How Families Can Share Household Responsibilities: Good Things Utah
I recently sat down with the hosts of “Good Things Utah” to discuss a concern in family life that many, many women seem to experience: the division of household labor. It’s extremely common for women to bear too much responsibility when it comes to chores, meals, errands, laundry, paying bills, cleaning, and a variety of other unpaid activities that need to be done to keep a home running smoothly. Not only can this leave women feeling frustrated and burnt out, but it can also take a toll on their relationships (particularly their marriage). Here are some strategies to help ease women’s burden and move toward a partnership model when it comes to tackling family chores:
Change Your Language
Language is a powerful tool to shape our experiences, and unfortunately, the words we use can sometimes reinforce the stereotype that household work is women’s work. Instead of saying, “will you help me with the house?” I encourage women to say, “will you help our family with the house?” Also, men don’t babysit, they take care of their children! Let’s try to use words that reflect how household chores are the responsibility of everyone (kids included) who lives in the home.
Recognize and Value Mental & Emotional Labor
One of the invisible forms of work that women often perform the majority of is mental and emotional labor. This refers to the tracking of tasks that need to be done and includes making and remembering doctor appointments, creating grocery lists, spearheading Christmas cards, making plans for kids’ birthdays, and the list goes on. This kind of labor is exhausting, sometimes more exhausting than even doing all these things, and we need to recognize it and value it as extremely important work.
Have A Conversation About Sharing the Work
If you find yourself feeling resentment about bearing too much of the weight of family work, it’s important for you to express your concerns to your parent. Try not to blame the other person, but still, be open about frustration you feel. Remember that the other person was perhaps not raised to believe (consciously or not) that chores were everyone’s job, so view this as an opportunity for you to work together as partners to take care of the home and to ease each other’s loads.
Allow Everyone To Have Specific Responsibilities
When I write about men and women acting as equal partners, I don’t mean to say that everyone has to do the exact same things. Work together to figure out who will do what, and then allow the others in the household to take ownership of their specific jobs and responsibilities. For example, with my children, I have “specialists.” One child is the “trash specialist,” while another is a “dishes specialist.” Figure out a system that works best for your family so that everyone is contributing.
Dynamic self & relationship expert Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW loves to make a difference for women. She owns Wasatch Family Therapy and regularly contributes to KSL TV's Studio 5, and her advice has been featured nationally including Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Fox News, and others. Connect on Facebook & Twitter. Her books The Burnout Cure and The Assertiveness Guide are now available.