Sunday, July 19, 2009

Men and Household Chores

There is a common misconception concerning 'women's duties' around the house, and 'men's duties'. Too often I hear how men have certain chores and women are left to do the rest. Bah! To me, there is no difference. Whatever my wife's responsibilities are, they are mine as well. It is time for society to change it's stubborn stance in traditional husband/wife household responsibilities.

There is a slow, increasing trickle of men carrying more weight in the management of the household, but not enough. For the most part, men are the breadwinners of the family, and spend five days a week at work. After an eight hour day of work exhaustion, the last thing on any person's mind, be it man or woman, is doing housework. I completely understand. Working weekends myself from 7am to 7pm, the last thing I am wanting to do is make dinner, or start loads of laundry. It is time to relax. So be it. This can be acceptable.

However, while the husband is at work, what is the dear wife doing? For the sake of argument, let's say we have a stay at home mom taking care of the kids. To start the day, there is no such thing as sleeping in. Anyone with kids knows the luxury of sleep is not obtained until the children are grown and out of the house. Then there's making breakfast and getting the little ones off to school, or starting to care for them if they're too young for school yet. Now take into account the many household chores, running errands, childcare, and management of time that ensues for the duration of the day. Talk about exhausting! So by the time the hardworking husband comes home, tired from a tough day's work, the wife is reaching the same point of weariness as well. Here now, both are in the same situation, tired and worn out. Although the work they do is very different, the toll that each day's duties takes on them can be very much the same.

I write this from a Husband/Dad/Man perspective now. On the weekends, when most men are home, is where they can really help chip in around the house. Remember, our women have done the same amount of work during the week that we have, if not more.

Yardwork

I start here because this is the hardest one for me to justify as an equal task. Both men and women are equally capable of maintaining the outer appearance of the house, but it falls into the laps of men more often than not. Plus, most men enjoy working outside, and take great pride in how the yard looks after careful mowing, edging, and trimming. So here is the man chore I give by default, yardwork.

Household Chores

Now we step inside the house. I have two categories for household needs:

  1. Daily tasks
  2. Weekly tasks

Both of these are fully capable of being done by all the daddies, husbands, and single men out there. Let me give you a small insight into my experiences with others regarding this matter.

Where I work, as I have mentioned before, I am surrounded by women. When you have a bunch of women working together, you find that it is much easier for them to talk to each other about their frustrations at home. Don't get me wrong, it's not all negativity at work, but in one way or another, some tiny issue always comes up, initiating a husband bashing of sorts, whether it is deserved or not. I say this with a light heart, because I know they all mean well, and it's only a form of venting, but it's true nonetheless.

Mainly working weekends, I work with a core group of women who do the same as I do. Work the weekends, spend the weekdays taking care of the kids. Great schedules, and saves what seems like large amounts of money on childcare. With these ladies working weekends, their husbands are at home with the kids. Many times I have asked what their husbands do at home, with very similar responses week after week. We'll start with the good:

  1. Yardwork
  2. Running the kids to sports events
  3. Feeding the kids
  4. Running kids to and from friends' houses
  5. Repairing or fixing the odd broken appliance in the house

Not a bad list. All vital parts of weekend duties! So pats on the back for everyone! Now, what about those household chores that are being saved up for all the mommies to do once the men go back to work? Here is my list of chores that, we as MEN, should be helping out with...

Daily Tasks

  1. Laundry
  2. Wash dishes
  3. Cooking meals
  4. Making beds
  5. Straighten up the house
  6. Collect trash
  7. Everything childcare
  8. Bring in mail/newspaper
  9. Clean up table, countertops, highchairs after meals. (Clean the kitchen)

These tasks are so easy for us to do. And helping out with these daily chores can mean more to our women than we really know. Of course there are other things to do, specific and unique to each household, but doing these is consistent of most every home.

Here is how I balance these daily duties during the week. Washing dishes I do after each meal. I usually cook each meal, and immediately after I make sure everything is clean and as it was before I started. Takes me no longer than 10 minutes to do the dishes.

Laundry is probably the most lengthy, and also the one I like the least. But the more I can do, the less the wife has to when I am gone. Actually, most weeks I can get it all done so she doesn't have to worry about washing any clothes on the weekend. Less than 2 minutes total time to bring all the laundry down, and about 10 minutes to fold and hang up. On average I do 4 loads of laundry a week. Families with more children will obviously do much more. I knock out the 3 normal loads in one day, and an odd load sometime at the end of the week. Don't forget dads, separate the whites and the colors!

Cooking meals really depends on what meal I am cooking. Since we eat really, really healthy, meals never take longer than 30 minutes for me to prepare. And that includes prep time. Look for later posts to see some of these quick, fast, and healthy meals I prepare!

Making beds...easiest thing to do on the list, yet probably the easiest to forget as well. This is probably the one I myself need to work on the most. My wife hates a messed up bed, yet there are many a day she comes home to the bed exactly as she left it. Maximum time, 3 minutes. No excuses here, I know it :)

When I say straightening up the house, I mean putting up all the junk that accumulates during the day from childcare and playing. Toys, blankets, pillows, you name it...put it back where it goes. I learned this long ago, when my wife comes home from work, she can't do anything to relax until everything is back in it's proper place. Guys, the last thing you want is for your wife to come home to a messy house. Clean up everything as you go, and if that's easier said than done, allot 15 minutes at the end of the day to clean up before the wife gets home. A woman coming home to a clean house is a happy one. Definitely will up yourself a notch in her eyes.

Collecting the trash isn't always a daily chore, but for some reason, in my house it is. This can be a little relaxed, and not done every day, but try and do it at least once while you're home. Nothing is more annoying than an overflowing trashcan that just keeps getting more crap piled up on top, and eventually creating a wonderful little pile on the floor all around. Time taken, less than 5 minutes.

Bring in the mail/newspaper...well, that's just something we forget to do. Here is your reminder!

Cleaning up the kitchen I mention because, well, it's actually quite unsanitary. If you clean as you go, you'll find the job much easier with each meal. If you get behind, you're going to be scrubbing burnt residue off the stove, wiping all kinds of dried mess from the countertops, and taking the chance of letting bacteria grow. A sponge and soapy water does the trick for most everything. Just 5 minutes for this simple task.

Weekly Tasks

  1. Vacuuming
  2. Dusting
  3. Clean bathrooms
  4. Clean baseboards
  5. Sweep/mop
  6. Grocery shopping

Now, some of these might actually have been done by the wife during the week. Makes it easier on any man, given the list of daily chores above. These are the more grueling of chores, and definitely at the bottom of the likeability list.

Vacuuming means all rooms, and done well. It takes me about 20 minutes to do everything, including the stairs. Not fun, but it makes the house look great, not to mention picking up all the pet hair, dust, and allergens that settle into the carpet.

Dusting is just blah. There's so much to dust in my house, it's insane. This can take me another 20 minutes when I find time to do it. Out of every chore I have listed, I probably do this the least. But that doesn't mean it's not any less important than the rest. First, you have to use a duster. Then, use a furniture polish. My trick for the furniture polish is to use an old sock if I'm out of cleaning towels. If polish isn't something you have on hand, just the dusting will suffice. Again, it looks nice, and cleans up any dust or allergens gathering up on your furniture.

Cleaning the bathrooms is probably #1 in this list for me in regards to importance. Guys, you know how much we 'miss', no matter how accurate we think we are. Toilets first. Clean all parts of the toilet. Outside, inside, lids...everything. Also, clean the bathtub, shower, sinks, countertops, and mirrors. Everything gets a good thorough scrubbing. Doing the bathrooms is also a tell-tale sign you've been working hard. When your wife enters the bathroom and smells that ever clean scent of bleach, she'll know you've been going above and beyond the call of duty. 20 minutes easy for this chore.

Cleaning baseboards can be back breaking work, due to all the hunching, slumping, and crawling. But if you take a damp rag and run it over the baseboards in your house, you'll be shocked at how dirty they actually were. It's a long chore, taking 20 to 30 minutes if you do it right.

Sweeping and mopping can be justified for more than once a week in certain occasions, but for now I leave it in the weekly task. Given the amount of tile/wood in your house determines the length of the job. For me it's about 10 minutes. Mopping is a pain in the you-know-what, so I recommend going to the store and investing in a swiffer mop, or related product. Cuts down on the time tremendously.

Finally, grocery shopping can be really helpful to our wife. But here is what I have learned. If you decide to undertake shopping for groceries, always double check your list with your sweetheart and agree to anything extra that you can buy. So many women hate letting their husbands go shopping alone because of how much extra stuff they buy. Trust me, yours truly is guilty of that as well. Just today, we were at the store for a couple items, and I had to suppress the urge to buy fresh jalapenos, pepperjack cheese, walnuts, and deli meat. Not bad items, but being on a budget, money isn't allotted for those items this week. Instill her trust in you by sticking with the list.

Appreciation

Guys, it's very easy for us to make our women happy by doing these simple things when we are at home. It would be tough to assume all these chores could be done in a day or two, in addition to all your other dad and husband responsibilites, but doing what you can really makes a difference to our girls. It can mean the difference between a stressful night and a relaxing night, a frustrated wife and a happy wife. Doing these things around the house shows that you are considerate of all she does, and are trying to help make her days at home easier. Our women see this, and appreciate it. And don't forget, making them feel appreciated and helped out increases chances of 'cuddle time' when it's all said and done. It's these small acts of kindness and love that really go the distance.

For any man out there that can acknowledge he can do more, I really encourage you to try and help out more around the house. We can use more men like this in the world. It's sets great examples for our kids, and leads to happier home lives. I for one, promise to continue doing my best. My wife is the most precious thing in the world to me, and I want her to know it. For her to know, I show with actions. It's the least I can do for all she has given to me.

3 comments:

Link said...
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Pril said...

really thoughtful.. nice read thanks for posting.

Lane Dedrick said...

Too many words.