I wanted to do a post about my favorite household chores, but I realized how far the modern two-paycheck couple has come, when it comes to running a household together. From bringing in the paychecks to keeping the house and raising the children, my husband and I are equally involved. We have our own set of rules that we follow when it comes to sharing duties around the house and have long done away with the traditional mindsets.
I see so many couples around me still struggling to find that balance. Now that I am taking part in the #LaundryGoesOddEven Challenge by Ariel India at BlogAdda, I thought I would share my personal experiences with sharing responsibilities in a two-paycheck family – the bliss that follows and the inevitable challenges.
How We Do it in Our House
If I had a penny for every time someone raised their eyebrows when they came to know I have 3 children, I’d be super rich! And I cannot even the remember the number of times women ask me how I manage three kids. It has come to be unconventional in India, I know, to have more than 2 (or even 1?) kids. But then few things in my life are conventional. And although I share many parenting tips with these women around me, the first thing I mention is that my husband is completely involved in both, the Parenting and Homemaking, processes. That’s how things have always been and I do not know of any other lifestyle. Together, we have achieved personal and professional growth, are in the process of raising our beautiful kids and love and care for our White House.
It works differently for every couple, but here’s how we roll!
1. Divide Work based on Talents, not Traditions
We each do what we are best at! So, traditionally, where the woman of the house is supposed to cook, my multi-talented husband takes care of the dinner while I clean and organize.
When cooking, hubby dear is excellent with Indian curries and continental sauces but hates messing with the flour. So, kneading, making chapatis, baking cakes and pies etc. is my domain entirely.
Making the baby eat is my task and mine alone while the older two are happy to eat with Daddy.
I take care of the pre-washing, stain removal etc., either of us load the washing machine, he puts the laundry out to dry mostly and then I fold and keep them away.
Upkeep and maintenance of the washing machine, air conditioners and all other appliances is his job entirely. I am happy to assist holding the tools, the flashlight or the hose pipe when he is fixing something. Fixing anything around the house is his job with the exceptions of loose buttons and anything requiring a needle and a thread.
Similarly, my husband is a great help when cleaning around the house but I take charge of the organizing and ‘keeping things in their place’. Nobody in my family would contest the fact that we would never find any socks to wear if daddy thought of putting them in their place ;).
2. Dividing Jobs on the Basis of Preferences
Then come the household jobs that we simply love (or hate) doing. As much I love cars, for me they only exist to drive from Point A to Point B. Driving around doing errands is my husband’s job. I only drive if I have to and yes, I am kind of embarrassed to admit that. He, on the other hand, gets a kick simply by being behind the wheel. So dropping off the kids to school, driving house guests to and from the airport, picking up emergency needs on the way is his responsibility.
Blending technology with household duties is what gives me my kick. I love how I can get things done with the click of a button. Ever since online payment facilities were made possible, I single-handedly manage the payments of all utility bills, credit card payment, ordering weekly groceries and monthly necessities. I make payments and keep track of all our monthly expenses and savings and deposits etc.
3. Tasks We Simply Hate
There are always chores that nobody wants to do! When possible, we outsource tasks such as ironing. Tasks that cannot be outsourced like changing diapers on poops, emptying moldy food from a forgotten box in the fridge etc. are mostly dealt with, on an alternating basis. I did it last time too, remember? There isn’t a rulebook for these tasks, though. You can just be super sweet and get your other half to do it 😉
4. Sharing the Load
When entertaining or during emergencies, we simply work together to get things done. When throwing a party, he does the cooking, I do the planning and decorating. When guests are coming over, we divide the chores to get them done quickly. I sweep, you mop, I wash, you dry, I prep, you cook and so on. If one of us finishes our job earlier than the other, we help the other with whatever’s left to be done.
5. Identifying Priorities
Now, all our above arrangements are pretty flexible. We are very supportive of each other’s work and many a time, the chores are divided on the basis of priorities. If one of us has a deadline to meet, the other takes care of everything else as much as possible. If we are nursing a sick child and the child needs mommy to be around, Daddy takes care of everything else, whether he likes doing it or not. We decide what our priorities are, and plan chores around them.
The Challenges and How We Cope
We can never have it all figured out, really. Life is a learning process and we continue to find new ways to run our house together. Most of our friends find our relationship to be an ideal one when it comes to sharing responsibilities but we have our set of challenges to face. The main challenge, though, remains Social pressure.
Our Indian society is yet to come to terms with the fact that traditional responsibility sharing based merely on gender is no longer practically possible. They might have accepted women earning and bringing in extra bucks, but they are yet to accept the fact that she not fulfill her duties at home. Very often, friends (both male and female) are incredulous when they see my husband giving me a helping hand with household chores. Females like to vent about how much more they are required to do, as compared to me. Males like to boast about how their homemaker wives do pretty much everything to do with the kids and the kitchen leaving us feeling disturbed more often than not. The effect of peer pressure cannot be undermined.
But we have formulated our own coping mechanism for this challenge. Healthy and constructive conversation is the key to solving every single problem a couple might have. By simply discussing how our lives are different from others and reminding ourselves that we know what works best for us, we manage to cope with the social pressure and live our life our way.
Mutual respect and understanding is what keeps our household running smoothly. Plenty of appreciation of each other’s tasks make everyday chores so much more rewarding. The lack of any of these can cause a problem bigger than a dirty bathroom!
When I saw the “Laundry Goes Odd-Even’ ad by Ariel, I loved it and realized how blessed I am to already have this equation with my husband. Have you seen it yet?