Equality Begins At Home

14/08/2014 16:49 | Updated 22 May 2015

Equality begins at home

This time last year I was officially still on maternity leave, but had started to build a portfolio leading to a new life as a Work At Home Mum.

Despite being busy trying to fit in 30 hours of work around looking after our baby 24/7, I was pretty much in charge of everything domestic. From cooking to washing, dishwasher unloading to the occasional dusting spree, the house was my domain. The (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine had two duties: putting the bins out and being in charge of the barbecue.

How terribly 2012.

Anyway, fast-forward a year and I now work more hours than my husband. As well as holding down a full time job presenting a breakfast radio show, I also earn money writing. This means I put in approximately 55 to 60 hours a week. And I'm on sole mum duties in the afternoon, between 1 or 2pm and 6.30pm (the plus side of early hours means I still get afternoons with Frog).

But the division of labour in our home is arguably less than equal.

My husband tends to cook at the weekends. But because he's often not back from work until after Frog and I eat our supper, I still do the bulk of cooking in the week. He tends to the bin. And will often wave a hoover around on a Saturday morning. But other forms of cleaning – the bathroom in particular – fall to me.

And don't even get me started on the washing machine.

I like to think we share much of the daily grind of living. Because of my early hours, the NLM is in charge of getting our spirited toddler up in the morning, dressing her (although I put her outfits out the night before – lest I find her dressed in a pair of tights and a T-shirt, which has happened, more than once) and getting her to the childminder's before he begins his own day at work.

The NLM does the weekly food shop. In fact, he takes this responsibility incredibly seriously, downloading meal planning apps and categorising his shopping list.

But the washing machine. Well, it evades him.

The weekend before last, for example, I was away. I returned home to a washing basket which had become so full, it had vomited much of its contents over the floor.

When quizzed about the various opportunities to "stick a load on" and peg the washing out in the sunshine, the NLM professed ignorance. "But I didn't know what could go in the machine and what couldn't", he said. "Plus, how do I know which setting to put it on?". Gritting my teeth, I offered a step-by-step rundown detailing how to operate this complicated piece of machinery.

The outcome? Three days later, I asked my beloved to pop some items in the wash before he came to bed.

"But how do I know which setting to put it on?" he protested. Followed by, "And which drawer does the tablet go in?". Chased with, "Do I need any of that stuff that makes it go soft?".

Completed with, "What temperature should it be on?"

*Big fat massive sigh*

So I guess the washing is still my domain then.

What's the division of labour like in your home? Some comparisons would be nice...

Molly Forbes is a journalist, writer, editor and broadcaster who can be found blogging about her experiences as an exhausted mum to a diva toddler at Mother's Always Right. Molly lives with her daughter and (equally exhausted) teacher husband, regularly subjecting them to her love of Take That and rubbish TV.

Twitter: @mollyjforbes


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