Work division in the home and single parents

Posted by Saraline , Friday, May 17, 2013 11:37 AM

When discussing feminist parenting, division of labour in the home comes up quite often. Who wants to be a slave, right? Sharing housework and childcare responsibilities is an important part of women's liberation. I have a lot of mom friends who live with their kids' dads; some of them have partners that make me feel lucky to be a single mom. Others have great partners who recognize the importance of sharing work in the home.

For a single parent, however, there is no division of labour because there isn't anybody to divide the labour with. I get my son to do some age appropriate chores, but let's face it, the kid can't even write his own name or tie his shoes. He's definitely not ready to do half of the housework. I can't give him any childcare responsibilities either, because he is the child who needs care.

I remember going out of my mind some nights before I went back to school and put my son in daycare. I never had a choice between being a stay-at-home mom and going back to a career because I did not have a career. My choice was to be a stay-at-home mom or find a shitty minimum wage job that offered zero prospects for improving my life. I chose to stay home with him. This is a choice that I still stand behind, but I was with my baby 24/7 with nobody to divide the work with. Every time I tried to take a shower, he would wake up before I was finished rinsing the shampoo out of my hair. I would lay awake at night with a crying baby and think, "Nobody is coming to help me tonight, or tomorrow, or the next day, until who knows when." There was no light at the end of the tunnel. I was completely burned out.

On the other hand, I didn't have some jerk coming home and saying, "What did you do all day?" so there's that.

I'm still burned out now that I'm in school, to be honest. I enjoy it, but there's always so much work to do, and at the end of the day I pick my son up from daycare and go home to find more work to do. It doesn't seem as bleak now, though. I'm used to this juggling act and I know that I can handle it because I have been handling it for a few years now. I do what I can, but my house is still a mess and I don't really give a fuck.

On a lighter note, here is a video by Isabella Rossellini that is very relevant to feminist parenting:

She is so right, we totally hold human mothers to higher standards than hamsters.

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