As someone who is constantly struggling to manage her time, and who also is hyper-aware of the gender politics of her own family, I’m fascinated with how other people schedule their days and divide household responsibilities. Unless I’m missing a whole swath of blogdom, which is possible, I don’t know that people blog about that sort of thing. I suppose it’s because most people would find it excruciatingly boring. But it’s interesting to me because it’s been a delicate and ongoing negotiation at our house.
I have a blog project for the three or four of you who still read here, a meme of sorts. I’ll start with my own household as a template.
What does a typical day look like at your house?
6-Wake. I nurse, out and feed the dogs, give the Snapper breakfast, and do any stray dishes. Attic Man gets ready for school.
8:30-10:30-The Snapper naps. I shower and get ready for the day, check email, do light housework if ambitious. Some days I nap, too.
11-3-Snapper at daycare, me at home dissertating.
3:30-5-Hopefully the Snapper naps again and I prep dinner.
5-5:30-Attic Man goes on the clock with the baby and I finish dinner.
after dinner-I bathe the baby while Attic Man does the dinner dishes. Attic Man takes over parenting until the Snapper’s bedtime at 7 or 8. He can usually get some reading done while the Snap tots around and bangs objects together. I out and feed the dogs and pick up the day’s poo from the yard.
Evening-This is our time together to watch DVDs of Dexter, eat ice cream, and catch up. I suspect as the year progresses more and more of it will turn into work time.
On the weekends I work two 18-hour shifts, so Attic Man takes over the entire care of the kid, dogs, and house through Sunday morning.
How do you divide up household responsibilities?
Me: Childcare; decisions about nutrition; cooking Mon-Thurs; cleaning bathroom, kitchen, my office, and baby’s room; finances; dog care; errands and appointment-making.
Attic Man: Childcare; taking out the garbage and recycling; cleaning dining room, living room, bedroom, and his office; computer stuff; lawn care; weekend cooking, dog care.
the Snapper: drooling, crawling toward dangerous objects.
How do your ideals inform your choices? How do your choices fall short of them?
When I was pregnant we talked a lot about how Attic Man was not going to ‘help’ or babysit, but parent. I am pleased that our schedule allows him pretty near to 50% parenting, and I think he’s happy about it too. We also try to be even about the housework, too, in hopes of having an equal marriage. I’m hyper-sensitive to the fact that for a long time we were not equal economically and admittedly things were more tense about housework. It took us a long, long time to work out what equal really meant, especially because in real life it’s near impossible to achieve: not everyone has equal needs, energy reserves, time, or talents, and external economic and social pressures always make their ways into the home (someone earns most or all of the money; the woman, in heterosexual relationships, is the only one capable of carrying and nursing babies; both partners may have more sexist models from childhood to work with, and even if these can be overcome ideologically, we still have to deal with the fact that I don’t know how to mow the lawn and Attic Man had to learn the proper way to do dishes). I think we’re more successful at living our ideals than we used to be but it took a lot of hard work and a whole lot of, ahem, ‘discussion.’
Do you have a secret weapon? If so, what is it?
The best marriage advice I ever saw (over on Shannon’s site) said, simply, “queen-sized mattress, king-sized sheets.” I can’t beat that, but we do have the family meeting. We meet once a week, rain or shine, and we take minutes just like at a real meeting. We go over the weekly schedule, air grievances (we are not allowed to nit-pick during the rest of the week), make decisions about the baby’s care, go over finances, and decide on menus. The thing I hate most about marriage is that on the ground level, it is an economic relationship with power dynamics and as such a constant negotiation over resources and responsibilities. The family meeting boxes off a lot of that stuff so that we can feel free to enjoy our friendship and romance at other times. I realize that romance is partly the lie that can blind us to the realities of the inequities of marriage, but I still like it and I suspect so does Attic Man, so this is our way of preserving it.
And now, to reward you for all that mundanity, something disturbingly familiar:
If you read this, you’re tagged! Gay, straight, or something else, I want to hear from you.