1 EAGLETON NOTES: Two Make Light Work

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Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Two Make Light Work

Someone made a comment today and it's lodged itself in what passes for my mind and I decided to get it off my chest in the form of a blog post. How's that for a pleonastic mixture of words?

What was said arose from the fact that I am a single person living alone and the other person (whose sex shall be left untold) doesn't live alone. 

The statement was something like "It's okay for you. There's only one of you. There's two of us so that's twice as much work." This was a reference to running the house not being a breadwinner. 

So when I was clearing away the dinner dishes and cleaning the pans and baking tin (just for your information I'd made a nut loaf roast with beans and mashed potatoes) it suddenly struck me that it would have been the same amount of work had I had a partner or even visitors.  

Then I got to thinking about the rest of the household chores and I had a lightbulb moment. Two people don't create much more in the way of dirt and dust in a home than one person does. There's not twice as much vacuuming or dusting.  Two people sharing the same bed don't even create more bed changing. There's more ironing, of course (assuming they iron) but precious little else that immediately comes to mind.

Conversely, though, when there is a partnership of two people they each only have half the work that the single person has.

So basically the observation made to me added insult to injury because the person concerned only has half as much work to maintain the household as I do.

28 comments:

  1. Hehehe! Love your post!
    Not well thought out comments about single household chores don't sit well with me as well.

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    1. Yes, Maywyn, those of us who live alone must stick together.

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  2. Well, not quite so fast Graham. Does this work out when one of the partners shirks their duties? Could one partner make more mess? So I'm throwing you off some of your logic!!!

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    1. Red, I base everything on a perfect world. Unfortunately humans come along and muck everything up.

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  3. I've been on my own for over two months recently, and I ran the home with great efficiency. No washing-up left in the bowl, carpets hoovered, cooker top cleaned, etc. Now my wife is home again, we have a new puppy in the house, and things have changed dramatically. I just try to ignore it.

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    1. Cro, if it wasn't for the huge amount of flack I'd get I'd say quod erat demonstrandum.

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  4. Two people sharing the same bed DO require more bedsheets, and two people need more towels, too. For OK and myself, the difference becomes apparent every weekend we spend together at either his or my place after we've lived alonge during the week. The washing machine is always full on a Monday morning with bedsheets and towels that would not need washing after a weekend alone. But it is a very small price to pay, and having indeed the machine do most of the work makes it easy, too.
    As for work in the kitchen - I don't cook when I am on my own, so that means less dishes to wash and less food-shopping to do. So I guess it depends on how a person living on their own runs that life; it can be the same or less or more work. But one thing is for sure: In a partnership, you can always split the workload in two, something you can't do on your own.

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    1. Meike, I just knew that you would be able to analyse this very logically. However, firstly you live a far more ascetic life than do I. I probably have more 'stuff' in any one room than you have in your flat. Secondly, if one person can live without cooking so can two. Thirdly, towels don't count because they go in the washing machine and tumble drier and cause no extra work at all. Sheets puzzle me. When I first got married we had a huge continental size bed (I'm talking about 1970) and it had two separate 3 ft matresses on a single base with two sets of sheets and two separate continental quilts/downies (unusual in 1970 in the UK). So there was twice as many sheets. However in later incarnations the bed only had one big matress so only one set of , albeit larger, sheets. However the frequency with which we changed them didn't alter. I slept in that bed long after I ceased to live with anyone. Okay. I'll stop now. We both know this was a lighthearted post.

      The main thing, though, is that in a true partnership jobs are shared. When I got married my wife said "I do the cooking and ironing and you do the house work." That was not negotiable.

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  5. I trust they were baked beans. It sounds as if you are turning into a Vogan.

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    1. PS. I meant vegan both are alien species to me.

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    2. I thought you meant a Vogon, Adrian. I seem to recall they were large green blobs and I was about to protest. They were baked beans. I eat a lot of different beans but you can't beat baked beans with sausages or nut roast. Officially I'm a meat-eating vegetarian.

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  6. Another side to this is The Money. Two pensions are what you plan on. The 'saving' of food, extra washing/ironing costs is minute in comparison to having to heat a whole house for one, insurance and car costs when there is the loss of a partner.

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    1. Potty, I've been on my own for 20 years so I've not really had anyone with whom to share the costs since I retired. However it is a huge consideration for many people.

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  7. I have lived alone for long stretches in my younger adulthood, and now I've lived with Bear for nigh-on twenty years. My experience is that (regarding housekeeping) it is much, much simpler to keep a house/apartment/living space when one is alone. Here are my supporting facts:

    1. When you are alone, everything is exactly where you left it, which makes it much easier to find and/or put away. When you live with someone else, they can both move your things and leave things of their own around, making tidying up (or even finding what you're looking for) much more difficult. You can create more of a mess trying to find something (especially in a small apartment or cottage) that's been moved, and then even if you do find it, you've now got to clean up the mess you created searching for it (attics are especially featured here).

    2. There is almost never an equal distribution of work when it comes to housekeeping. One or the other person will usually be doing more cleaning/cooking/tidying than the other. The person who cares less about it will do less of it. This means that the person who wants everything done will end up doing it themselves, and doing more of it than they would have to do if they lived alone. It doesn't mean anyone is unhappy, necessarily - usually people who love a clean house also enjoy housework, so long as no one is prancing about tossing candy wrappers on the floor in their wake.

    3. I live in a house that has no washing machines of any sort. We take our clothing and have it laundered and folded by a local service, so neither one of us are spending time on that, other than dropping off and picking up, which is no big deal. As for dishes, though, I can tell you that when I lived alone, I tended to make much smaller meals, and to leave one dish and one cup in the sink drainer, which I would then use for the next meal, then wash off and put back in the drainer in five seconds, where it waited for the next meal. When we prepare food for two, the meals are definitely larger than even two people need. There are leftovers, more pots and pans, more dishes, cups, cutlery, etc. When I make a cup of coffee for myself, I use a single cup metal drip cone, which is immediately rinsed out, and that leaves just my coffee mug to clean after. When Bear and I are having coffee, we use the coffee maker, which means the grounds basket, the coffee carafe, and two coffee mugs have to be cleaned afterward.

    So - in my experience, two people is *more* than twice the work of one, whether it's cleaning or cooking or whatever. Solo living is absolutely as easy or as hard as you want to make it. With two people, you don't have that choice - you only have the choice of who it is that you live with. Solo living can change with your mood, as well. Sometimes, when I lived alone, if I was very involved in a project or a new hobby, I would let my living space get downright cluttered and messy and in need of everything, and then one day I would just tie my hair up and hit it like a tornado, and in a relatively short period of time it was back to being ship-shape. Other times, I kept it maintained to a high degree of order and cleanliness, and it took very little effort to do so because I was in that frame of mind, and consciously did not clutter.

    After all that, it's still not a value judgment. Neither one is "better".... or worse. It's just different.

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    1. Gosh, Mrs S, that's a fair dinkum analysis of the situation. I'm not sure that we have a full laundry service on the Island these days although it takes me back to my childhood when things went 'to the laundry'. In fact they were even collected and returned with the next collection. You really struck a note with not being able to find things. My last partner never had a place for anything. She always knew where she had last put something but, as it could be totally randon, no one else could ever find it. Having now lived for 20 years in my own space I could never contemplate sharing that space with a partner again. Whether it would be better or worse isn't now the issule for me either. I just don't want to do 'different'.

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    2. I would totally agree with you Mrs S but it would probably get me into trouble so I won't say anything. Please consider this comment unsaid....

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  8. Of course your blog post is referring to adults, but I shall simply add that if person number 2 is a toddler then that amounts to 10 times as much washing and washing up (assuming that said toddler drops spoons, cups etc. on the floor and falls over in the mud as much as ours)!

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    1. and of course if they do 'help' with the housework then that usually results in even more work!

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    2. Helen, you've hit the nail raight on the head. Children and pets are a whole new ball-game.

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  9. I was going to just say "Yes!!!" ... I so agree with you! :) One of my pet peeve questions (which I've had too many times during my [health-related] early retirement years) is "What do you do all day?". If I manage to collect myself to an answer at all, it's usually along the lines of "I may not have to take care of any one else, but please remember there's also no one around to do anything for me!"

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    1. Absolutely, Monica. I had someone ask me the same thing recently. It's the implication that we have nothing to do. I'm sorry but I'm writing this comment at nearly 2300hrs. I've been up since 0705 and my non-doing things time has been 1 1/2 hours of television this evening. Granted it's not all been working but it was actively living.

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  10. It's true that living alone means you have to do absolutely everything. I haven't lived alone but I often think about the things I would need to manage.
    The lack of expectations might be good at times. I've waited my whole life for a day Im not obligated to provide a hot meal and yesterday it happened - I was home alone and I had a toasted sandwich for dinner. It was bliss

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    1. Kylie, some people are suited to living alone and some are not and vice versa. Would a metaphorical toasted sandwich for dinner be bliss every day?

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    2. Probably not. I have no illusions. I can be happy alone but I hrive on company

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  11. Graham, I think the person who made that comment was jealous...?

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    1. Frances (apologies for the delay in responding) you could well be right.

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  12. Pleonastic? I’ve just suggested to my booky 15 yo daughter she slips that one into her next English Comprehension essay. (I got the thumbs up)

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    1. Michael, I hope that your daughter manages to use it and benefit from it. I recall using 'stentorian reverberations', in my English Language GCE. I passed but I'm not sure how the stentorian reverberations went down. Sorry for the delay in responding, by the way.

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