[This post isn't in response to the recent discussion about the 'I would have got away with it...' cartoon - I've actually been thinking about it for some time, but you may find the links relevant.]
A lot of the defenses of the value of housework come from the perspective of those who do a lot of it. But I think it is just as important for such perspectives to come from those of us who don't do very much at all, and particularly those of us who find it difficult.
A couple of years ago I was living in a house with an old switchboard, the sort where you have to wrap fuse wire round two points. The fuses also happened to be unlabeled. At one point a fuse blew, and so I worked out which fuse was which by testing which lights/appliances when off when I removed various fuses, bought some fuse wire (which is surprisingly hard to find) and replaced the offending fuse.
When I mentioned this to friends, they were shocked that I hadn't called the landlord to send an electrician. Honestly, as someone who had spent half her childhood fiddling round with electric circuits (and though I've forgotten a lot of what I knew then, as may be evident from my vague description, it still makes an instinctive sense) the idea would never have occurred to me.
Yet I imagine a lot of people who couldn't understand why I didn't call an electrician would have been confused or quietly critical (or even loudly critical) if I paid someone to come in and do my vacuuming, and this independent of how much I would pay them. I find vacuuming really, incredible difficult. I literally haven't done it in years (my partner and I have a deal: she vacuums, I empty the vacuum). Yes, in my case I do have a diagnosed neurological condition that this is at least partially the result of, and that would make hiring a vacuumer more acceptable in many people's eyes, but I don't think my argument depends on that fact. Some people are just not good at housework.
I've struggled a bit with a workmate, who I think really does not understand how my struggling when it is my turn to deal with the office kitchen is in any way like her struggling with understanding html (which I find relatively easy). That's because some things, like cleaning, are assumed to be natural, instinctive, anyone can do them, and in particular women are expected to know how to clean without an instruction or effort.
Valuing these things as skills, which take ability and learning, does help lead to greater respect for those who do them, and whilst I do not think this is the cause of the financial disparity between, say, cleaning and other equivalent male occupations, dismissing it as unskilled is used as a justification for that financial disparity, which we need to counter. But it is also a step for those of us who struggle with these skills as seeing this not as a failing as a human being or laziness, but one skill set amongst others which we may lack or have to a lesser degree, and one ability amongst others that may not come naturally to us.
I am absolutely not saying that some people are born to do housework and others aren't. I am particularly wary of how that may be used to justify the greater portion of housework falling on women because they are 'naturally better at it' or some other such bullshit. To the extent that housework is necessary - and I am aware many people take it beyond this, which is their prerogative but not a universal standard - members of a unit need to come to a fair arrangement (which may include contracting of people from outside that unit) that takes account of everyone's skills and abilities, and people are going to need to put some effort into things they find hard, or learn new skills they lack. But I think recognising housework as a skill leads to more respect, and recognition of abilities, all round.