When Daddy Comes Home -- Division of Labor

Love & Sex 7

Flickr photo by DanBrady
I'm hardly a domestic goddess, but I definitely lean pretty strongly toward the Palmolive and Lysol wipes when it comes to cleanliness in my home. But trying to maintain a semblance of a clean home when I'm alone with three kids for half the month can be quite a challenge, even for the FlyLady herself.
But I'm married to a military man, or in housecleaning lingo, "Mr. Clean."
Early on in our relationship, I struggled with a very challenging baby, and admittedly I wasn't the best housekeeper. I had spent the last five or so years working 12-plus-hour days at a job I loved, and keeping a clean apartment was nowhere on my list.

And so, when I dropped down to a part-time schedule to spend more time with my daughter, I ended up spending all my spare time with my daughter, which was great for her but not so great for the house. I didn't realize that when I cut my work schedule down, I automatically took on the job as family housekeeper along with primary parent.

Seriously, where was that memo?

I did my best to step up to the dirty plate, and since then, I've become progressively more anal about how my house looks. Now you won't see me cleaning toilets on a daily basis, but at the end of the day, the dishes are clean and the toys are picked up, which I see as a pretty fantastic accomplishment given my current situation.
But when you're married to Mr. Clean, the word "clean" is pretty subjective.
And so up until recently, he'd come home from a trip, drop his bags, and instantly begin scrubbing the floor. Or something similar.

Now don't get me wrong. I completely appreciate the fact that I have a husband who scrubs the floor and picks up a vacuum cleaner, so hold the "Oh please. You're lucky your husband actually lifts a finger."

Yes, yes. This I know.

But I can also appreciate that there can actually be too much of a good thing, even when it comes to cleaning, especially when you just scrubbed the floor that he's scrubbing or vacuumed the floor that he's vacuuming.
And when the first words out of his mouth are, "What happened in here?" in response to four pieces of paper on the floor, it actually hurts.
Little did he know what the room looked like before.

Over the years I've come to ignore the comments. And most of the time, I let him go about the business of redoing my work, but not without sharing a few choice words -- not just because I'm offended, but also because if I didn't do the cleaning, he'd have not-so-nice things to say. And when he wants to spend all his "home time" cleaning, it takes away from the important time he needs to spend with me and the kids.  

So aside from a simple discussion about how not to put his foot in his mouth, we're thinking of investing a house cleaner. Not necessarily to keep our house clean, but to save our marriage.

How do you divide the housecleaning and housekeeping duties with your away spouse?

love, marriage, sex


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Clumb... ClumberKim

My husband is also more concerned with clean than I am. He was an utter neatnik when we met. Over the years I have been a bad influence on him, or his tolerance for dog hair tumbleweeds increased, or something. He's still far more likely to vacuum than I am, though he doesn't hold a candle to your husband.

Two things make "clean" one of the things we don't worry about so much. First, we have cleaners who come every other week. We gave this up when I stopped working, but I made it a condition of my going back to work almost 2 years ago. I'd love to have them come every week but this is enough. And we got a Roomba. It vacuums the first floor in the middle of the night, keeping the tumbleweeds at bay.

When faced with a dirty house I would get intimidated to the point of paralysis. With regular cleaning going on, nothing ever gets so out of hand that it is daunting to me.

lovin... lovinangels

I can't get my DH to help much. My daughter's father was also very clean, and would become verbally abusive if he didn't like the way the house looked when he came home. It didn't matter that I was working full time and going to school full time at the time, I was not allowed to leave a dish in the sink, even a coffee cup, because I was running late. Eventually the verbal abuse escalated to physical abuse, ONE TIME, and I left and never looked back. Thank God for my grandma, who told me seemingly every day that a man should never hit you, or I wouldn't have known better. I wish I knew why  that was such a big deal to her, but I tell my daughters the same thing.

Incidently, my home maintains a pleasant "kids live here" tone to it, and dh will never say anything. He did a stint as a stay at home dad for about a year, and let's just say my house keeping skills are far superior.

nonmember avatar Forgotten

I am one of those "a place for everything and everything in it's place" kind of people so I understand the cleaning obsession. My soon-to-be-ex was like having a 4th child who refused to do anything.

Now I have my kids by myself & they are learning to be neater. I don't expect perfection. The table is a mess after we have a meal & I should buy stock in Shout stain remover but they will pick their toys up before bed & put them in the toy box & they put their dirty clothes in the hamper before baths. They love to help me "dust" by giving them each a rag & letting them follow me around wiping stuff off. They like to play the laundry game (where I get wet clothes out of the washer & toss them to them & they slam dunk them in the front-open dryer then I let them each get a dryer sheet out to put in the dryer).  They have fun & I don't really expect them to clean anything but I like to think I'm instilling good habits in them.

I don't have a spouse at home to help with these things & I never force my kids to scrub floors or anything but they help out with the little things that they can do like putting silverware on the table for dinner & giving each other their sippy cups. They really are very sweet little helpers & I'm blessed to have them.

Steph... StephanieSD

My husband travels a lot. We probably wouldn't be together without a housekeeper. Currently we live overseas where domestic help is cheap, but when we are in the States we always find room in the budget for someone at least weekly. We learned early on in our relationship that the together time when he's home is more important than an immaculate house.

Lynette Lynette

lol, my 7yr old son could totally grow up and be like that!  I work him to help him loosen up on cleanning and compliment people's efforts(instead of pointing out what all else needs to be done).

nonmember avatar Therese

We totally hired a cleaning service.  My airline pilot husband is also a clean freak.  I am no slob but I work outside the home so when I am home, I don't want to spend all of my time scrubbing the bathtubs...  The cleaning services comes every other week and does the big stuff (dusting, scrubbing floors, cleaning toilets...).  It has totally saved our sanity.  We still have to keep things picked up and if we cook (whick I like to do) then the kitchen is a constant but it's nice to not feel overwhelmed with everything!

grlyg... grlygrlz2

My husband is military.  Some years he has been deployed more than he has been home.  For our family quality of life it works best for me to work from home because I love my career and because it is an option for us.  My husband like the house a certain way. I am more relaxed.  While I am a freak about clean floors~ he has areas of greater concern.  To avoid conflict~ It works best for us to hire someone to clean.  It is the best $75.00 every week I spend! PRICELESS ;o)

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