Monday, March 2, 2009

Home Ec

Lately I've been pondering how my education has prepared me for adult life.  Although I'm not currently using my bachelor's degree in the professional sense, I am thankful each day for my college experience - it helped me learn to break down a problem, research and test possible solutions, cooperate with others, and the importance of community.  Those are lessons I lean on each day.  What my education DID NOT prepare me for is the housework, oh the NEVER-ENDING housework!  To clarify, my parents did teach me the basics and I felt confident to handle each individual task, but put them all together, add a tornado-like toddler, and my execution is pretty darn sloppy.

To be honest, I think a lot of women my age (myself DEFINITELY included) come out of college feeling entitled to NOT DO HOUSEWORK or very insistent that their significant others should split the housework with them right down the middle.  So you have some women (myself included) who come out of their college experience ready to change the world and work hard at their careers and who also want kids down the line.  Single life - the housework is cake - you clean your own mess.  Having a spouse changes things, but you can still split it down the middle.  Now here's the thing - having kids changes the entire dynamic of housework.  Suddenly, there's just no possible way to split all the housework down the middle anymore, and the primary caregiver is going to end up with double the housework.  That could definitely be the man, but let's be honest - there's a heckuva lot more SAHMs than SAHDs.  I hope that can change some day, but for now it is what it is.

Now it would be super nice if we could order healthy takeout and hire a housecleaning service every day, but that's not practical nor affordable.  So I am learning to suck it up and get'er done.  I feel like a total rookie at it, and the evidence is all over the house.  I start one job and get distracted by something else that needs to be done.  I have a feeling that several generations ago, women were trained for this sort of thing from a young age, so by the time they had children, they knew exactly how to do laundry, dishes, cooking, and cleaning without filling the kitchen with smoke or letting wet laundry sit mildewy all night in the washer.  Now I don't think it's fair to assume that all girls are going to have kids and care for the house, but it's also not fair to tell kids not to worry about doing housework either, because no matter their adult plans or living situation, they will have to do housework at some point.  I think all students, boys and girls, could benefit from required home ec classes.

Since I don't know if that's going to exist when the Nugget gets to school, I hope to teach him how to do housework at home, and to appreciate a job well done.  For now, that means I have to grit my teeth, smile, and encourage him when he's slopping water all over his highchair and lap while he happily "cleans" his tray, and thank him for dumping the laundry basket on the floor and "folding" the clothes.  And also that I need to adjust my own attitude about housework being a contribution to our family instead of a hated inconvenience.

1 comment:

  1. Many years ago, that's all girls were brought up to do. Have babies and run a household. My how times change! (So it's hopeful that times will keep changing and shift that burden at least to a 50/50 split!)

    I know we had required home ec for all of Jr. High, and then a certain number of credits req'd in High School. It was definitely a benefit. I likely wouldn't know how to sew or knot off a stitch effectively (not that I'm the next Ralph Lauren, but I can mend something and save from having to buy new). I also learned some cooking skills there too, but most of the cooking/baking skills I have, I got from my mom. As well, she gave me the laundry, house cleaning and organizational skills. I remember doing laundry with her and helping her fold/iron way back.

    So I say teach the Nugget how to do all that, he'll thank you for it one day! (Because otherwise my house would be a WRECK!)

    B ":o)