Healthy Relationships

Work Equity—The Home Version

January 19, 2022

When you think of work equity, maybe you imagine an office or workplace outside your home. It’s important to note, however, that running a household is a full-time job, too. When it comes to household duties like chores, grocery shopping, parenting, and more, many couples struggle to find a fair balance.

The difficulty in dividing household responsibilities is understandable; the to-do list never seems to end! Not only that, but in male-female households, gender equity can play a role. For instance, in some households women are automatically placed in the position of child rearing and men are in the position of money-making. There’s nothing wrong with this paradigm if it works for both partners, but it’s vital to make sure everyone’s needs are met.

Gone are the days when women were expected to do all the housework. About half of the American workforce is made up of women, and although there are still problems as far as gender equality in that realm, this shouldn’t be the case in your home. But how do you fairly divide all the childcare and household duties with your partner? Check out our tips below.

Value each other’s time

When you sit down to divide household chores, start with the basics: Believe that every family member’s time is valuable. If one partner is a stay-at-home parent, and one partner works outside the home, remember that you’re both working all day. Self-care and time to relax should be set aside for both of you.

Set goals and work together

Goal setting is a powerful tool for couples. Having the same goal to work toward automatically puts you in a partnership mindset. Is sticking to a budget to save for college, retirement, or a vacation important? What about raising your children with certain values? Or do you just want to have more free time to spend together with less tension surrounding household chores? Make sure your discussion also covers what each of you needs to feel healthy and balanced physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Make a list

You know all those things you do every day that feel unnoticed by everyone else? Make a list of all the chores, errands, duties, and other drudgery you perform every day and have your partner do the same. Whether it’s taking out the garbage, calling the kids’ dentist to set up their teeth cleaning, or heading to the grocery for the week’s food, list it all. You can even create different categories to help organize everything. Don’t forget to include childcare responsibilities, such as meal prep, bath time, bedtime, correspondence with teachers, and getting ready for school in the morning.

Divide and conquer

Sit together with a calendar, laptop, or any other organizational method and create a chart of tasks for each participant. It can be just for you and your partner, or you can include the kids. Keep in mind the goals you made together and your important foundation of valuing each other’s time. With those in mind, if you find that you’re both overwhelmed with the amount of work, see if you can outsource anything. Can you pass on a few activities? Can you ask family or friends for help with carpools or other tasks? Do you have room in the budget to hire help? The most important thing is to be realistic. You can’t stick to something that isn’t going to work for your family. This part will most likely take the most time and focused effort.

Dividing the work of a household is never easy, but it can be done with open communication and teamwork. If you and your partner have trouble opening an honest dialogue about work equity in the home, consider finding a couple’s therapist to help you get started. Sometimes a third party can help you see where the obstacles are. We hope that by creating a more equitable division of work you can relax and enjoy your family time even more!