Are there some parts of domestic life that are preserve of men or women?


Rhian Waller

THE so-called ‘dad’s taxi’ is being usurped by a feminine rival, according to a survey that came out this week.

It will come as no surprise in a society of single parents that mums routinely carry out ‘traditional’ male tasks, but the same seems to be true even when there is a mum and dad.

According to a survey of 2,000 mothers commissioned by Dr Beckmann, a cleaning company, dad’s taxi service – the famously free lift home regularly exploited by the UK’s teenagers – is now mostly driven by mum.

Youngsters are now ferried around by their mothers about 58 per cent of the time.

But does that mean men picking up the slack elsewhere?

The same study suggests not.

Susan Fermor, spokesman for Dr Beckmann, said: “Most mums are still responsible for domestic tasks like doing the laundry, cooking dinner and cleaning and tidying the home (65 per cent of mums say these duties fall mainly to them)

“A large proportion of mums (43 per cent) are also now as likely to be found doing DIY, mowing the lawn and other tasks traditionally considered ‘male’ roles.”

There are some traditional male roles that still remain largely male territory. Car repairs and maintenance is carried out by less than five per cent of UK mums and only 10 per cent will man the barbecue.

Indeed, barbecuing turned out to be a hot topic for Flintshire and Wrexham fathers.

“A women by a barbecue? Oh no, no, no, no!” joked Mark Jones, 39, of Penycae, near Wrexham.

The father of two teenage daughters, Mr Jones still finds himself taxiing them around, but said his wife does most of the chauffering.

He said: “I do my share when its later on in the evening but the wife sorts them out while I’m in work, mainly.

“My wife doesn’t work, but I work full time, hence I only run round in evenings.”

Despite working, Mr Jones does pitch in with the household chores.

He said: “The washer is too complicated for me, ha-ha.

“I stick to hoovering and polishing although I do love cooking, which helps out a lot.

“As for the barbecue, I don’t know why, but I have to be in charge really, it’s a manly thing.

“Weird I know, but it’s always me who does the barbecue and it’s the same in friend’s houses; their hubby does the barbecue too.”

Emma Harris, 27, of Flint, is married to Richie Harris. She has two children by Richie and three step children, their ages ranging from two-and-a-half to 21.

She said: “I pretty much give the kids a lift everywhere. I’ll drive my stepson and his friends to Chester and the railway station.

“Richie works full time and I used to work part time, although I’m studying at college at the moment, so I can be more flexible. He’s in work so much – six or seven days-a-week most weeks – so it’s just easier for me to do it so he can have a break.”

Subsequently, the Harris household has quite a traditional set-up.

Mrs Harris said: “He comes home and tea is ready for him. He’ll eat and then he’ll spend some time with the kids. I think that’s more valuable than spending time washing up.

“I’m halfway through ripping up the garden. He does the bigger jobs I can’t do – we’re pulling up slabs and he knocks the concrete off them. I dig them out. He puts the shelves up.”

For the Harris couple, this is a mutually beneficial arrangement, and things have evolved over time.

One thing, however, remains non-negotiable.

Mrs Harris said: “I actually enjoy cleaning, but not cooking so much. At the start, he did all the cooking and I did all the cleaning. That’s changed over the years without either of us realising.

“He does all the barbecuing. He won’t let anyone touch it. He cleans it. It’s very much a man territory thing. If there’s a party, I’ll do all the food, but the barbecue is his responsibility. I think it’s because he was a soldier, so he’s got to have something to dominate!”

Liz Richardson, 34, of Wrexham, has five children with husband Mark.

She said: “My eldest is 13, and teenagers these day can’t stay still, so I do most of the driving. It’s because my husband works from 6.30am to about 7pm.

“I’m in charge of the barbecue though. Come the weekend I like to let the hubby relax a little and I love cooking.

“Nothing is ‘male territory’ – he doesn’t mind at all. Give him a cold beer and he is happy!”

Mr Richardson is slightly less flexible when it comes to some household tasks – apart from ironing.

Mrs Richardson said: “He won’t, or should I say can’t, decorate. I’m usually the one covering most chores, he will, however, iron. I won’t unless I really have to.

“The heavy DIY is usually a joint effort. We managed to build our conservatory together without argument. It was real teamwork.”

Interestingly, when one partner’s job involves cleaning, the other may take up the slack.

Melissa Evans, who runs Wrexham-based Home Sweet Home cleaning, said: “It’s a two way thing. We both work really hard, so we do whatever needs doing at the time.”

The Evans’s do not have children, so the question of whether it should be called the mum taxi or dad taxi is irrelevant in their household, but despite having a high pressure job, hubbie Paul Evans will pitch in.

“He does make sure the laundry is done,” said Mrs Evans.

“It’s not a relaxing thing for him. He doesn’t look forward to it, but he does a lot. I’m not saying I don’t know how to put the washing machine on, but I’ll do the things he can’t get round to to. It’s an equal arrangement.

“We’re a couple who values what we’ve got. We’re proud of our home so we look after it.”

See full story in the Leader

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