Chore Wars? Are you working
harder than your spouse?
Is one hour of time at the office equal to one hour of doing laundry, cleaning dishes or changing diapers?
That's a pretty loaded question, isn't it?
Yet, it's at the center of a debate over whether men and women are effectively crossing over into each others traditional domain and equally dividing chores and earning a paycheck. Time Magazine's Cover Story, Chore Wars, added up the latest statistics on paid labor and unpaid labor among people who are employed full-time and concluded that men and women have never before had more equal total workloads.
The article says women think they carry a heavier load, particularly working mothers, but we aren't opening our eyes to the math. (Some of us prefer to be blind!) According to data just released by BLS, moms working full time did just 20 minutes more of combined paid and unpaid work than men did, the smallest difference ever reported.
Even more, new research on working fathers indicates that they're the ones experiencing the most pressure to be breadwinners and involved fathers. Men are doing three times as much child care as they did in 1965.
So while the numbers show otherwise, women still feel they are doing so much more than their partners. What gives?
Well, one guess is that women do things as household manager that take mental energy rather than time. Another is that women and men spend their free time differently, with women combining child care activities and leisure activities. They don't relax in a way that allows them to recharge their batteries.
I know my husband works hard to earn his paycheck, and I do, too. We both do chores at home. But, as a working mother, I completely understand this feeling of exhaustion by working moms because we're pulling off the logistics of keeping the household on track. But while we are exhausted, we're not about to give it up. Being chief household manager is a role we relish.
Ruth Davis Konigsberg, author of the Time article, raises the point on her blog that paid work brings you money and status, while housework and child care bring you nada. Actually, I think otherwise. I think the unpaid work brings us working mothers subconscious satisfaction and bragging rights among our peers. We want career success but we still want that feeling of being needed, in charge at home and looked upon as mother of the year.
Konigsberg says her article appears to have reopened a very touchy topic: who's really more put-upon, Mom or Dad? I would imagine both genders think they have it tough. As traditional roles erode, I think who is more put upon is a topic we will be debating for decades to come.
What are your thoughts on chore wars?