Bet the Maasai don’t row about who puts bins out

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Life seemed so much simpler before we had children.

At the weekends we could stay in bed all morning. We went to work during the week, staying as late as was necessary and going for drinks with colleagues afterwards, without feeling guilty. We could eat what we liked, when we liked to. And the number of household jobs to do seemed fewer.

There were far fewer things to juggle. Yes, the house needed cleaning and the bins had to go out every Sunday, the laundry had to be done and the cat fed, but ultimately this was small fry in comparison to now.

With three children in the house we find ourselves with many more things to juggle.

In addition to the general housekeeping and bin-putting-out duties there are the seemingly endless chores surrounding the children and their schooling, social lives and physical improvement.

School letters to fill in, play dates to arrange and swimming/gymnastics/cheese rolling classes to attend.

As well as this, of course, the mental wellbeing of each individual in the household has to be maintained, whether this means a gentle hug, a quiet heart-to-heart, or a night out with my friends at the Wine Vaults.

It’s all so exhausting and I haven’t even mentioned the need to feed the family as well.

What makes this common scenario so much more complicated is that these days the demarcation of roles within the household has become blurred.

My parents’ generation tended to stick firmly to the husband as breadwinner, wife as home maker situation.

Then when we women decided that we would like a crack of the ‘job’ whip, things started to change.

Now no one bats an eyelid if a mother goes out to work, but nor is it uncommon for that same woman to be the one who ends up taking time off work if their child is ill, or is the main cleaner and cook in the household.

Recently I went to an interesting talk by a man who grew up in the Maasai community in Kenya.

He talked eloquently about what life was like for a Maasai and how the early years are marked by a number of important ceremonies.

What struck me was that each individual in the community knew exactly what was expected of them.

Women made the huts (men, he said, were rubbish at making them); men became warriors and defended the tribe. Women tended to stay close to home, looking after the children; men kept on eye on the cattle and hunted the occasional lion.

Although women are mainly based around the home, this is not undervalued as it is in our culture. In fact, women play an important part in the various rituals that see the men turn from boys to warriors. And everyone knows what is expected of them.

In my house I am no longer sure whose job it is to take out the bins. This means that each Sunday evening I assume that my husband will do it. And, no doubt, he thinks that I will. This leads to anger, resentment and a build-up of garbage in the house. Not ideal.

Things need to change. I am off to build a hut. And my husband is looking for a lion.