Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Should Men Do Housework?

It's been a question I've asked for quite some time now, probably ever since the Farmer and I got together. You see my husband is pretty useless in the house. He doesn't seem to understand that fairies don't really exist (sorry to disappoint you) and that washing, cleaning, cooking, you know, all those chores that need to be done regularly, are actually done by a person. In this house, it's me. I didn't get to know his mum because she passed away a few years before I moved in here, though I suspect there wasn't much she didn't do inside. In my husband's mind, it's a woman's job to look after the house, see to the kids and hold the titles of housewife, carer, housekeeper, maid, cook, skivvy and general dog's body. He does the grafting, I do the things women do. Don't hate him though, he's quite nice when you get to know him.

I don't blame him for this old-fashioned attitude towards gender roles. I actually blame his mum. From picking up his dirty washing off the floor, to staying up till gone midnight during the harvest in order to make him a freshly cooked meal, she was there for him (and his dad) twenty-four hours a day, literally. She ran after the "menfolk" in her life like her life depended on it. I guess it was the way she was brought up though I also imagine my late father-in-law had a lot to do with her being the way she was. But my complaint is, she didn't do the Farmer any favours. He's sixty-one now and completely bone idle inside the house. He doesn't even know the washing machine from the tumble dryer, can't work the oven, struggles with the microwave and wouldn't know how to lift the lid on the linen basket if a fairy flew through the window and slapped him in the face with a note saying, "Do it like this." He's a busy man, granted, but I seem to have taken over the role of his mother which is actually starting to grind me down. He'd do anything for me and I'd do anything for him, but it does get a little monotonous when I am continuously asking him to put his skiddy undies and cardboard socks in the linen basket to save me having to do it, not to mention reach for the toilet brush when he's pebble dashed the pan. I'm his wife, not his maid. And I'm certainly not his mother. I ask you, is your husband the same or have you got a system that works for you?

This post was inspired by the lovely Mum to Baby Insominiac, who wrote a fabulous post called Who's Job Is It Anyway?

57 comments:

  1. As my old man is no more, it's a little mean my answering, really. But as he'd had a spell in the Army, he was quite good ... until it got to hoovering - then he'd do it if I asked, which took the shine off?! But socks on the floor - oh yeh! LOL

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  2. My ex was completely the opposite! We had a kind of role reversal relationship. It worked for almost ten years, but eventually i got fed up with his constant nagging, and he got tired of having to keep nagging! And believe me, I'm not THAT untidy! Obviously that wasn't the only reason we split up ... but if I want to leave the house in a (relative) mess now ... I will!!

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  3. "Pebble dashed the pan" love that expression..

    My OH mum ran after her boys (4 sons) as well and did everything for them. Needless to say cooking is something my OH can't (won't) do, he is 48.!!

    However he is quite trained in the other chores round the house. We have just fallen into a groove, he does the washing, ironing, hoovering and i will clean (bathrooms, dusting) and cook... it works for us..

    However the cooking thing does piss me off as i hate having to sort out meals for us all.. I would love some input from him... other than a grunt xx

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  4. As I type I'm listening to the sound of the vacuum cleaner, yes hubby is doing the hoovering. For four years while I was otherwise engaged he cooked and cleaned, leaving me only the washing to see to. I was glad when I was finally able to take over the cooking, but he still does the heavier jobs. I can't complain, can I? Mums did tend to wait on their menfolk and enjoyed doing so. I guess they didn't think they were spoiling it for future wives..

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  5. In some ways, my DH is an excellent cleaner - much better than I am - he really focuses in on the small things. Which can be good. Unfortunately, this usually coincides with at time when he shouldn't be doing anything. Like we'll be ready to go on holiday and he'll decide that everything just needs a polish. Or people will be coming round and instead of stuffing bits under the sofa, he's hauling them out, making even more mess. Plus, he very much confines his tidying to the living room and maybe the conservatory - the rest of the house is a black hole for him. It's going to change though. Eventually. Probably...

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  6. Every household divides up the jobs differently but some things are not jobs, they are just common curtesy e.g. putting your dirty laundry in the basket, leaving the bathroom decent enough for the next user, not leaving muddy shoes lying around... Would you ever dream of walking around the farm and leaving closed gates open because the farm is his domain? Or leaving the car parked blocking 'his' barn or tractor? well then.

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  7. So glad I found your site! I love the way you write! Subscribing now and looking forward to reading more.

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  8. I guess I have a defective husband...for two years I have been trying to get dirty clothes in a basket. The one in the bathroom is fairly easy to hit, it is round like a basket ball goal. The two in the laundry area, one for for dirty, the other a working basket are very difficult to find. They set back under a folding table and are rarely filled with clothes, while the floor in front of his chair and also in front of the washer has no problem keeping heaps of farm-dirtied clothes around them.

    Hubby does occasionly vacuum his tv area, where the other woman sleeps (Maggie, his Border Collie). I refuse to take care of the dog hair when the simple solution would be to brush the dog now and then.

    He does cook but his skills are limited mostly to meat and mashed potatoes, bacon and eggs, things like that.

    It has taken him thirty-nine years to arrive at this point so there is hope for you!

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  9. Mine didn't do much until he retired when I insisted, if I was to carry on working, then he had to take over the chores, which he did - the cleaning, the washing, the ironing, the shopping and the gardening - for 6 years. Then I retired and now we share all the chores, though somehow the shopping and ironing have become my job again. Still I'm not complaining, it works well. :)

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  10. Well, I always considered that since I had the privilege of staying at home, then it was my share of our partnership to be the housewife, do the accounts and so on. Then serious ill health issues arose and he had to do more than his fair share, but he is an uncomplaining chap and never once has he moaned or done anything with bad grace. Always, when asked, he would do it willingly. (He may have had a grump to himself but as long as he didn't let me hear it, he was safe!)
    Then health issues were sorted, but now older age and years and years of strong meds have taken their toll; he has been forced into early retirement and so now we share all the chores in the house. He has always been brilliant at wiping down worktops, something I hear women moan about often, that their menfolk never seem to think it necessary. Mine does it after washing up, as part of that routine. We share floor washing duties, hoovering, ironing.... just about everything that gets done in a house, is shared between us. We even cook the evening meals together in that he is the Best kitchen helper, washing up after I make the creative messes! And as we like different meals sometimes, he will cook his and I will cook mine. He does all the heavy work in the garden though as I can only potter. We have had, and still have, an equal partnership in this looking after the house and garden respect. He had a lovely mum, but she did coddle him and his brother. But then my other half went into the Forces, and that sorted him out!

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  11. I always thought both should cooperate in the house. If one works more though, and generally has more of a workload, then of course more of the housework would be up to the other partner.

    It used to be the woman cause she didn't work. It's absolutely ridiculous both to be working and when the woman comes back having all the housework to do. Atrocious!

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  12. "pebble dash and cardboard socks" too funny!

    It's a sign of the times. I don't know why mothers do that to their sons.

    My own can't cook, can't launder, can't iron and certainly doesn't hoover, but he does wash a kitchen and bathroom floor very well. And he is handy outside with leaves and lawn, so I guess it's a trade off.

    And thanks for your comment about my cover. It meant a lot.

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  13. I'm training up the 11 yro. He's been introduced to cooking, hoovering and dusting. He helps with little tasks for J too. But then we are a different generation, the farmer's Mum comes from a time of divided roles, my own Mum had a lot of this in her.

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  14. Well, I am quick to say yes men should help in the house. Then in the next breath, I don't want any part of outside work (mowing grass, snow removal, paint, car stuff, etc.) With that said, there definitely needs to be a balance...just not sure what that is.
    To answer your question yes my husband does many of the things that yours does, or should I say doesn't?

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  15. Because my hubs lived on his own for a number of years he became pretty good around the house. He does all the hoovering in the house and if he gets home from work before me he makes the dinner. The only thing he does which drives me nuts is that he leaves empty coke cans all over the house! Apart from that he's quite domesticated. Not too keen on cleaning the toilet tho! But then who is! Great post!

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  16. I take care of most things...otherwise they wouldn't get done. But, he is appreciative. And when I go away, he can step in and take over. Plus, he does his own laundry!

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  17. my wife thinks it is sexy when i do house work...so i am all about helping...

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  18. There are some household chores that should be divided, and others (like another commenter said) that are just common courtesy, like putting your own dirty laundry into the basket, even if you're not the one who washes it.
    I'm lucky enough to have a cleaner once a week which means that I'm not cleaning toilets and mopping floors every day, but it doesn't really help my kids. Must make more of an effort to get them to do their fair share otherwise I'll have future daughters-in-law like you who (quite rightly) will think it's all my fault. LOL.

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  19. Bear does housework. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. Not to say I'm great at any of it, but I haven't poisoned myself, and the place is liveable. Actually, we both work at these things.
    (Son is stay at home dad and does likewise.)
    And we managed to celebrate out 42nd anniversary yesterday. So some things must be going right.

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  20. I think yes they should......
    However, my husband is the last of a generation brought up to believe that a woman looked after the home & family & that they brought home the bread!
    My son can turn his hand to anything..... he's had to. A modern woman wouldn't put up with that line of thinking.

    Harry washes up though & I've trained him to do a few chores when he's feeling up to it.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

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  21. Oh, touchy subject!Hahaa...
    Well, you already know my Hubby likes to cook...and If I were to ask him to do something extra, he Would...SO, that leaves us with Farmer... Sorry Sweetie but me thinks his Ship has sailed! BUT! He could at LEAST pick up his clothes! You'll need a cast iron skillet to make the proper impression...Hahaaaa
    hughugs

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  22. I'm starting to wonder where I'm going wrong! Looks like the majority of you so far have model husbands who chip in with the chores whilst I have the ultimate "man's man" who thinks it's nothing more than women's work. GRRRRR - LOL.

    On a more serious note, I don't see it as being common curtesy myself, but just the fact that as he's a farmer and has never needed to think about cleanliness (or hygiene for that matter!) he simply doesn't think about it now. I would appreciate more help especially where the cleaning was concerned, but I doubt I'll ever get it. My nagging goes in one ear and out the other!!

    Thank you for your comments; it's really interesting to hear of your different opinions.

    CJ xx

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  23. Oh, and Brian - do you wear just an apron when you do the housework? Just wondered, lol.

    CJ xx

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  24. My husband and I split everything equally. He cooks and washes up one night; I do the next. It works for us!

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  25. Leopards don't change their spots. At 61 he is set in his ways. Accept and love him as he is. If there is ONE thing you could have him change about his behavior and you asked him to sincerely do it because it really mattered to you he probably would accomidate you. Ex: Having a hamper with the lid up for his clothes to be tossed into doesn't seem to much to ask.
    I don't think asking him to hit the pot when he pees is anything but sanitary. If his eyes or belly are the problem then maybe show him how you'd like him to clean up behind himself. Mind you he probably doesn't see it, and isn't looking for it either.
    My husband generally picks up behind himself. No it is nothing like I do or would consider cleaning up, but it's his effort to pitch in and help. My husband is NOT a farmer. He works in our home. YES, there are days (5) each week that I wish he were out at an office!

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  26. I was raised by my grandparents. I was believe it is the woman's role to watch over the house and the man's role to make sure that the family is provided for. That being said, I believe the man and woman should work together to care for the family and house. Yes that means I believe men should do housework and if a woman wants to work she should. My grandparents worked together to cook and clean and when I get married I plan to do the same.

    Dan the Mountain Man
    danmtnman.blogspot.com

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  27. "Pebble Dashed The Pan" ROFL
    I'd never get away with it! - Mrs Bluelights would certainly be on the warpath! By my own admission I don't do enough regarding indoor domestic chores like washing and ironing and cooking etc. . . . . . but to make up for that I receive endless and sometimes meaninglass "Do Lists" which I actually do, but not quickly enough LOL. But I do the vacuum cleaning but sometimes receive a sharp rebuff for not doing it properly LOL. Mrs Bluelights has a saying, "A woman's work is never done: a man's work is never started!" She says she is coming back as a man next time. This all reminds me of Sir Winston Churchill having a row with Lady Aster. She screemed at him, "If you were my husband I'd put poison in your drink" to which Winstan replied, "Madamm if you were my wife, I'd drink it!" LOL
    See you soon ~ Eddie

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  28. Love the bit about the pebble dashed pan and cardboard socks! I spent all day on Sunday reading my OH the comments and links I had been left regarding the issue and he has promised to be more helpful around the house. The problem is that he still thinks I should wash his socks! I don't think we are ever going to resolve the issue, I know he will forget about it in a day or two and expect me to go back to doing them. I am hoping he is young enough to get these changes in place forever! If I have a son then I definitely won't be doing everything for him as not only does it do him no favours but it doesn't do his future wife any either! Thanks for the link :) x

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  29. This really is the subject that causes arguments in my household. I work part time (20 hours a week) and my hubby works full time ( 40 hours a week) Now by argument, based on the amount of extra hours he works to my hours at work the housework should be 25% his, and 75% mine... But, I'm lucky if I even get 10%... He NEVER cooks the meals, he will wash clothes, but he will NEVER put them away, he does NO repairs around the house, NEVER cleans the house, and NEVER cleans the bathroom! He does, however, always puts our son to bed, and always gives him a bath, he SOMETIMES does the dishes.... I'm pretty sure the housework % is closer to 10% him and 90% me... No wonder I'm off sick from work due to exhaustion but you can't take time off from being a mom...

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  30. I think Brian's wife is one smart woman--she has him conned! LOL not to mention he's willing to help with housework willingly! Have to admit, my husband does help out (sort of). Somethings he does better than others. For instance, you don't want him doing dishes or your likely to turn the oven on the next time and set a greasy pan from the prior night on fire--he's a hider (if he can't see it, it's ok). The same w/putting things away. If I had a dollar for everytime I opened my hall closet downstairs and odd things that don't even belong in that closet fell on my head I'd be a very wealthy woman. But he meticulously shines counters and puts things in the dishwasher. He does laundry mostly because I now need a railing to get to the basement and he hasn't figured out it would be WAY easier to put up the railing (or even more the washer and dryer upstairs) than to do all the laundry himself. But don't ask him to make a bed so it looks right (he just pulls the spread up to cover the sheets and pillows), and his idea of putting his dirty laundry away in a laundry basket is hiding it in the top of his closet. I haven't in all these years figured out the man,and have given up trying! I just give thanks that he will on occasion run a vacuum and that he does a lot of the cooking (as long as it's on the bbq grill! I think this has less to do with a love of grilling than of a hatred of doing dishes! He's the king of buying paper plates (and his mom is the queen, so I know just where he learned that trick). But most of all I give thanks that I don't have to mow the lawn (but that's another whole story!)

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  31. Hi Crystal Jigsaw - this sounds like a very familiar situation to me. My OH is great, but he sounds pretty similar to yours when it comes to cleaning - tonight he popped home for half an hour before going out again (client dinner so it is 'work') and in that time he said "I think I am low on shirts will you get me one for tomorrow"! So I'm currently on the internet building up the enthusiasm to iron!

    Like you, I totally think it's down to his Mum doing everything for him, and perhaps him being a bachelor with a cleaner for a good few years before meeting me!

    However, on the good side, if asked he will do the odd bit of cleaning - but he does need to be asked and it would only be for a special occasion!

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  32. Oooh, goodie! A few more of you are owning up to having a man in your lives that is a little like mine. Makes me feel a whole lot better, lol.

    Thank you for your comments, CJ xx

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  33. Interesting post. My husband is quite capable but there again he spent many years on his own before I came on the scene. So he can hoover, cook, clean and iron and also do a bit of DIY. Saying that though, since I've become a SAHM and carer, I have tended to do most of the chores whilst my husband brings in the bulk of the income. At the weekend though, my husband will do some of the domestic chores whilst I might do some painting or gardening. I guess we just muck in. Deb x

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  34. Love this post lol can relate in so many places. God I could beat my husband sometimes, but I don't. Actually he is pretty good and really helps out when I'm at work. Pebble dashing is a real problem here though, honestly I have to see my kids' poos and my cat's poo, surely I could be spared his??

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  35. Ohhhh, I couldn't be reading your blog at a more appropriate moment. I won't get started cos I'll never stop.

    To be honest, though, I think some of us make a rod for our own backs. The guys know that we'll do it - in the end so what's the impetus for them.

    If you really, genuinely want to do something about it, my only suggestion is stop doing it. Only wash up your dinner plates. Don't wash his clothes. At all. Leave them on the floor. Leave them in the laundry basket. Don't give in. No matter how much of a wreck the place gets or how smelly (!) just stick to it. In the end, though there's no telling how long, he'll get it and do it himself. He's an intelligent man. Just because he doesn't know the washing machine from the dryer now, doesn't mean he can't work it out!

    In the main, I blame mothers of spoilt little boys who were never made to help with the housework as kids. That's our generation's excuse but I don't know what the explanation will be next generation. All the women I know with male children insist that they're bringing them up knowing that housework etc should be a 50/50 shared responsibility. It'll be interesting to see if those male children do actually grow up into cooking, cleaning, washing geniuses!

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  36. When I was off on maternity leave I felt that as I wasn't working that it was my 'job' to take care of our son as well as trying to do the housework and cooking.

    It did worked up to a point, unless I'd had a bad night with the baby.

    Things have changed now that I'm back at work 4 days a week, but I still run round like a headless chicken on a Wed trying to get all the housework done. My OH can't cook, even although he lived on his own for a good number of years before we met.

    He is helping out a bit more, which is great, otherwise I'd be a permanent moan.

    He's even taking to putting his dirty washing in the laundry basket on the odd occasion or two!

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  37. All I'll say is - my husband is a clean freak and loves nothing more than cleaning our kitchen/family room. Not complaining, I'll keep being useless at it and he'll keep doing it!

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  38. My huusband is the same. When I was sick last year he had to make dinner. We had the only thing he can cook...burgers... on the barbeque...in winter! If the dishwasher is emptied while I'm out I automatically think that we've been broken into and that the burglar is a kind person!! You're right, the parents (mothers!) create this. Now, why am I doing everything for my son??? I've gotta stop this madness!

    xx Jazzy

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  39. My husband has always just left his clothes however he pulls them off...socks wrong side out, long sleeves still rolled up, one pant leg out and one pant leg inside. Asking him forever to turn them all the right way before putting them in the hamper, and him never doing it, he one day told me I made no extra points doing his wash. Little stinker. He's been doing his own clothes washing since. It's a bit funny to see his white underware light shades of pink or grey. He will do other housework only if I ask him, and all he knows how to cook is spagetti, so if he's doing dinner, it is usually take out, lol.

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  40. My husband was old school thanks to his mum but soon cured him by refusing to wash anything that wasn't in the linen bin. He also had to learn quick to do things around the house when I was seriously ill several years ago. Only things he won't do are ironing and dusting and always forgets the clean up the cooker. When I worked full time he helped around the house lots, now I'm home all day and he's still working I don't expect him to do anything he doesn't want to indoors.

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  41. Different things work for different people, I guess. I refuse to date any man who isn't completely house trained. I lived with a boyfriend once (who I assume house trained himself after he left home)and his mother expected that i would do everything for him, despite the fact that we worked the same hours each week and I have to deal with chronic illness which mean sometimes the reality is I can't do housework.
    My dad is well taken care of by my mum, although the first time he ever picked his pyjamas off the floor was when they got a puppy and the puppy slept on his pyjamas during the day and got fur all over them! Dad now picks his clothes up and he even does a little bit of cooking as long as it's outside on the BBQ he's got plumbed in to the house gas.
    My brother on the other hand, has a useless stay at home wife, and he is responsible for cooking, cleaning, and looking after the kids whenever he is not at work.He's come a long way since we moved out together as teenagers and he could barely cook and expected me to pick up where mum left off.
    Personally I think sharing is the best. If you make a mess, you clean it yourself, however I'm sure this comes from many years of share housing!

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  42. I was brought up in a very traditional farming family very similar to yours, and it seems to be par for the course, my Dad can't cook anything and pretty hopeless at housework, my parents had very traditional gender roles as did my grandparents. I however have married someone who is comfortable with cooking and housework and we pretty much share jobs.

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  43. In our house hubby goes to work and I stay home and raise the kiddies and do all the housey stuff. It just works for us that way.
    He does cook a fair bit and if I asked he would do more housey things but I like things the way they are !!!

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  44. Aha! Touched a nerve here. You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned his mum. I am on a mission to get mums to teach their boys that housework is created by everyone and is everyone's responsibility.

    After both partners agree that the housework is a shared responsibility, you can go about divvying up the jobs according to who works more hours so that partners have equal free time after the work/housework is done, but if it is all left to one person their will be brewing resentment and ultimately unhappiness.

    PS My hubby does his fair share when we are both working, but school holidays are a problem; we have to renegotiate so that he doesn't lounge aroung playing the Wii and reading books while I'm doing the cleaning, washing, ironing, etc!

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  45. Seems many mums have a lot to answer for, lol. But what would we do without them?!

    Thank you for your very interesting comments and for giving me a little glimpse into your lives!

    CJ xx

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  46. My husband is good when it comes to the cooking but as for cleaning, ironing, keeping the house tidy he is not so good. I tend to do most of it myself and just ask for the odd few bits to be done..which he does with a bit of gentle persuasion :)

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  47. That makes me laugh! I think it's a bit of a generation thing. Older guys will see much of the housework as a woman's job because that's how they've been brought up, but us younger blokes know that's not the case - or at least most of us do.

    To be fair, my wife is incredibly untidy, yet does a wonderful job of keeping washing ticking over. We share most of the chores though, it really just depends who is about when it needs done. So I'm the nagging husband moaning about the mound of clothes on the floor (are they dirty? Are you going to wear them again?) or the damp towels left lying around. And "marked" undies? Good god I'd be horrified and would never leave them for my wife to find - minging! My dad on the other hand - he sounds like your man :-) although my mum is slowly breaking him :-)

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  48. Interesting. My husband is a very hard worker, at the office and at home. He does all the yard work, including maintaining our flower and veggie gardens. The yard is just beautiful and it's all because of him. He does all the "man" things...repair work, replacing faucets, changing light fixtures, etc. However, he has not once cleaned a toilet and has only emptied the dishwasher twice in the 4 yrs. we've been in this house. However, I do not complain at all. I accept the inside is mostly my responsibility, the outside is mostly his responsibility. He is a very hard worker, so there is no reason to complain. If he doesn't want to dust the furniture, that's fine...because I'd rather do that than take out the garbage!
    www.mama-press.com

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  49. My husband will help out if I ask...usually I don't though. He's a really good deep cleaner (better than me I'm afraid), but he takes a LONG time lol. So I usually just do it myself...a little each day! Thanks for stopping by my blog...happily following you back :)

    http://www.wherenothinggoodcomeseasy.com

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  50. My husband does all the cooking, and can do some of the other jobs such as washing, but he really struggles with cleaning jobs unless given exact instructions on how to do them. I'm currently forbidden from helping as it makes me more ill (if I'm able to do it in the first place), but the carers we have to help me are also here to help him, so they do the bulk of the cleaning. Before they started though he made himself very ill trying to look after both me and the flat.

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  51. Note to Tracy - I even have to take out the garbage! I've seriously gone wrong somewhere, lol.

    Thank you again for all your comments.

    CJ xx

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  52. I would have to answer "absolutely not" unless my wife is reading this in which case I would revise my answer slightly to "love it"

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  53. Blog award for you at my blog :o) Glad to see you're still blogging after last week's mess. :o)

    http://talesfromthewriterslaptop.blogspot.com/2011/09/and-now-for-news.html

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  54. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  55. "pebble dashed the pan" XD

    I'm 27 and a thoroughly modern man so I do my bit when it comes to housework. :-)

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  56. Mine is pretty good at most household tasks, but refuses point blank to cook because he's scared of it and also appears to be allergic to doing any form of laundry. Other than that, there's room for improvement but he mucks in. We have one child - a boy of 2 - and I am determined to teach him how to cook and do housework so he's not a helpless husband one day.

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  57. And this is why every one should live alone for a while before marriage! I know women that are hopeless at housework or cooking too. I go out to work, my husband is my daughters main carer and is in charge of the house. He dots it all and way better than I do. It is possible.

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