By KATE HUNTER
It was so simple in the olden days.
Men went off to kill bison while their women stayed behind and kept the cave nice.
Fast forward a few thousand years and things aren’t so clean-cut. Girls started skilling up and before you knew it, they were out bringing home the bison too.
So who was sweeping the cave and sorting the loincloths? No one, that’s who, and the arguments have been raging ever since.
It’s a big point of discussion in modern relationships: who does the housework?
It’s a rare household these days where it’s all lumped onto one person. Gone are the days where the man of the house would arrive home to a freshly lipsticked wife, bathed children and delicious smells emanating from the kitchen. The gent of a generation or two ago spent his evenings with his feet up, reading the paper. And why the hell not? He’d been working all day. He was the sole breadwinner, bison killer. Whatever.
Today, many men arrive home more or less at the same time as their equally frazzled partners. They are faced with hungry children, one of whom invariably needs to make a model of the solar system by 8am the next morning. No one has any clean socks, the dishwasher is buggered and the bathroom sink has a layer of toothpaste and soap scum that will have archaeologists of the future dumbfounded.
Whose problem is it? Who is responsible for cleaning when everything else is shared?
Most couples I know work hard to divide the housework fairly. The man who says to his partner, ‘that’s women’s work’ tends not to have a partner for very long.
What does cause dissention though, is deciding what jobs need to be done, and how often.
My husband is great at washing clothes and folding laundry – because the need for clean clothes is immediate and ever-present. The need to clean the bathroom is somewhat murkier. We have a friend, often quoted by my husband, who likes to say that, ‘A bathroom’s job is to keep you clean. It is slathered in water and various soapy products several times a day. It is therefore, self-cleaning.’
This logic is hard to argue with, but it is clearly wrong. Bathrooms need cleaning (especially when visitors are expected) so I am the one who does it at our place. Because I’m the one who cares.
The kitchen is divisive but you can’t argue with botulism. It needs to be done, but to what standard? Jim is into completeness so if he does take on the task it’s done WELL. All surfaces are cleared of kitchen utensils, watermelon pips, pens, crumbs, hair clips, post-its, scissors, loose change and keys.
I tend to push things to the side, meaning available bench space shrinks a little every day.
I’m a ‘let the dishes drain,’ kinda girl, relying on the theory that tea towels are germy and a bit of fresh air will do them good.
I concede they don’t need to be exposed to the fresh air for days, and at some point need to return to the cupboard. But to me, that is tidying, not cleaning and there’s a difference. No one gets sick if I leave my sneakers on the stairs.
Generally though, our household gets along quite well in terms of cleaning. Once a week I will rally the troops for my patented ‘Hour Of Power’ in which all family members must tidy and clean with intensity and passion before pocket money is paid and wine is poured.
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How is housework shared around at your place?