My Husband and I Swapped Household Chores for a Week—Here’s What Happened

Real talk: I’ve never vacuumed our home. The reason: It’s my husband’s chore. His mother bought us a fancy high-tech Shark that intimidates me, not unlike our Blu-ray player and multiple remote controls. (Please say I’m not the only one who has an aversion to gadgets.) Also, my husband loves to vacuum and each time he completes the chore, I’m called in to look at the astonishing amount of pet hair that was magically sucked up in the device. It’s disgusting to me and a source of pride for him, so why mess with the system?

On the other hand, Nate does not make dinner. It’s become my task that I happen to really enjoy. Taking out the garbage? That’s him. Making social plans? All me.

With the exception of the vacuuming, which I file under Tech, not Housework, our division of household chores strikes me as old-fashioned and perhaps too gender specific. What would happen if we swapped for a week? I wondered it if would be good for us to step out of our roles and do the other spouse’s “jobs” for a week. We gave it a whirl. Here’s how it went.

Delegating cooking detail was destined to be a fail, and then…it was a total fail.

I cook dinner every night—unless it’s something on the grill, which my husband loves to do and is very good at. I often finish my workday and look forward to prepping dinner—zoning out to ’90s R&B and stirring quinoa. When Nate gets home, he takes a seat at the kitchen island and we catch up before sitting down to eat.

I’m just going to put it out there: I don’t like when Nate cooks. It’s not because he’s bad at it. It’s because it feels as if it’s my husband’s first-ever time in our kitchen. He tears through the cabinets and refrigerator looking for ingredients. “Where’s the red pepper? Do we have butter? Does this need butter? What is turmeric?

For this experiment (like those times when I’m on a tight deadline), Nate did all the cooking and I was as stressed and distracted as if I were the one at the stove. I’d rather just do it myself and spare us both the frantic energy.

He did the cleaning while I tackled house repairs.

I spent one entire afternoon cursing because I put together a bookshelf. This is something I’d usually hand off to Nate, but decided to take a stab at it myself. Three YouTube tutorials and a bottle of wine later, I’d assembled a piece of faux wood that I’m not totally convinced will hold our books. However, I am convinced that the word Ikea means “divorce” in Swedish.

Nate reciprocated by cleaning the cat puke; the feline seems to strategically upchuck a vomit rope on the white stripe of our rug.

Taking out the garbage is such an easy chore, but I never do it. I dutifully emptied the trash—for about four days. The garbage bag broke and I was not pleased to realize that the job requires rolling the bin out to our curb twice per week. TBH, I felt thankful that Nate takes on this task and have made a concerted effort to roll in the bin for bonus points.

Nate took over dusting the house, and I was jealous. It is something I’ve always done; I find it weirdly satisfying and the smell of Pledge is intoxicating. I wanted to tell him to give me back my duster.

I gave him control over the social calendar.

In a nutshell: This swap was a disaster. From the beginning of our relationship, I’ve handled all plans, trips, and social engagements. There are even days when Nate will ask me his work schedule. Even when putting forth effort, it felt impossible for Nate to plan our life—and it wasn’t totally his fault (especially when your friends leave him off emails). He did improve by adding appointments to his iPhone calendar and planned a really great date night.

And I temporarily took over our finances.

Nate and I both work full-time jobs and split our bills accordingly. But he handles the execution of payments and I simply add money into our joint account. At one time in our marriage, I paid all the bills and realized that it was not my strong suit. Apparently, it’s still not. I could never remember the passwords to the utility company and forgot to get stamps to mail a bill.

While this task works better with Nate at the helm, I did one useful thing. I started a new spreadsheet, documenting every purchase we made that week. It gave us a big reality check as to how much we are spending on ancillary items like sushi happy hour or frosé, and we’re currently working to budget better as a duo.

The result? I’ve realized that after nearly 15 years of marriage, we’re secure in our roles.

Sure, they might be antiquated, but it works for us. There are certainly things I wish Nate would do more of around the house and I’m sure he feels the same about me. But for the most part it works when he does his things and I do mine. And as for our shared responsibilities, like emptying the dishwasher and laundry, we will carry forth taking turns with grunts of annoyance.

Swapping household chores taught us that when we need to pick up each other’s slack, it’s doable. Last weekend, I was out of town on assignment and Nate unloaded the dishwasher, walked our dog, and cleaned the cat puke; plus, I came home to a clean pile of laundry. I’ll do the same when he’s away for his annual baseball weekend. Just don’t ask me to put together a bookshelf.


Anne Roderique-Jones is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in Vogue, Marie Claire, Southern Living, Town & Country, and Condé Nast Traveler. Twitter: @AnnieMarie_ Instagram: @AnnieMarie_


I’ve Been Wearing These Studio Shoes to Every Yoga and Barre Class for the Past Year

Between my tendency to sweat profusely during any workout (see here) and my overall poor sense of balance (despite my regular yoga practice and barre workouts) I have a tough time holding any pose for an extended period of time. Once you mix my lack of stability with slick conditions, I’m done for.

I’ve tried placing hand towels on my inner thighs to stay in tree pose, and I typically wipe my entire body down before even bothering with crow pose. When barre moves call for balancing high on my tiptoes, I give it my best try, but usually never last for more than a few seconds.

Enter the New Balance Studio Skins ($40-$55, newbalance.com). Neither shoes nor sandals, these structured foot covers are designed specifically for any workout class where you’re supposed to go barefoot, but could use a little extra traction and support. Obviously I was thrilled when I heard about them, and now our relationship has been going strong for over a year.

The soles provide just enough traction and support to help you stay stable—even when things get sweaty.

The bottoms of the Studio Skins are made of silicone, which makes them really grippy against a wooden floor or rubber mat. Even when my yoga mat is sprinkled with sweat, the grippiness persists, allowing me to hold a pose more gracefully and consistently. What’s more, the ball and arch of the foot are slightly cushioned, which just feels nice and also adds a little more support than my bare feet can offer me.

Since the soles are so thin, they don’t inhibit me from pointing or flexing my foot like full-on sneakers do—not only can I comfortably bend my feet into tiptoe position, but I can stay way more stable with the help of the soles.

They’re designed to mold to your feet, so they can feel almost too tight when you first pull them on. But the tight fit has a purpose.

The snugness is what helps keep the shoes in place so you can stay balanced long after you’ve begun your practice, and in my case, after the sweat’s already started pouring out. If the Studio Skins were too big and your feet could slip around in them, it would kind of defeat the purpose. When I first tried mine on, I had a brief moment where I thought I had bought the wrong size. But by the time the barre class was over, I completely forgot I was even wearing them.

That is, until multiple classmates swarmed me—instructor included—asking exactly what I was wearing. I fielded all their questions like a pro, except for one: A classmate questioned if the open heel construction would provide ample support for her recurring Achilles tendonitis. I’m neither a podiatrist nor shoe engineer, so it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor first if you have any specific concerns about how these shoes will work (or not) for your personal foot needs.

I also just like knowing I have something between my feet and the yoga mat or floor, even if it doesn’t cover them entirely.

What prompted me to even try these shoes in the first place was a few plantar warts that popped up on my feet in 2017. While I won’t get into the specifics of them, I will say it took almost a year of dermatologist visits every three weeks and a few different treatment options to get rid of the warts. Now, I have no idea what gave me the warts in the first place, but after that experience, I find some security in knowing that the surface area of exposed skin is drastically smaller. (Whatever helps you sleep at night, right?)

But once I bought a pair and discovered how much they actually helped me get through my workouts, I found many more reasons to love them—which is why I’ve spent the last year or so with these fused to my feet and don’t plan on parting with them anytime soon.

Buy them: New Balance Studio Skins ($40-$55, newbalance.com)

4-Move Stability Ball Workout to Strengthen Your Core

Strengthening your core is arguably one of the best things you can do to improve your overall fitness. That’s because most movements (both in and out of the gym) rely on the core muscles for stability. Think about it: Even when you do squats and deadlifts, which primarily target your legs and butt, you’re relying heavily on your core muscles to help you stay balanced and move in a controlled way.

The core is made up of multiple muscles, including your rectus abdominis (what you think of when you think “abs”), transverse abdominis (the deepest internal core muscle that wraps around your sides and spine), erector spinae (a set of muscles in your lower back), and the internal and external obliques (the muscles on the sides of your abdomen). To have a strong, balanced core that can get you through all of your workouts, you need to work all of these muscles.

Fortunately, many exercises will engage your core muscles, whether or not they specifically target them—the squats and deadlifts I mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. But if you want to show these important muscles some extra love, it’s never a bad idea. (As always, though, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor before doing a new workout or starting a new fitness routine.)

To give you another great abs workout to add to your arsenal, we asked Kimmy Carlson, certified personal trainer and instructor at Shred415, a bootcamp-style fitness studio in Hinsdale, Illinois, to show us how to strengthen these muscles using just a stability ball.

The workout below includes four moves and works a handful of core muscles all at once. “It does not solely focus on one particular abdominal area, but the core in its entirety, which is a huge benefit for spinal support as well as core stability,” Carlson explains. “It requires a lot of the deeper abdominal muscles to be utilized,” she adds. She also explains that she organized the workout to begin with a more basic movement (crunches) and gradually advance to the more challenging moves. “This will help you properly [and slowly] warm up the core muscles, which in turn helps prevent injury when you progress to the more advanced movements.”

One last thing! Carlson suggests really focusing on form, which is always important but even more so when you’re using a tool that throws your balance off kilter, like a stability ball. It’s a great way to work on and improve your balance, but does require slow, thoughtful, and controlled movements.

Ready to strengthen your core and challenge your stability? Grab a stability ball and get started.

The Workout

Moves

  • Oblique Crunch — 8 reps each side
  • Plank Rock — 30-45 seconds
  • Ball Pass — 8 reps
  • Pike-up — 8 reps

Directions

After doing 8 reps of each (except the plank, which you hold for time), you’ll repeat the circuit 2 or 3 times, for a total of 3 or 4 rounds.

Here’s how to do each move: