As a mum of two girls, I’m really aware of raising my daughters to believe their gender should never determine their future roles – either at home or at work. This letter on the gender gap at home, published recently in the annual Bill and Melinda Gates address to the world, really rang true with me.
“I know from listening to my kids and their friends,” writes Melinda, “that most girls don’t think they will be stuck with the same rules that kept their grandmothers in the home. I’m sorry to say this, but if you think that, you’re wrong. Unless things change, girls today will spend hundreds of thousands more hours than boys doing unpaid work simply because society assumes it’s their responsibility.”
I grew up in the 80s and 90s, in a liberal household with two parents who worked full time. Like my girls, I had a sister, and both of us were brought up with an idea that we could achieve anything we wanted if we worked hard. In short, we never once thought that being born a girl would prevent us from following a particular career path (me: a journalist, my sister: a doctor). However, when it came to the domestic drudgery I think it’s pretty fair to say my mum did more of the dull stuff like laundry and ironing than my dad.
Fast-forward to 2016 and now I’m a mum myself raising two daughters. For us, laundry is probably the biggest domestic chore in our house. But unlike my own childhood (sorry Dad if I’m misrepresenting you here!) I’m quite vocal about the laundry being a shared responsibility. That’s why I love that these laundry tips on the Beko website include some expert advice from a dad too. Obviously Beko, like me, see that laundry isn’t automatically the role of the mum just because she’s a woman.
In my case, most of my laundry knowledge comes from my own mum. It’s stuff she taught me when I was little and things I later came to do myself when I was old enough to properly pull my weight at home and help with domestic chores like washing and ironing (I did the family ironing every Sunday from around the age of 14 in order to earn my monthly allowance).
Here’s what my mum taught me:
- Separate darks and lights. Always wash whites on their own.
- Wash on a low heat whenever possible because it saves energy and is kinder to the environment.
- Hang shirts up to dry – they’ll be less crumpled.
- And, finally, get your husband to realise that if he wants clean shirts to wear to work the laundry is just as much his responsibility!
For us, the key to making the laundry less of a chore is simply keeping on top of it. For example, whenever we go away we always try to get a couple of loads of washing done before we come home. There’s nothing worse than coming back from a holiday with piles and piles of washing, plus the laundry that hadn’t been done before you left. Ugh.
Our biggest obstacle to keeping on top of the washing, though, is finding somewhere to dry it. We don’t have a tumble drier, so we rely on good weather in the summer and a decent indoor drying rack in the winter. We currently have a ceiling airer installed in our bathroom which has made a huge difference to how quickly stuff dries (plus it frees up valuable floor space).
Much of the putting away of washing and hanging up of washing happens around bath and bedtime, when we’re both upstairs putting the girls to bed. I refuse to do it during the day because it’s now almost impossible to get anything productive done with a toddler around, and when she’s napping I need to work. I don’t have ten minutes spare to hang up washing.
So that’s how we do it in our house. I’d love to know what the deal is in yours.
How do you approach domestic chores in your home? Is laundry everyone’s responsibility or a particular person’s role? And do you have any more laundry tips to make it less of a daily pain?!
Thanks to Beko for working with me on this post. For more information about how I work with brands check out my Work With Me page.