Who does what? Balancing working lives with laundry, ironing and school pick-ups
Finely balanced: Sarah Hargaden and Brian Killeen at home in Shankill, Co Dublin, with their children, Danny, Beth and Alice.Photograph: Aidan Crawley
Half and half: Mags and Ger Kirwan with their children in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny. Photograph: Jack Caffrey
Full circle: Sen Mary Moran with her daughters Sadhbh (left) and Deirbhile. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
SARAH HARGADEN AND BRIAN KILLEEN
Hargaden, who is 41, and Killeen, who is 42, have three children, aged nine, seven and five. They live in Shankill, in Co Dublin
“From the get-go we’d always been really clear it’s got to be as equal as it possibly can,” says Hargaden. She is an account director with the research firm Millward Brown. Her husband is an IT operations manager at Informatica, a US multinational.
Both jobs are “really full on, with big hours”, so the couple need a routine. “Typically if one person is doing bath time and getting [the children] ready for bed, the other is making lunches, setting out uniforms and getting bags ready for the next day.”
Killeen handles the morning jobs and drop-offs, so that she can be at her desk by 7.30am. “I work through a lot of lunches to make sure I’m able to do the pick-up at 6pm, so it’s fairly intense.
“With us there are definitely some things that I do more of, but it balances out. Looking at friends and colleagues, I still feel that women pick up more of the childcare. He’d have no clue about who’s got ballet or drama, so there’s a lot you are mopping up by virtue of just knowing their schedule a bit better.
“Dealing with the school, sorting after-school activities, I do all of that, but maybe that’s just because I’m organised. He would tend to do the garden, the bins and anything to do with the car, so you feel it levels out. And he does all the laundry. That’s relentless.”
MAGS AND GER KIRWAN
Mags and Ger Kirwan, who are both 48, run Goatsbridge Trout Farm, in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny. They have four children, who range in age from seven to 13
“Ger’s mother used to cook dinner for us until we had our own kids,” says Mags. “For the first six months Ger also got his mother to do the clothes washing for him.”
The couple worked in the family agribusiness, but after they had children Mags focused on their domestic life for several years while Ger managed the business. “I had four children within six years. Ger was the one out farming, I suppose, but I made all the decisions in terms of what we ate, how the house was organised and so on.
“When the last child was born Ger encouraged me to go back and upskill. So I did, and now he is at home a lot more than I am. He will get the kids up and dressed and empty the dishwasher and do the cooking if need be. The one thing he has never done is the ironing.
“You don’t think about what percentage you do. It’s split about 50/50.”
“My mother was a domestic-science teacher,” says Ger, “so I was well able to cook, and we would have all shared the housework growing up.”