Some Theories on Why Men Don't Do as Many Household Tasks

Looking for a way to start this difficult conversation with your partner? Consider the categories of invisible work below. What percentage of this work do you do? What percentage of this work does your partner think you do? Record your answers and compare notes.

  • Childcare management and communication
  • Cooking and meal preparation
  • Dishwashing
  • Laundry, ironing and mending work
  • Grocery shopping
  • Home decorating (garage sales, picture hanging, etc.)
  • Yard work
  • Afterschool lessons, weekend activities, and summer camp planning and coordination (researching, driving to, waiting during, and equiping)
  • Communication with extended family (calling mom, mailing gifts, etc.)
  • General household cleaning (sweeping, vacuuming, garbage removal, window washing, etc.)
  • Making travel arrangements and packing
  • Party planning and holiday preparation (cards, meals, decorations, cleaning)
  • General social outreach (setting up playdates, interacting with neighbors, making plans with friends, etc.)
  • Monthly financial chores (bill paying, health claims and tax prep)
  • General shopping and consumer research (for clothing, gifts, technology, media, etc.)
  • Putting kids to bed and waking up with them in the middle of the night
  • Getting kids ready for school, dropping them off, meeting the bus in the afternoon
  • School-related tasks and communication (contacting teachers, delivering forgotten items, volunteering, attending conferences and shows)
  • Staying home with sick kids
  • General family scheduling
  • Coordinating and completing home repairs
  • Documenting family history (taking and organizing photos)
  • Disciplining kids (establishing and enforcing consequences for misbehavior)
  • Managing and picking up the pieces after major upheavals (moves, home sales, funerals, job losses)
  • Pet care (walking the dog, checking out kennels, etc.)
  • Emotional work (resolving playground disputes, offering advice, proactively keeping the peace among siblings)
  • Long-term financial planning (for retirement, college tuition, etc.)
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Alexandra Bradner is a philosophy professor at the University of Kentucky.

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