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January 27, 2010

Is Equal Division of Labor at Home Possible?

1193877_clean_home_2 There's been a lot of talk lately about the increase of power for women. In their book, Womenomics, Claire Shipman and Katty Kay, state that the sheer number of women in the workforce will force a paradigm shift in business organizations' receptiveness of women's needs and wants. And Maria Shiver's Women's Nation reinforces this idea.

Yet contrary to better pay and work opportunities, women aren't happier. Marcus Buckingham's latest book, Find Your Strongest Life, explores this phenomena. He found that as women get older, regardless of race, education level, socio-economic level or marital status, they get sadder.  Men, on the other hand, get happier as they age. Buckingham believes that successful women accept who they are and find fullness in the details that invigorate them, letting go of what doesn't.

Cleaning the shower doesn't invigorate me. Nor does, scrubbing the sink, washing clothes, or grocery shopping. And as a stay-at-home mom, it would be unreasonable for me to hire out all these household responsibilities. But even if women work outside the home, it continues to be the female's responsibility to keep the home functioning.

My husband is great with helping out with the housework. He will do anything that I ask him to do. But I have to ASK him. He either doesn't see the details of what needs to be done around the house or he has learned to find fullness in only the details that invigorate him!

Every time we go anywhere, it is me who turns off the lights, checks the doors, puts the dog out, closes the blinds, etc. And if I am running late, then we all are running late, because no one else can tell time apparently.

Getting ready for church recently was a prime example. In the time it took to curl my hair and put on makeup, my husband had put on his shirt. You see the weather had changed and since I serve as the resident meteorologist, he was waiting for me to suggest appropriate wardrobe. I had to do the same for my daughter.

And, we all know, why the holiday season is ultra stressful. Gift buying, gift wrapping, card sending, special baking, decorating the home, travel plans, visiting with relatives, food preparation, entertainment tickets, etc. are usually all coordinated by women. The man strings the outdoor lights.

No matter how dedicated and committed the man is to sharing the household responsibilities, he just doesn't see what needs to be done. Do you think kids would ever get a medical and dental check-up if the mom didn't schedule the appointment? How about birthday cards for your husband's family? Man's ability to compartmentalize is great for work, but fails us at home.

Yes, organizations are finally figuring out that a woman's management style is a good fit for business and profits, but it is also a good fit for managing a home. Whether we like it or not, women are better multi-taskers. That management style that is creating success in the workplace also keeps the system functioning well at home. And until we are willing to just let things go undone, the happy meter just keeps dropping.

This is an original 50-something moms blog post. When she's not busy cleaning, Debbie also blogs at Diaries of an Older Mom