Since this is a blog mostly about Domestic Life, I would like to address all the Household Managers out there, or Household Masterminds, as I like to refer to us.
There are six reasons why I have probably assumed this role at my house:
- I grew up watching my mom run her household, learned all the tasks from her, and always looked forward to having and maintaining my own place
- I take pride in cleaning and tidying because an orderly home makes my brain feel calm – and being insect-free and mould-free is always good
- I enjoy cooking (and to some extent, baking) because it’s a nifty combination of creativity and chemistry
- I was a single parent for 12 years so I ran the show
- As the only woman in each of my domestic relationships, I took on more of the traditional “woman’s role”
- Rom had not owned a house before we met
Consequently, I am the Mastermind, by default. Now I must say that this is a part-time gig for me. I have always worked outside the home and never considered otherwise. I considered parenting my other full-time job, and housework was a side-effect of that. However, I do take running the household seriously. I just have to be efficient to get everything done in the time remaining – or set priorities and decide what to be lax about!
Since Rom joined our existing household, I was already used to doing everything. It required a big re-think to have another adult around! I didn’t want to keep my routines because (a.) two adults should act like two adults and not have a master/servant relationship (unless they so choose, ahem!), and (b.) we would not want Rom to feel unnecessary, would we?
It is now 3 years in, and time to assess how we share the chores.
Rom contributes to meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking and kitchen clean-up. I do feel that I “coordinate” the Food Program of the household. If I weren’t around, Rom could easily take over all of these functions. However, whenever I’m not around, he prefers to eat beans and toast, LOL! Lately we discussed giving up packaged food entirely. We already buy it minimally. I explained this would entail Rom sharing my routines of making bread, muffins, granola and yogurt. We would have to add crackers, cereal and sweets. So far, this initiative has not progressed…
Rom takes care of 100% of our laundry on a weekly basis. Well, except for hand-washing and ironing, both of which are infrequent.
Since Rom takes a whole day to do laundry weekly, I do all the non-kitchen cleaning. This involves vacuuming, floor washing, bathroom cleaning, dusting, etc. I am ready for us to trade these roles for a while!
We have a very complicated routine for sorting garbage, compost and recycling, as required by our municipality. There is even a published reference guide! We sort everything indoors, and when the small day-to-day containers are full, I take it outdoors to the wheelie bins. Rom brings it to the curb on collection days.
We have two cats which pre-dated my relationship with Rom. Therefore I am entirely responsible for their care. Rom adores dogs (especially corgis) but has refrained from getting one because he doesn’t want the responsibility of looking after it. Fair enough.
We both perform small tasks within our abilities. The largest job we’ve done together is to paint a bathroom. Neither of us is super-handy, so we are not averse to hiring someone for larger jobs. I am glad we agree on that. I know a few couples who don’t do their house maintenance, but disagree about hiring someone, so it remains undone.
This is the area where Rom has the least experience. I mow the lawn and trim the trees and shrubs. Rom digs out the dandelions every year, of which there are thousands because herbicides are illegal. There has been some reduction over time! He has also done some edging and weed whacking. Lately Rom has been more zealous about snow shovelling than I am. I like to wait until the snow stops before shovelling, and he would rather do several lighter rounds.
Bill Paying and Record Keeping
We contribute equally to household expenses but I set and manage the budget, pay the bills and keep the records. I would be rather reluctant to give this up because I don’t like the idea of a man in the house being the designated breadwinner and money manager. My feminist thinking is deeply ingrained! Rom used to be self-employed so his money management skills are excellent. But so are mine 🙂
We each make our own personal appointments: doctor, dentist, car maintenance, hair cuts and so on. I stay home for house-related appointments such as the annual boiler cleaning because Rom’s work schedule is inflexible.
Here is the category where we differ the most. I appear to be the Noticer for stuff that needs to be done. I don’t believe any of the following would ever be done if I didn’t see the need, and do them:
- Use up groceries in a timely manner
- Check fridge for old food & deal with it
- Clean fridge
- Clean microwave
- Clean toaster
- Clean garbage cans
- Clean fronts of kitchen cupboards
- Clean kitchen table
- Clean under fridge and stove
- Clean mirrors
I suppose that since all of these things are “not laundry,” Rom thinks of them as mine?
All in all, our load is light. The cats are surprisingly messy critters, but otherwise, we have complete control. As a household of two, no one else comes along and undoes our work, or creates further work for us.
If you have more than one adult in your household, how do you share the housework?