Sunday, October 22, 2006

Splitting Household Work

In response to Laura at 11D:

For the record, before I start, I do consider myself a liberal feminist! I work very part-time, so the house and family is my main job. I married a good guy, and agree that’s #1 in importance on the list of how to avoid getting stuck with all the drudgery when there are children in the picture. I’d say #2 is to have a division of labor, stick to it, and don’t nag the other about their work. My observation is that this is very difficult for some people!

At our house we have a fairly traditional distribution of the workload. He works all week (plus 2 part-time jobs as a firefighter and EMT). I take care of the kids, shopping, meals, money, and the cleaning and organizing inside the house. He takes care of the yard work (except gardening, which at our house is optional) and other outside work (gutters, etc.). He fixes stuff that he can fix, mounts things to the wall, etc. He generally handles the kids’ sports events on weekends. In addition to the fairly tradition breakdown of jobs, he folds all the laundry (often on Sundays, in front of the football game), and (sort of) takes care of one bathroom. We occasionally chip in on the other’s job. There are definitely things that don’t get done, or at least not as often as they probably should. My priority (and I think our priority) is a happy family life, and organizing closets comes second (or tenth). I crisis clean for guests, but I’m not generally in a panic about the state of the house. It’s undeniably lived in, but far from squalor. It’s our medium, and it wouldn’t fit everyone.

For better or worse tradition often exists because it worked in some way. We didn’t plan a traditional division of labor, but it works for us. Also, I believe that routine and a general understanding of who does what job leads to less nagging and stress. It may be that the lawn hasn’t been mowed for three weeks, but he knows it, and it’s not my job, so I try to keep my mouth shut about it. I certainly don’t want him telling me how to clean the house.

I think he does feel some stress at being responsible for the family income. When I was early in our pregnancy with our third and he was very unhappy at his job I said he could quit, we’d cancel the addition we planned to build (we had money saved for it), and I would get a job. He didn’t take me up on it. It was a limited time offer, as I wanted to be home with the baby. If he wanted to switch roles now, I would do my best to figure that out (the baby is two-and-a-half and doesn’t need Mama 24x7 anymore). I think having a parent with time for the house and the kids is a good lifestyle, and I’m willing to cut costs if necessary to keep it. If we get to the point where we aren’t willing to cut costs, then I’m willing to try to find more work – I hope it wouldn’t be full-time, though.

I do worry about what my sons will think about the traditional division of labor, so we try to mix it up every now and then. He can cook a meal, and I can mow the lawn or use a power tool and we do it occasionally. We want to show them that we are both capable of doing whatever needs to be done. I think in general we both believe that, and I hope that that attitude is picked up by the kids.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Can you save the world and care for a toddler?

What's the protocol of commenting on someone else's blog, but wanting the same text for my own? I don't know. Anyway, here's my response to this:

I don't pick up after my husband (much). And I don't hear my other at home friends complaining about that either. But the kid stuff is definitely done by the moms. In very few families would the childrearing look the same if there was a different woman in charge. It *is* hard to save the world with a toddler clinging to your leg. It's hard to manage a conference call with your two-year old getting closer and closer while calling out "I poopy!" Young and childless feminists need to hear:"It's the kids, stupid." But kids need some level of consistent care. Besides, although it's a lot of work, I'm the boss, and sometimes, it's kind of fun. How's that for not answering your question (why get married?)!

I'm not sure it's why I got married (it probably isn't), but I can't picture being a stay-at-home mom with only a small income and an even smaller "career" if I didn't have the commitment of marriage attaching me to the family salary earner. And I think he and I agree that although not perfect, this arrangement is pretty darn good.

Ambleside Online (Year 1) for non-Christians

I am enjoying the Ambleside Online curriculum (year 1), but I am a secular homeschooler, and I don't share the same moral and religious reasons for homeschooling as the creators and many of the users of AO, I find I have to approach the readings with a little caution. From the beginning, I decided not to do any Bible study. I will let UU Sunday School take care of that (and they are). I researched Trial and Triumph by Hannula, but decided not to use it for a few reasons: I would have had to buy it, as it is not one of the books available for free on the web; it is the history of Christian martyrs which makes the stories intense since every hero dies! Religion is important to history, but I prefer to let my children learn about history and religion through other sources.

Another AO1 resource which I am ambivalent about is Parables from Nature by Margaret Gatty. We read the first story, which has wonderful information about butterflies and a message about trusting that something good comes after death. It is not overtly Christian. The second story I have not yet read aloud. It has wonderful information about bees, but the message has to do with keeping to your station or position in life, and I am uncomfortable with that. I haven't read ahead any further to see what the other stories are like. I haven't included them in our personal schedule -- we may add a few as extras.

Aesop's fables also have moral messages, but I haven't found any of them contrary to my own views. Also, they are so short, that I can easily skim them as I'm settling down to read them aloud. I don't feel I need to prescreen.

Fairy tales can have moral messages, but they can easily be discussed in the context of how one character made choices, or felt pressured, or whatever. They needn't be taken as prescriptive. (Unlike the Gatty parables, which do feel as though they're preaching a universal truth.)

Incidentally, we loved the first fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast, but have been a little disapointed in the others we've read (Why the Sea is Salt, The Glass Slipper, Soria Moria, The Death of Koshchei the Deathless. I think I'll stick to the better known fairy tales for awhile, on the assumption that they are better known because they are better stories!

Those are the books from the Year 1 list that seem to have potentially unwelcome content and messages for non-Christians. I think the others have little Christian content (are the AO advisory board members laughing behind their hands at me?)

I haven't found a mailing list for Non-Christian/Secular AOers, but I'd be interested in other opinions.