Gender differences emerge in keeping up household
In the average Canadian household, the onus of the daily routines, schedules and organizing is taken upon by the female head of the house. Not to say that there aren’t exceptions to this observation, or that the male partner doesn’t pull his own weight.
Nor is this a complaint. I’m merely stating what most women moan about when nothing more important or life-threatening is going on.
A friend recently recounted how one evening, her husband flopped down on the couch beside her and proudly stated, “Well, I’ve paid the phone bill.” To which she replied, “good.” Incredulous at her lack of gratitude and enthusiasm, he made the mistake of saying so. To which she replied, “Every time you open the fridge and grab a drink, do you say thank you? Every time you wash your hair, do you say thanks for the shampoo? And every time you change your child’s diaper, do you thank me for making sure they’re always at hand?”
OK, so perhaps her retort was overkill, but she got her point across.
Everyone knows that relationships take work, and that running a house — including caring for children — takes teamwork. Even single parents, who should be highly commended for their energies and efforts, know this and find snippets of help wherever possible.
And it’s not about keeping tabs on who did what, and who’s turn it is. Most partnerships automatically fall into a rhythm — he cooks, she cleans; or he walks the dog, she takes out the garbage. And it works. If it doesn’t work, the two need to sit down and talk about it. Sometimes, people just need help in seeing the big picture.
But it’s the everyday things that women seem to heap upon themselves: getting the kids out of bed, choosing their clothes until they’re old enough to do it themselves, making sure their teeth are brushed, and organizing the lunches before getting on with the day.
Many working women tell me how they spend most of their lunch, and at least another work-hour, thinking about, dealing with, and organizing their home life. Whether it’s making sure there’s food for dinner, or calling the school to warn of a possible delay picking up the kids.
It’s not that men don’t care, it just seems that they’re more capable of switching off — of separating their work-day and their home life. Even the guys who do the grocery shopping on their way home are more spontaneous than list-makers.
It’s like that popular e-mail states: When a man says goodnight, he brushes his teeth, drops his clothes on the floor, and lies down in the dark. When a woman says goodnight, she spends the next hour organizing, preparing, and getting ready for the next day before she takes a half hour getting herself ready for bed.
Perhaps every now and again we should follow our male examples: let stuff go, and know that tomorrow will still come.