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Chore Wars: Why Are Women Still Doing All the Housework?

A recent Working Mother survey found that today's household responsibilities (a.k.a. chores) have not changed much since the 1950s, which wouldn't be such an alarming finding if women didn't make up nearly half of the American workforce. We'll take a look at how the responsibility of keeping a house and home, like Mom and Grandma did, puts a damper on women's careers and causes friction in their personal lives, as well. Listen up, lads … this one's for you, too. (Hint, hint.)

A recent Working Mother survey found that today’s household responsibilities (a.k.a. chores) have not changed much since the 1950s, which wouldn’t be such an alarming finding if women didn’t make up nearly half of the American workforce. We’ll take a look at how the responsibility of keeping a house and home, like Mom and Grandma did, puts a damper on women’s careers and causes friction in their personal lives, as well. Listen up, lads … this one’s for you, too. (Hint, hint.)

Working Mother Chore Wars

(Photo Credit: Jay DeFehr/Flickr)

The Chore Wars: The Working Mother Report surveyed more than 1,000 dual-income working parents to see who does what in the household and how everything gets done. The findings confirmed that working mothers are, indeed, superwomen and are managing the same amount of household chores, despite putting in more hours at work than any generation prior.

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While dads are more likely to take on the “dirty work,” like taking out the trash and performing maintenance on the cars, much of their responsibilities are outsourced to third parties. In other words, of the eight chores that the most working dads are delegated, five are actually carried out by someone hired on to complete those tasks (e.g. gardeners or mechanics). On the flip side, working moms in the study took on 14 household chores, including laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, and cooking. See below for the study’s chore breakdown by gender.

Working Mother Chore Wars

(Photo Credit: Working Mother)

What generation of working moms need the most help? It appears that Boomer moms “win,” as the study revealed that these older working moms are doing more in the home than the younger moms surveyed. This is probably due to the fact that Millennial working dads are taking more of an initiative than Baby Boomer or Gen X dads to lend a helping hand with mom’s chores (see below).

Household Responsibilities Breakdown

(Photo Credit: Chore Wars: Working Mother Report)

What’s the solution to end the “chore wars” for working parents, especially mom? Stephen Marche, author and regular columnist for Esquire and The National Post, says the only possible solution is for everyone to do a lot less housework, because, in his words, “A clean house is the sign of a wasted life, truly.” Uh … why don’t we just pretend that “solution” was never mentioned, and let’s move on to more logical and realistic solutions so that working parents aren’t trying to find their eternal bliss amongst absolute squalor. Deal? OK, moving on.

The one and only possible solution to the imbalance is for working mothers to ask for more help and working fathers (and kids, for that matter) to pitch in and help mom out. It seems like an obvious solution that’s probably been tried many times over many generations, but, as the study indicated, younger working dads are pitching in more than previous generations, so maybe there is hope after all.

The bottom line is, more women and mothers are entering the workforce than ever before, so the household needs to accommodate that reality. Women shouldn’t have to sacrifice their careers to tend to household responsibilities that could, quite easily, be handled by other people in the household. Gentlemen, the most important thing you should take away from this post is: Happy wife, happy life.

Tell Us What You Think

Are you a working parent who has found a solution to the chore wars? Share your key to success with our community on Twitter or in the comments section below.

Leah Arnold-Smeets
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