Study Finds Moms Do More Cleaning When There's a Partner in the House — Here's Why I'm OK With It
The division of labor and responsibility in a household varies for every family. There are so many things to factor into determining who does what that painting a wide brush and deciding everyone should do 50-50 isn't always applicable. Some partners commute further than others and are therefore out of the house much longer. Other partners travel for work and are gone for days on end. Then there are partners whose careers are much more demanding and require them to work very late — those are just a few examples of how professional demands can range from person to person. And then, of course, underneath professional demands there are so many other factors, like health and financial ones. The point is everyone pulls weight differently in a family, so it's up to each couple to strike a balance that works for them.
A common pain point in relationships, especially those who have children, is determining how to divide up chores. A recent study by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found that married mothers who lived with a male partner ended up doing more cooking, cleaning, and laundry than women who were single mothers or who lived without a partner entirely. It's easy to feel a strong reaction toward this study — I personally got upset when I first read it — but that's not fair. I don't know these women or their relationships. I don't know how their lives work or what other demands their male partners take on that weren't part of the study. I can't blame it all on gender and societal expectations.
And then there's the entirely other piece that the study doesn't touch on. One that affects me personally, and that's that I like cleaning. Now that I own furniture that makes me happy, I enjoy putting on a podcast or listening to music in the morning before my daughter wakes up and cleaning the sink or wiping down a counter. I like having a few minutes on the weekend when my husband is playing with our daughter to toss a load of laundry into the machine. I recently started wiping up our bathroom counter every day as part of a simple hack I read about, and I enjoy that, too. Cleaning relaxes me, almost in a way that doing mindfulness exercises does. And in the end, I have visual cues that indicate I succeeded — my house is clean.
I suppose also because I don't have any gender assumptions in my house about who does what, I have the luxury of deciding that I want to clean, as opposed to feeling like I am trapped in expectation.