What a chore: More families work to share housework load

Cleaning, tidying, cooking and keeping up with laundry can be more than just a chore—they are often the most dramatic example of families remaining divided by gender norms, with women often taking on more of that sort of work than their male counterparts.

On an average day, just 20% of men do housework compared to 49% of women, according to the most recent data from the bureau Bureau of Labor Statistics. Women also typically spend 2.2 hours a day on household tasks, compared to men’s 1.4 hours—and that’s without venturing into the world of childcare.

The Wall Street Journal reports that in order to more fairly share the burden of the honey-do list, some couples are turning to tech. Some just have shared to-do lists or calendars via Google Drive; others are using project managing apps like Asana, and Trello to get jobs done.

Kim Ginn, general manager L’Auberge Baton Rouge Casino & Hotel, says that for her and her husband, dividing up housework is a little more of a free-for-all than families using apps, but she says she feels lucky that her husband Terry Ginn is willing to do so much around the house. They’ve been together for more than 25 years, and that has helped them get a handle on how to manage, she says.

“I think for us, nothing is off-limits,” Ginn says. “If there are clothes to be folded or dishes to be put away, it really comes down to whoever has time to do it first. When the kids were young, sometimes it was me taking them to the doctor if they were sick and sometimes it was Terry.”

Some couples, as the Journal reports, have started giving one another business titles in the home, and their responsibilities around the house fall under each partner’s title. For example, in one family the “vice president of operations” is responsible for just about everything that stays the same from day to day, while the “vice president of special projects” handles anything outside of the norm, like medical appointments, birthday parties, weekend activities, and vacations.  

Social worker Brelyn Howard says that she and her fiancé Daniel Bowen tend to have different sets of duties that they do at home on top of their jobs, hers at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center and his as a graduate assistant. They’ve fallen into a pattern of certain chores, she says.

“We always apply the ‘I cook, you clean’ rule after dinner,” Howard says. “But he does the lawn care and most of the dogs’ care. I do the vacuuming and general tidying.”