Culture & Entertainment

Winning the chore wars

By: Jennifer Gruden
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Winning the chore wars

By: Jennifer Gruden

Last week I talked about "The Retro Wife" and this week, thanks in part to Laura over at 11d, I see some discussion around chores & the chore wars floating around: Jessica Grose at The New Republic says cleaning is the final feminist frontier. Emily Shire at Slate says women clean more because they're judged for it. Jonathan Chait over at New York says there's an easy solution: Women need to lower their standards. (If it were that easy...) So here's the deal: This fascinates me, because boy has this been an issue at my house. My husband and I fought for years, pre-kids, before I just plain ceded in the chore wars and took on the lion's share of the chores (I mean yardwork and bill-paying as well) for a few years.  I tried to look at it as my gift to myself (because I did want things a particular way) and to my marriage, but over time I really did come to realize that I was investing time and energy that was then not available for other things, like finishing a novel. Somewhere along the way we kind of worked it out, although we also sold the fixer-upper with the huge lot, which was like UN Peacekeeping in the chore wars, and then we had a baby. And whoa. If I thought I cared about the state of my house before, I was wrong. There's nothing like a baby crawling on the floor to flip you out about the cleanliness of it, and more to the point...I was having other women over for "mom dating" or playdates with their little ones crawling around on my floors. I was glad that I had kind of worked out my cleaning system earlier in my life but...I also, quite frankly, spent a few nights really, really angry that my husband did not seem to actually care even half as much as I did. Even though I had been at peace about it. Over time though I have to say things rebalanced. Partly because now it is my husband and I against our little "creators of entropy" and the toy clutter and the overturned bottle of maple syrup. Partly because one day my son turned to my husband and said that cleaning was a "mummy job" and my husband got it. And partly because...yes, I have lowered my standards. Particularly outside. Still, I am fascinated by how we all manage these things. A clean and organized environment really is something I think is helpful and yet I am always kind of disturbed by trying to figure out how much time and effort, therefore, it is worth putting into it. I occasionally fantasize about 1/3 of our belongings vanishing in the night. I feel how sometimes my feelings about myself -- stressed out, ego-bruised, having a bad day -- turn into upset about what is visible; the backpack on the floor or the messy Lego all over the rec room. And I don't want to raise my kids either to think that a chores fairy does the work or that live in a hourse where mum turns into a raving lunatic about dirty socks when she is stressed out. And yet no one system, other than deep breaths and daily tidying and weekly cleaning, has ever worked for me, and once that falls apart a bit, it seems like I am just waiting for a long weekend to catch up.I really want to know what other people do! Here at Canadian Living we decided to go to the source and ask you how you deal with chores. So please take a few minutes to take our survey. (You can even win an amazing $200 prize pack from Staples and AIR MILES, pictured below.) In April we'll be sharing results and also talking about spring cleaning. But really: I want to know what it's like for you! Does your feminism include refusing to do more than your fair share? How do you approach it with your kids? Have you outsourced? Let me and us know! win the chore wars - take our survey Win this! Take our survey!
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Winning the chore wars

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