Chore Wars: How to Get Dads to Do More Housework

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Surely I can’t be the only one who argues with their partner about doing their share of the housework. Here’s some tips from local dad  and Newy with Kids contributor, Anthony Wood about how dads can up their game when it comes to housework.

Hey dads, doesn’t it feel great on a sunny Sunday afternoon to pull the cord on the mower and it bursts to life? You parade down straight rows and take pride in a job well done when you’ve finished. This may be true for some but how about if there’s work to be done inside the house? Housework that is.

Domestic duties, like most jobs, are made up of many little jobs that when they all come together make a mountain of work.

So, who actually does most of the work?  The 2016 census showed that the average number of hours per week in a job was 39 hours for men and 30 hours for women. While “… over half of employed men did nil [that’s zero!] or less than five hours per week of unpaid domestic work … Men were also less likely than women to do 15 hours or more per week of unpaid domestic work (8% of men and 27% of women).” How’s that? 25% or (1 in 4) men do no housework whatsoever and another 25% do less than five hours.

It could be argued that there are some psychological differences between men and women. A recent Guardian article argued just this and made the point that “… generally speaking, men genuinely don’t care as much as women about a clean and tidy home.” In his book The Unmade Bed: The Messy Truth About Men and Women In The 21st Century, Stephen Marche suggests that there is “ … no standard definition of what has to be done in a household.” At this stage however, it is important not to reinforce gender stereotypes but to focus on the fact housework is housework and, at some stage, needs to get done.

Here are some tips that may be helpful for dads when thinking about housework.


Negotiate ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ jobs

Make a list of all the jobs around the house and negotiate who will do what so everyone feels happy. Don’t forget to include tasks for the children. It is important that they see mum and dad doing chores equally and undertaking jobs that are not considered traditional. Apart from that, a shared contribution to the household will build a sense of achievement and foster family bonding. You house is where you live – love it!


Try ‘chunking’

If it all seems too much, try to break cleaning activities into small chunks and do them often. For example: You could allocate a little area in the kitchen you’ll sweep while you wait for your toast to cook. Most households nowadays have many automatic appliances and these makes small jobs easily achievable and quickly. Some quick ideas that can help may be:

  • Empty or fill the dishwasher.
  • Put on a load of washing every morning.
  • Wipe down a cupboard door while you wait for the kettle to boil.
  • Drop a cut of lamb and some vegies into the slow cooker ready for dinner.
  • Clear a table top or bench.
  • Tidy away some clutter.
  • Tidy and clean a cupboard.
  • Restock the toilet rolls.
  • Sweep or vacuum a small area.
  • Clean one thing that hasn’t been cleaned for a while.
  • Wash a window.
  • Clean an air conditioner filter.
  • Take a damp towel with you into the toilet and wipe the floor down. Buy some detachable seats These are readily available from most hardware stores. If your toilet is one step away from a cholera outbreak, simply detach the seat and rinse under a tap. A good tip may be to spray some disinfectant around the rim before you replace the seat.


Use a structure

Like the straight rows mowed in the lawn, a structure can help organise a targeted approach to housework. Things you may consider could be:

  • You could organise a house cleaning ‘working bee’ where for a set amount of time. If everyone chips in, you’ll be surprised what can be achieved in that time.
  • Set a reminder to do a set amount of house work at a particular time in your day.
  • You could make a list of all the jobs your household requires on a whiteboard and then and then tick them off as you go.


Work together

Two hands make light work and, in fact, the whole family can help out here. Use chunking to allocate small jobs for the children (a set area to sweep or, if old enough, vacuum). Allocate other jobs like emptying the recycle bin or sections of the dishwasher (like the cutlery basket).


Let’s do it!

So, come on guys, next time you start that mower or whipper, how about considering sitting down and making a list of all the jobs, split them up equally, then flick the switch on the vacuum cleaner instead.


Australian Bureau of Statistics ‘2071.0 – Census of Population and Housing: Reflecting Australia – Stories from the Census, 2016’

The Guardian ‘Dirty secret: why is there still a housework gender gap?

Marche, S (2017) The Unmade Bed: The Messy Truth about Men and Women in the 21st Century Simon and Schuster

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