Division of Labor

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Categories Parenting

I’m one of the lucky ones.  I have a husband who not only is great with the girls but willingly helps out.  All. The. Time. 

I remember those first few months after the girls were born and how Rich would never complain about the difficulty in caring for a newborn preemie infant throughout the night while having to rise early in the morning to head off to work.  The statement “you’re at home all day and I have to work” was never uttered in our home.

Rich and I have both been working full time for awhile now so there is not much free time for anyone in our world.  We have an unspoken pact that we will allow the other alone time when needed.   At two and a half years old, it is much easier for one of us to care for the girls so we try to take turns sleeping in on the weekends.  Rich is an early riser more often than not so there have been several weekends where I have had the benefit of extra hours of uninterrupted sleep while Rich enjoys alone time with the girls.

Dividing the labor extends to cooking, cleaning and laundry as well.   We move in a fluid motion around each other when it comes to getting the girls ready to leave the house.  Between the two of us, the diaper bag is packed, the girls are dressed and everyone and thing is loaded into the van without a word spoken. 

I honestly don’t know how some mothers do it.  (I know, I know.  They do what they need to do.) I’ve read many complaints (and rightfully so) of husbands who barely lift a finger to help out.  If there are two parents, shouldn’t there be TWO parents?  I’ve been on both sides of the fence and staying at home with the kids is just as difficult as working full time. 

So before you start to think that it’s a country club in our home, I’ll give you an insight into how much free time we’ve each had over the past two and a half years.  I’ve had my hair cut five times.  I’ve painted my fingernails twice.  Rich has golfed four times.  Yeah, so no days at the spa.  No professional manicures or pedicures.  Our number one free time activity is sleep and with all the activities and chores that we need to cram into each weekend, sleep is usually the only luxury we allow ourselves.

Today, I wanted to do some clothes shopping.  Alone.  I left shortly after the girls were finished eating their lunch.  Rich cleaned up the lunch mess, put the girls down for their nap and was there to give them a snack and play with them after nap.  Although he told me not to rush, I still checked the time.  It’s a habit.  Those few hours of alone time were much needed.  Yes, I am lucky.

How is “labor” divided in your house?  Do you feel that your husband, partner, or significant other does his/her fair share? 

Sarah is the mother to 29 month old identical triplet girls – Allie, Anna and Emily – who were born at 35 weeks and 6 days.  She works full time as a Tax Director for Big Financial Institution and enjoys sharpening her photography skills with her daughters’ help.  You can read more about her crazy life raising triplets at The Great Umbrella Heist.

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15 thoughts on “Division of Labor”

  1. My husband does do his fair share. 2 or 3 days each week he has the boys all day *28 month old twins. The difference is this: when he works its a 12 hour shift, and I’m on duty, fom 630 am until 730 or 830 pm. But When HE is on duty, his “hours” are 8:00 am until 5:30 pm — because when I go to the office, I do breakfast and get them all ready before I leave, and I’m back on duty the moment I hit the door at 530 with maybe a 60 second bathroom break. Meanwhile most of his “free” time is is doing chores (he is somewhat of a neat freak, but I guess I can’t complain because he vacuums…) I have about zero free time but I just keep pushing along somehow.

  2. Our labor division seems quite equitable to me although it is very different than what you would usually think of as 50/50. My husband works HARD to support our family. When is gets free time at home it is usually spent helping me and caring for one of the babies. I stay home and handle the full-time child care basically everything else in our life. My job is HARD as well.

    After 10 months we are coming to a place where we both really value the role and jobs the other person has. We do very different tasks, we live very different roles. Both roles are really hard in their own ways. Both jobs are done for the betterment of our family and marriage. Both of us get “time off” when we really need it.

    Living in light of our differing roles helps me to keep perspective while I do most of the labor around our home.
    .-= Vicky @ thecitycradle´s last blog ..This weekend. =-.

  3. My husband is wonderful. He always helps out, usually without asking. He helped with all the middle of the night feedings in the early days and I can’t say that I would have made it without his help. While I don’t often get the housework done, he comes home and does it. I’m thankful that we have had twins because I believe it has forced him to be a more involved father. I am sure that he would have been very involved with one, but I think that we have no other choice than to be both actively involved in every aspect. We often talk about how it would be to have one baby, we’d have to fight over feedings and holding/snuggling time. The times that I really notice how much he helps is when he is gone. We’re a military family, living overseas, he’s frequently gone flying airplanes all over and that’s when I see how important he is in helping this home function normally.

  4. Yea, my hubby is pretty awesome too. I tend to complain about things I shouldn’t, just because I’m a neat freak. But I’m slowly letting go of that because I know I need to. (its hard)
    It the early days, he was up for every feeding with me. Sometimes he was up making bottles before I even rolled out of bed. He was my rock..and now? What Ive always imagined my children like with their father, is how he is with them.
    As far as housework. I have to ask. He isn’t one to start laundry without me asking him, or load the dishwasher without asking. Does it bother me? Yes. But I don’t think he does it to be lazy, I think our brains are just programmed different. But he’ll do anything I ask, I just have to ask. (that’s also hard for me!)
    .-= Christina´s last blog ..Her progress in just a couple weeks =-.

  5. This is a really interesting topic that I think about all the time. I work outside of the home and my husband is in grad school so we’ve both got our “outside of home” roles. We both have flexible time, though, and we have been able to split our childcare duties 50/50. We have a babysitter 3 days a week, and the 4th day he watches the kids, and I do it on the 5th day. We trade off every single morning with who gets up with them.

    Other things like laundry and dishes and cleaning we also split 50/50. I think having multiples might sometimes force a more equal division of labor, because there are 2 or more babies and twice (or more) as much to do at the same time!

    However, when it comes to the mental work, we are not equally divided. I make doctor’s appointments. I keep track of their clothes and when we need to get stuff for the new season. I buy their toys. I schedule playdates and think about stuff like birthdays. My husband doesn’t do any of this because I do it, so it magically gets done. I don’t like doing it, but I do it because it has to get done. We both know this is unfair and we’re both working to fix it, but it is hard to actively work against how we’ve been socialized. It’s a work in progress.

    One interesting side effect of our 50/50 split is that each kid has picked his or her favorite parent. Our daughter is super attached to me and our son is super attached to Daddy. Sometimes when I go into their room first thing in the morning, he’ll say “I want Daddy!” Ouch! Both kids love and enjoy being with both of us, but they have a clear preference. We try to balance this a little by having an afternoon where I hang with our son, and Daddy hangs out with our daughter, so we can get a little bit of extra special time in.
    .-= albe´s last blog ..Is My Toddler an Anorexic? =-.

  6. I read a phrase somewhere recently that was something to the effect of “God only gives multiples to women with capable, helpful husbands.” I have found that to be mostly true (mostly out of necessity, I’m sure).

    My husband never once complained about feeding babies 3 or 4 times a night, even when we were too exhausted to speak to one another. Now, he gets up to help me get them fed and dressed in the mornings, even though he works second shift and doesn’t get home until after 1 am. Like a previous poster said, he doesn’t always do it until he’s asked, but he does do what I ask. I have felt so grateful and blessed to have him as the father of my children.

  7. I can not imagine parenting (at all) without my husband, by which I mean my particular husband. He is a great parent and is involved in all the fun and not-so-fun parts of parenting our twins and older daughter. He is much more patient that I am, and is very good about helping me back up off the ledge when I am mentally ready to jump. I like to joke that his parenting prowess almost makes up for the fact that he routinely leaves dirty socks around the house.
    .-= nonlineargirl´s last blog ..Honestly now =-.

  8. I agree with the comment above … I couldn’t imagine parenting without my husband. He is the calm to my storm. He comes up with really fun things to do with the kids. He gets the idea and I do the planning. This works great for us. He doesn’t have an organized bone in his body. I’m ultra organized and a clean freak and his idea of cleaning is to push everything up against the walls. I’ve joked for years that his motto is “if the middle is clean, it’s all clean”.

    Our division of labor was easily decided … His job is demanding, he works a lot … mine equally so as a sahm. Our goal is to both do as much as possible during the week so that the weekends are family time … period.

    My sister and I often have funny conversations about the differences between us and our husbands. For example, we wonder why they can’t put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher … if we left the door open and they tripped over it would they remember? We agree with this bottom line assessment … we love our husbands and think they are great fathers, we’d just like them to be a little less annoying … because of course we are not.

  9. My husband helps out with the babies on the days he is home (he works out of state during the week). As for other household chores – nope. Not sure if its a “macho” latino thing, a guy thing or just a “I-go-to-work-and-the-house-is-your-responsibility” thing but either way, I cook all meals (baby and adult), clean all rooms, do all laundry, etc.

    Maybe I can introduce my husband to some of your husbands…
    .-= Nicole´s last blog ..One of Each =-.

  10. We divide up the work about the same as you do, with the exception that my husband travels for work 2-4 days a week, leaving me to do everything while he’s gone. Because of that, we’ve become much more confident about leaving the kids alone with each other so we can get plenty of alone time. Next month I’ll go on my fourth solo girls weekend trip of the year!

    Things did get easier once they got past 2 and were able to do some of the physical work themselves. That was huge for us, so I was able to get my regular pedicures :)
    .-= LauraC´s last blog ..Bonus post: Beth’s visit =-.

  11. When my husband is home, our division of labour is similar to yours. I’m responsible for daycare dropoff and pickup unless my husband has a short work day, since we commute in opposite directions and daycare is on the way to my job.

    However, my husband lives overseas a little over 50% of the time, 15 months at a time. During that time, the physical and present part of parenting falls on me. My husband tries to even things out by taking the bulk of doctor’s appointments and diaper changes (done with that now!) when he’s home.
    .-= Sadia´s last blog ..Daily tantrum report =-.

  12. Wow – you guys have extremely hands on husbands/dads. That is wonderful. My husband helps out with the kids where I really need it and happily lets me run errands exercise solo, etc…on the weekends but as far as the house goes – that’s my domain. I do the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc… And really, I’m ok with that b/c I’m sure I would just micromanage him if he pitched in.

  13. My husband also has been extremely helpful around the house and with our girls much more than we both think would be if we had a singleton. He sees the need and steps up because of necessity. When our girls were infants he would get up with me EVERY night for feedings because I could not get both girls latched on and burped solo and then off to work he’d go in the mornings after being up every three hours. He has happily called me the “project manager” of the systems and schedules of our home that I created and agrees with the way I’ve set things up to be efficient and organized for our family. We’re both still learning about communication in the midst of chaos but have [and still] are working to be a team. We don’t just divide and give 50/50….it’s only when we seek to give 100% that we are a successful team and we both feel like our needs are also being met, which takes sacrifice but in the end, that’s what love, marriage, and family is.

  14. I have been blessed with a husband who does not think being a stay at home mom means I should do it all. Sure, I do the majority of the laundry and cooking, but on the weekends he takes over. He also gives me Sunday to sleep in. I would not be as sane as I am if I didn’t have a partner willing to pitch in.
    .-= Quadmama´s last blog ..Living Like Pioneers =-.

  15. i have the best partner ever. we do an equal share of the childcare, sometimes she does even more than me:) i do most of the house work but i enjoy it so that is ok. we take turns keeping them on our own when the other wants to go do somehting. she makes their food, always gets up first when they fuss or cry and always gives them baths! she is amazing and the best mom!
    .-= tara´s last blog ..Happy birthday, Becca! =-.

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