Should men be able to do housework

Men and household - are you still helping or are you already doing it?

Today I am dealing with a somewhat delicate subject Men and household and get to the bottom of the question why housework is still a woman's job in many families. With this post I am also happy to take part in our blog parade “Spring makes everything new: My tip for a tidier 2018”, which I started together with Sabine von Ordnungsliebe and Sunray from the organized cardigan. Sorry for the delay, I had a few technical problems;). Therefore, today you will learn my absolute favorite tip on how you can really simplify the housework enormously.

My tip for a neater 2018 is:

Household is a family matter - do the housework together.

If all family members take part in the housework and feel responsible for the household, you can climb the huge mountain of work much better. In addition, the children in particular quickly learn that work does not go by itself, they treat a tidy apartment with more respect and are later able to run a household themselves. After all, housework is not an insignificant and insignificant activity (even if it does not enjoy high recognition), but particularly important in creating a nice home and a retreat for the whole family. Children can also take on smaller, age-appropriate tasks, but in this article I would like to focus particularly on the men.

Of course, Prof. M. rolled his eyes when I told him about my topic. But now he is thrilled that he is setting a good example and being able to tackle (even) more energetically.

Household is still a woman's business

When I did research for this post, I was pretty amazed at the numbers. A study by the Böckler Foundation shows that housework in Germany is still a woman's business and that many couples are far from a partnership-based division of labor. Women spend an average of 1.6 times as much time on the household as men. These results were also confirmed by another (albeit relatively small) study. It shows that the time-consuming household chores such as washing, cleaning and cooking are largely and often exclusively carried out by women. The differences between paid and unpaid work are particularly large. While men (7:40 hours) and women (7:44) work roughly the same amount per day, women do significantly more unpaid work (3:29) compared to men (2:08). This ratio shifts even more when smaller children live in the household. And even if this division of work was chosen voluntarily in many families (how we have solved it, you can read below), the unpaid overtime can lead to a problematic cycle: More unpaid work at home means less time for paid work at work. This leads to fewer opportunities for advancement, lower pay and thus also to a poorer pension.

Men and household

Of course, there are also many arguments why this unjust division of labor comes about. For example, men on average do not reduce their working hours as much as women and provide for the family income, they take on more tasks in other areas (e.g. repairs, shopping or gardening) and sometimes (but not always;)) have a different view of disorder .

With this article I definitely do not want to make men bad, but I do encourage them to reconsider the division of labor in the household.Did you find a just solution that everyone is happy with?

Perhaps these points will help you to think about it:

Who is helping whom here?

Sometimes equality starts with the right choice of words. Which sentence applies to you:

  • "I help my wife around the house."
  • "My wife helps me around the house."
  • "Everyone does what happens at the moment."

These questions show very nicely who the main responsible person is at home and thus also bears the "mental burden" - the responsibility, the planning and the organization of family affairs. If one partner only “helps”, he will support the other, but he is not really responsible. Prof. M. and I are between answers (A) and (C), whereas Prof. M. is of the opinion that we fluctuate between answers (B) and (C).

Can you give up responsibility?

I can hand over responsibility wonderfully. If Prof. M. was cleaning the kitchen, I would of course never go back to check it out and point out one or two overlooked splashes to him. Unfortunately, not all women are as relaxed as I am and like to criticize their partner. Well - I admit, maybe I also recently polished the stove again for a short while and Prof. M. gave a tiny lecture on the correct wiping technique. But I am absolutely not a control freak (as Prof. M. claims)! If your goal is to divide up the housework fairly, then practice giving up control and accepting that everyone does things in their own way and sometimes less perfectly than you do.

Is it possible to change habits?

Every family is different and has to find their own way of organizing the household. No way should be condemned in advance. Sometimes, however, habits creep into everyday life that could easily be changed to ensure a fairer distribution of housework. Sometimes, for example, mothers take on household chores after giving birth, which they continue to do after they have long gone back to work. Here it helps to reassess the existing division of labor together. Unfortunately, Prof. M. didn't have the time to do this last week. That's why I quickly took on this on my own and discovered many areas in which he could still be more involved (there is still a lot of room for improvement, especially when it comes to washing clothes and cleaning the bathroom). Prof. M. was very happy that he was given some great additional tasks. At least he said enthusiastically "Mmh."

Can you really do more the longer you work?

In many areas there is still a belief that spending a lot of time in the office equates to more performance. Since Prof. M. has been working in Denmark, I have known that a different work-life balance is also possible. People there look at you in astonishment if you stay too late in the office. It is also not customary to call meetings after 4 p.m. The result is an almost balanced relationship between men and women, including at professorial level. A more flexible working time model and a different attitude towards (too) long working hours would also allow fathers to spend more time with the family and to be more involved in housework. Sometimes minor changes help to have more time with the family (and for cleaning (haha)) (e.g. if possible, not attending all meetings, requesting home office days, fewer coffee breaks with colleagues). Conversely, a new view of working hours would have the advantage that women have better opportunities for advancement even if they (can) spend less time in the office.

Do you want to keep your partner's back free?

In many families, women reduce their working hours after having children and men continue to work full-time. The fact that women often take over the household in this phase is also due to the fact that they want to relieve their partner and keep their backs free. After all, a full-time job is very exhausting, and in many cases it is unrealistic that the partner still has the strength and energy to do a lot of household chores after a long day at work. As long as both partners are satisfied, there is nothing against this solution, and every family has to find its own way here.

My main concern here is attitudes towards housework. At least that's the way it is for me - the housekeeping annoys me the most when it is taken for granted that I have cleaned the apartment. That's why I regularly ask whether the current division is still good for us. Prof. M. is not always very enthusiastic about these discussions, but afterwards always cleans everything sparklingly clean to be on the safe side, in order to reduce the intervals between my critical questions a little. You see - addressing problems openly almost always helps;). By the way, at Today Music is also great couples who have both reduced their working hours in order to be able to take care of the family.

Do men and women have a different view of order?

Through my blog, I am in various Facebook groups where all topics related to order are discussed. Every now and then there are posts in which women complain that their men just don't notice the mess. On the one hand, different perceptions and ideas of order are normal in every partnership, on the other hand, the "denounced" men probably overlook the dirt because they have never been responsible for the household up to now. If you have extremely divergent views about the right degree of order and therefore keep arguing, you could try a clear distribution of tasks and thus also of responsibility. For example, Prof. M. and I were always responsible for certain rooms for a while (he: kitchen and living room, me: bedroom and bathroom). Back then we always made a small competition to find out who could keep their rooms in better shape. We absolutely have to reintroduce this soon. I take the hallway and the bathroom, it can have the living room, the kitchen, the bedroom and the children's room.

Do you mind other people's opinions?

When I express my wish for more commitment from the men in the household in roundtables, Prof. M. often earns pitying looks and, in the worst case, a macho saying. Men who take on household responsibilities are still called "wimp" or "househusband". I see it differently, however. After all, a “real man” does not only take on responsibility in areas that he just feels like doing. He is a “man of action” and it doesn't matter whether you have to vacuum or save the world from aliens. Prof. M. always has a very relaxed attitude and usually counters with a dry saying. Afterwards he likes to say to me - "Who do I want to make happy - the others or my family?" (Sweet, right?).

Happy Wife- Happy Life - Do you want a great partnership?

Did you know that a fairer division of housework leads to greater satisfaction in the relationship, a higher sense of fairness and less depression in women (Coltrane 2000)? Some journalists even deduce from these results that men who do more housework also have more sex - if that is not an incentive! I sent this study to Prof. M. directly.

How do single parents manage that?

At this point I would like to say once again to all single parents what a great achievement they achieve every day. My mother also raised my brother and me alone. But it wasn't until I had children that I really realized how great she did it.

How is it with Prof. M. and me?

Now I've been talking about equality the whole time and you're probably wondering how it is with us? Does Prof. M. really do at least 50% of the housework?

As already mentioned, I have also reduced my working hours significantly at the moment to manage the household and children. Since Prof. M. travels a lot for work (he works abroad), I have to organize the household, children and job on my own for several days a week.

Nevertheless, I am satisfied with this solution for the moment: In the times when Prof. M. is there, he feels just as responsible for children and the household as I do. Often he cooks food for us on the weekend, for example, to relieve me and or puts in an extra clean-up session before he leaves. It's okay with me that I'm doing a little more at the moment, because his attitude towards housework is right. He doesn't see the household as my job, and I don't have to ask him to help, he makes it a matter of course.

Nevertheless, there is definitely room for improvement here too. Because even with us, some activities have crept in that I only take on (e.g. washing clothes and cleaning the bathroom). Prof. M raised an eyebrow enthusiastically when I told him that I would set a good example for my blog readers and that he will be responsible for the laundry from now on.

Now I am curious? Do you also see that there is an unequal division of housework between men and women? Or is this discussion superfluous?