Peter Ampe, creative partner at FamousGrey, reflects on the process of redistributing the household chores more evenly between him and his wife
I prefer to think about things, and I shy away from anything that gets in the way of that thought process. Mainly household chores. Until that night when my wife wanted a discussion about the division of roles in our family.
She had mapped out all the household chores for the occasion. I could hardly believe the number - it was 30. She asked me how much of it I was responsible for. I could hardly believe that figure either, there were three. And yes, maybe it was actually four, but I expected a compliment for that.
I didn't know what shocked me the most, the fact that there are so many household chores or that I only took care of three. For example, on Mondays I take out the garbage bags. And the heavier they are, the more I feel that I am contributing something essential to our family.
But what about those 29 other responsibilities? There are many things that are so obvious that you as a man do not think about it: making sure that the refrigerator is stocked, requesting service checks, making payments, staying at home if one of the children falls ill, thinking about what we are going to eat, watering the plants, planning summer camps, you name it.
What a mental burden that must be for every mother to first delete all those things from their to-do list and also to build her own career with an equally large to-do list. I got a sense of respect for all the women who manage to do that every week. But respect is a misplaced feeling, it would be better if we would all engage in actually changing things.
I went through the list with my wife and indicated what my tasks are from now on. I am now at 30% and the intention is that I will evolve to 50%. But that 30% is already causing a huge change. My wife says that she feels liberated and to my great surprise, it also gives me a lot of satisfaction. For example, I have to make sure that the refrigerator is always filled. How nice it feels to buy organic apple juice because I know that my son likes it. I also prepare the children's lunch boxes in the morning. That, too, is a small moment of satisfaction when I can give a Babybel as an extra to Lente or cut Noah’s apple into ultra-thin slices because otherwise he thinks there is a worm in his apple.
Taking over household chores is not only a form of promoting equality between men and women. As a man I also feel myself more part of that wonderful microcosm that is the family. And my professional ambitions don't have to suffer from that.
Dividing up the tasks also helps our children realise that equality is not only our belief, but also our way of life. Preparing food is no longer associated with mom, but with both (although it is still better from mom).
My working week now starts Monday at 7.10am with preparing the lunch boxes, followed at 8.15am by ordering the food shopping. I used to fear that such tasks would get in the way of my creativity, but that is not the case at all. It gives me satisfaction; I can recommend it to every man.
I am glad I am not responsible for the laundry, with the excuse that I am colour blind. And we leave the ironing to external help, because I now know how to apply for service checks.