get done week in week out, then think about whether in the coming months you could invest in a couple of time-saving gadgets like a tumble dryer that might save you time doing other tasks.

For some women thinking creatively might involve spending a little money, for others it will be about paring down the essential duties. But knowing that you are beginning to do something about your workload will be a big step towards a happier home.

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