I was reading a book about motherhood, and in the opening pages it cited a study. This study demonstrated that between 1965 & 1985, the average amount of time families spent on housework decreased from 27 to 20 hours per week. The intent was to demonstrate that as women entered the workforce, their families had to compromise in this area and men didn’t carry their weight in household management activites.
Whatever. I wasn’t hung up on whatever social statement they were trying to make. I was fixated on the fact that people do 20 hours per week of housework!
I am not a good housekeeper. Our home isn’t dirty, but it’s not tidy all the time. Things are clean, but cluttered. I love the way the house feels when it’s neat & everything is in its place. I just can’t maintain it. I’m unashamed about admitting it; it’s just who I am. I’m not lazy, I just spend my time on other things – and 20 hours per week of housework seemed ridiculously high to me. I started to wonder “How many hours per week do I spend on housework?”
Then I started to wonder about how much time I spent on other stuff – with Conlan, exercising, family time, eating, watcing TV… I decided to keep a time journal for a week, and then asked my husband if he would join me. I tried to figure out a week that would be most representative of our day-to-day life. If we tracked our time with a week that included Mother’s Day, my leisure time might be inflated. If we did it during a week when Rusty was at the Navy, his parenting time might look miniscule. Then I realized that if we waited for a “normal” week we would be waiting forever!
I did the activity fearing that I would discover horrible deficiencies in our home – like we only spent 1/2 hour each day of quality time with our son, or maybe we spent 30 hours per week watching TV. But, if we didn’t look at things realistically, we wouldn’t know where we could improve.
At the end of the week tallying all of our time was a little overwhelming. Maybe sometime I’ll go back and look at some of the other categories, but to make things simpler I decided to focus on some of the things I was most interested in tracking.
Housework: This includes laundry, cleaning, meal prep, and all outdoor maintenance including yardwork, cleaning gutters, etc.
Quality Time: This is time with Conlan when we are focused & engaged – playing cars, reading books, chasing him around the backyard. If he is helping to cook dinner then it is counted as both housework & quality time. If I’m cooking dinner and he’s playing in the living room, it’s not quality time.
Quantity Time: This is time with Conlan where we are present, but not actively engaged with him. If Rusty is outside mowing the lawn and Conlan is playing on his playset, it’s quantity time, not quality time.
*For the record, Conlan’s naptimes & sleeptimes are not counted in any category. Both quantity & quality time are only counted when he is awake & at home.*
When I tallied the results, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.
- Housework – 12 hours
- Quality Time – 22 hours
- Quantity Time – 10.75 hours
- Housework – 12.5 hours
- Quality Time – 16 hours
- Quantity Time – 15.25 hours
So, it’s true. I don’t do 20 hours of housework per week. But I married a man who splits the work pretty evenly, so as a family, apparently our house is on par with everyone else’s. I have to say this isn’t really a surprise to me. Not only do we have the best-looking yard in the neighborhood, but he also does the floors & bathroom in our house. And it’s not unheard of for him to say, “I think I’ll go and WD-40 all the doors in the house so they don’t get squeaky.” Or to find him missing at night because he’s on the roof in a rainstorm clearing out the clogged gutters.
My job is to make sure he is well-fed and has clean clothes. 🙂 I think I came out ahead on this deal.
I was also pretty happy with our quality & quantity time with Conlan. Even though we both work full-time, I think Conlan gets a good amount of time with the two of us. There’s always room for improvement, but I really was fearing the worst.
So, there you have it.
There are so many other time categories – exercise, leisure, TV, work, eating, commuting, couple time, family time – but for now my mind is at ease that we’re doing a pretty good job of managing the most important parts of our family.
How many hours per week does your family spend on housework? Is 20 hours high or low? How is the housework divided?