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Bathtime wars! New negotiations in the home.

A version of this article first appeared in The Sunday Times >

Working from home ought to have evened out the chores but the evidence suggests otherwise. Caroline Whaley discusses…

It really hasn’t changed much. Women are still picking up 70 per cent of the chores at home. A lot of women told us their husbands had just commandeered the spare room, and could go in and shut the door, while they were working at the dining room table.

As well as the dishes and laundry and cooking and childcare, women have taken on extra emotional labour. It has been overwhelming. Whether it’s family stuff, or carrying responsibility for their teams at work, it has all contributed to a drain on women’s lives. There is more burnout than we have ever seen before.

Young mothers never feel they have enough ‘me time’ anyway but that disappeared completely. A knock-on effect of that is a feeling of a lack of accomplishment, looking at your life and thinking, ‘is this really it?’

For families feeling the strain, Cal advises an old-fashioned solution: a conversation. Women ought to realise that it’s fine not to always be the one at the school gates. It’s fine for the kid to wear a funny outfit or have a burger once in a while. Life isn’t going to fall apart.

But by far the most helpful thing to do is delineate roles. Sit down and ask each other: ‘What’s fair here?’ It’s not an easy conversation but it’s important, because otherwise it can breed resentment like nobody’s business. Just don’t have that conversation when you’re angry.

In other words, whoever is in charge of the bathwater, don’t throw out the baby…

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