I read this book accidentally. I didn’t even know that the book in which the term “second shift” was first introduced. I saw a Russian blog post, in which was saying something to the effect, that “I saw that book review, and that review had an excerpt from this book, and it looks so dumb, this couple does not have enough money, it is not about sharing responsibilities. That didn’t sound right to me, and I decided to check out the book they talked about and turned out that it’s that classic. The translation was not super accurate, and in any case, you should not judge the book by just a couple of pages. I tried to reason, got a dismissive reply of “we do not need any of your American experience,” and walked away (that’s why I am trying not to get into any discussions on Russian blogosphere these days).
I was going to return the book because I thought – well, I already checked to source and proved that the author of the blog post was wrong, why should I finish this book? I do not need to know anything about the “second shift at home.” But the book already captured my attention, and I ended up finishing it – after all, it’s classic 🙂
And then I thought – why I am saying I do not care about the second shift? Why is it that I never felt it’s a problem in my life?
The answer is obvious: my first marriage was brief, and in the second one, we rarely shared the house. And then I remember something else, from the times which I described in my previous blog post. One of my co-workers talked about her daughter, how she does not have time to do things with her children, because she is busy with this and that. And I said: well, how come I have time to do this and that, and some more? For which she replied; It’s easier on you! You do not have a husband!
Funny thing, I agreed on the spot. I knew that it was easier when you do not need to sync with somebody else on your schedule, parenting style, food preferences, and million other things.
Which makes me wonder: why the amount of housework multiplies when people start to live together? All these families from the book had some household chores issues even before they had any children. And when you live by yourself, you need to do stuff for yourself, and you can’t blame anybody except yourself when things are not done. People usually do not complain that they have “too much to do” when they are single. It should be less work for each of the two people when they move in together. Why is it more?
I hope that eventually, somebody will explain it to me!
4 thoughts on “Some Thoughts About “The Second Shift””
I think when you’re the only adult in the household you can find you’re own rhythm and choose areas that are more enjoyable and important. Like, you love cooking and are not into cleaning – you cook a lot do bare minimum of cleaning or hire someone. When there are two adults standards of housekeeping go up. Unfortunately you can’t always say that everyone should do what they find more important for them. So sometimes you need to do stuff that you don’t like more than you like and it’s not fun. And it becomes much worse if your partner is demanding and you are not into housework in the first place.
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This makes sense! That’s why when I am in Helsinki, Boris does everything around the house, and I am his guest and do not critique, and when he is here in the US, that’s my house with my rules.
I would only add that OTHER people’s messes are so much more difficult to tolerate, and that toleration often becomes a leading indicator for just how you’re feeling about one another. But this is mostly outside my experience.
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I certainly agree with that. But that means that it’s not precisely about who is doing what and not about the “second shift,” but about finding a mutual Acceptable Level of Messiness. Or Tolerable Level of Neatness.
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