I love to do the ironing watching the football

Published date: 19 March 2014 |
Published by: Rhian Waller 
Read more articles by Rhian Waller  Email reporter


“I DON’T do it that way,” says Steve Parry, as the nose of the iron gets caught in a seam.

“I just press it flat like this.”

Steve, 40, of Shotton, agreed to give the Leader some pointers on his favourite chore – ironing.

His wife, Debbie, also 40, agrees with several Leader readers who declared that pushing a hot lump of metal around on cloth is “the devil’s work”– boring and repetitive.

But Steve likes it.

Debbie said: “His mum will be horrified when she sees the pictures. She thinks of it as women’s work.”

Steve’s mother is not alone.

Welsh mums perform an average of 9.5 hours of housework a week, according to a poll undertaken in honour of National Cleaning Day today.

A spokesman for Vileda – a cleaning products company who carried out the study, said: “We found that 73 per cent of Welsh mums said they regularly feel like they are the only member of the family to clean up after everyone.

“But it’s not just children mums have to clean up after. They also spend an hour-and-a-half-a-week tidying up their partner’s mess, whether it’s washing clothes or cleaning dishes and the majority (66 per cent) admitted this has often led to arguments.”

Several respected academic studies over the years indicate women in the household still take on the bulk of the chores, even when both adult householders are in full-time work.

This has largely been my experience.

I have the abiding image of a male family member grunting as he lifted his legs to allow the hoover nozzle to pass over the carpet beneath his feet, and then settling back down as though this was a major contribution to the upkeep of the home.

Not so in the Parry household, where the chores are diligently divvied up.

The results are obvious. Everything is neat, tidy and clean. The air smells faintly floral and no-one spends hours scrabbling around trying to find whatever it is they are looking for.

“He wasn’t like this when we first met,” said Debbie. “He’d leave things and then have a big blow-out tidy-up. When we first got together he was still living out of boxes.”

“I kept my CDs in order, though,” said Steve.

“It took a bit of getting used to,” said Debbie. “I was an obsessive cleaner. I never stopped.”

“It used to do my head in a bit,” said Steve. “I’d just tell her to sit down.”

The roles gradually shifted over time, with no nagging necessary.

Husband and wife are care workers whose lives revolve around shift work. Although their hours will vary, they generally work out evenly, and both do their fair share of housework.

“We do a list,” said Debbie. “Sometimes he even asks me to write a list.”

“Sometimes,” said Steve, wryly.
While, traditionally, DIY is more likely to fall to the man, Debbie does the gardening and decorating.

As for Steve?

“I love ironing,” he said. “I can iron while watching the football. It’s relaxing.”

Chris Foulkes, 46, of Queensferry, also takes the helm at home, with wife Vikki admitting that she isn’t keen on housework.

He said: “I do all the cooking, I do hoovering, polishing and dusting, put the washing in the machine. It’s not something I make a list for, but if there’s washing up to be done, I do it.”

Like Steve and his football-viewing, there isn’t anything unmanly about Chris.

He used to work as a bricklayer, but despite having no problem with the brawny work, he admits he didn’t like having dirty fingernails and scrubbed up once he got home.

He now works as a forklift truck driver, heavy work which sees him making up pallets in a male-dominated workplace, but he has no time for shirkers.

He said: “There’s a lad at work who doesn’t know how to switch on a hoover. We were clearing the workfloor once and we keep a little Henry vacuum for occasional cleaning. He couldn’t find the ‘on’ switch.

“As far as I’m concerned, there is no ‘women’s work’ or ‘men’s work’ – it’s just work.

“My wife works longer hours than me, so it just makes sense to straighten things out before she comes home.

“I’m not obsessive. It’s a home, not a house, but there’s no reason anyone should think of housework as a woman’s job.”

Chris traces his willingness to do housework back to his childhood, where he helped his ill mother by popping to the shops and straightening up the living room.

Unfortunately, neither the Foulkes or the Parry families have found a fool-proof way of making sure the kids do their share, too.

While Debbie and Stephen’s youngest children do bits and bobs around the house for pocket money, Debbie’s eldest daughter is “a bit lazy”.

“I think she’s rebelling against my obsessive cleaning,” said Debbie.

Chris’ sons haven’t inherited his good habits to his sons, either.

He said: “I’ve got two grown-up lads. The eldest is in the army. He calls washing up ‘dipping up’, and that’s all he does – idip the crockery in the water.

“The youngest is a precision engineer, so he knows what’s what, but he won’t lift a finger round the house. He’s bone idle.

“I don’t know where he gets it from.”

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