The Chore Wars
In every home where a husband and wife exist there is a fierce war going on about who is supposed to take out the trash, do the dishes, clean the bathroom, wash the sheets, cut the grass, and fix the broken recliner that both of you are too busy to use. This is dubbed the chore war and is an unavoidable side effect of marriage and children where two people who swore they would never turn into their own parents…DO! The issues, however, are deeper than just the chores that serve as the battlefield. Much of it goes back to the predetermined gender roles and responsibilities that have been handed down since antiquity.
Each home divides things different. If a stay at home parent exists, chances are this person will eventually be the catalyst for all things domestic, along with the kids. The one who works outside of the house may get by with doing less. As time goes on, this can be unsettling to the powers that be and definitely undermining to the person in charge of the chores. Running a household, especially with children, takes more than one person. Truthfully, each and every person in the home (including the kids) should take responsible for helping.
First of all, start your kids off young knowing that they will have to actually do things around the house. Otherwise, you will end up with teens that are barely willing to lift their feet when you are vacuuming. Do them a favor and yourself and give your child chores. Even a toddler can help to sort laundry or put it away, sweep, and run the vacuum. As they get older they will be ingrained with a sense of duty that transcends gender lines. And, children really can be helpful. Cleaning up after themselves, making their beds, picking up the dishes (or paper plates) after dinner, and other menial daily tasks can go miles in keeping your home more organized.
As for you and your spouse, you should talk about the to-do list. Often, one parent doesn’t know how much really goes into taking care of the household. Instead of complaining or feeling passive aggressive bouts of anger that make you withhold sex – talk about it. Say, “I need help!” If the both of you are busy all the time, then set aside a few hours on the weekend to get it all done at once, and even make a chore chart for the entire family. If you are the doer of everything- you have to take responsibility for the fact that you created this monster, mostly because in the beginning, it probably wasn’t that big of a deal.
Also, make sure you set aside gender roles that specify who does what. Instead, realize that when things get done in a timely and efficient manner, everyone wins. You will be more relaxed, less resentful, and definitely have more time to spend together. Men and women think very differently when it comes to what makes a home spic and span. Instead of doing it your way, any way – because you fear it won’t get done right, learn to lessen your reins of control so you don’t self-destruct under loads of laundry and shopping. You may even want to talk to your spouse about how they grew up. What happens most of the time is that upbringing makes your partner (blissfully) unaware of what needs to be done around the house. If gender roles are playing a part, then commit to getting over it. It doesn’t matter who does what….just that all the ‘what’ gets done!