A while ago one of my co-workers said something to me that I thought was interesting. He was referring to household chores and how there were “pink” jobs and “blue” jobs. This got me thinking. While there definitely are certain tasks that my husband and I typically do, the division of labor seems to be leaning more towards “purple” jobs.
A recent British study reports that the division of labor among men and women is definitely trending toward equality. And according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on hours worked by married couples who are employed and have kids, wives are only putting in about 20 minutes more work per day than their husbands. Read more here.
Armed with this knowledge I decided to take my own informal survey among friends to see just how far the pink and the blue jobs stack up.
It’s always a good thing to take stock of your own situation so I did. For me I cook because I’m home, although given the choice I would gladly let my husband loose on the stove since he actually enjoys the culinary jobs. Outside work is usually left to him even though he taught me how to operate the ride-on mower; ultimately I still feign ignorance when faced with the machine. From this self analysis I forged ahead to my sample of pink and blue job owners.
Glen, stay-at-home dad and writer, says his role is not the stereotypical one. “Well, I'm the one at home taking care of the kids during the day while my wife works the conventional job. So there's that! Still, my wife is great and takes care of a lot of the house chores too since I've been taking evening classes and have my web publishing business,” he explains. This seems right on target to me, the person that’s home instead of at work ends up doing the household stuff because they’re there and they can. Statistics also point out that more men are now taking on the stay-at-home child rearing—a definite shift.
Dividing up the work is a delicate balance and one that should be addressed pretty early on, to avoid the typical “I work harder” fights. Danielle Miller says she wasted no time in discussing her expectations with her live-in boyfriend. “This was an issue my current boyfriend and I both described as important very early on in our relationship. I've had relationships that were incredibly unbalanced as far as 'who brings home the bacon' and it usually added to extra stress on the relationship and a building up of resentment by the party who was working to compensate for the person who wasn't working,” Miller says.
There are definitely shades of traditional wife/husband domestic roles out there. I think a lot of it comes from your own family history and values. There’s also the very real fact that you tend to take care of the chores that you actually like or would rather not leave to someone else. My neighbor Michelle doesn’t mind doing the laundry and in fact fears leaving it to her fiancé. “If Jim did the laundry the whites might turn out grey,” she jokes. Husband and wife Erin and Travis found a great compromise for the cleaning issue. “He tried to get away with little or no housework, and I nearly killed him. We resolved the issue - he pays someone to come in and clean once a week. Otherwise we would constantly fight. Worth every penny!” she reports.
When push comes to shove as it typically couples with definitely come together to get what needs done done. My other neighbor Teri pretty much summed it all up for me. “No pink and blue in this house! The division of labor is becoming equal. It's easier to work together to get things done than to fight over I!” she aptly pointed out. Amen to that sistah!