Women Still Tackle More Housework Than Men, But Things Are (Slowly!) Shifting
In families where both parents work, fathers are more likely to share household duties, says a new Gallup poll.
While we already knew that women handle the majority of the housework, and always have (no news flash here!), a new Gallup poll confirms it: 58% of women are mainly responsible for doing laundry, while 51 percent handle all the cleaning and cooking.
But beyond the basics, the poll—which collected data based on three sets of telephone interviews with more than 3,000 heterosexual couples in 2019—revealed more promising stats showing men and women are on a more equal playing field when it comes to other household tasks. Take managing the family finances, for example. Paying bills is one task in which men and women are equally likely to take the lead: According to the poll, 37% of U.S. households report the woman taking this on, while men handle it 34% of the time.
In families with at least one child under the age of 18, the way tasks are divvied up changes a little more, depending on the parents’ employment status. For example, in households with two parents working, men take on slightly more of the home chores (laundry, meal preparation, dishwashing, and cleaning) than do men in single-income families. Notably, when the woman’s income is higher than her husband’s, he tends to take on an even greater role in all of these tasks.
This particular Gallup poll was last conducted in 1996 and 2007, and since then, the most recent poll shows men are increasingly doing the grocery shopping. Women have become less likely to be the ones to pick up food for the family each week (down 14 percentage points since 1996) and less inclined to be the sole partner preparing meals for the family (down 12 percentage points in the same time frame).
Now, this doesn’t mean you should send this news to your partner and demand he or she starts doing more work at home, of course. While splitting the household duties 50/50 doesn’t necessarily need to be the goal, there are easy ways to share more responsibilities so that each partner feels like they’re positively contributing to the household, and not feeling overly burdened or stressed about their tasks.
Start by making house cleaning into a fun family affair, rather than a menial, weekend-sucking grind. Make lists of what needs to be done in each room, then plan a reward (like quality time together at the park) to enjoy when everyone has completed his or her tasks. You might be surprised to find how good it makes you feel; it turns out, cleaning is actually good for your mood.
When it comes to checking other household tasks off your list, seek out ways that technology might make them easier. For example, could you order groceries online rather than heading to the store, or opt for automatic bill pay to save time? Or, review ways to make time-consuming tasks take up less of your precious day, such as these smart ideas for doing laundry more efficiently.
At the end of the day, your goal should be to find the split of household chores that works best for you and your family and stick to it.