When I approach our shelf of candy-coloured cleaning chemicals, or take the vacuum in my hand, something happens to my attention span. It collapses in on itself like an anemone.
As a cleaner, I exhibit all the worst characteristics in any worker – I’m inefficient, tardy, lacking in initiative and I can’t concentrate on one thing long enough to get it done properly.
So that’s me. As to the other cleaner within the family, I will table the last census as Exhibit A. The census landed like an incendiary device in our household. All thanks to that one little question, which asked Person 1 (me) to calculate the average weekly hours Person 2 (him) spent on domestic work.
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Share houses are responsible for many of life’s big lessons, but none more than the lesson of housework and why you should teach your kids how to keep house from an early age.
Why? Because the kids without these kind of lessons are the bane of communal living, simply because their idea of tidying the house or washing up differs vastly from everyone elses.
They’re the people who don’t wash up, and the people who think it’s OK to leave cups, glasses, bottles of wine and leftover food on the coffee table before going to bed. In other words, they are slobs.
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‘First Bloke’ Tim Mathieson has been tried and found guilty of not living up to the manly stereotype, despite all his work in sheds.
You didn’t hear about Therese Rein running former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s baths, or about Janette Howard pouring the bubble bath after former Prime Minister John Howard had a hard day.
It’s all part of the novelty of having our first female Prime Minister.
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I have a friend. His mum cooked and cleaned and shopped for him his whole life. Then he met a girl who became his wife who cooked and cleaned and shopped for him the rest of his life. This isn’t the 1950s and this “friend” could be any number of my mates or mate’s partners.
Now, before all you guys start wailing about the unfairness of this statement and start accusing me of being a man-hating feminist, let me just say I know quite a few guys who do their fair share of the domestic duties.
I even know one or two who do more than their partner. Case in point: My workmate’s partner is a saint. All the ladies in the office listen jealously as Kate tells us how her fiance Jamie cooks every night and makes her lunch everyday. The truth is for every Jamie there is a Tom, Dick or Harry who does bugger all.
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People are always trying to convince us to drink less. Think of the children, they say. Think of the liver. The brain. The money. The embarrassment of drinkwalking into stationary objects and doing that odd drunk-high-heel-tottering walk and tittering.
Think of the risk of sexual assault, of falling off things, of being caught singing NKOTB songs at karaoke. Think of the unborn, and the weight gain, and the increased risk of telling your boss what you really think or going home with stinky Ned from finance.
Oh yes, drinking is a path littered with the loose morals and lost shoes of its travellers.
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Note to the whingers: having a cleaner does not make you a snob. It does not mean you have tickets on yourself or that you can’t keep house.
It also does not mean that you are rich and wildly successful. Or that you want people to think that you are rich and wildly successful.
It’s 2012. People have cleaners because they’re busy and paying someone else to do the vacuuming works for them.
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A story recently published on news.com.au about a policy from Million Dollar Woman offering stay at home parents compensation if they are unable to work, totally bemused me. Well not so much the story, which was great. It was the accompanying poll that grabbed my attention. The poll simply asked “Should stay-at-home mums be compensated if they get sick?”
Now given that in order to receive the compensation you have to have taken out an insurance policy to the tune of $40 or $60 a month for the Day-to-Day Living Expenses Cover to pay you either $1,000 or $1,500 fortnightly, it seems a no-brainer to me. Absolutely I say, compensate.
This is a simple insurance policy protecting in most cases the primary care giver in the family. It is not subsidised by the tax payer. It costs us nothing. So given that it is a self-funded voluntary insurance, why would anyone respond to that poll question with a No?
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Men who do more housework get more sex. Apparently. I’m dubious because I’d never interrupt a man brandishing a broom.
OK, maybe if it was Colin Firth, and he was shirtless and had just pegged the last sock.
Men doing housework doesn’t do it for me because it’s not the unmade beds, the dirty dishes or even the endless cooking that’s doing me in; it’s the admin. Or what I call “fadmin” – family administration.
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Screw equality. Forget men and women both trying to do a bit of the cleaning and child-rearing and maintenance and whatever else.
If you really want to make sure your household is both a perfectly oiled and well-balanced clean machine, then stop sharing and start to specialise in the jobs you do at home.
A strict delineation of domestic duties will ensure each task is done by the best person for the job and avoid any unnecessary and stressful double-up that comes from both of you trying to “share”.
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A few years ago there was a funny little survey funded by fruitgrowers which spoke volumes about the relationship between men and women, particularly on the vexed question of domestic chores.
The survey found that the overwhelming majority of men refused to eat fruit, but said they would be prepared to eat fruit if someone could peel it, cut it into small pieces and hand it to them on a plate.
The survey has at its centre a kind of male patheticness which many blokes seem to regard as endearing, and which most women probably cannot stand.
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Oh. No. Really. Won’t someone please mop the tears of unreserved mirth? Apparently, Women Love Shoes! And Men Just Don’t Know What To Do With a Vacuum Cleaner! Oh, hahaha, the difference between the sexes. They’re just so funny because they’re just so true.
Jokes about the location of the clitoris or the importance of the shed are every bit as progressive and useful as beta-video. Equally acquainted with the pleasures of both, I’ve never understood the merit of these gags.
Perhaps this is because I am a mannish girl. Or perhaps it is because jokes about the “Gender Wars” have their place. Viz. only on disgraced Austereo breakfast programs or in forwarded emails sent by my father-in-law.
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