Who does what? – still one of the main causes of arguments

Working mums spend about 4.5 hours a day caring for children

Over the last 40 years the notion that men are breadwinners and women are homemakers has steadily eroded, with the rate of mothers in employment now at a record 72%.

But despite finding a valued place in the labour market, women still undertake a greater share of domestic responsibilities than men.

Studies have shown that women on average spend over two and a half hours a day doing housework, such as cooking, washing up, cleaning and ironing. In comparison, men take about an hour a day doing similar chores.

Women also spend more time taking care of children, even when they work the same hours as their partner. On an average weekday, women living in a couple and working full-time will spend nearly four and a half hours caring for and entertaining their children. Of this, two hours will be taken up doing housework while in the company of their children, and roughly 50 minutes will be spent watching TV with them.

Meanwhile, men spend an average of three and a half hours with their children on a weekday, though the time is spent in different ways. About 80 minutes is dedicated to housework, but they will spend an equal amount of time watching TV with their children. After taking into consideration their longer working hours, men have an average of 30 minutes more free time each day than their female counterparts.

These findings show that although attitudes have changed significantly (in 2006 only 17% of men and 15%  of women thought it was a man’s job to earn money and a woman’s job to look after the family, compared with 32% of men and 26% of women in 1989) some couples still find it difficult to agree on a fair split. Arguing over domestic chores remains one of the most common causes of arguments given by couples.

For some couples, housework presents a ‘hidden issue’. This means that while the argument manifests as a housework dispute, the core problem is actually that one partner feels unsupported and uncared for because of the other’s lack of contribution.

It is important for couples to find a way to agree on a fair share of domestic responsibility so that both partners feel supported in their day-to-day life.  Couples who are struggling to split the household chores may find the CoupleConnection’s practical advice guides useful for sorting out an arrangement that works for them.