Working Parents: Division of Labor in Two-Career Families

So you come home to a messy house after a demanding 14-hour day at work. The phone was ringing off the hook all day, your boss wouldn't stop hounding you about the TPS Report cover sheet, and problem after problem kept you from accomplishing your actual tasks for the day. In essence, it was the work day from hell. And now you have piled-up dishes, dirty floors, a mystery spot on the ceiling, a spouse relaxing with a beer and kids playing video games all staring you in the face. Grrr. How can you deal?

Unfortunately, on that particular day, there is no way to get around the fact that you had a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day. But there are a few ways to deal with the messy house issue, and it all boils down to finding a division of labor that works. Let's take a look.

Call a Family Meeting

When you and your spouse both have demanding careers, finding time for day-to-day household tasks can seem more draining than running a marathon. Really, who wants to tackle a sink full of dirty dishes after a day from hell at the office? In all probability, those dishes will be left until someone finds the time and energy to load the dishwasher. This may become an issue, and in this case, it could be time to call a family meeting to discuss the division of labor. Here are a few subjects to tackle:

  • Parental Duties: First, it's important to lay out how you wish to tackle the division of labor among the parental figures. If you like to cook but hate to do dishes, maybe the hubby could take on dish duty. If yard work is your forte but vacuuming is the bane of your existence, working out a compromise could help.
  • Sharing the Load: Once in a while, it may be impossible to attack the household duties you signed up for, so it may be important to work in a willing-to-pitch-in-when-the-going-gets-rough clause. Here, if you're stuck at work for a 14-hour day, your spouse could agree to tackle your duties for the night. Just catch her on the flip side later.
  • Kids' Chores: If children are old enough to pitch in, they could be more helpful than you might realize. Putting them to work can ease your responsibilities, but only if they complete their chores. Establishing a chore chart, an allowance or daily duties can help keep teens and tweens on track.
  • Hiring Out: Another solution to the domestic responsibilities is hiring help. Lawn services, laundry services, housecleaners and personal chefs are all available for the busy household. It may cost money to hire each service, but sometimes a little outside help can keep the peace within the home.

Overall, when work commitments make it tough to complete household chores, all is not lost. Working out deals with your family, pitching in as needed, and hiring out are all solutions that can make home look homier and look less like a pigsty.

How do you deal, MomVesting readers? Any tips for those tackling a two-career work/life balance?

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