NPR ran a story this week about working moms & multitasking. The American Sociological Review published a study this month, in which 368 mothers and 241 fathers were interviewed about multitasking. The findings of the study were that working mothers spend more time multitasking at home than working fathers, and that working mothers are more stressed about that multitasking time than working fathers. The researcher who conducted the study ultimately concluded that employers should be more flexible with working fathers, so that fathers can spend more time assisting with household chores. In turn, this would presumably lower the burden of chores on working mothers.
As usual, this kind of story makes me unnecessarily defensive. Yes, workplace flexibility is lacking in many industries and companies. The more immediate solution I see, though, is divide the chores more equitably. All the working moms I know do not carry sole responsibility for household chores. In a two-adult, two-career household, the house is run as a partnership. (Note– in a single parent family, I understand that this is just not a possibility…but the study appears to be about two-adult households.) Both adults (and the kids once they are old enough) are responsible for pitching in and doing the chores. I have working mom friends who have had to prod their husbands to get them moving on certain household chores, which can be annoying, but the husbands ultimately do the chores. Admittedly, sometimes Mr. Beez has to prod me to get me to do my chores (out of clean socks, again?). In my experience, none of us are coming home from work and running the whole household.
I’m pretty proud about how we divide chores in our house. I’m responsible for getting Baby Beez ready in the morning and getting her to daycare, and feeding the birds and changing their toys. I’m also responsible for cooking (dinner only, which is often veggie burgers or soup or something simple) and laundry. Mr. Beez is responsible for picking Baby Beez up from daycare in the afternoon, feeding her dinner, doing all the dishes, cleaning the bird cages (yuck), taking out the garbage, and cleaning the house.
Who are these women who are coming home from work, and feeling like they are “clocking in” for a whole new shift? Why aren’t they speaking up at home and distributing the chores? I worry that in prodding these issues, I’m “mommy-blaming,” but it worries me that this study suggests that as far as women have come in the working world, they are not accepting that changes in the working world mean changes in the home world too, and are instead just accepting all of the responsibilities being piled on themselves. What are the circumstances that make women think it’s ok for them to be responsible for all the household duties?