In all honesty I think the true answer is probably in the middle somewhere. SAHMs enjoy the opportunity to have more hours in the day in which they can balance spending good time with their kiddos and doing chores around the house being a "homemaker" and resting, yet they do indeed probably have more to clean up each day.
It also probably depends on how many kids you have because I've had 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 all in my house under my care at different times, not in that order (actually it was 1, 3, 2, 3, 2, 4, 2, 4 with my kids and 5, 6, and 7 depending on whether my sister's kids and how many were over). I can assure you new parents that though it is really difficult to care for 1, caring for more than that brings more work. Not that you needed to be assured of that - I'm sure that's intuitive. (On that note - I will say that it was FAR more difficult for me to become a mom the first time and "handle everything" than each subsequent child change in our house. So, if you're struggling with the first and all the work associated - I hear you). Nevertheless, the more kids you have, the more work you have to do around the house. (I do have to point out that also means there are more opportunities for the kids to entertain each other...my sister and I fully understand the value we both get out of watching each others kids as we both get extra time to do stuff when the full group of cousins is together).
This is probably most true with laundry. With other chores (cooking, cleaning, etc.) you can apply an "overhead" model where the amount of work is a baseline amount - let's say sweeping, vacuuming, cleaning toilets, etc - that all needs to be done regardless of how many people live in your home on a fairly regular schedule and as the number increases the work on these chores doesn't really increase too much. Maybe you add two extra bowls of cereal in the morning - maybe you make the whole bag of spaghetti instead of half - it doesn't really add up to significantly more work.
Laundry is different. I've figured out in our home there is a pretty consistent person-to-load ratio in our home. It's roughly 1 1/2 loads per week per person. This takes into account clothes, bed linens, and towels primarily. I suppose in the summer it's a little higher because of the extra use of towels for outside water play, but not significantly. With a 6 person household as we have right now, this works out to about 9 loads each week, which we do like this:
- 4 loads of kids clothes (usually all mixed together)
- 1 load of adult dark clothes
- 1 load of adult light clothes
- 1 load of white towels (we use for cleaning - then we bleach)
- 1 load of towels
- 1 additional load that is made up of leftovers - linens if they didn't get in another load, etc.
This doesn't take into account cloth diapers - that would add 5-7 loads per week (one per day...I don't really like letting those sit). So if I did go back to using cloth diapers for new baby, I would have to add that in. But as I explained here, I actually prefer that to going out to buy diapers. Wouldn't you if you knew you had to bring an infant, two 2 year olds, and a 4 and 5 year old to the store with you...by yourself? Laundry sounds much more preferable to me...
as long as I don't have to put it away...poor hubby
Someday they'll be old enough to help. At least that's what we keep telling ourselves!