Happy mother’s day! Recently, Dr. Azvedo-Hanks did a great post on Invisible Labor (aka Emotional Labor), or the things women are often expected to do that men are often given a pass for. When something is expected, no credit is given. An even better, more comprehensive post on Emotional Labour can be found here. Mother’s Day is all about giving credit and noticing what is normally invisible, so . . .
Today’s post is a Cosmo-style quiz to evaluate who handles the majority of “Emotional Labor” in your home. For each item, score as follows:
A – Husband does more.
B – Wife does more.
C – Neither does.
D – Both do equally.
E – N/A.
- Tracking food and meal preparation, remembering who likes what, and how long the meals will take to prepare.
- Cooking treats for the husband’s home teaching families during the holidays.
- Remembering and acknowledging family and friends’ birthdays.
- Planning children’s birthday parties including sending out invitations, planning the games, and buying gifts.
- Trying to make the home beautiful and making sure everyone feels welcome there.
- Attempting to de-escalate power struggles between family members.
- Making sure that religious milestones (baptisms, missionary farewells, etc.) are meaningful (while simultaneously not challenging the counsel discouraging any celebration that takes away from the sacredness of the ordinance or occasion).
- Tracking the children’s Scout progress, Duty to God, Personal Progress; keeping track of the booklets, and checking with Church leaders.
- Planning and making travel arrangements to visit out-of-state family members.
- Corralling children during Sacrament meeting, keeping them quiet and in the pew. Prepare snacks, toys, and activities.
- Coaching one’s spouse on how to become a more patient and effective parent.
- Feeling responsible for the happiness and the choices of children and other family members.
- Tracking the cleaning, chores, and upkeep of the house.
- Keeping the house organized and knowing where things are located at all times.
- Feeling responsible for maintaining extended family relationships and friendships, planning outings, keeping in touch, and sending Christmas cards.
- Being the emotional support for family and friends: providing support, empathy and nurturing.
- Tracking and implementing family planning, birth control, and dealing with the side effects of birth control.
- Ensuring children do homework, practicing, and chores.
- Tracking children’s activities working out scheduling and carpool.
- Monitoring children’s online activity and filtering their digital access to ensure that they only view appropriate material.
- Making sure the family has clean, well-fitting appropriate clothing to wear for all occasions.
- Planning, worrying, and scheduling child care and babysitters (or generally being the one to stay home with a sick child).
- Arranging for your spouse to care for the children (vs. assuming they will be cared for) so you can do an activity.
- Carefully wording and delivering any requests, criticism, or feedback.
- Planning for, managing, and performing care for aging parents and family members.
- Being in charge of scheduling doctor appointments, dentists, therapists, etc.
- Planning and decorating for holidays and trying to make it special for each family member.
- Remembering children’s teacher’s names, classrooms, and health provider information.
- Sorting through junk, organizing drawers and clothing, choosing what to give away.
- Performing many of the things that no one notices unless they don’t get done (replacing paper towels and toilet paper, doing laundry, making sure there is food to eat).
- Trying to stay calm and peaceful while dealing with an out-of-control child in public.
- Managing the extra care, cost, worry, doctors and therapy appointments for a child with special needs.
- In a work environment, spending energy to strike the right balance between being firm but not overbearing, sympathetic but not simpering, sincere but not smarmy, and corrective but not bossy.
- Handling family finances and tracking expenditures; clipping coupons and searching for best deals. Managing the day to day budget for routine family expenses.
- Taking care of pets: food, water, vet appointments, walking the dog, emptying the litter box, etc.
- Taking care of garden, yard, herb garden or house plants.
- Vehicle maintenance at appropriate milestones.
- Handling “IT” requests for family members: restocking the printer, changing the print cartridge, troubleshooting computers, resetting the internet, evaluating carrier providers.
- Taking out the garbage and recycling regularly.
- Feeling scrutinized or judged by others for any failures regarding emotional labor: a dirty house, unwashed dishes, children’s schedules or carpools, etc.
Tally the number of A, B, C, D, E answers you have. To get an equality rating, subtract your total number of As from your total number of Bs. (Don’t count C, D, or E responses). The closer to zero, the more equal your labor distribution.
Take a closer look at the items you tallied in each category.
- A scores – if you have more A than B scores this means the husband does more than the wife of the items on the list. Is that a distribution that works for you both without creating resentment? If not, try to either shift some things from one spouse to the other or move them to C or D.
- B scores – if you have more B than A scores, this means the wife does more than the husband of the items on this list. Is that a distribution that works for you both without creating resentment? If not, try to either shift some things from the wife to the husband or move some items to C or D.
- C scores – are there things not getting done that would enhance relationships or life in general that someone should pick up?
- D scores – well done! Are these items that you both want to do equally (or to avoid equally)? If so, these are perfect for D.
- E scores – simplifying life is the best. Eventually, many things could end up here as you live longer.
A few words about Emotional Labor.
- One of the issues with Emotional Labor is that it goes unrecognized when women do it, but men often get praise for “going above and beyond.” I’ve tried to equalize for that by including some tasks that may more often be done by men (in a traditional arrangement).
- Domestic load sharing is often influenced by work schedules outside the home; however, it should not be entirely left up to the stay-at-home spouse (if the family has that luxury) because that means the stay-at-home spouse is “on” 24×7 due to never leaving his or her “workplace.” It has been statistically demonstrated that working women consistently handle more than their share of domestic work also.
Let’s hear from you:
- What was your overall score? Are you happy with that score? Why or why not? Is your spouse happy with it? Are you sure?
- What were your totals for each rating: A, B, C, D, E? Are there things not getting done that should be? Are there some things you feel you should let go?
- What insights did you gain from doing this? What changes, if any, would you make based on this evaluation?
- Do you or your spouse feel any resentment about the domestic tasks you do?