Labours of love: Splitting the chores in retirement

Mar 25, 2023
Source: Getty

Who does the household chores in your family? Do you divide and conquer? Are you on equal footing? Here’s what I’ve experienced.

It seems like most people I know fall into one of two categories: Either they’re anal about cleaning or they could give a shit. Sometimes there’s a division of labour, but usually, these tasks primarily fall upon one person. 

When we were in Los Angeles and both of us were working, we hired a housekeeper to attend to our condo. She came in for seven hours every other week and took care of all the things that we didn’t want to do. My partner did most of the cooking, and I did the dishes. But most of the grunt work was done by the housekeeper.

Now that we are retired, things have changed. It seems like my partner is always cleaning something. Is it because she likes to do it? Maybe it’s because she has time on her hands and it’s become a hobby? Maybe it’s a form of exercise? I don’t like to do it, so I take her out to eat to compensate for these activities. She’s always a sucker for a bribe.

It seems like most women I know are pretty fastidious with cleaning. I hear stories about scrubbing, ironing, vacuuming, and all sorts of things that I’m not very good at it. Makes me afraid to go over to their houses because I might track in an ant and be forever banished from their homes.

I am fairly fastidious when it comes to certain things, like writing, music, and photography. But everything else? Unless it’s filthy, I tend not to notice.

Even though my desk sometimes looks like a cyclone has hit it, I’m OK with that. I know where everything is.

My bathroom counter is home to all of my medications so I don’t have to bend over and figure out where I shoved them below the sink. Again, it’s a form of squalor that I can tolerate.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a clean house. But I don’t like to do it, and I’m not very good at it. Today I took an inventory of some of the products that my partner uses to keep the house clean. Perhaps you fastidious ones know what these are.

Easy OffIsn’t that something that you spray on the bed to keep pets away?

JoySomething I feel when my partner does the cooking

Resolve I thought that was used when you’ve had a fight with your spouse?

Spray and Wash Should I use this before I get in the shower?

CometOh yeah, those things I’ve seen in the sky from time to time

Downy When I lived in Los Angeles, it was a neighbourhood about 12 miles from me.

Gain What’s that all about? If I step on the scale, I know.

Spic ’n SpanI think this is the name of a game show?

Pledge– Didn’t I already do that when I got married?

DawnWell, that’s my favourite time of day.

Dial- I have an iPhone now, so I don’t need to do that anymore.

Barkeeper’s Friend- Anyone who tips well qualifies for that.

Seriously, it seems like the women in the household are usually the ones who are more intent on keeping things clean. But my twin sister is OCD when it comes to cleaning and her girlfriend is a slob, there’s an exception to that rule.  

I guess somehow they work it out though because they’ve been together for 15 years.

How do you guys deal with household chores? Has the division of labour changed since you retired?

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