Husbands & household helpers

Husbands & household helpers

Marriage & The Family

Shelly Ann HARRIS

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

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LAST week we started looking at how families assign chores to help teach children responsibility and independence. This week we continue looking at how chores are assigned to children and other members of the household. We also see how the assignment of chores is impacted by having a household helper.

We have already seen how children and mothers share chores, but what about fathers/husbands? Nahima, mother of four girls, discloses that her husband, Donovan, the main breadwinner and entrepreneur for a local tech business, does not have a particular assignment.

“Donovan does not do any of the [assigned] jurisdictions. We tried having him involved in the chore scheduling but we found that when he was given a particular jurisdiction to do, his schedule was so unpredictable that even with the very best of intentions he would not be able to manage consistently enough and so things would get left undone. So what I have done is I have decided to take that pressure off of him and instead have him focus on two things — taking out the garbage (and that's garbage from all the rooms that have garbage bins) and taking care of the car,” the devoted wife of over 20 years explains.

Nahima is quick to point out that Donovan not having an assigned chore “doesn't mean that he doesn't help with anything else, it just means that he is not responsible for it, and I find that that frees him up, frees him from guilt, frees him to pour his energy into the work that he does, and it also has helped me with my own expectations to not be frustrated when the dishes are lying in the sink 24 hours after they were used.”

On the cooking side of things, however, Donovan is very busy in the six-person household.

“He is responsible for breakfast and he also does Sunday dinner, so those are his areas. And then he helps around generally and if he feels like washing stuff any day he will chip in and wash those even though it's not a part of his duty, which is also beautiful because it teaches all of us that we don't have to be strict and stringent about what we do — we don't say, 'This is not my area so I am not going to help', but instead we can learn to serve each other,” Nahima admonishes.

Angela's husband, Irwin, is similarly not assigned to a chore per se, but is involved with a little cooking and other activities.

“Irwin is not on my chore schedule. He takes care of outside,” said the homeschooling mom of three.

“He and my eldest son cut the grass. Irwin cooks when I need him to and he used to wash the dishes for the children on Friday nights. Some nights he will wash all for them and sometimes he helps them with washing,” Angela outlines.

She was also delighted to share that, “Irwin cooks us breakfast every Saturday morning. That is his gift to me because I am the main breakfast cooker. It lets me sleep late on Saturdays because almost every other morning I am up before him.”

Irwin works outside the home and like Donovan is also the main breadwinner for his family.

By contrast, Sheila's husband does not participate in household chores in general. Perhaps this is because their family has a household helper. Sheila and husband Winston, who have four children, both work outside the home, and so they rely on a household helper to get household tasks done.

“There is no doubt about it — we definitely need a household helper, but the challenge I face with this dynamic is ensuring that our children learn how to take care of a home and themselves,” Sheila confesses.

“So while I have my helper do the big tasks of cleaning and cooking, I assign the children dishwashing, sweeping and general tidying of the spaces. I also require that they spread their own beds every morning. Of course I have to work with my helper on this and tell her what she must not do or hide and do for the children. I want them to learn to do basic tasks,” Sheila insists.

Furthermore, “since COVID-19, with our helper not being with us consistently, the kids have had to learn to cook more and that has been a blessing,” Sheila adds, noting that, “they still have a lot to learn in terms of cooking meats and more complex meals.”

Interestingly, Winston doesn't participate in household chores today, but Sheila says that he used to help with bathing the children and getting them ready for school when they were little.

How do you manage household chores in your home?

Shelly-Ann Harris is the author of several titles including her latest God's Woman. Connect with her on Twitter @harrisshellyann.Send comments to allwoman@jamaicaobserver. com or

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