Monday, 6 October 2014

"Women Still Do A Lot More Housework Than Men, Study Finds"

From HuffPost:

The poll for BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour suggests that women spend an average of 11-and-a-half hours doing housework by their own estimation, while men complete just six...

Reminds of something I've meant to post for ages. My wife had to go abroad for a week a couple of years ago, so I had to take over all the housework.

After dropping her off at the airport, the kids and I did the big weekly shop, and for the next week I got up a bit earlier and sorted out breakfast, made sure they'd packed the correct stuff for school and took them to school. After I came home from work, I bunged in some laundry, made sure they did their homework while I cooked, we sat down for dinner together, then I folded the previous day's laundry and hung up the wet stuff, did the washing up. At the weekend I even whizzed round with the vacuum cleaner and gave the kitchen and bathrooms floors a bit of a wipe.

I suppose I was lucky, my boss was happy for me to clock off a bit earlier on the days when I hadn't arranged that some other parents pick them up from school and nothing went disatrously wrong like a Tube strike or one of them being taken ill etc.

And at nine in the evening was proper clocking off time. Kids cleaned their teeth and went to bed with a book, good night kiss, job done and I could sit back and relax for a couple of hours. Despite I had never done this before, I didn't find it particularly difficult. In a way it's less stressful and more rewarding than paid employment because you are in charge and you get a sense of achievement and a nice warm glow at the end of the day (not just an alcohol induced one).

So after a lifetime of sort of respecting women for doing most of the housework (in exchange for working shorter hours in paid employment, natch), it struck me that perhaps they do protest too much, there's less to it than you think.

Here's the punchline: I was picking up the little lass from school and got chatting to one of her friend's Dads and he said that his Mrs was also away for a few days and that he'd had to step into the breach for the first time. And he was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly it all went as well.

12 comments:

DBC Reed said...

Wait for the school holidays.
You are not taking into account that everything possible is done nowadays to simplify chores so women can go out to work to shoulder the enormous mortgage.
Fiona Phillips (whom I don't like generally )wrote movingly at the weekend that she could not spare the time from work to look after her mother with Alzheimer's.( In fact as Andy Burnham said in his recent speech ,all the value of the parents house often does not go to the budding Homeownerist but to creepy care home proprietors.)Family illness and disability needs to be factored in big time.

The Stigler said...

In the modern era, most housework has a high elapsed time, but a low effort time. Washing's got to dry, but you just stick it on a line that takes 10 minutes of effort and a couple of hours waiting.

If you get organised, you can get a long task going (like washing) then get dinner in the oven, and while that's going, do a bit of cleaning (what else are you going to do in the 20 minutes of cooking time?). If I'm at home with the kids, that's what I do, then stick the washing on the line and go out and do something nice.

The Stigler said...

DBC,

Why do rich people say that sort of thing?

Fiona Phillips is married to a TV producer. Even if she brought nothing in, they'd still be living well. They own a couple of houses and a pub in an upmarket area of Dorset.

Mark Wadsworth said...

DBC, come off it, please compare like with like.

If I had to look after disabled relatives then I would probably be reporting that it is absolutely draining and exhausting.

But I have no experience in that regard, merely experience in running a normal family household. Which is not too difficult.

TS, it seems that there is a manly way of doing things, a large part of which is not moaning :-)

DBC Reed said...

I am making a general point about the huge social care problem of the elderly that arises when women work. Also the general problem of school holidays.This was in response to your general point that women's work around the house was not that bad which you have compounded with remarks about the manly code of not moaning.I was not comparing you with Fiona Phillips specifically,
although Stigler gives vent to some astonishingly ungallant sneers implying she was rich enough to look after her mother with Alzheimer's if she had wanted to do .Her father developed
Alzheimer's as well ,hence her genuine efforts for Alzheimers charities.
Fact is the banks and corporations and their subservient political parties are engaged in major social engineering getting women out of the house (when they are in two minds whether they want to, like Fiona Phillips) and you are now piping the Homeownerist line that its all Win/Win if they do go out to work.One thing I would be fairly certain of is that people in Catholic southern Europe wouldn't shove their parents into homes because they couldn't afford not to work and look after them. I have known drug addict sons and completely gaga parents cared for in Spanish homes where they have sweet FA in the way of money.If it is a cultural thing so much the worse for ours.

Bayard said...

My experience is that women do more housework than men because women spend longer doing housework than men. Men, on the whole tend to try and do everything as fast and efficiently as possible. Women try and do everything as well as possible. (I appreciate that this is a gross generalisation and that there are, of course, exceptions).
DBCR, aren't you being somewhat sexist? Why should it be the woman who doesn't work in order to look after the elderly relative/idiot son? OK in your example it's Fiona's mother who has Alzheimer's, but I bet she would still be expected to be the one who gives up time at work if it was her mother-in-law. Better in my mind, if they can afford it, for both husband and wife to contribute to some sort of live-in care.

The Stigler said...

DBC,

although Stigler gives vent to some astonishingly ungallant sneers implying she was rich enough to look after her mother with Alzheimer's if she had wanted to do

What are you saying? That she isn't rich enough to do that?

Giving up an income is always going to result in sacrifices, that's undeniable, but "can't afford" suggests huge sacrifices - maybe the family can't have a holiday, or a reasonably good car. Is she at that point, or is it having to have a BMW instead of an Aston? Belle-Epoque instead of Cristal?

Mark Wadsworth said...

DBC: "I am making a general point about the huge social care problem of the elderly that arises when women work."

Christ on a crutch, whoever said that this wasn't a burden? What on earth does that have to do with the post? It's completely irrelevant to the post.

Bayard: "women do more housework than men because women spend longer doing housework than men."

Nice one.

The Stigler said...

Bayard,

"Women try and do everything as well as possible. (I appreciate that this is a gross generalisation and that there are, of course, exceptions)."

The best software testers are women (generally). I've met a few men, but as a rule, women will take software apart and find every little bug. Men will approach it as "yeah, pretty much works".

DBC Reed said...

@S
So you are saying that she should have given up her job to look after her mother.I wish I were so confident of my ability to pass judgement on other people's lives. People you don't know .If you were to read her Telegraph interview " For the sake of sanity I had to go" (from her big GMTV job) you will see that she says women "can't have it all";can't have the big mortgage paying jobs and look after people they care about as well. I am challenging Mark's shallow assumption (absent school holidays , family illnesses)that women can combine a lot of roles because keeping house is easy which leads him to fall for the standard homeownerist propaganda: two people working= twice the mortgage
whoopee we can put up house prices 100% then when they get hooked on unearned income from homeownership pay less wages.
Did anybody see "Workers on the breadline" tonight? Jesus. Doesn't it occur to even the usual p/c playing autistic Hayekian (many millions of whom comprise the new chattering classes) that if the land taxers get house prices down,
the employers will duly respond by putting wages down to the same value.

The Stigler said...

DBC

So you are saying that she should have given up her job to look after her mother.

Not at all. She can do what she wants. I have no problem with people saying that they're putting their parents in a home because they prioritise their kids higher or just not talking about their reasons.

It's that she says that she can't do something, when she really means that she won't do something. She won't look after her mother and give up her lifestyle.

DBC Reed said...

@S
To be a tad more gallant, it is fair to say a woman can get stuck in commitments ,a career path, property on mortgages and loans, school fees etc which are next to impossible to dismantle when somebody you love comes down suddenly with early onset Alzheimers . You are actually serving to make the point she is trying to make in the Telegraph that women can't have it all : be able to look after loved ones in old age and work really "unsociable" hours in television.