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Lockdown saw the traditional split in domestic work entrenched. Working dads that do more around the house reap a range of benefits.
It’s increasingly clear that for all coronavirus has upended, some things remain the same.
For a start, the latest figures from the Official of National Statistics (ONS) show women are still doing more domestic work than men. That’s been a constant through history. But something else that hasn’t changed is the argument for equalising that load.
So it’s time to make it again.
Domestic work is undoubtedly a drag. Some people like it. That Mrs Hinch has apparently made a fortune and inspired an army of followers by embracing it. But for most of us cleaning the toilet is a chore rather than a delight.
And we must be clear but we men are not skipping out the drudgery out of laziness or disrespect for our other halves. In many, even most, households the father is the main breadwinner. So it’s important he commits to his job, keeps the cash coming in and may feel he has less time for housework.
But it’s worth making time for activities like making the kids breakfast, loading the dishwasher and, yes, cleaning the toilet.
For a start, your partner will fancy you more. There’s strong evidence that couples who split the domestic load more evenly enjoy a closer romantic relationship and a better sex life.
It’s good for your health. Doing chores burns up calories, and helps shift any extra lockdown pounds. It’s also good for your mental health – the satisfaction of turning a grubby sink into a clean sink sets off good things in your brain.
It sets a good example. Kids who see their parents split domestic chores regard that as the norm. In turn they are more likely to repeat that pattern. And they then benefit from the physical and mental health benefits. They are more likely to have a better relationship. And they see the world through more gender equal lives. Putting the washing on makes the future better for your daughter.
And there will be carry over benefits into your paid employment. If you’re fitter and happier you’ll be more productive. That’s makes you a more attractive and more valuable employee. And the same will happen for your partner as she can give more mental energy to her career without having to worry about what’s for dinner every night or whether the kids PE kit is clean. (Remember PE kit? It was a thing kids wore back in the days when they went to school. You might need it again come September.)
So while it’s reasonable that some men see domestic work as a distraction for forging on with their career it’s actually an investment in the overall household income. And while it may feel like you’re a better dad if you give your kids attention by playing Monopoly with them. In fact making time to clean and cook, and letting your children see you do it is an investment in giving them a brighter and more gender equal future.
And if you’re really not inspired by either of those reasons and you’re that base then remember this slogan – clean the bog and you’ll get more snogs.