Since moving out to the prairie a few years ago, I've had a hard time finding full-time employment. I have, however, taken over our family's housework almost completely (I do not mow). It seems to take forever because housework is boring, but truthfully, I have no idea how much actual time I contribute to the household each week. So, I decided to find out once and for all how much time I actually spend cooking and cleaning.
How Long I Think I Spend Housekeeping
Our house is approximately 2,900 square feet (please note: this is employee housing) with 4 bedrooms/2.5 bathrooms and office, dining room, pantry, and laundry room in addition to the more typical living room and kitchen. My partner and I live here full-time, while The World's Greatest 10-Year-Old resides here part-time.
I'm guessing that I spend about 10 hours on housework each week. On Fridays, I usually do a couple hours of work for Apartment Therapy in the morning, hit the gym, get groceries, and devote the rest of the day to housekeeping. I also do small bits of laundry (towels, kid's stuff) and straightening throughout the week, in addition to cooking and dishes everyday. I think 10 hours feels about right, but I really have no idea!
How Much Housekeeping I Really Do
I kept track of my hours with a combination of the stopwatch on my phone, taking extensive notes, and good old-fashioned looking at the clock, and did so over three weeks, averaging my weekly totals. Whenever there was any question, I rounded down so as not to exaggerate my workload.
Laundry: 1.5 Hours/Week
I do approximately 7 loads of laundry each week, including washing the towels twice and sheets once. The number of loads has decreased dramatically since we replaced our 30-year-old washer and dryer, but we still generate a lot of laundry, between my partner's outdoor job, my frequent workouts, and The World's Greatest 10-Year-Old's messy adventures—and the fact that we're all tall! This total includes folding and putting away laundry and remaking the beds.
Cleaning Bathrooms: 1.5 Hour/Week
We have 2.5 bathrooms that each get cleaned once/week. The 2 showers and 1 tub require intense, tedious scrubbing with CLR because they get stained with rust—despite our water filter—remarkably quickly.
Cleaning the Kitchen: 1 Hour/Week
This includes wiping down the counters and fridge, cleaning the stove, scrubbing the sink, cleaning the microwave, and Pledging the kitchen table once a week, with midweek touchups as needed.
Compost and Recycling: 0.75 Hour/Week
I take the compost bucket out to the compost pile several times each week and wash the bucket after. The recycling gets taken from the kitchen to the garage 2 or 3 times each week and then loaded into the truck and driven to the recycling facility every month or so, after which I wash the cans.
Floors: 1.5 Hours/Week
We have 3 rooms of hardwood floors that get vacuumed and washed once/week (with a lighter midweek vacuum), 6 rooms of carpet that get vacuumed once/week, and 5 rooms of linoleum that get swept and washed once/week, plus various hallways and stairways.
Dishes: 2 Hours/Week
This one was hard to keep track of, because I do small amounts of dishes throughout the day, but I think it's reasonably accurate.
Cooking: 8 Hours/Week
I cook a nice dinner every night, and usually bake something for breakfast once or twice on the weekends. Lunches are generally leftovers or protein shakes, and weekday breakfasts are cereal or granola bars. This total includes grocery shopping and meal planning, too. I don't include the 20-minute drive to the grocery store, as I'm usually also heading to the gym, hardware store, etc.
Miscellaneous: 2.75 Hours/Week
This includes general straightening, organizing, running things upstairs of downstairs where they belong, unpacking after days or weekends away, dusting, and light organizing. This was definitely the hardest to time, because I do it in so many bits and pieces.
TOTAL: 19 Hours/Week!
Notes: This total does not include big, less-frequent projects like washing the house's approximate 52 windows or cleaning raccoon poop off the porch. It also doesn't include vegetable gardening/canning, which takes about 15 hours/week May-October. I also didn't count things like kid clothes shopping or ordering, wrapping, and mailing holiday/birthday gifts.
Actual Time vs. Estimate
First of all, now I understand how I blew through the How Did This Get Made and The X-Files Files archives in no time flat! (Please make more podcasts, everybody.) This is almost twice as long as I estimated, and I must admit that it makes me feel better, both about what I'm contributing to the household and in regards to always feeling busy. My partner and I loosely operate on the Same Amount of Free Time System, so it's nice to see an actual number of work hours I'm doing. When I add the hours of work I get paid for each week, our totals are similar (at least for now—there are times of year when he works 80 hours/week, and I do not attempt to keep up), which feels nice. I'm really glad I did this experiment!
How much time do you think you spend on housework each week? Have you ever measured it to find out?