Even though we are long past the days where women stayed at home doing all the housework while men went out to work, in most households it’s still the ladies doing most of the cooking and cleaning. Attitudes might have changed but they haven’t really caught up with the times just yet.
Coined ‘the second shift’ by Arlie Russell Hochschild and Anne Machung in 1989, things haven’t really changed all that much now in 2018. But, the tides are gradually shifting and by getting your family involved, you can make sure that the whole burden doesn’t fall to you. Raising your kids to complete some household chores or asking your husband to prepare dinner a few nights a week is a good way to rebalance your family and ensure that you don’t end up exhausted at the end of the week.
Show Your Family What to Do
One of the best excuses for not getting involved with the housework is ‘I don’t know what to do and you do it really well.’ Thanks for the compliment, but they can’t get away that easily. Since you are doing the work anyway, drag them in to see how it is done and teach them all your smart methods for keeping your home clean.
It might also help to show them a checklist of what you do each week or even a what needs doing over the year like this home maintenance guide. Chances are that they have no idea just how much effort you put into keeping the house in such good condition and now they know, hopefully a little pang of guilt will propel them into helping out more and checking things off your list too.
Create a Checklist Everyone Can See
Think of this as being a bit like a star chart. You do a job, you get a star. This works well with young kids who like to see that they are being rewarded for things like picking up their toys at the end of the day or helping you with other jobs around the house but you’d be surprised how motivating it is on older kids and even your partner.
Using a checklist will make sure that all the jobs that need doing are done but it will also show who is doing the bulk of the work. This is a good way to provide your family with evidence of how much more you are doing and to shut down conversations where your work is denied or ignored. Don’t use it as ammunition, though, just let everyone see that they could be doing a bit more.
Lots of families use lists like this to encourage their kids to earn their pocket money. This is a good way to teach kids about the value of their labor as well as get a few items off your own list. Alternatively, if you don’t want to give them cash, you could ask them to build up a number ticks or stars and then give them a reward.
Go on Strike
This might sound extreme – and it is – but if you are getting sick and tired of doing everything all the time, it might be the right moment to announce that you are on strike. In 1975, women in Iceland went on strike, refusing to do any housework including cooking for a day. Though they were laughed at initially, it soon dawned on the men that this was a whole lot more serious that they had imagined as the economy ground to a halt and butchers sold out of sausages, which, it turned out, were the only thing most men could cook.
While your family might also laugh, they will see after a week just how much you usually do – especially once the fridge starts to empty and the house isn’t as clean. Hopefully, this will act as a wake-up call and they will be more inclined to take on a couple of jobs themselves. The point here is that when everyone does a little bit, the jobs are easy to stay on top of so that is your focus here.
Even if housework is still predominantly thought of as a female role, and adverts and the media are certainly not helping, you can ask your family to help you and should expect that they will respond. Don’t just assume that this is your role while your partner lounges on the sofa and your kids cause chaos – there is always something that someone can do to help, however small it is.