Tag Archives: gender

Most Useful Chore Advice Ever

Recently, in separate conversations with two different friends, the subject of laundry came up.  I mentioned that my husband and I both do our own laundry.  One woman was amazed that I had somehow convinced my husband to do this.  The other looked at me as if I had told her the meaning of life. She had tears in her eyes as she went on and on about how much laundry dominates her life. Granted she is very traditional and Martha Stewart-like so I suspect much of the load is self-imposed.

However, after revealing more details, and yes, they seemed interested in how I achieved this magical feat, I thought I had to share this bit of advice.  Maybe most of my readers have already seen the light. However, given their amazed responses, I thought I better spill in the hopes that more women gain hours of their lives back just by letting the guy do his own damn laundry.

First, I admit that we did not have a big, serious discussion about this split.  It sort of happened. He had his own laundry bag and I had a hamper. We kept it separate when we had to haul our laundry to the laundromat.  Years later, when we bought a washer and dryer, we kept it separate.  That’s not to say that this separation is etched in stone. If I have a light load, I’ll grab lights or darks from his hamper.  However, this division of labor works very well on so many levels.

In the “chore wars“, whoever blinks first loses. In laundry-speak, this means whoever notices the overflowing hampers or needs a favorite item first ends up doing the majority of the laundry. The other lucky person gets used to receiving clean and folded laundry as if by magic.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out which gender typically wants clean stuff first.  Since we keep our loads separate, I can get by with one load per week or even every two weeks if I’m not exercising regularly.  I do tend to launder the towels and linens.  In addition to time saved, there’s a practical aspect to this. When I do my own laundry, it’s very easy for me to “keep track” of my clothing needs and I don’t have to launder a giant pile of darks and lights just to find my favorite items.  If you do your spouse’s laundry, you’ll likely to do several loads if your favorites happen to be at the bottom of the hamper.  I also don’t have to worry about my helpful husband doing my laundry and ruining delicates. Note: He’s pretty good with laundry but I’m particular about certain favorites.

Some women might object and say it doesn’t really take that much time to throw in his stuff (and I assume you probably fold his stuff, too?) but over time, this takes up valuable time.  At the very least, throw his stuff in a basket and let him fold it (or grab stuff out without ever folding any of it).  Once children are in the picture, you will rue the day that you took on his laundry. Baby/kid laundry are endless.  You’ll thank me once kids are in the picture if you take my advice NOW. As a bonus, if your spouse is used to doing laundry, he’ll pitch in with the kid laundry, too.

My advice is less applicable if you’re the stay-at-home spouse and female.  I don’t think stay-at-home husbands are as likely to do all the laundry, but let me know if I’m wrong.  However, I would advise SAH-wives to delegate laundry and other chores once the working spouse retires.  So many women I know continue doing it all just because they used to be the one with more time at home.

Do you do your spouse’s laundry?

Oh Yes, The Kids

After becoming a parent, I started reading mom/parenting blogs and forums, where every child-related topic under the sun gets discussed and dissected.  I sort of expected discussions about staying at home or not but I was honestly surprised by the depth of discussion on giving birth itself, breastfeeding, making food, sleeping, and so forth.  Maybe that’s because when I was pregnant, I attended only one childcaring class and read one book.    (Note: Above I linked to Grumpy Rumblings which is more than a parenting blog but they had a good post about push presents, another parenting hot topic)

The strangest topic of discussion for me was the idea of creating a birth plan where everything from medication to music is written out for your doctor and nurses.  I hadn’t even thought of it.  I just thought they would wheel me in and help me deliver.  My doctor did play music during the procedure, which I honestly don’t remember well except it might have been a sort of upbeat pop/rock. As long as it wasn’t vulgar, that was good enough for me. 

Anyway, since I didn’t think that much about the nitty-gritty of childrearing, it’s not surprising that I didn’t even think about deeper issues like gender / equality.  Over at Blue Milk, there was a discussion about raising a daughter in a sexist culture. This is a big concern among parents/moms of daughters and rightly so.  While the U.S. makes strong claims about equality, there is still a “mainstream” attitude/culture that puts too much value on a women’s looks/sexuality and frowns upon girls who stray too far from the accepted norms.  There’s more to it than that but I really haven’t thought too much about it. 

Truthfully, it makes me a bit sad/angry that it’s even an issue.  I guess parents of boys don’t have to worry (as much) about the obstacles placed before them by mainstream culture.  No one will assume that boys are bad at math or science.  No one will assume that they can’t be both CEO and a parent.  At the same time, cultural expectations swing the other way, too.  I think that boys can easily feel stifled just because of their gender.    I do give my boys the option of playing with cuddly plush toys; it’s not my doing that they ignore it in favor of trucks, cars or noisier toys!

I think I may worry more about this issue if I stay home when they’re older and if I fall into more typical female roles within a household.  I have a feeling that I’ll always be working one way or another though!  Note: I’m not saying that you can’t stay home and be feminist but I just think it’s easier to set an example if I’m a working for money with fairly equal distribution of household work at home.   I would be a role model that is far more important than toys or stupid sexist t-shirts (see JCPenney controversy).

On a personal note, since I’m working on making this blog more honest, I’m enjoying my weekend down time as much as possible.  I like sitting on the floor watching my boys play.  They do a million funny things  — some destructive –and periodically come up to me for cuddling. So cute.

Does anyone raising boys have good tips on teaching them respect toward women and gender equality? Even more interesting, do you think that staying at home or working has a huge impact on your child’s gender perceptions?