For your sake, and the sake of the sisterhood.
If you’re a working mom, you’re most likely exhausted. Overworked. Underpaid.
We spend a lot of time talking about the second shift—when moms get home from work and start their second job taking care of their family. Even though moms have been in the workforce for decades now, research shows we still handle the bulk of chores and childcare.
We’ve recommended a number of strategies to help heterosexual women convince their partners to pitch in with domestic duties. We know it doesn’t always work. The majority of men still kick back and relax while their wives wash dishes and manage the mental load by replying to school emails and scribbling out the grocery list for the week.
Sure, it’s slowly changing—with emphasis on slowly. “MenCare, a fatherhood campaign working toward childcare parity in 45 nations, estimates that at the current rate of change, it will be another 75 years before women achieve gender equality in the home—a more optimistic figure than the 200 years the United Nations International Labour Organization predicted in March, on the eve of International Women’s Day,” The Atlantic reports.
One strategy that’s frequently recommended: Lean out at home. Let the dishes pile up. Let the dust bunnies hop around. Send the kids to Dad for homework help. Eventually, the squalor will bother even the most laid-back of men, who will pick up the slack.
So the theory goes. But if dirty dishes and dust bunnies don’t bother your partner, he’s not likely to tackle the chore if you don’t.
Working moms, I have good news! There’s one task you can stop doing RIGHT NOW for your husband that will have zero negative impact on your kids, your home or your own mental wellbeing. Please, I’m begging you, for your own sake and for the sake of the sisterhood, stop doing your husband’s laundry.
You can’t force your partner to make pediatrician’s appointments or scrub toilets, but you can refuse to touch his clothing. The best part? When you stop tackling your husband’s laundry, he has no choice but to handle it himself—that is, if he’d like to wear clean clothes.
Give him a large laundry basket. Hide it in a closet. If it turns into a towering mountain of clothing, that’s his choice, and his problem.
If you just so happen to have an affinity for washing and folding, don’t let me stop you from doing what you love. But at the very least, make it an equal trade—he gets dishes or diaper duty, or whatever you feel is equitable.
However, if you loathe loading, washing, drying, folding and sorting the never-ending piles of clothing in your home, there’s an easy way to cut back: Don’t do your husband’s laundry. Just. Don’t. Do. It.
Oh, but it’s your kid’s clothes that really pile up, you say? My friend Emily has a hack for that: She started moving small piles of her daughter’s clothes into her husband’s laundry basket. It turns out he never thought to check the basket in their daughter’s room, but if the clothes were already sitting in his basket waiting to be washed, he didn’t mind. He just washed it.
If cutting one dreaded chore out of your week isn’t incentive enough to make you stop doing his damn laundry, here’s more food for thought: You’re modeling what relationships should look like for your kids. If you want to raise a son who’s an equal partner, or a daughter who doesn’t have to work as hard as you do, then drop the laundry basket, stat.
It’s up to men to recognize the problem and do their share at home, but only you—yes YOU—can control who washes your husband’s dirty underwear. Say it with me: Just. Don't. Do. It.
Written by Audrey Goodson Kingo for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.