Posts Tagged ‘chores’

Division of Labor – Davis Family Style

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

My friend Laura posted this on her blog and I found it totally fascinating, in part because even though Laura and I get along really well (in our exclusively interweb interactions) and I think we’re sort of kindred spirits – that’s going creep her out if she TOTALLY doesn’t feel the same way, but Imma risk it – our home/work lives are completely different. COMPLETELY. Reading her responses was sort of like watching a really short reality show where you think “Whoa, who actually lives like that????” Except instead of having drunk orgies in a hot tub or entering their jacked-on-Mountain-Dew toddler in beauty competitions it’s someone just doing their everyday stuff.

Maybe I am grossly overestimating how interesting other people find this sort of thing, in which case I apologize.

Davis Family Division of Labor

Child care: Since my job title is stay-at-home-mom I’m in charge of all of the child care. I’m not in charge of all of the PARENTING, but since I’m with the kids 90% of the time I do 90% of the care. I make sure we have diapers and pull ups and seasonally-appropriate clothing and snacks and arrange play dates and babysitting on the rare occasions we get a sitter. I did all the preschool research and I’m in charge of getting Evan to/from school. When E happens to be home for things – bedtime, bath time, playtime – I’d say he does between 40-50% of the work. It’s definitely much more evenly split then it was when the kids were babies, which brings us to…


Newborn care (bonus historical category): With both kids I did way more infant care than E did. He only gets 10 days paternity leave, which seems like a lot when you’re just sitting around staring at a baby all day but is not a lot of time when you consider the newborn/helpless/infant/waking-up-all-night stage is between 6 and 12 months long. Since I was nursing and neither kid ever really took a bottle I got up with them 98% of the time and fed them 100% of the time. E was pretty good at holding, swaddling, rocking and letting me take a nap if I needed one, but a breastfeeding infant is basically my responsibility. If/when we have another baby, I’m not looking forward to the up all night stuff, but I AM looking forward to only taking care of ONE baby as opposed to TWO children for a while.


Time off (bonus category): Right now, neither of us is getting any time off and it’s sort of terrible. In the past, we’ve taken turns getting a day to sleep in on weekends, with my day usually being Sunday. On weekends when we are both home we split our time about 50/50 between doing stuff as a family – museum, aquarium, seaport – and sitting around doing as little as possible. Although I use a lot of my “do nothing” time to get household stuff like laundry and errands done, since it’s much easier to do when someone else is watching the kids.


Work: E is the only one with an outside job. He’s a submariner in the Navy and works on the nuclear reactors that power the boats. Right now he’s stationed on a brand new sub that’s still being built (it’s called the North Dakota) so he’s working in a shipyard. He typically works 12+ hours a day (more if they’re on shift work). His “normal” schedule gives him weekends off but at least 75% of the time he works Saturdays. He doesn’t get paid anything extra for working more hours and although he gets a fair amount of paid time off he can’t actually TAKE it without approval and right now they aren’t giving it. We can’t plan vacations or trips because his leave can ALWAYS be taken away (see: last weekend’s trip to Sesame Place, our beach vacation over the summer) and there’s a pretty good chance we’ll have to move in the next 2 years. BUT. It’s a really stable job. It covers our bills. It provides excellent healthcare. When E eventually leaves the military he’ll have the training and experience to get a really good civilian job. Most of the time I’m really happy “will we get a paycheck?” isn’t a concern. My work is child care (see item 1) and this blog, which brings in a small amount of money I mostly use to buy fun things like clothes for the kids or my ticket for BlogHer.


Food: I do all the grocery shopping, unless we are running family errands to BJ’s on the weekend. I’ve been doing it the entire time we’ve been married and I care a lot more about what we eat so it makes the most sense. If I wanted/needed to send E to the store I’d have to send VERY specific instructions (not just “milk” but “whole, organic milk from BJ’s, get the generic store brand”, not just “cheese” but “these 3 specific brands and types of cheese which you might have to find in 3 different parts of the grocery store”). It’s not worth the frustration/time for either of us. I also do 90% of the cooking, which I used to resent but I actually like cooking so now I don’t mind. On the nights I am unable/unwilling to provide dinner he’s happy to order or pick up food. E is in charge of ALL pizza ordering.


Housecleaning: Since I’m the one home, I do most of the general house cleaning. E is happy to help with evening straightening, loading/unloading dishes on the weekends and doing the majority of the vacuuming but I’m not sure he even knows where I keep the sponges. I’m not a very fastidious housekeeper, so keeping things clean ENOUGH isn’t a huge burden. The only time I dislike the way this labor is divided is when there are a LOT of things that need to be done in a SHORT amount of time (say, before we have houseguests) and he can’t/won’t take it upon himself to deep clean a bathroom.


House decorating (bonus category): Almost all me. I just repainted the dining room entirely on my own, although he did help me take down/put back up the chandelier so I could spray paint it yellow (a color I picked with no input from him). The only group decisions we make is large furniture, which tends to take FOREVER since we have wildly different taste.


Yard work: Mostly E.  He takes care of snow removal, mowing and major landscaping (like the patio project) but I tend the garden and plants. In the past we’ve out sourced yard clean up but didn’t hire anyone this fall. I tend to do the spring clean-up type stuff when I get an urge to plant things so I’ll probably haul leaves to the dump in April or May.


Communications: We split family communications evenly between our respective families. E’s side does a weekly family conference call to stay updated (he’s one of 4 siblings who are all married now so everyone is spread out) and he talks to his brother via computer game chat once or twice a week. My mother reads my blog and sends me Facebook messages (we are so 2012) and every once in a while we have super long telephone chats. I am in charge of sending birthday/mother’s/father’s day/Christmas cards/invitations. We are not super great at communicating with each other but most of the time we get by.


Finances: We have one bank account and one savings account. We both have equal access. Right now I’m in charge of bill paying, but most of them are automated or paid online so it takes very little work. The only finances I don’t have access to are E’s retirement account which we haven’t touched in many years. Like I said, my blog money is just for fun, although sometimes when we have unexpected expenses it goes into the joint account. We are not very good at budgeting, it’s something I am REALLY hoping to get on top of in 2013, especially because I’d like to start a couple separate savings accounts for things like vacations and an eventual car replacement for E.


Activities: I am the social director of the family. E’s job comes with a certain amount of mandatory social stuff, but I avoid as much of it as possible – not because I dislike the people involved but because I already have a nice little social network set up. I should really make more of an effort. I sign the kids up for things, maintain our memberships to various places, plan family outings and grown-up outings. Every time we hang out with some of my mom friends and their husbands E remembers he really likes people! And hanging out! And doing stuff! But in between good fun times he’s extremely anti-social and prefers his computer and the couch, something I don’t fight against as hard as I should.


Who wears the pants (bonus category): Ehhhhhhh…I don’t know. I’d say I make a lot more decisions on a daily/weekly/monthly basis but I wouldn’t say I’m the boss. I’m like the XO and the CFO of the house but E is the CEO. The current pants are mostly being worn by the Navy, since they make all our decisions for us.


When I look at it like this, I feel like things are pretty evenly split. E’s job is so demanding at the moment he can’t do much more than he already does. He puts in super long hours at his workplace, I take care of almost all the aspects of our joint lives. Some day I hope we both get more time off, but for now this works for us.


So, do you think we’re total weirdos? How do you divide labor in your house? Have you written a post like this? Leave me a comment or a link, I would LOVE to read it.

Mrs. Homemaker or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Laundry

Friday, February 11th, 2011

I had a MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH this week. It is epic. Truly life-changing. I actually cannot believe it took me this long to get here, because now it seems so totally obvious. Are you ready to hear about it? Are you super excited?

OK, here goes…

I am a homemaker.


I’m serious though. In 6 1/2 years of marriage (the last 2 1/2 of which I have not had an outside job) I have never thought of myself as someone who is in charge of a home. I thought of all the stuff that keeps this place running – cleaning and laundry and cooking and dishes – as CHORES, chores I hated, chores I tried to avoid. I spent a lot of time and energy being pissed off that I was expected to do these things. It’s because I’m a WOMAN. It’s so SEXIST and UNFAIR and DAMN THE MAN for pushing me into this gender stereotype!

Until I realized wait a minute…I wasn’t pushed into a role I was unhappy with. I wanted this. Yes it’s true that the other option – me working and E staying home – wasn’t ever really on the table (the Navy doesn’t exactly let you quit just because your wife is tired of doing the dishes) but his job stability and paycheck was part of why I signed up for this marriage. Wait, that sounds bad. What I mean is knowing E could provide for me and our future children was one of the things I liked about him from the start. Wait, that still sounds bad. Before we even GOT married we decided I would stay home once we had kids. We just forgot to negotiate out what “staying home” included.

(If you still think the previous paragraph makes me sound like a gold-digger, let me assure you, there is no gold to dig. There is maybe a frappuchino or two and possibly a new toilet seat – SO SEXY – to replace the broken one. But no gold.)

My “ah-ha” moment came the other night while I was trying to make dinner. I say “trying” because it is difficult to cook while a toddler throws his entire weight against the back of your knees and screams for more milk. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but you’re much more likely to cut off a finger and I kind of like having a nice even number. So, in a conscious act of gentle patient parenting (something I am working on SO HARD with mixed success and/or results) I got down on Little Evan’s level and said, “Honey, Mommy needs you to go play in the family room. Mommy is making dinner right now, which is part of her job. You know how I watch you during the day while daddy works? Well, right now I need Daddy to watch you while Mommy works.”

It was like a light bulb went off in my head. MY JOB. Making dinner is my job. Housekeeping is my job. I should have work hours and a lunch break. I should be allowed to do my job without the toddler climbing up my butt. People DO get paid for these things – a cook, a housekeeper – so why shouldn’t I value my work?

(Of course, none of that applies to motherhood. Kids don’t give a crap about my stupid “job” theory, especially when they need something something right now NOW I WANT IT NOW MAMA SOMETHING FOR ME NOOOOOOW. That also means parenting duties during hours we are both home are still 50/50. I’m not some kind of June Cleaveresque mommy martyr.)

So while E is off doing…nuclear Navy stuff, I am here doing the house stuff. There’s stuff that needs to be done every day, stuff I hate to do, stuff that has to be done a zillion times a day, and stuff that only needs to be done every once in a while. So I made a list. Actually, I made three lists:

Do these every day
– Laundry
– Dinner
– Empty and clean sink (my tribute to the FlyLady method and the ONLY part of her plan I’m adopting)
– Put all the toys in the toy box
– Feed animals
– Scoop cat box

Do one of these each day
– Clean a bathroom
– Sweep/mop downstairs
– Vacuum upstairs
– Dust
– Clean out fridge
– Declutter flat surfaces

Do these as needed
– Menu plan
– Grocery shop
– Buy bulk items (toilet paper, diapers, etc)

Yesterday I scrubbed down the powder room and it felt AWESOME. Today I straightened up the dining room and feel FANTASTIC. If someone were to stop by for an impromptu dinner I could not only feed them, I could serve it to them on a clean table. The best part is I am no longer overwhelmed and angry about all this housework. When I’m not spending all my time putting it off and sending E angry glares for not helping it doesn’t really take that long to load a dishwasher. Of course, on the weekends there WILL be helping. And when I am sick/need a scheduled day off (and there WILL be scheduled days off) I’ll have a concrete to-do list E can follow. It’s not fancy and it’s not worthy of a book deal (or even an Excel spreadsheet) but I do feel like this is a major change for the better.

Secret bonus part of my new “job?” I get paid in impromptu shopping trips to Target for new black flats and bright colored tights, guilt free.

Now excuse me, I have to go shine my sink.

Reality Strikes Back

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from the Twitter Home Tour (and thank you to everyone who stopped by) but I don’t think anyone bothered to read my disclaimer. Guys, my house is not clean. It’s not even KIND OF clean. I actually think I’ve scared all my real life friends out of ever inviting Baby Evan and me over for a playdate because they’re afraid I’ll judge their houses based on the TOTAL LIES in my post. Not only did I move crap around like crazy for those pictures, I took them in such a way that hid most of the dirt. Notice the total lack of close-ups on…anything. If you could SEE the actual, visible dirt on my floors and the pet hair on every horizontal surface in the house you would feel a lot – A LOT – better about your own housekeeping. No one would ask me how I find the time for everything, or how I keep it all together or wonder if I’m secretly a speed freak who doesn’t every sleep because she’s too busy baking pies and hunting down glass chickens on Ebay.

And so, in the interest of honesty and for the sake of Baby Evan’s social life, please enjoy a little more reality.

My real kitchen

This isn’t actually my kitchen when it’s dirty. This is what I consider CLEAN. There are only some dishes in the sink. MOST of the ingredients from dinner last night are put away. All the junk is to the right of the stove, which is where the junk goes, and thus it is considered put away.

The reason there are dishes in the sink is because there were SO MANY I couldn't fit them all in the dishwasher.

I suppose complaining about my lack of counter space when I use it this ineffectively makes me a whiny bee-yotch but guuuuuuys, where am I supposed to put this stuff? And don’t say “away” because that’s TOTALLY FULL of crap too.

And then there's THIS.

Mere hours after I posted the home tour, E decided it was time to get moving on the First Annual Rewiring Of A Really Old House Because We Need To Move ONE Outlet. Because the previous owners (always read as: preeeeeevious owwwwwwwners while shaking fist at sky) painted over wallpaper – textured wallpaper – what should have been a  20 minute project now involves scraping, sanding, patching, spackling, and painting the WHOLE KITCHEN. So I’m living in a construction zone. The dust, it is epic.

More junk.

Here we have three – count ’em – diaper bags, none of which I am currently using; a pile of unread magazines that date back to January that I can’t bring myself to throw away (or better yet, STOP SUBSCRIBING TO IDIOT YOU DON’T READ THEM ANYWAYS); my knitting bag; a dirty glass from two days ago and some trash. All things sitting (as in, currently, as I type this) right next to my couch. Besides the trash, that’s actually where this stuff goes.

Ah yes, the crowning joy of my decorating.

That right there is a genuine early 21st century early childhood entertainment device and tactile experience. Someday it will be a real collector’s item. That is, if the cats don’t get to it first. A smart person probably wouldn’t leave it inflated in the middle of her house all the time. Too bad smart people don’t live here.

Also, for the record, we eat far more fast food than is wise, I’ve never (literally, never) vacuumed our bedroom, I currently have laundry in every stage except for “clean and put away”, half the plants I bought are still sitting unplanted on my porch, I haven’t showered or brushed my hair today and tonight I fully plan to sit on my ass watching 30 Rock instead of doing any of those things.

So please, friends and readers, don’t shun me for what you see on the internet. It is full of lies.