So you have a baby or a whole bunch of children at home. Or a messy partner. Or a busy job in or outside the home that eats up most of your time. All of the above?
Whatever your family set up and circumstances, your chores at home seem to pile up as quickly as the dishes in the sink do, and it just feels like a constant lost battle.
Is there anything different you could be doing to keep up with it all?
1. Do things ‘as you go’
Doing things bit by bit has its perks. One of them being that it actually works, and you don’t feel like you spend your entire existence tidying up your house.
Are you struggling to see what I mean here? Do you think you don’t have the time because you’re out at work all day? Here are a couple of examples.
- When you leave your bedroom in the morning, make sure that your bed is made and you haven’t left a trail of destruction of clean / dirty / unsuitable clothes behind you. ‘Cleaning up after yourself’ now means you don’t have a bedroom to tidy when you get back from work later.
- Similarly, once you’ve had your shower give the area it a quick wipe, sort our your towels, toothbrush etc. and that’s another room you don’t need to sort out when you’re back. Tasks just seem a lot smaller when you tackle them as you come.
- Do you have stairs? Don’t keep going up and down. Leave things by the side of the stairs and pick them up the next time you need to go up or down.
2. Prioritise tasks
Over the course of the years, I’ve perfected the point above so much that in order to leave a room in a good state, I’ll end up doing things at the worst time. Like folding laundry at 8am if the pile catches my eye when I should really be sorting out the boys’ breakfast before we rush out like lunatics for the school run. Is that really a good time to be folding laundry?
A bit like sweeping the floor and then wiping the crumbs off the table.
You don’t want to make yourself late or create extra work for yourself, so make sure you do things in an order that makes sense to you.
3. Break the most dreaded tasks down
We all have a particular job around the house that we hate doing (ok, all of them?!) These are the things that we tend to leave as last, but the result is that they pile up and become a lot harder to tackle.
For example, if I leave my children’s clean laundry to sort out on the weekend, it feels like a never-ending job. I’ve now learnt that I have to spread it out for myself or I just lose the will to live when I have to do it all at once. I’m probably spending the same amount of time by doing small chunks of it during the week, but at least it doesn’t feel like I am wasting my whole weekend. And it’s an added bonus for my mood.
So whatever it is that you find long and daunting every week, try not to leave it to the last minute. Break it down and spread it out.
4. Work out what you can do without and just let it go
Here’s another lesson I learn the hard way – some things don’t really need to be done all the time. Sometimes the feeling that we’re constantly chasing after our tail comes from the fact that we want to keep on top of too many things. We just put too much pressure on ourselves and spread ourselves too thin – and a tidy house is just one of a long list of things we feel like we have to achieve.
Yes, of course you want your house to be in a good state so you don’t have to pretend you’re not in when the neighbour decides to call in unannounced.
But does it really matter if the dishes stay in the sink overnight when it’s 9pm, and you feel exhausted after you’ve been running around all day? Sometimes it’s best to just recognise that you need to switch off for now, give yourself a break and consider loading the dishwasher while the children have breakfast in the morning.
As long as something not being done means that you cannot relax (i.e. you can’t sit in the living room because the sofa is still covered in toys), once in a while do allow yourself to forget about a messy kitchen.
5. Get some help and share the load
It doesn’t all have to be your responsibility! If you have a partner – ask them to help out with a few things, and if they are already, but you still feel like the result is House 1 – You 0, maybe it’s time to try something else. Could they do more or do something differently? Could you? And if you can afford it, would it be an option to call for some professional help once in a while to take the edge off?
Also, if you have children, there will always be little tasks they can do that are appropriate to their age and abilities – even if it’s just asking them to tidy up their toys or fold their pj’s in the morning. Granted that it’s often quicker for you to do these things yourself at first, but in the long run, raising little helpers will definitely pay off.
Over to you now. What works for you? Are there any other tips that you could add?