Ther thing with my ILs is that they have a very nice house: wood floors, expensive rugs, white funiture, knick knacks every where that they refuse to put up. I have two small children who are fairly difficult for different reasons, and it's all I can do to follow them around and make sure they don't destroy the house, because there's very little for them to do there. Even though I bring their own toys, they're not as exciting as handling the pretty, expensive knick knacks everywhere.Not the same. You aren't sitting around waiting to be served. Your parenting the youngest family members.
So I don't feel even slightly bad about not helping clean up after meals there. I can't chase kids and help in the kitchen. Also, PIL like to leap out of their chairs and start cleaning practically while still chewing their last bite of food. We're eiher trying to finish eating ourselves or get the kids finished and cleaned up. I literally can't beat them to the kitchen.
Plus, ILs are very particular about how exactly things should be done. I once put a stand mixer away after having used it and MIL got it back out, very pointedly wiped it over more thoroughly than I had done and put it way again.
So I guess it could look to an outsider like I was being lazy and not even attempting to help, but it's just easier for everyone, probably, if I don't try. And I don't feel bad about it.
I get that, too.
But I don't believe that every person who lives at an address and every guest, especially every female guest, needs to leap out of their chair and dive into the washing up. Cate might well hate these gatherings, and protest about having them in her house. Perhaps she has very little choice about whether or not these gatherings are held and would really rather be doing something else with her evening. Not helping out at an event she had no desire to hostis fine, in my opinion.
I'm not seeing why you are bringing up "female" guests. The OP states both Cates DH and the OP's DH both help out. And even if she is there under protest, in my family it would still be seen as rude to not offer to do anything when everyone else is assisting. Even saying "can I fill the glasses with ice" before dinner starts is assisting in some way.
I know this is a pet peeve of mine because I dealt with it so long with a SIL. This was typical occurence.
Dinner at my house with our "in town" family. Could be father's day, mother's day, a family bday, a just because day. In town family is
Me, DH, our 2 kids
My Sis and her DH (Alice and Ted)
MIL, DH's sister(Nora), DH's brother (Phil) DH's brother's wife(Sue)
Alice and Ted usually call, ask what I'm serving and suggest bringing something that fits with the meal.
MIL calls and asks what I'm serving and can she bring a salad, a potatoe dish, or some type of fruit.
Nora calls to confirm time.
Phil & Sue just arrive with a contribution (Sue only cooks 3 things so it's one of the 3, Phil brings beer or wine)
DH, my kids, and I have most of the food prepared and ready to go, the kids have set the table and we are usually just waiting on everyone to arrive to finish up any last minute cooking that needs to be done... grilling the steaks, reheating MIL's potatoes, tossing the salad.
Guests arrive, DH and the kids or I offer drinks, MIL and Sue ask if they can do anything. I usually say no we are good but might say would you mind refilling the crackers on the cheese tray. Or I might ask one of them to check the asparagus in the oven. Or ask someone to take a tray out to DH who's grilling steaks. Or would you pour the dressing on the salad and toss.
Once it's close to serving time, Alice usually starts filling glasses with ice (she likes lots of ice and doesn't think anyone else puts enough in ), I start plating food to be taken the table or set out on the buffet and everyone seems to assist at some point even if it is just carring a salad bowl to the table. If food needs to be carved, someone will offer. All but Nora, she just goes and sits at the table.
While we eat, if wine or drinks run low, the kids, DH or Ted will usually offer to refill, never Nora.
After dinner is done, a couple of people will volunteer to clear the plates (usually one of my kids and Phil or Ted) while I, with the help of Alice, MIL, or Sue, start serving dessert. Again, Nora sits at the table and never offers to assist.
Dessert is finished, different people start taking plates into the kitchen, usually DH as it's his sign he's tired of sitting at the dining table and Ted usually does too because it gives him a chance to go outside and smoke. Nora hands her plate to one of them and takes her drink glass to the family room to sit.
Sue usually helps me with putting food away or putting it into to go containers if anyone is taking some home, Alice, Phil and Ted rotate rinsing and loading dishes. (MIL will usually get something to wipe down the table because she is a fanatic about glass circles on my dining table and it drives her a little nuts that I don't use a tablecloth.) Since MIL was from the generation of "women did the housework" we try to keep her away from doing the dishes because as far as I'm concerned she's already done her fair share.
During this 10 minutes of post dinner activity, Nora is not doing anything. She may be standing at the kitchen bar chatting with us but she does nothing to help.
Now can you imagine that scenario playing out 10 to 12 times per year for 10 years? It was actually my BIL, Ted, who really got tired of it and started forcing her to participate. DH thought Nora's face was going to freeze the first time Ted said "Nora, I think it's your turn to rinse the dishes."
Sure, DH and I could tell everyone to just sit and we and the kids would do everything. But if that was the case, I wouldn't be hosting family get togethers at my house monthly in addiiton to hosting the larger family holidays. We'd get burned out feeling like we were running a restaurant serving them all the time. And most of the family recognizes that it's not fair to put all the work on us just because we have the largest house.