Dear Elders, How did/do you and your spouse or roommates split housework? Is there a fair way to handle it?
– Tired of picking up socks
Dear Scattered Socks,
In my house, people did what they were good at, most interested in or what just had to be done. I liked to cook, so I did the kitchen work and the usual shopping, though Bob went occasionally (he was interested in food). I washed whatever was in the laundry basket and hung it out in the warm weather. Bob often brought in the diapers in the evening. He got dinner earlier that way!
Bob handled the money and paid the bills. He liked to see the savings pile up. The children helped with chores that were appropriate for their age when they were at home.
For home repairs, the men did the plumbing and car repairs. I did most of the painting and carpentry. My daughter and I replaced the garage roof, with some assistance in the heavy lifting by Bob and Roy and his friends raising the rafters and carrying the bundles of roofing up. The men take out the garbage.
This house may not be up to Martha Stewart’s standards, but she doesn’t live here.
I think the fair way is whatever works for the two of you. I would hazard to guess each of us Elders will have a different way. My partner and I divide household chores according to our physical stamina and strength and our individual personalities. He does most of the yard work and I do the gardening. He shovels snow and lifts large immovable objects while I cook. We both pick up after ourselves. (No maid service). We vacuum, take out trash and do laundry according to our weekly schedules. Neither of us sews, irons or bakes, so if you’re looking for us, try the seamstress, laundry or bakery.
Dear Sock Picker-Upper,
We have a laundry chute right near my den so I pretty well keep up with getting the laundry downstairs. However, my wife prefers to do it herself, not liking my careless male attitude (throw it all in together. As long as it gets washed, who cares about mixing the colors as long as they don’t run?). I always did my own laundry when in college and managed to survive. The other chores, ie. cooking, I do for us on occasion, but again, she seems to prefer to cook things herself. I do cook and like to, but do it more rarely and more for special kinds of meals like Italian, Chinese, etc. She mows the lawn, which should embarrass me but doesn’t, and I do it when she or her son aren’t available. She’s a master gardener so she is completely in charge of the flowers and plants. She makes the bed HER way. I would just smooth the blankets and close the door. Why not? You, I suspect, may enjoy arriving in Heaven some day and finding all your lost, single sox up there in a big pile.
P.S. Just leave the sox and dirty underwear on the floor where your other leaves them. When he needs them, he’ll get the picture.
The fair way to handle housework is to have each member of the household indicate which work they would like to do, i.e. cooking, cleaning, lawn mowing, making the beds, polishing the silverware and so on. Now, if any task remains unclaimed, you assign these jobs in the way you see fair as you run the household. Of course, you better establish the fact that you indeed run the household first – you want to avoid a rebellion. And then if there are socks left to be picked up, you do it. What’s the big deal?
Seems to me that you are going to be a picker upper for the foreseeable future. Once you start, it’s difficult to get your roomy/partner to change. I don’t think my partner knows what a dust cloth does, what an iron looks like, where the washer/dryer is or why the bathrooms are always so bright and shiny. But the trade-off is that he’s a super BBQ chef. So, in answer to your question, it’s time for you to either have a good non-combative talk with your lazy good for nothin’ honey or simply enjoy the fruits of your picker-up labor and the exercise and calorie loss for you. Or, you could sneak in a monthly housekeeper to do the heavy cleaning and pay him or her via a bill to your sweetie camouflaged as money for cleaning supplies and your pick-up socks time. Have fun and mismatch them every so often.