Division of Labor | Seventh Generation
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Division of Labor

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Author: abbybrooks

I remember a game we played at our wedding reception almost nine years ago -- the shoe game. My new husband and I sat back to back and each of us traded a shoe to the other. Then the DJ asked questions about the two of us and we were to answer by raising the appropriate shoe. I was the ballet slipper and my husband was the shiny black shoe. Everyone laughed at how in (or out of) synch we were. There was a series of questions about household duties and who was responsible...the ballet slipper went up an awful lot: "Who pays the bills?" Slipper. "Who does the dishes?" Slipper. "Who goes food shopping?" Slipper. "Who cooks?" Slipper. You get the idea. My husband actually shouted out, "You're making me look bad!" Looking back, it might have been this silly game that led to some changes in the division of labor in our household!

It has been a gradual migration to 50/50, or close to it. For the first six years of our marriage, we both worked outside the home. In those early days, the labor was divided by brick: outside the house was his job, inside was my job. I was pretty happy to accept the agreement, mostly because there is no way I would EVER crawl under the house to check on pipes!

Of course everything changed when our daughter was born. We decided I would resign from my position at work to stay at home and care for her. At first, I felt an overwhelming sense of duty to make up for the lost income, I wanted to do everything around the house. Soon enough, I figured out that childcare is a job, and a fulltime one at that. Dressing, feeding, changing diapers, washing clothes, playing, teaching, bathing, potty training (my current Mount Everest), and on and on. This list of child care duties probably sounds simple to an outsider, but it requires more of me than my "real job" ever did! So, something had to give, and that was housework.

Fortunately, I am blessed with a husband who has developed a true love for cooking. After we enjoy the meal he prepares, I do the dishes. To be sure he has everything he needs, he also does the grocery shopping! (Oh how I smile as the black shoe goes up!) I'd rather visit the dentist without anesthesia than go to the grocery store. Occasionally I make a quick trip, and I am embarrassingly out of place. I wander around trying to find the items on my list and end up darting back and forth from one end of the store to the other because I don't know where anything is!

Here's how the shoe game would look today:

Ballet slipper:
Daughter care
Laundry
Manage bills
Cleaning

Black shoe:

Job
Maintenance/repairs inside and outside
Cooking/Grocery shopping

Of course things aren't perfect, and sometimes I do more than my fair share. But most of the time, we approach this as teamwork -- we know we're in it together.

I'm curious...how do other Seventh Generation households divide the work?

photo: _e.t

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