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Division of labor at home, mental labor edition

  1. Mrs. Turtle

    blogger / pear / 1509 posts

    Sigh. I started writing an account of the division of mental labor but it made me tired and depressed, so I erased it. I do 98%, and the other 2% I do when she's out of town, which is about 10-14 days each month. So......

  2. snowjewelz

    wonderful kiwi / 23653 posts

    @Mrs. Turtle: I can't even imagine all the EXTRA load when it comes to fostering too.

  3. Mrs. Turtle

    blogger / pear / 1509 posts

    @snowjewelz: Luckily right now we have it easy. And I'm just tired and grumpy this morning. O is getting very close to adoption so we have minimal home visits and appointments for her. And the baby is super easy because she doesn't have any parental visitation. At times it's been a ton of extra labor, but right now it is pretty minimal.

  4. snowjewelz

    wonderful kiwi / 23653 posts

    @Mrs. Turtle: That's great to hear! But there's always something. You recently moved too right?

  5. Mrs. Turtle

    blogger / pear / 1509 posts

    Yep, to be closer to my parents. Mostly, it has been a helpful move, but of course moving itself is always a lot of work. And we said yes to a newborn exactly 2 weeks before moving date.

  6. kiddosc

    grapefruit / 4278 posts

    I don't know if I could assign a percentage to it because as others have pointed out, he handles certain aspects of the household mental load that I give zero thought to. I think overall, I probably carry a bit more.

    I handle appointments, registrations, clothing, school for the kids. He handles all of his own appointments and haircuts for E. He pays all the bills and I devote absolutely zero thought to them. We each handle maintenance for our own cars. He handles the lawncare and snow removal, I plant and tend to the flowers. He handles home maintenance, I do most of the cleaning. He does all the dishes, I do all the laundry. I plan, shop for, and cook nearly all meals, he coaches E's soccer team and shuttles him to and stays for other extra curriculars.

    I feel weighed down with all the extra tasks associated with running a household with kids, but I don't think he's free-loading off all of my labor either.

  7. Adira

    wonderful pomelo / 30692 posts

    Landscaping/Snow: Both
    Dealing with Contractors: Me
    Service Appointments: Me
    Bills: Me
    Grocery Shopping: Me
    Meal Planning: Me
    Laundry: Me
    Putting Clean Laundry Away: Him
    Dishes: Both
    Trash/Recycling: Both

    Clothes: Me
    Gear: Me
    General Supplies: Me
    Haircuts: Me
    Nails: Him
    Baths: Me
    Doctor's Appointments: Me
    School Supplies: Me
    Prep for each day: Me
    Toys/Books: Me
    Friends' Birthday/Parties: Me
    Activities: Me
    All Paperwork: Me

    Cars: Both

    So... 85% Me

    ETA: Thought of a couple more things, adjusted percentage.

  8. Jennibenni

    persimmon / 1005 posts

    I do pretty much all of the kid related mental labor/planning but frankly I want it done my way so I’m fine with that. I do bills, all money related things, any accounts or customer service things, plan vacations and family visits. We split everyday household chores pretty well, and I do absolutely nothing outdoors and don’t even think about anything out there. We have ten acres and a pool so I’m ok with the split.

  9. 808love

    pomelo / 5866 posts

    If we are talking solutions.......Here's my best tip to get DH to 'deep clean' without a fight. Tapping into his image/ego, I just invite a friend of his or someone he really respects (or in DH case, basically- anyone) over to hang out and he gets to work!! I do this monthly! But you kind of gotta make it more important to him than you. Works everytime. Also, lots and lots of appreciation, empowering him to make decisions and do it his way goes a long way.

  10. Mrs. Turtle

    blogger / pear / 1509 posts

    @808love: haha! Another good solution is to be a foster parent and have social workers in your home every week or two! It motivates us both to keep things fairly tidy and clean!

  11. DesertDreams88

    grapefruit / 4361 posts

    I do a lot of the mental labor, but he solo-parents more often than I do, because he's home at 3 and I don't get home until 4:30 or 5. He's also much more willing to take the 2 of them so I can get a break, vs. me doing that for him.

  12. Mrs. Tiger

    blogger / pomegranate / 3044 posts

    DH covers car things and house repairs/outdoor work (outsourced), I do 100% of child related mental work + meal planning/household supplies/social events etc. One thing I just stopped doing is buying gifts for his family members. I am not a big gift person and it was exhausting, so he knows if he doesn't figure something out they will just be getting a handmade card from the kids.

    I do worry from the perspective of, if I got hit by a bus, how could he keep up? He hasn't met any of the kids specialists or even their "new" (1yo) pediatrician, would have no idea how to navigate to the clinic in the hospital for D's GI apt, or how to reorder monthly g tube supplies, etc 😬

  13. 2littlepumpkins

    grapefruit / 4455 posts

    I have always done more of this, regardless of work status, although admittedly he is the breadwinner. His job can be very demanding. However, he has really stepped up since the birth of our third child. It was at its worst when we only had one child, but then it was also a lot easier overall to have one toddler than it is right now. (It didn't feel like it at the time though, lol.)

  14. Mommy Finger

    pomegranate / 3272 posts

    This is so timely as I was fuming about this yesterday. DH mows the lawn every week or so, takes out the garbage and does the laundry. I do EVERYTHING ELSE! And he's been giving me a lot of grief that I don't help him with the laundry. You have one job, really, and you can't even do that?

  15. cake2017

    persimmon / 1082 posts

    I can relate! I do everything you listed! I work full time outside the home too! We both work fulltime(DH works more hours though). I think you should communicate how you feel and ask if he can help with a few especially with a new addition to the family. I started telling him it’s too much and I need help. We just have one kid and want to expand- I told DH I can’t be doing this alone and popping out more kids. He’s been more involved since that convo.

  16. Pumuckl

    pomegranate / 3601 posts

    Wow so many of you have SO who do so little. So in our house things are more evened out.

    DH does everthing garden related, cooking related (incl. grocery shopping and meal planning etc.), money related and some of the vacation planning. He also cleans up the kitchen at night.

    I do everything related to laundry and all the kid stuff (be it clothes, gear, appointments, extra curriculars etc.). I clean the kitchen in the mornings. And most of the tidying up before our cleaning people come.

    So he has a higher physical load and I have a higher mental load. But this way it seems pretty fair and we are both okay with it.

  17. snowjewelz

    wonderful kiwi / 23653 posts

    @Pumuckl: I was def speaking more to the mental load; actually I was only talking about mental load b/c physical load wise I think we're pretty even too. Or even if it's not even, we both do what the other cannot do (ex. I can't cook, and he can't budget). But the mental load is def all me.

  18. Pumuckl

    pomegranate / 3601 posts

    @snowjewelz: Yeah, for us it means taking over the whole task. So he will meal plan, then buy the goceries and cook the meal. No mental load on me. And it's the same thing for the other things that way I am not involved in a lot of the tasks unless I am asked (like when he asks my input for dinner ideas). So while he has more tasks and they def. include mental loads the sum of things to carry is probably equal as with 4 kids it's quite a few sizes (shoes, clothes), appointments etc. that I need to keep track of. I hope that makes sense?

  19. snowjewelz

    wonderful kiwi / 23653 posts

    @Pumuckl: I think that's great! I wonder if it's personality related too. My husband does 100% of the grocery shopping and cooking but currently we're trying to start to meal plan to save $ and I'm going to meal plan with his input. He has no organizational bone in him!

  20. Pumuckl

    pomegranate / 3601 posts

    @snowjewelz: I think it is definitely personality related and its both partner's personalities that factor in. If your someone who has a hard time "letting go" and want things done only one way then it is harder for another person to take over.

  21. snowjewelz

    wonderful kiwi / 23653 posts

    @Pumuckl: That's me haha! That's why I don't mind taking on more load (physically or mentally). All I need/want in return is really just recognition/appreciation with DH is usually pretty good about dosing out

  22. MrsSCB

    pomelo / 5257 posts

    Thanks, all. It's good to know I'm not alone. I've seen some say that they like taking on these mental tasks, because they like being in control or organizing. I think that's great if you don't mind, couples should divide work however works to their strengths. But my issue is that I DO mind. I'm not very controlling, I don't have specific ways of doing things, so it frustrates and confuses me that I've somehow become the default person for this. And I think it's just really closely tied to traditional gender roles that we have yet to break. As more women have been working, men may do more physical tasks at home, and I think that leads people to believe we've achieved some sort of equality. But from what I've read and heard from others, the "invisible" tasks still very much remain "women's work," and that is incredibly frustrating to me. It's like if you can't see it, it doesn't count. And I find most of the excuses for men to be ridiculous--that they're disorganized, that they're just "not good" at this stuff. I refuse to believe that women are naturally better at these tasks, we're just the ones who have been assigned them. I found this really relatable: https://medium.com/s/jessica-valenti/kids-dont-damage-women-s-careers-men-do-eb07cba689b8

  23. MrsSCB

    pomelo / 5257 posts

    @petitenoisette: that comment about keeping track of tasks for his job would have annoyed me, too!

    @pachamama: yup, definitely relate to that image! Although when we were "discussing " (or arguing...), my husband said something like, "Well, it's not like I'm incompetent--if I were alone, I would obviously do these things." And I was like, "YES, that is exactly the issue! Because you're not incapable, I definitely believe that, it's just that you are content to let me do it."

    @LCTBQE: the moving didn't help, and then add in being pregnant and....so exhausting. And I'm totally the one who found our realtor and home inspector, and is the primary on the mortgage...although he was the one who generally communicated with the lender we ultimately settled on (that was a whole thing, ha).

    @muffinsmuffins: Thanks for your perspective--it's interesting to read the dynamic between two women, because I absolutely do believe (as I said above) that this is largely down to societal expectations of men and women/gender roles.

    @Dahlia: I'm sorry, I feel the same way. We talk about it every few months when I'm feeling particularly overwhelmed, things change for a bit, and then.. *sigh*

    @Mrs. Turtle: I guess to be fair, it's not entirely gendered. And I'm sorry this is an issue for you as well.

    @2littlepumpkins: This makes me hopeful for when our second arrives, because I'm a bit scared at adding even more to my plate. Thank you

    @Mommy Finger: ugh, noooo. That would piss me off, too.

    @Pumuckl: I think I would be somewhat happier if he would take on more physical load, however the truth is I really don't like organizing and managing stuff. So it would probably be best to find a better way to share that stuff.

  24. LCTBQE

    nectarine / 2461 posts

    @MrsSCB: yes, exactly re competence--how annoying.
    is there anything that you can dump on him where if it doesn't get done, the kid or your finances don't suffer? like maybe all yard work, all car stuff, all the christmas shopping/holiday planning? what would happen if you were just like, donating stuff to charity and everything relating to taxes is now your responsibility and I'm not doing it, so if we get fined by the IRS, it's on you. eh??

  25. psw27

    pomelo / 5220 posts

    I do it all. I'm sure there is 1% or so he might handle. I don't always love it but DH works about 2x as much as me and makes about 5x as much as I do in a much more stressful job. So I try to get DH to help but really, he just doesn't have the mental capacity to think about things like flu shots and oil changes and undies that are too small....

  26. codeitall

    clementine / 874 posts

    @muffinsmuffins: I think it falls kind of into gender roles. Not that I feel I need to do it, but if my kids aren't vaccinated and going to the dentist and clothed for the right season, who's going to get judged? ME! I absolutely do not think I need to do everything and have shoved a little off my plate onto DH, but it is always at the back of my mind that DH will look like he doesn't know what he's doing if he takes DD to the store in a too-cold dress, but I will look negligent.

    I will say that for us, we both work FT and DH is doing online school FT, so I do need to pick up most of the mental load for the family.

  27. muffinsmuffins

    persimmon / 1023 posts

    @codeitall: oh yeah, it’s crazy how a man who does the absolute bare minimum can be lauded as a hero but a woman can never do enough. I hear you on that, it’s a good point.

    DW and I were talking about this thread the other night and I think it starts from birth when couples have kids: in many cases the father doesn’t get paid leave and is back to work right away leaving the woman to do all the organizing until she has to potentially go back to work as well (if she chooses) and the roles can be set right then. Our patriarchal society that doesn’t support women and old school roles are to blame I think. FWIW DW thinks I do more of the labour while I think it’s pretty equal so who knows!


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