Take the Mothers Day Housework Quiz.
I’m tired. I’m really deeply tired most of the time, but especially after the day’s third bout of washing up.
I think it’s because I am a working mother, living in a world that hasn’t caught up with the last four decades of feminism. Within my household I juggle the vast bulk of the housework, with having a career, paying the mortgage, maintaining a marriage and trying to keep up appearances.
Lets unpack that sink full of housework. I buy the food, plan the meals, cook, serve, clean and put away. I find the dirty clothes that are scattered thinly around the house, under the couch and throughout the yard, then wash, fold and put them away. Other people pat the pets, but its me who buys their food, pays the vet bills, cleans their houses, feeds and waters them. I sweep and sanitise the loo and tidy the yard. No wonder some of these things only get done every so often.
My household is fairly typical. The latest Household Income and Labour Dynamics Survey shows that the average Australian woman spends about 15 hours a week on housework, while men spend about 6. Apparently in the average home, total work hours are roughly equal between the genders because men spend more time in paid work, but that doesn’t apply in my house, because I spend the most time in paid work too.
I’m calling it. Housework is still a feminist issue. So is the physical and mental health of mothers saddled with twice the burden of past generations. These days we do the dad’s traditional role of breadwinner plus the mum’s old duties at the sink. I agree with Annabel. Women need wives. And it seems to me that housework imbalances could be one of the reasons that women are more likely than men to have mental health disorders like depression and anxiety.
Mothers’ Day looms towards us. For me, this represents a commercial con correlated with increased household duties. But this year I’m skimping on the housework and updating society instead.
I’ve used the simple spreadsheet attached to the purple button below to audit my current share of the housework. It turns out that I do 86%. So I commit to reducing that contribution by 11%. By this time next year I aim to be doing only 75%. Maybe this seems like a small change, but here I am, starting in an entrenched and unfair reality.
If I succeed, Mothers’ Day 2016 will really be something to celebrate.
If you think things are not fair in your household then take the Mothers Day Challenge with me. Fill in the form here, and make a commitment to change. Then you can save, print, and also ask others in your household to fill one out for themselves. (You’ll need to be at a computer running Excel).