Working Mother magazine has a new online 'test' that allows you to compare how much housework you are doing with how much your lazy...I mean, sweet...husband does. In Cosmo style, you're invited to add up your points on such tasks as:
Tossing the two-week-old takeout from the refrigerator. 1 point
Scooping up scattered toys. 2 points Washing the funk out of a sippy cup you found in the backseat. 5 points
Scouring splattered tomatoes sauce off the stove. 2 points Walking the dog. 1 point
Walking the dog in the snow. 5 points
And so on. Then, you're invited to tally your score against that of your spouse and the veil is lifted. Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner!
Now isn't this just what we don't want to do if we're aiming for equally shared parenting? Who actually "wins" when one partner proves she's doing more? This kind of scorekeeping may serve to shed some light on a problem that both spouses already know deep (or not so deep) down, but it sure doesn't set the tone for solving it. Besides being a cute, far-from-validated test of unequal household labor, it takes a partner-based lifestyle like ESP and turns it into a he said/she said contest. Blech.
The rest of the article that contains this test is actually pretty good. It enlists the help of our beloved mentor, Francine Deutsch, who points out that couples should aim for equal time spent doing chores rather than picky individual chore division by so-called expertise. Dr. Deutsch also advises skipping old gender assumptions when choosing chores, approaching the issue with a spirit of cooperation rather than fighting, pointing out the benefits to your spouse of equal housework, not micromanaging his involvement, and meeting together to evaluate how things are going to tweak them over time. Amen to all of this.
p.s. One more nagging thought. Granted, the average person might consider walking the dog in the snow to be more onerous than doing so on a beautiful summer day. But is the weather really the sole determinant of our ability to approach a task with joy? I can imagine someone (not necessarily cat-loving me) who might actually like strolling down a quiet, snow packed street with his dog. As the saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." Time is the only impartial measure of dividing chores. Go ahead and make the best of your own to-do list.