posted Monday, June 7th, 2010 at 2:12 pm
Who takes responsibility for household and childcare tasks where you live? My qualitative interviews with over 20 mothers in South-East Queensland (so keep in mind a quite small sample) says it is primarily them, not their partner. Some women took almost full responsibility for anything related to the household – bills, shopping, cleaning, cooking (except mowing/bins) and childcare – appointments, activities, and care of children while other households showed much greater degree of sharing. But when it came to responsibility for the tasks, even when men did them, the responsibility for doing them seemed to often fall on women’s shoulders. By responsibility for tasks - it means you are the organiser and the one who either does it or makes sure it gets done.
Here’s a small example from our household. Possum has recently started taking piano lessons. It’s only 1/2 an hour, 1 afternoon per week. Doesn’t sound like much of a time burden, and I acknowledge she is really privileged to be able to partake as her grandparents have helped to pay. But the work by me to organise this weekly activity included searching around for an appropriate teacher by talking to other parents and following up a lead to a music teacher I met a few years ago. Emailing and ringing that teacher. Checking schedules to see where piano lessons would best fit in to our week. Driving her there, buying the workbook and other materials, talking with the teacher, getting payment details. Waiting until the lesson was finished, driving her home. Finding someone in our neighbourhood who had a piano she could practice on, doing her flashcard homework with her, taking her to the neighbour’s house for practice. Scouting out where to buy or borrow a piano…etc you get the drift. I call this ‘responsibility for’. Last week, Mr G, Possum’s dear dad, took her to her piano lesson, which was great as I had a meeting at uni. He forgot the workbook, flashcards & cd, but he got her to the lesson on time. But did he take responsibility for the activity? Jury is still out.
So why is responsibility for important? Well it seems to be a contributing factor to feelings of time pressure, stress and work-family imbalance .
I would love to hear your experiences of ‘responsibility for’ … It’s another potentially important dimension of WoLFi.