Housework and parenting

It’s that time again.  I did it all last week and here I go again.

I tried to find the positive spin.  I tried to be grateful for a big home that meant I had to unplug and shift the vacuum cleaner three times to get it all done, but in the end I just bought an extension cord.  There had to be a way to keep my home/workplace tidy and liveable.

I now know that the pressure to keep it tidy was put on me by me.  But that is ok.  I’m allowed to have wants and desires and one of those is NOT TO LIVE IN A MESS, and that is valid. I am important, too.  What I had to work through was the niggle to do it ALL today.  I had to work out what worked best for me.  So HOW do I function?

I am a morning person.  Do it in the morning!

I hate wasting time.  Housework takes time from my littlies, so do it fast.  Housework takes time from my husband, so do it when he’s not there.

I like to live clean, so push through the tasks I hate with a ‘treat’ at the end – e.g.. vacuum (loathe) and dust (love to see the sparkle).  Clean the toilets (loathe) then the mirrors (love the sheen).

And lastly, my husband worked really hard, and the house really was my responsibility and gift of service to him, so I did it faithfully.

For me, with two children very close in age, the early days were so busy.  A pattern that worked for me was breaking the housework into five easy stages, one for each ‘work’ day (aren’t they all work days?), and then get it done as soon as possible that day.  NO more than half an hour a day.  Let me explain.

Say my five tasks were beds, vacuuming and dusting, bathrooms/laundry room, kitchen and one BIG TASK.  So I’d plan my week…

Monday – the bathrooms usually needed a good clean after the weekend (and visitors).  So I’d get stuck in including the floors and ceilings (if they needed it), the showers, the bath, mirrors and the vanities.  The toilets got a good scrub and then only needed a quick clean in between Mondays, and my husband would do that without my asking.

Tuesdays – washing day – bed linens changed and beds aired.  This worked in well with us especially at the pre-school stage which meant we were out of the house for most of that day, so a quick swoop and wash meant that by the time I got home from the walk to pre-school, the washing was done and ready to be hung on the line.  No washing and folding after dinner for me.  I know I am a morning person, so everything had to be done earlier rather than later, but there was some leeway!  But my husband isn’t – he only warms up by about lunch time and will work hard into the dark to get a task done.  Work out what works for you!  REMEMBER, relationships always take priority.

Wednesdays – kitchen and laundry room.  Just a good clean of the cupboards, benches, stove top and floors.

Thursday for me was the worst!  I hate vacuuming but knowing it was just this once I could convince myself to fly through it.  Then the dusting.  I know people don’t dust but for me, it was finishing the job well and as I lived there and saw it the most, I did it!

Friday was my big-job-day – empty and clean the fridge, or maybe clean the light fittings, or the windows, or maybe tidy the linen cupboard.  Something that needed doing, but not everyday or even every week.  I was so flexible on this that sometimes it was nothing.  Remember I did not take more than half an hour.  If you have to do it, do it thoroughly and FAST was my motto.

Of course, as the children got older I trained them to do these tasks thoroughly and persevered through the I-can-do-it-better-myself stage.  But when they were really little, I made a plan and a time limit and just got stuck in.  That way, if the floor was a mess on Wednesday, I felt no pressure to clean it when I knew it would be fine tomorrow.

That’s what worked for me and I still wash and change the bed linen on Tuesdays!  Although I still hate vacuuming, I do it.  And one other really important thing.  There have been times when I’ve been too unwell to manage and I’ve asked for help.  Several young Mums around you might like a little extra cash and are capable of cleaning your place well, if they can bring their kids with them.  Even if it’s just the vacuuming.

Just work out how you function, what really matters, and make a plan.  Not having to re-decide every week is such a burden lifted and I’m all for that!  Let the routine carry you until it no longer works and then reevaluate.  Keep up the everyday tasks of washing and ironing, of cooking and shopping, and make a plan for the other jobs that you can handle.  It is called houseWORK but you are not a slave to it!  Make it work for you!!  Bless.

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