Skip to content

Division of Labour

Like many couples, Christopher and I divided the household chores up between us. There were jobs that he did, and ones that I did. Some of those were explicitly discussed and agreed upon – e.g. he did the cooking, and I did the laundry. Others just sort of happened without either of us really thinking about it.

Obviously, everything is down to me know. When he was first made redundant, Chris started to set up a Google calendar of all the regular jobs he was in charge of, and I’ve been getting a steady stream of emails from him over the past two weeks, telling me to sort out the car insurance, empty the septic tank, and get the boiler serviced. It’s a bit of a shock when I see an email from him in my inbox, but it’s quite nice getting a prompt to sort things out. The car insurance is sorted for another year, the septic tank was emptied last week, and I’m writing this while the heating maintenance engineer is servicing my boiler.

The problem really comes with those jobs that were Christopher’s responsibility, but which only needed to be done infrequently, not on a set time table. I haven’t necessarily registered that a) they need doing, and b) they haven’t been done. A case in point is defrosting the freezer. The kitchen was Christopher’s domain; I had very little to do with it, and had to learn to cook in a hurry when he fell ill. So, if the freezer needed defrosting, he just got on and did it – though I suspect he didn’t do it very often. I certainly had nothing to do with it.

This week I finally faced up to the fact that the freezer was badly in need of defrosting, and it wasn’t going to magically happen on its own. It was a huge job. The ice cube tray was frozen completely shut with a mini-glacier an inch thick, and I could barely open one of the drawers for build-up of ice. There were unlabelled tubs of leftovers that I didn’t recognise at all, and of the food that had use by dates, some of them dated back to 2010, so had been put there by Chris…….

I threw out everything that was unlabelled, unrecognisable, or out of date, leaving pretty much only some mince, oven chips and peas that I know I bought myself, use regularly, and are well within date. Everything else had to go. Then it came to defrosting it. That took five hours and the use of an 8″ kitchen knife, a wooden spatula (which snapped), all my tea towels, a hairdryer, and a succession of hot water bottles. I emptied out two overflowing washing-up bowls worth of ice! Then I had to go shopping to restock it. But now I have a clean and ice-free freezer, stocked with labelled, in-date food. And, perhaps more importantly, it’s now firmly on my radar as a job that needs to be done, so I won’t let it get so bad again.

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Kevin Lock | 11 October 2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    I fully understand your situation. Since my wife died I have had my 42 year old son living with me and I have become a/the Hausfrau doing the washing cooking,cleaning, gardening etc etc. Don’t like it at all! No one should have to live with anyone not a lifetime partner.