I iron his shirts because I love him

We have a strange and complicated agreement about who does what laundry tasks in our house. G does his own clothes washing. I do most of the rest although G will do Grace's, a load of nappies or other household washing if it falls to him. But I am squarely in charge of the timetable. When it works, we always have clean clothes to wear and I am not overwhelmed with too much airing and folding at once.

As for ironing, G doesn't. I imagine he could if he had to, but he probably wouldn't see the need in most situations. So I do it for him. Because he's my man and because I like to do things for him. Ironing is something I won't do out of obligation and sometimes if the atmosphere is a bit grumpy it tends to build up. It's not that I don't do it on purpose. Maybe its more that I need help to be able to iron. I can't iron when Grace is running around and I try not to do any housework after dinner. And sometimes when everyone is grumpy, the household negotiation process breaks down somewhat.

As I iron, I see the marks on his collar and tell him to use the laundry spray and I note which shirts are getting a little too shabby and think about maybe buying him some new ones. He's not a man who likes to go shopping. Mostly I look out for good quality shirts in his size when I go to Savers (a big charity shop near us). If they don't fit or if he doesn't like them, I can exchange them. It does seem a bit retro to buy clothes for a grown man, but then so does the division of labour in our house.

G mows the lawn, deals with the car, fixes things that are broke and does quite a lot around the garden. He also does quite a bit inside but like with the washing, I run the timetable. And there are some jobs that he won't do, like folding. Or avoids, like grocery shopping.  Are there many jobs that women get to decide that they won't do? I know I opt out of lawn mowing and I'm not allowed to build anything. But do I withdraw from some tasks only because Gs happy to do them and it's one less thing to think about?

For some reason it seems that laundry is more women's work than any other housework. Why? I know of the odd man who does part of the process, like for example washing and hanging out.  But not others such as folding and putting away. I've heard of quite few who do no part of the process at all and think that that's OK. I've only heard of one man who does the whole shebang, from laundry basket to back in the wardrobe. Apparently, that was his household task, the one thing that he could do while his wife was out working full time and the kids were at school. I can't help thinking that if the situation were reversed, the woman would do the washing and pretty much everything else and would think that that was fair enough. Yet a situation of a man at home and only doing part of the household work is also considered fair. I just don't get it.


  1. When we first met I did my washing and W did his (we both worked out of the home). When we had children (and I worked part time) I did my washing and the kids washing and W did his. Now I do all of W's washing... but I have never ironed his shirts. I don't like ironing and I don't have the time. He used to iron them, but now we have our cleaning lady do them.
    W is hopeless around the house. He doesn't mow the lawn, he doesn't take out the garbage, he isn't a handyman and he doesn't look after the car(all traditional "man jobs"). I do it all and I always have done. It is either that or nag him and I don't enjoy nagging.
    I also do the grocery shopping, cooking, bill paying, tidying and cleaning (although I have a cleaning woman once a week to help me). I also do all the kids school stuff/medical appointments, social/holiday/events arranging. W basically earns the money (and works very long hours).
    However, on the plus side, he is great with the kids - I can leave all three with him without a second thought, he has always shared any night-wakings, feedings etc., and does all the big picture financial stuff and makes sure I have enough help (babysitting etc.) so that I don't go crazy at home.
    I don't feel too bitter with my lot, but I do wish W would clean up after himself... I refuse to do that as he is a GROWN man... (who would be lost without me).

  2. You both sound very busy and hardworking! G's job is not all that demanding and he's not working fridays at the moment because he wants to spend more time with Grace. Fair enough, but I'm insisting that if he's at home during the week he has to look after Grace and do housework. All at the same time. I know of too many "new" men staying home with kids and not doing the housework. In some cases while the woman works full-time outside the home and does a fair whack of the domestic stuff too.
    I'm glad you get some help, and by the sound of it recognition that help is a reasonable thing to expect, because it really is a big ask to look after children and run a house and do all the other stuff. More than full time, really.
    I used to really hate ironing too, but now for some reason, I sort of enjoy it, in limited amounts. I think it's the new iron and the smell of ironed cotton. Weird.