Division of household duties #RespectIs

Dust is a protective coating for fine furniture.

Mario Buatta

On the weekend whilst having our leisurely Sunday breakfast, there was a short piece on Sunrise about how women did most of the household duties and obviously this is part of the 16 Days of Activism against Family Violence.  This year’s theme is “Respect Is”.  My husband heard this, and we had a conversation about how things have been and still are divided in our house. 

Before I start, perhaps I should let you all know that as an only daughter with three brothers and the only female in a house with 4 sons that I will be providing the information from this perspective.  I also had the unfortunate episode in year 8, where a male teacher would not teach me a particular style of math due to being female and “I wouldn’t need that as I would not be working in that field.”  I may be a little biased and have a slight feministic slant.  Ironically, this was noticed by one son when he was 16, perhaps I wasn’t vocal enough for him!  We are all products of our environments; however, we can also change our views at any time.

Since sharing a home with my husband (sharing for 34 years and married for 31), I have always taken on the cooking role due to my then love of cooking (it waned when the boys were younger and fussier) and my husband has taken the washing up duties.  Sometimes he cooks, especially when I have been unwell or not at home BUT I rarely clean up the dishes.  Back story: my Nan lived with my family when I was younger, and this was her job!  Yes, once I did the dishes and got yelled at by a then 84-year-old and have struggled to do the dishes since!  I also have limited spatial awareness to pack the dishwasher or the car! 

I washed the son’s clothing and sheets until they reached secondary school, I then showed them how to wash their own clothing.  I was trying to raise responsible adult sons and hoping that this has paid off for those with partners and families.  Ironically, the son who is paid to work in the kitchen has never cooked a meal for me!  I often bought a new cookbook, knowing that one of the son’s would like to experiment and cook a new recipe from this.  Worked for me, not so much his father as this son also didn’t clean the kitchen.  It was also a way of encouraging them to try different meals and provide me with menu options.

The cleaning varied, depending on our schedules and that of the sons.  When I began studying (all the sons were in school), I stopped assisting with the cleaning of the house as my time was limited.  We got a cleaner in to help and my husband has always done the pre-clean!  I have mowed the lawn once and decided that I didn’t like it, so haven’t attempted it again.

My husband has mostly done the driving, although I had to drive back from Melbourne once due to his surgery.  I have also driven the boy’s to Adelaide for specialist appointments if he was unavailable to go.  He prefers to drive, and I like to utilise the time to read.  This usually works for both of us.

My husband has recently purchased an air fryer, in which I have now purchased a new cookbook for him to be inspired by ideas.  We recently met up with an old friend of his and his wife, the friend is the chief cook in their home.  He gave him a range of foods to try out in the air fryer – perhaps our roles will evolve again!

My belief is that most households have a discussion and/or routine that suits them.  This can change over the years, or it may be a constant.  It is what works for you all.