Being Dad Childcare Parenting Relationships

Chores before chords? McFly frontman ‘helps out’ at home.

Written by Tim Gunn

Want to win a Dad of the Year award? Well, you can start by making dinner…

Author Giovanna Fletcher has revealed that her husband, McFly frontman and children’s author Tom, has ‘chipped in’ by doing more chores as their family has expanded. The pair have two sons: Buzz Michelangelo, three, and Buddy Bob, one.

Speaking on Lorraine on Tuesday, Giovanna explained how it all started at Christmas, 2015, when Tom stepped in for his seven-month-pregnant wife and made dinner for both of their families.

‘From then on he’s loved cooking. He still doesn’t really do washing or tidying, but when it comes to the boys, and when it comes to cooking, we’re very, very equal.’

How do couples normally divide chores?

‘When we first lived together’, explained Giovanna, ‘I did everything. And I was really happy doing it.’

Even today, this certainly isn’t an unusual arrangement. A 2016 study by the Office of National Statistics found that, on average, women still do 40% more household chores than men.

It’s not all bad: men do more of the driving, at least! But data shows that women spend more than twice as long cooking, cleaning and caring for children, and around six times as long doing laundry.

As Giovanna suggests, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some surveys even suggest that sharing the chores too evenly might make it more likely that you’ll get divorced. Embedded ideas about gender roles are hard to overturn. Some women may simply want to maintain their traditional control of the domestic space. As in every aspect of marriage and parenthood, good communication is vitally important.

Now both Giovanna and Tom are primarily writers, however, it makes sense that they would share more of the workload.

What can dads do to help out?

Throughout the world, the gender chore gap is decreasing. As income is consistently tied to power in relationships, this is definitely a healthy development. Equally, too great an imbalance between ‘professional’ dads and ‘domestic’ mums often results in distant father-child relationships.

Tellingly, Giovanna spoke in glowing terms about Tom as a father. ‘He’s a brilliant dad – he’s so playful and creative with them. We love spending time as a family.’

So, what does Tom’s experience with chores teach us? To start, here are two simple takeaways:

  1. Mums and dads should think of dads as partners in domestic responsibilities, and not just helpers.
  2. Both partners should also let go of the expectation that the house, the cooking, the clothes or children will, or should, be perfect. Mums might need to learn to relinquish control, and dads often have to learn how to get involved, one Christmas dinner and one toilet bowl at a time.

Different times, that is.

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