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Even at the time, I realized I was talking about the laundry rather often.
Secretly, I worried whether people mentally rolled their eyes at me. Oh, listen to her, going on about the laundry again. But I really felt it was always there. Piled up in a corning, waiting to get folded. And then, just as I thought I had everything cleared away (surely not up to Martha Stewart’s standards, but at least back in the closets) there it would be again! A new pile.
Staying on top of household chores
How was I ever going to stay on top of it? Not to mention staying on top of the dishes!
It was driving me mental! I think I was a little mental (might still be a little mental come to think of it….anyway…)
People, especially moms, believe that literally everything needs to get done. They worry about the laundry, they worry about the dishes, they worry about the state of the house. Just do a simple search on Pinterest and you will see how many articles and blog posts there are on these topics. In a recent UK survey, it was listed #4 in the top 50 biggest challenges parents face.
Sure, staying on top of household chores is important, but I think we’re looking at it from the wrong direction. We do not serve the household. There is no demi-goddess we have to keep happy by folding your sheets just so.
Getting household chores done
The laundry and I, well…we still struggle. Sometimes I manage to keep up with it, sometimes I don’t. And today, my mother-in-law folded it for me (she’s awesome!). But on the whole, when it comes to the household now that the kids are still so young, I ask myself the following:
- Can I get away with not doing it?
- Can I turn this into a habit, or routine?
- Can I get the kids to do it?
- Can I outsource this?
- Is there a hack to make this easier?
1. Just don’t do it
I know this sounds like terrible advice. It sounds as if I don’t know what it’s like to run a household. But just as an experiment, ask yourself with an open mind: what would happen if I didn’t do certain stuff?
Do you always iron everyone’s clothes? I don’t. In my household, we iron as needed. Guess what, I held the ironer in my hand just once this past month. To iron a cotton dress.
Hang stuff out in the bathroom while someone is taking a shower. Simply don’t iron bedsheets (turn off the light and close your eyes). My husband irons his shirts when he needs them. If you don’t have a job where you need a suit, you really don’t need to iron that much.
Making all the beds is another one. Yes, it looks nice and it’s considered a really good habit. But ask yourself whether it truly contributes to the quality of your life. Does it? Good, go right ahead. Does it not? Then just quit doing it.
2. Use habits or routines
My evening routine includes filling up and turning on the dishwasher. My morning routine includes cleaning it out.
When you find that something really needs to get done, but you’re forever stumbling over it, then try to formulate a routine for it. Remember that routines need a trigger (something that set the routine in motion), the middle (the routine itself) and a reward at the end, preferably an immediate one.
With the dishwasher routine, my trigger in the morning is that I need plates, knives and lunch boxes to prepare breakfast and lunch for the boys. Instead of getting these from the cupboards, I get them out of the dishwasher. This triggers me to empty out the whole thing; the routine.
My reward here is immediate. When I go to bed at night, as well as when I come downstairs again in the morning, I see a beautifully, calm and empty kitchen counter. It gives me a little happy moment which cements the routine into a habit.
So, what household chores can you not avoid and is causing you trouble? Ask yourself where you can conveniently install a routine for it. Then ask yourself what your trigger and what your reward will be. Focus on this for 3 weeks to create a habit.
Do this for only one habit / routine at a time. Don’t set yourself up for failure by taking on too much at once!
3. Involving the kids
The little helpers! This is actually good parenting! Children learn so much from chores, and they love helping mommy.
Here comes the laundry again! My youngest son, is now old enough (2) to help (sort of) sort the laundry and stuff it into the washing machine. He’s very careful with the detergent and softener and always feels really proud when he’s managed to get it into the machine without spilling.
He also loves all the buttons!
Effectively, what was a household chore is turned into a game.
See what your children would like to help with. And, if your nerves can handle it, test whether having them help with this chore is indeed helpful. If your nerves cannot handle it today, then tomorrow is always another day 😉
If you’re like me, and the odds are in favor, you feel like everything is your responsibility. Of course, you wouldn’t phrase it like that. I wouldn’t either; I may be mental, but I’m not quite that mental. But in my heart, that is what I feel.
Whenever I ask my husband to do something, I feel burdened. Guilty. I feel as if I have no right to be asking him this. He works hard, doesn’t he? He’s a great husband, isn’t he?
Though all those things are true, he works hard, he’s a great man, that doesn’t mean he can’t help out. Nor does it mean he minds helping out!
Very Important Point: if you feel burdened or guilty about asking your partner to do something, try discussing it with him or her.
My husband and I rarely worry about whether I or he should be doing certain household chores. Instead, we divide chores on the basis of who is most compatible with which chore. And if something isn’t working well, we discuss it. Oftentimes, you will find that there isn’t even a problem to begin with. Or that your partner has a great solution.
Use a meal planner, check how to easily clean your sink, use the internet! Whatever household chores are bugging you at this stage, the internet has a solution for it. Get online and type in your question. Someone out there will have thought of a better way to do it than scrubbing for an hour.
Take making up what to eat every week. It’s one of the things I’ve stopped doing. Instead, I have a set of meal plans that I circulate. And I’ve saved last year’s meal plans so that I can circulate those during winter.
For a couple of weeks, just write down what your family’s eating. Save those meal plans and reuse them. Of course, it’s fine to try new recipes! But there’s no need to come up with a completely original meal plan every week. The kids will thank you for getting familiar foods on their plates!
And once you’ve done that, go hack something else!
To get you started, download these free meal planning sheets: