I invited my husband Lee to join us today as we talk about the division of labor in our house—essentially who does what. We take you through a normal day and then a list of chores and say whether it’s my job, his job, our older son David’s job, or if we pay someone else to do it. Then we’ll talk about how to have a conversation with your spouse when you feel overwhelmed by how much you’re doing.
We aren’t saying the division of labor at your house should look just like ours. The goal is to have a fun conversation about the patterns we’ve naturally fallen into based on likes and skills and for you to get to hear how other couples manage the household workload.
Listen to Self Care and Soul Care for the Caregiver on iTunes or the link below.
Quick links from the episode:
- Get your groceries delivered with Shipt
- Episode 7, Creating the Ideal Week
- Loving Him Well by Gary Thomas (affiliate link)
- Sandra on Instagram
- Marriage Prayers email seres: bit.ly/prayformymarriage
Transcript: (This week we just have a partial transcript! The general outline we followed is below.)
This is self care and soul care for the caregiver, and I’m your host—Sandra Peoples. To us, self care isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. We want to take better care of ourselves so we’re able to care for our loved ones who rely on us.
This is episode 9, and I have a special guest on the podcast today—my husband Lee! It’s the first Monday in February if you’re listening in real time, so I’m covering topics this month that have to do with marriage. Today we’re talking about the division of labor in our house, essentially who does what. I have a long list and we’re going to go through and say whether it’s my job, his job, our son David’s job, or if we pay someone else to do it. Then we’ll talk about how to have a conversation with your spouse when you feel overwhelmed by how much you’re doing.
Before we jump in, in case you don’t know us well, I’ll tell you a little bit more about us. We met when we both taught at the same Christian school in Raleigh, NC. I had moved out there to attend seminary, and Lee had grown up in Raleigh. We had our first date in November, got engaged the next February, and were married in July of 2003. He is the pastor of our church in the suburbs of Houston, TX. We have two boys, David who is 14 and James who is 12. James has level 3 autism, so we are his caregivers. He relies on us for a lot, and will for our entire lives, so the division of labor discussion includes household chores but also tasks we help James with, like bathing.
It was hard to know how to organize this list and what all to put on it, so we decided to breakdown a normal day and then hit weekly tasks. We aren’t trying to compete to see who does the most. And we aren’t saying the division of labor at your house should look just like ours. The goal is to have a fun conversation ourselves about the patterns we’ve just naturally fallen into based on likes and skills. And for you to see how other couples manage the household workload. I always think it’s fun to see how other people get stuff done.
Also, a big part of why this all works for us is a result of our personality types. If you’re into the enneagram, I’ll let you know that I’m a 1 and Lee is a three. They say no other number combo gets more done than a 1 and a 3. We are both naturally driven and organized. And we grew up in homes that were clean and organized. Plus, we have people over a lot. Like right now I’m hosting a weekly Bible study. So we keep it clean for guests. What works for us may be totally different from how it works for you, but hopefully it will be fun to hear what works for us!
I mentioned in episode 7 about the ideal week that Lee gets up early and then around 6:45, comes to our room to get James. (Lee says what he does)
Then at 7:00 I get up and make James’s lunch on the days he needs it and get his bag ready. There’s a mental check list I go through depending on what day it is to make sure he has what he needs.
Normally the night before we talk about what we have going on and who can take James to therapy on his therapy days. On school-only days, I wait with him for the bus and you take David. Then you’re off to the office and I’m home working. Since the church is close to our house, you sometimes come home for lunch. But normally I don’t cook anything special for that. We heat up leftovers or have whatever.
In the afternoons, I pick up James from therapy and pick up David from school, or pick them both up from school. Unless I have something going on and you do it. But most days the boys and I are all home around 4:15 and you are home between 4:30-5:00. I cook dinner most nights, unless we’re grilling something, then you do that part. You often have meetings in the evenings and don’t eat until you get home. On those nights, David helps me clean up after dinner. When you’re home, you clean up and load the dishwasher (David unloads it). I do James’s evening bath and get him ready for bed. Since you do the morning shift, I do the night shift and stay awake until James is asleep, which hasn’t been too late lately.
So that’s a normal day. Now let’s breakdown the other tasks.
We said I cook and you do the dishes most days, but here’s how the rest of the kitchen stuff goes. I do the meal planning on Sunday nights and order the groceries from Shipt. David puts them away. When I forget something, you go get it for us. And you take James to the grocery store each Saturday. I usually clean out the fridge and throw stuff out of the freezer when it’s been in there too long. We both wipe down counters when we need to, but you are the primary floor sweeper since you do the vacuuming in the living room and TV room. David takes out the trash most of the time, but you and I do it when we need to.
I do the laundry, with David helping fold and hang up his and James’s clothes. I do let you match and fold your own socks because you have so many! You do the ironing on Sunday mornings. When the boys outgrow their clothes, I handle shopping or ordering them. And even though there isn’t much seasonal change over here in Houston, I do find the bins of coats and long-sleeved hand-me-downs when we need them. I also wash the sheets and towels and put the sheets back on the beds and hang the towels back up.
We have two bathrooms at our house. You and David share and James and I share. Mostly you clean your bathroom and I clean mine. And since yours in the one guest use, you kinda have to stay on top of it. You do help me clean our bathroom, especially when I get overwhelmed, like when we’re having a lot of people over and I have to focus more on cooking.
When we clean house on the weekends, you do the floors as I mentioned earlier. James picks up his toys, and David sometimes helps with that when there’s a lot. We both dust, depending on who notices it needs to be done.
David vacuums his playroom and his room. He also cleans out our cars each weekend and takes the trash to the dumpster. You wash the cars and take care of most of the car maintenance, like getting the oil changed and tires rotated. Even filling up my car with gas most weeks.
Since we live on the church property, we have guys who come and mow the yard and take care of all that. When we have a garden, you help me get the plot ready, and I do the planting, watering, and picking. We have 6 or 7 house plants that I keep alive.
You work on the garage and shed organization when you have time. You’re also our family tech guy, unless we need extra help from David. And you and David do all the dog stuff when you’re home.
Are we forgetting anything?
Let’s talk now about how to have a conversation with your spouse if you feel like the division of labor isn’t fair. As most things, it comes down to time and energy to get things done, or it can come down to money, as in you pay someone else to do it, like we do with grocery shopping and yard work.
There’s a book I read a few years ago with my ladies Sunday school class that I think would be helpful for wives who are especially struggling in this area: it was Sacred Influenceby Gary Thomas, but he has an updated version called Loving Him Well. It has encouragement for how to live with challenging husbands and how to encourage and support change in them, without being manipulative. I’ll put the link in the shownotes.
Thanks for being on the show with me, Lee! I usually share more details about the topic we covered on Instagram throughout the week, so next week maybe I’ll get some pics of you washing dishes and vacuuming!
We end each episode in prayer, so join me in that now: God, thank you for the homes you have provided for us and the family members we get to care for through the practical ways we can serve each other. Help us not to focus on who does more at the end of each day, but to strive to out-love and out-serve each other when we can and to be gracious with each other when we can’t. We follow Your Son’s example of service, who cooked food, washed feet, and even gave His life on the cross out of love and service to us. It’s in His name we pray, amen.
Thanks for listening to episode 9! If you haven’t signed up for my marriage prayers series yet, you still can! Visit bit.ly/prayformymarriage today and join me in praying for your marriage through Feb. 14th. The link is in the shownotes on my site, sandrapeoples.com/thepodcast
The podcast hit its 1,000th download over a week ago! I’m so thankful you take time to listen each week. Can you also take time to hit that five-star rating and leave a review? It will help even more special-needs parents and caretakers like us find help and encouragement.
Thanks again for listening! I’ll meet you back here next week for episode 10!