We asked our diarists who live with others, how the domestic load is being shared. And, for those who have children, how the homeschooling is shared.

There are many different ways to make up a household – and so it is not surprising that we heard a wide range of experiences and from women in a variety of set ups. We heard from diarists living with a male partner and those living with a female partner. We heard from diarists with young children at home, those with teenagers, those with adult children, and those not living with children. We heard from single parents. We heard from those with housemates who aren’t family members. We heard from those who live with siblings or other relations. (And you can also read more about the experience of those living alone).

“The domestic load is mostly mine”

Those living with a male partner and who have younger children, the overall theme was that the woman (our diarists) are taking on more of the domestic load and homeschooling. This matches research published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies at the end of May.

I work part time and my husband full time, so I am continuing to do the main domestic load…and I am cooking more now so he's doing even less!
My husband… is the higher earner and the perception is that my work can be more flexible so I shoulder the homeschooling… I would have appreciated more of an equal split in the homeschooling responsibility. I prepare all meals… and I do all the bedtime (bath, story etc) routine.
I sit opposite [my son] at the dining table while I'm working. My husband works in the study... So home schooling really falls to me. We have recently agreed that I can use the study sometimes if I've got meetings.
The domestic load is not being shared. I do all of it, and the home schooling. My partner works from home 4 days a week, and is in the office the other day…. his sense of entitlement has grown… I get the impression he thinks I am not doing enough. I would love to swap with him. I am missing my job terribly and the role of domestic slave is one I increasingly resent.
The domestic load is all me. I wash the dishes 3-4 times a day, do a load of clothes washing at least once a day (thanks cloth nappies). And attempt to clean to the house although that's barely once a week… I never want to see another lot of washing up in my life!!
The domestic load is mostly mine now. My husband is working from home, so he has taken to using that as an excuse to not do any of the cooking, cleaning, and very little of the home learning help for our two children. By the end of the day I'm even more exhausted than I am after working outside the home.

And we heard from some single parents about how the homeschooling is being shared. For some, it isn’t:

The children have been spending alternate weeks with me and their dad. He does no home schooling with them. I am doing all of the home schooling while the children are with me. I'm also doing most of the domestic chores as well as working from home.

“Why do I need to ask him?!”

One point of frustration was from women whose partner may support the domestic load – but only if specifically asked:

Feels like most of it is falling on me. My husband tries but is reactive rather than proactive. He does housework but only when asked. He does reading with the kids but only when told to.
Me and my husband are both involved with the domestic load, but I definitely do more of it. I'm sure he'd do more if I asked him...but why do I need to ask him?!

“The domestic load is shared equally”

But not everyone’s experience is the same, of course:

I am definitely putting in significantly more working hours than my husband… He is picking up more of the childcare and home schooling.
My husband and I are sharing everything equally. We are both working approx 5 hours a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon with an overlap over lunch while the children watch a film. Whoever isn't working takes responsibility for home-schooling and fitting in the odd bit of housework and vice versa.

To share or not to share?

We heard from other diarists living with a female partner – with experiences that varied:

I am in a relationship with another woman and up to now we have shared domestic tasks fairly equally. However, I always cook and have begun to find this hard. e.g. when I have a difficult day my partner never thinks of making a meal for us both.
I am managing all home schooling because my (female) partner is an NHS worker and out at work. I’m on leave - we had no other choice due to the ages of our kids. I feel lucky that the domestic load is shared fairly evenly between me and my partner.

For those living in a two-person household with a male partner, it seems our diarists overall are taking on a bit more of the domestic load – but several mentioned that they share this equally:

My husband runs a company and I’m a teacher, but only part-time. So I do 70% of domestic stuff. I do the all food shopping and evening meals. We always hang out the washing together, just a habit we got into years ago. And we both hate housework…I’ve insisted that we do that as a shared chore. He does the hoovering, I do the bathrooms, etc.
[We] have always shared domestic tasks and this has continued. We cook alternate evenings, each have things we prefer to keep clean, he does more in the garden I do more of some other things.
My partner is disabled, he does as much as he can. I have to stop him from doing risky things, such as bringing in deliveries… I'm not too fussed about domestic chores. I like cooking and otherwise I keep the place ok but not spotless.
It is being shared pretty equally. My husband makes breakfast and lunch, I make dinner. We do the same amount of cleaning. I plan meals and do the big weekly shop. He sorts the bins and does most of the washing.
I live with my husband. Our sharing of the domestic load remains unchanged on the whole - around 70/30 with me carrying the greater load of domestic tasks. Some tasks, like weekly shopping, I do alone now. I make most meals apart from breakfast, organise laundry, all the admin, vacuuming. He clears up after meals - dishwashing, drying, putting away.

Some of our diarists shared experience of living with adult children:

Am I being unfair in believing that having a returning adult child at home is as difficult as trying sharing the load with a teenager? Well this is how it feels.
I live with my 20yr old daughter. Domestic chores continue to be predominately completed by me.

Housemates and housework

The experience of living with housemates who are not family can be quite different – and yet sometimes the gender roles can also be present:

My housemate and I take it in equal turns. We are both women in our 20s who have no other responsibilities so it causes no issues for us. We clean and cook for each other and this is never a problem. I am exceedingly lucky in this case.
I live with one other person: my housemate is a man unrelated to me but around my own age who also works full-time. It’s difficult to determine how a domestic load is shared, say in the same way as a family… we each generally cook for ourselves, and we both do our own washing and grocery shopping… However, I believe that I do the majority of the cleaning around the house. I don’t think this is conscious on his part, more that I just tend to notice mess faster, or have a different threshold at which I’m no longer comfortable.
We implicitly share the domestic load between myself and my flatmate. A 2 bed flat. We share cleaning and picking up household items (eg. Fairy liquid) without a strict rota, which works reasonably well and around both of our jobs but sometimes I worry that I’m not doing enough.

Look out for upcoming updates from out diarists on what one thing would make a difference to their day to day, as well as their thoughts on how the Government is handling the easing of lockdown.

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