I can find enjoyment out pretty much all forms of work. However, housework REALLY depresses me. And I know why. The reason I hate housework so much isn’t because of the work (although, cleaning hair out of the shower plug is the pits). No. The works isn’t the issue; it’s because I can’t seem to finish the job fully: I’m constantly interrupted, I don’t have a solid chunk of time or it’s done for like 6 seconds before I have to do it again.
I’m a goal orientated person and I find not being able to finish a job really frustrating. Oh for an hour to run through the house and get everything done without having to stop, like a million times. It takes 3 times as long and when you get to the end, you’re back to the beginning anyway. You see? It seems so pointless!
I’ve adapted and accepted that, in this stage of parenting, I have to do housework in bits and pieces. Here are some tips I’ve developed over the years to help me manage the never ending, and never quite complete job of housekeeping.
Like in many areas of my life, once I accept the situation I’m in, I find ways to work with what I have rather than fighting it. Before I accepted the reality, I worried that I was a really lazy person and terrible housewife because I struggled to get the housework done. I judged myself on how other people keep their homes and just felt down because I could never get it all done in one sitting. I’m not the best housewife in the world but I do have other qualities I can contribute to the family.
2. Include the Kids
I include the kids in the housework as much as I can (especially when they were little and not yet at school). Instead of seeing it as a hassle (which it really is most of the time — HA!), I look as it as an opportunity to spend quality time with my children, and to teach them. A spray bottle with water and a cloth in the kitchen or bathroom goes a long way to keep the kids occupied and happy.
Playing my favourite music helps motivate me.
4. Batch cleaning
I set realistic time limits when cleaning in batches and this works well for me. The idea is to set myself a 10-15 minute limit and get as much work done as I can in this time. I put on my favourite music and go crazy. CRAZY I tell you! It’s surprising how much you can get done in 10 or 15 minutes when you set your mind to it.
5. Clean as you go
I clean as I go. This means I often vacuum only one room at a time, I wipe over the fridge as I walk past and clean the bathroom sink when I brush my teeth. I’ve given up on getting it all done in one sitting.
6. Miscellaneous basket
I sometimes keep a dedicated laundry basket handy to keep miscellaneous items I pick up during the day. The kids can then sort out, and pack them away at the end of the day.
It’s easy to think of issues in black and white. For example: The kids should clean up after themselves. Sure, that might be good in theory; however, here’s an example or reality at our place: sometimes we come home from school, smash out homework, the kids are desperate to run wild and play, I get busy preparing dinner, and BOOM: I realise we have to get to Basketball practice and so we drop everything and leave. We get home later, eat dinner and I put the kids to bed. The toys are usually left where they are on these days. Sometimes, I’m uber organised and but honestly, my life rarely fits in a nice neat orderly box.
Things are rarely black and white. My husband is a very relaxed sort of person. I’m not so much. We’ve had to compromise when it comes to managing the house we live in together. I can show love and grace to my husband by not nagging when he leaves his shoes and socks around the house and fails to put his coffee mug in the sink. You know what? I can live with that. In turn, my husband helps with jobs around the house a lot considering how much work he does outside the home: he irons all the clothes, cooks dinner on the weekends and that sort of thing. It’s not uncommon for my husband to get home at 9pm and vacuum the kitchen area. I’ve never asked him to, he just helps however he can (love him for that!). When you do things motivated by love for one another, it all works out better. When you live in a home with a lot of other people, you have to compromise.
Although I’m the driver of things at home, it’s not MY home, it’s a family home and I adjust my expectations accordingly.
8. Cleaning tools
I’m a Norwex convert. I’m thrilled with the results I get from microfibre cleaning and it means the only cleaning products I buy are these:
* Disinfectant (for toilet lid, buttons etc.)
* Toilet cleaner (for inside the bowl)
* Dishwashing detergent (for cleaning pots and dishwasher tablets)
* Candles because I like pretty fragrances
* Clothes washing powder
* Bleach (I rarely, rarely use it but I like having it on hand)
It’s wonderful not using too many harsh chemicals for general housecleaning.
9. Regroup Day
I don’t have a dedicated all day cleaning day but I do use Mondays to regroup myself. I rarely oganise outside events on this day but do some cleaning to set the home up for the week.
10. Finding balance
It is a fact that my home doesn’t function very well when it is dissorgaised. But neither does the home run well when I’m nagging everyone to do things all the time. Finding this balance in the family home is something I’m constantly aware of. The best way to find this balance is to treat my family like a team. We all have something to contribute and we make up for others in the family who might be having a bad day. It’s an ever evolving thing that changes and needs constant readjusting.
In the stage I’m in right now, it’s difficult to get even 1 job finished in a sitting. I don’t like it but I’ve come to accept it and find ways to make my situation work for me. I’m sure soon, I’ll have some time on my own where I can follow through, complete tasks on a regular basis and gain satisfaction from that. Until then, I’ll compromise by replacing this question:
“How can I manage a clean, tidy home?”
“How can I care best for my family in the situation we are in?”
How do you do housework with young children around?
A lovely Grandma reader left this gorgeous encouragement on my facebook page. I’ve put it here as a reminder to myself:
“Though some of your days may never seem to be sorted enough, from a grandparent to all mums: those littlies grow up, and present you with their littlies, and some of the stuff we fret about, really is not important. Stop for a cuddle and a giggle; a game, a story. The children are little for such a short time frame; but memories of hugs and giggles together last forever.”