March 20, 2017

The (other) gender gap.

Hello and happy Monday! This is Susan Hyatt and it’s GO time.

This is the 88th episode in a series of GO mp3s to wake you up on your Monday morning and get you going.

In this episode we’re talking the (other) gender gap that exists insides most homes.

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If you’re listening to this podcast, chances are… you are a woman. Hiiii ladies!

(I know I have a couple of gentlemen listening as well, and I appreciate you guys, too. And yes, this episode still pertains to you, too. So, listen up. You might learn somethin’ that can improve your relationships with the women in your life.)

OK, so for the ladies listening… I’ve got a question for you:

If you live with a male partner, does it feel like your household chores get divided 50-50? You do half, and he does half? Or does it feel like the majority of the household chores get done by YOU? Not 50-50, more like 70-30 or 80-20?

I’ve got a feeling you’re thinking, “Um, yeah, it is DEFINITELY NOT 50-50. When it comes to shopping, cooking, cleaning, organizing, planning, researching, making appointments, childcare, carpool, everything that goes into running our household… I do WAY MORE than HE does.”

If that’s what you’re feeling… guess what? You’re not crazy. You’re not delusional. You’re completely correct.

According to the latest data from The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in most American households, women DO spend more time doing housework than their male partners. This isn’t something you’re just “imagining.” It’s a fact.

Even in households where the woman and man BOTH work full-time, it’s the WOMAN who still winds up doing the majority of the household chores.

All of those chores take time, of course. It takes time to chop carrots. It takes time to dash over to the post office. It takes time to call the water heater repair company, schedule an appointment, and wait for them to arrive. So much time goes into creating a functional household. There are so many micro-tasks that can really add up.

And aside from all that time, there’s so much MENTAL ENERGY that goes into running a household, too. Who notices when the toilet paper is running low? Who checks to see if there’s enough laundry detergent left to get through the week? Who remembers when the kids are due for a dentist’s appointment? Usually, it’s the woman. It’s the momma bear. All of that “noticing,” “checking,” and “remembering” adds up, too. It can be mentally exhausting.

For millions of women, all of these responsibilities become like an “invisible part-time job.” Women experience inequality in the workplace, and then they come home and experience a different type of inequality in their own living room.

This is the “other” gender gap. The domestic gender gap.

I hear about this all the time from my clients, and I’ve totally experienced it myself.

Back in 2005, I remember complaining to my therapist about how imbalanced things felt at home. I absolutely love my husband Scott, but sometimes–OK, at LOT of the time–I felt like he didn’t notice the hundreds of little things I did to keep our household running. He’d say, “Well, I do my fair share too!” And I’d be like, “Ugggh. Honey, no. You don’t.” But he didn’t believe me.

I said to my therapist, “I wish we could have a camera crew follow me and Scott around for a week. Then at the end of the week, they could calculate who actually does more around the house.” I knew that the truth would be revealed! LOL.

2005 was a long time ago. Things are very different now. I’ve made a LOT of changes around our household to create more fairness and efficiency.

Some of those changes involve… hiring professionals and delegating instead of doing everything by myself. For example, instead of doing all the cleaning, I hired a housekeeper to help out. Instead of waiting for Scott to fix something he promised to do weeks ago, these days, I’ll call and hire a professional.

But “hiring people to do stuff” isn’t the whole picture. I’ve also learned how to set boundaries to protect my time. These days, I have strict office hours when I’m working. My husband and kids know that they can’t bother me during those hours unless the house is burning down… and even then, hey, Scott is perfectly equipped to call 911 on his own! LOL.

I also changed some of our communication policies. For example, I changed the school’s primary emergency contact number to Scott first, and me second. Up until our son Ryan was in the 5th grade, I was always the primary contact. I’d get all the sick calls, and the your-kid-is-in-trouble calls, and anything else the school needed to inform us about. But from 5th grade and onward, now my husband gets those calls first, not me. I love my kids more than anything, but that doesn’t mean I need to be the first point-of-contact for every single little thing. Ryan’s got a dad, too, and sometimes… dad can handle it. That’s how we parent these days, and it feels much more fair and balanced.

Here’s my challenge for you this week:

If you feel like there’s an unfair gender gap in your household, don’t just sigh and whine to your friends about it.

DO SOMETHING about it.

– Have an honest conversation with your partner.

– Make a list of chores and divide things up fairly.

– Get your groceries delivered, or hire a housekeeper, if that’s something you can afford.

– If you work from home, establish “office hours” where you’re not to be disturbed. Tell your family to pretend you’re away at a regular office, and not to disturb you unless it’s a 5-alarm fire level emergency. This might take some adjustment before they “get it,” but hold firm, and eventually they’ll get the message.

– Also, give your partner a list of doctor’s appointments and other appointments that need to be scheduled, and have HIM do it. If you’ve handled that kind of stuff for YEARS, then it’s perfectly reasonable to say, “Hey honey, this time? You handle it. Here’s the list. Thank you.”

You can do this. You can close the gender gap in your household. There are so many changes you can make. But it’s up to YOU to get this in motion. Nobody’s going to change your domestic situation for you. It’s up to YOU to identify what’s not working and make changes.

Having a beautiful, functional household is wonderful, but…  I’m sure you’ve got PLENTY of other things you want to be doing aside from running a household. Like running your business. Or volunteering. Or getting involved with activism projects. Or writing new blog posts. Or working on a book. You need time for all of those pursuits, and nobody’s going to hand that time to you. You have to claim it for yourself.

Let’s be real… You were not born to restock toilet paper rolls, and you were not born to scrub dishes, wallowing in resentment, while your partner watches football. Oh HELL NO. This is 2017. We can do better than that. Remember that, ladies.

Change your domestic situation, so that you can unlock the time and energy you need for bigger ambitions—like changing the world.

It’s GO time.

Susan Hyatt

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