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How do you view housework?*

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photo Sarah Gilbert; guest post MaryJo Monroe

I have one child, who is now 6. When he was a toddler and I was a full-time stay-at-home mom just starting my consulting business, I used to look around my house at the end of the day with guilt and depression, noticing the pile of laundry that didn’t get folded, the dirty dishes still lying in the sink, the toys still sitting out on the floor. And I didn’t have the energy to do a thing about it. But here’s the clincher: The business I was starting was an organizing business. I am a professional organizer.

Professional organizers are supposed to be perfect, right? Everything is always put away, the house is always presentable, and there’s never a stray ANYTHING on the floor; isn’t that the expectation?

I had fallen prey to the mindset that creates so much stress and shame in us mamas. If you are a SAHM, this mindset tells us that because we are home all day and not out working at a paying job, our default job is to take care of the house  (in addition to minding children, running errands, cooking and planning the family’s social events). This mindset tells us it’s only fair, since our  partners are doing their part by bringing home the bacon. And, because it is our 'job", we should try hard to do a good job at it.  Is it too much to ask to keep the house kept up? How hard is it to fold towels and wipe up the counters?

Work-at-home-moms (WAHMs) and work-out-of-the-home-moms (WOHMs) experience this pressure to maintain the home with an added twist: After working at paying jobs all day, studies show that these women are still doing more housework at about 17 hours a week versus men’s 13 hours a week.  Multipe studies show that WAHMs and WOHMs are stressed out from trying to juggle housework, child rearing and their paying job.

Furthermore, being married only makes all of us mamas more likely to end up doing housework. A 2008 study showed that having a husband creates an extra 7 hours a week of housework for women, while being married for men saves them an extra hour of housework a week.  But for SAHMs, does the care of the house truly become our responsibility once we agree to temporarily or permanently quit our jobs to stay home with our young children?  And for WAHMs and WOHMS, how did we end up being the ones with the primary responsibility for the housework? At what point did we volunteer to be the ones to make sure the dishes were done and everyone had clean socks to wear the next morning?

I decided to take on the care of the house as a SAHM not because I wanted to, but because I thought I should.  “I can maintain my house and have everything cleaned up and put away at the end of the day. I can do all of this and take care of my son,” I told myself. “It’s no different than any other job.”

What did taking care of the house mean to me?  My “clean house” definition was all dishes washed, counters wiped down, and everything picked up and put away by the end of each day.  Also, laundry would be done regularly and promptly put away, the dining room table would be kept clear except at mealtimes and the floors would be consistently swept.

I couldn’t maintain these standards. Me, the person who was going to hang out her shingle as a professional organizer couldn’t keep her own house that pulled together. But whenever I opened a magazine with a photo spread of a beautiful home interior, I was overcome with envy and a sense of guilt. The guilt told me, “You COULD have a home that looked like that if you just tried harder.”

And I know I wasn’t the only mama who felt that way. So often when I came over to my mama friends’ houses, they would greet me at the door with an apology about their house’s appearance. (And once my friends found out that I was a professional organizer, the apologies for the state of their house became even more frequent!)  I bet this has happened to you too, or maybe you’ve been the one apologizing to your mom friend, assuming that she must be better at maintaining her house than you and is silently judging you.

Have looked around your house in its various stages of messiness and asked yourself, "what’s wrong with me? Why is the house always a mess? How hard is it for me to just sort and get rid of the old toys?"  That was the lament of a client I worked with, who was also a mom. Her husband snorted and said, “It just takes willpower and discipline.”

“And skills and knowledge,” I shot back.  Telling a mom that her lack of willpower is the problem and to “just try harder” is the fastest way I know to increase her level of guilt and shame exponentially.

When I started working with more and more moms who also had high standards for their house and felt the same level of shame that I did from being unable to achieve those standards, I started relaxing my expectations of myself. I was telling these women to stop aiming for that magazine-quality look, and I was finally able to take my own advice. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen once my son hit preschool and I realized I had wasted a lot of time trying to achieve some unreasonable standard.

So my question for you mamas is, what is your outlook toward housework? Do you SAHMs feel it is your job by default to keep the house picked up? Do you feel a certain amount of pressure from your spouse or your friends to keep your house pulled together? If you are WAHM or WOHM, do you also do the bulk of the housework at home? And do magazines and web sites like Apartment Therapy and Pinterest make you feel badly about yourself and your home?

*This guest post was written by MaryJo Monroe, who has been a SAHM, WOHM and is currently a WAHM Portland mama and professional organizer with reSPACEd.

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This article made me smile. I'm the working mama, and hubby is stay at home dad. Our house is spotless, laundry always clean and folded, dinners are excellent . . . and we are barely surviving financially. I flip flop constantly between loving having someone at home to take care of the house so I don't have to, and demanding he get a job and help out financially.

"Have looked around your house in its various stages of messiness and asked yourself, 'what’s wrong with me? Why is the house always a mess? How hard is it for me to just sort and get rid of the old toys?' That was the lament of a client I worked with, who was also a mom. Her husband snorted and said, 'It just takes willpower and discipline.'"

I'm just curious how often this man gets his willpower and discipline together and helps his wife out. =\

Anyhow, I really like to have a clean and organized house. I'm a massively type A person. Organization/planning is, in fact, my career. When my house gets to a certain level of dirty or cluttered, I have a physical reaction--panicky, disoriented--to the mess, and it has to be cleaned up or I simply can't be in the house anymore. Still, my house has never--and will never--be Pinterest pretty, and frankly, it's not my goal to have a picture perfect home. (I'm too cheap to waste my money on having matching furniture, and I'm certainly not paying $15 for the decorative bin when a plain clear plastic one will do the same job for $3.99.) For me, it's enough that everything has a place and that there are clean, empty surfaces in our house. ;)

I'm really fortunate that my husband values my work outside of the home. I'm also fortunate that he feels our home is just as much his responsibility as it is mine and that he is more than willing to put in his fair share around the house. I don't think keeping the house in running order is my job or responsibility, and honestly, I wouldn't have married someone else who felt that way, either. Our marriage works in large part because my husband doesn't view me as his housekeeper, and I think that has gone a long way not only to keeping the amount of housework I have to do down, but also alleviates me of total responsibility for the condition of our house when it's not great and keeps me from resenting him over something like equitable distribution of household chores.

I'm tidy by nature. My hubby helps and the kids have regular, daily chores. I love being able to say to folks "come on over".

But yes, I probably wouldn't hire you to straighten out my house if I knew your home was messy. Just as I wouldn't hire a midwife or doula that had never given birth themselves.

To me housework often feels like a neverending largely thankless task. I WOTH and pay for a housecleaner every other week. In between, however, it largely falls to me to tidy and such mainly because my husband just doesn't notice the mess and his tolerance level is higher than mine. That said, our deal is that the person who doesn't cook does the dishes and we trade those duties fairly regularly. He also puts laundry away and often helps me fold it if we are both watching TV and it's there. Also generally if I'm doing something like sweeping or tidying, he is entertaining at least one of our two kids so I can get it done. Nevertheless, if I won the lottery one of the first things I'd do is have house cleaning done by someone else all the time ;-)

Overall with us it's more about what someone's good at than what's "equal".

That said, my husband DOES secretly long for me to earn six figures plus, but still work from home and only put in maybe a 6 hour work week to earn this amount. And thus be able to cook dinner, clean the house and handle all the school stuff. Yes I laugh at him about it, too.

Moving past that, I actually generally enjoy cooking and cleaning once I get to it. And My husband generally doesn't do nearly as good a job cleaning as I do, so I just do it. He makes certain dishes really well, so we split cooking.

HIS chores are generally more outside the house, gardening and such--which I suck at, so to us it all pretty much works out.

Well...... I'm a SAHM/homeschooling mom w/4 kids ages 4-8. We both work from when we wake up until we go to bed. Most of my jobs are inside the house; most of his are outside the house. (The perk? He does all the grunt labor in our 1,800 square foot veggie garden/orchard, and I do all the fun, pretty things!) We have also trained the kids EARLY to do their chores, with specific training sessions on how a chore needs to be done. I enjoy (understatement) cooking, and I'd much rather clean up the dishes myself so he have can have some time to get down and wrestle with the kids. They haven't seen him all day! DH would probably make a neater housekeeper than I do, but overall the place is in pretty good order and we manage the best we can. Our priorities are definitely: happy spouse, happy children, neat-enough house.

I am a SAHM of 3. I DO feel like keeping the house clean is my responsibility (even though my husband tells me often that it's not my responsibility alone), and I regularly fail at it. I find it hard to maintain my motivation.

Back when I was a sahm of young children I considered my only tasks were to make sure the kids were cared for and to have dinner on the table at 5:30. Anything else of a housework nature that got done was over and above. Sometimes it happened, sometimes it didn't.

I am a SAHM of a 2 yo and a 4.5 yo with a not-very-tidy house who somehow managed to become friends with tons of moms whose houses are always dusted, vacuumed, tidy and un-cluttered. Shame and guilt are very familiar emotions for me. I am also a Virgo who longs for a "perfect" house but didn't get the Virgo clean gene. My husband doesn't really do any cleaning or straightening or anything because he is gone around 7:40 in the morning until 6:00 at night. My dining room table is always cluttered, don't even get me started on the toys. I often find myself looking for clean clothes in the piles of folded laundry in the basement (are you Type A's squirming yet?). While I so have the guilt and shame and self-disappointment, I also just had a realization that I'm thinking about .....whenever my mom comes to visit, the house is double-cluttered. I grew up in a house that had piles on the table, craft items in bags and boxes, and every sliver of anything saved in case you might need it down the road. Don't get me wrong, it was a not a crazy hoarder situation, just the product of a mom who worked as an elementary teacher (back in the day when teachers could actually be creative in their teaching) and a dad who was kind of like every other dad in the 70's (not a whole lot of help happening). So.........what is my point? While I will probably always long for a house I won't have and will be envious when I walk into my friend's houses that are gorgeous, I will also try to be less hard on myself and make sure that the time I am not spending cleaning/organizing is well spent in quality time with my kids. While I can get it. Who needs therapy, when you have Urban Mamas? :-)

ClutterQueen, I intensely dislike the fallacy that clean home moms are somehow "ignoring" their children. My kids are often right beside me as I do the household chores. We listen to the radio or a story on tape. Sometimes the kids are coloring or doing their own thing, but sometimes they pitch in.

I am surprised we have not heard yet from any WOTH single moms, so I will chime in. I seriously doubt that married/partnered women have more housework than me because of their husbands/partners. I can't remember the last time I wiped down the counters, and I am responsible for what one mom called the "inside" and "outside" jobs at my home, and also for taking care of all meals, including packing lunch every day, and feeding and pilling the cat, and cleaning the litter, and I am lucky if I get to laundry once per week, most of the time opting to get groceries instead, or actually do something fun with my kid. I like having a clean house, but I have had to change my standards. I rarely have people over because I am embarassed at times, not all the time, but other people's houses often seem "cozier" if not cleaner. I would LOVE to have someone clean my house. I even begged my mom one year for someone to come and clean just my floors so I could enjoy them for a day or two, but she didn't think that was a real gift. That would have been the best gift EVER!

In my neighborhood I'm the only mom who doesn't have a paid housekeeper. First, I cannot afford it, but also the kids I meet are lazy from having someone do everything for them. Everyone in my house has chores to do. Even the youngest child can put a scoop of dog food in the bowl or help dry dishes. I grew up extremely impoverished and swore if I ever was fortunate enough to have a home of my own I'd care for it. I think the sense on gratitude keeps me from feeling resentful and drives me to keep my home both tidy and beautiful. My husband was raised by a very hard working single mom and he always does half the work since he wasn't raised to believe that it was someone elses job. Often times we fold laundry together before bed while watching Colbert and he cooks dinner 3 nights a week. We want to model for our children that housework isn't women's work but family work.

Mum to Many,
I was not inferring that clean home moms are ignoring their kids. In fact, I was not trying to infer anything about anyone other than myself. We all do things our own ways and we are all just trying to make it work for our own sanities and families. I was simply divulging my own insecurities about how clean my house is and how much actual quality time I am spending with my kids.
-ClutterQueen

I like to tell people who come over, "our house is messy, but hygienic". i.e. the living room and dining room are total kid clutter land (and the office is even worse adult clutter land), but the kitchen surfaces and table eating places are clean and all food safety rules are strictly adhered to. Everything else can go to heck--and it does. Ah, well.

I am always SO happy when I go to another family's house and it looks like mine--so much more comfortable.

I'm a mostly-SAHM to two who does a little freelance work when it lands in my lap. I do overwhelmingly most of the housework. And I do it poorly, unless I have someone coming over.
I'd much rather take the kids on outings to the park or library, or get down on the floor to play blocks with my son or read to my daughter than scrub the toilet. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with feeling the opposite, and I do think that a more disciplined person with better time management skills could manage to keep the house somewhat tidy without neglecting the kids. I just freaking hate cleaning. It is so tedious. When I take the time to make it look really neat and nice I find I get really bent out of shape when someone messes it up again, which of course they do, because life and kids and husbands is/are just messy. So it often doesn't seem worth it.
I feel a lot of guilt about how crappy my house looks. I get really frustrated that I can't find stuff, because it's strewn all over the house. I don't think it's necessarily fair to have all the housekeeping duties fall on a stay-at-home parent. I mean, taking care of kids all day, engaging them and enriching their lives, that counts for something, too, right? I think it's totally unfair how much working moms have to pick up the slack, and I think I would be overwhelmed with resentment if that were the case here. On the weeks when my freelance work load picks up, things get pretty crazy around here. I can only imagine what it would be like if I worked 40+ hours a week somewhere else.

I work 2 days a week from home self employed but with a sitter and toddler out of the house, SAHM the rest of week. Unfortunately, my husband does not contribute much in the chores dept and no cooking/dishes/shopping/laundry. He is self employed and works long hours but really it's because his own mom did all the picking up for her kids and they did not have regular chores growing up (he is a hard worker at his job, but lazy when it comes to picking up after himself! Honestly, I think he is conditioned from a lifetime of not seeing the mess, he just steps over it - urgh!) I would say it is a minor bone of contention in our marriage, but we are working on both me communicating my needs and him stepping up without me having to necessarily ask/remind/beg him to complete the chore repeatedly. We have both made improvements!

Two things help me stay organized and feeling on top of the housework - 1) assigning chores and "zones" of the house to tidy up to days of the week. Example: Monday is mop floors and tidy kitchen zone, Tuesday is laundry and tidy dining room/office zone, Wednesday is grocery shop and bedrooms zone, etc. I grocery shop and do laundry twice/week but also do load of cloth diapers every night while I cook dinner, putting in the dryer before bed. I don't always make our bed or have the dishwasher loaded but I do try to keep counters cleared off and the floor cleared of eronious toys every night. Having zones that get tidied once a week means going thru any piles of papers, clothes, toys, etc so that it doesn't become a permanent pile or taking the time to organize a closet/drawer in that area. Assigning days of the week has really helped it feel more manageable and the house cleaner/tidier without me trying to keep the whole house clean all the time - little bits every day works for me.. I entered in the chores/zones into my phone calendar and each morning I get a "reminder" beep with the day's to-dos listed.
2) twice a year in the spring and again in the fall, we purge stuff! Clothing is gone thru and either donated or to friends, toys to either cycle in/out or donate, furniture fixed or exchanged via craigslist, papers permantly filed or thrown away, closets emptied and reorganized, etc.

The last thing I've done recently to keep my sanity and save my marriage was to do a blackboard with our names and I write reminders down now instead of nagging anymore.

Hope these tips helps to inspire a mama needing some ideas!

I'm gonna irk a lot of posters here (nothing new there)---but if you stay home full time, for the most part, you SHOULD do all or most of the housework. I tend to think if you approach it as part of your job, you should be able to do it.

During periods of unemployment (in which I still contributed to the budget through UI and kinda still had a job, finding a NEW job), my house was always spotless, I generally fixed dinner and cared (sometimes exclusively) for our then small child.

Honestly, I still had plenty of "me" time and she's a very high energy kid. If the house wasn't clean, it was more because I really did choose not to (or found myself getting bored with being home, etc).

The reason I became better at keeping it clean while working a 50+ hour work week and having a small child at home was because I found it gave me a sense of control over my life. I had a contentious relationship with my boss, and cleaning my house for half a day on Saturday made me feel better.

It's not like I'm this self sacrificing saint, either. Just work taught me how to manage my time and that frequently doing something instead of avoiding doing it (which even now I'm frequently guilty of) was actually easier.

When our first was born I worked very part time. I work a little more now, so things have evolved, but for the most part, during those early years I did most of the indoor housework tasks. Now, my standards are pretty middle of the road, but it just wasn't that hard to pop a load of wash in most days, pick up clutter every afternoon, clean/dust/vacuum on a rotating basis but never more than 10 minutes/day, cook and shop, and still have time to do all kinds of fun stuff with kids. For me, if I didn't do that stuff when I was home during the day, it still had to get done which meant we were spending what precious little family time we had doing it. That just didn't make sense to me. Besides, have you been to the grocery store on the weekend? I'd rather shop with two toddlers on a Tuesday morning, thank you very much!

I guess the secret for us working this out was just that, we worked it out. Nothing really happened by default. No one kept score and respect for various types of work was mutual. I also try to keep up on it. My kitchen gets cleaned up every night so each day starts clean. If I'm not home to do it, or I'm doing the bath routine instead, my husband does it, but it gets done. The bathroom gets cleaned in stages. I might do the toilet and sink one day but then sweep and mop another day. Still gets done but doesn't seem like a big deal. Kids clean up their room every night which means the toy situation is never out of hand. When they were home all day they would clean up mid-day as well. I think a tidy house (note tidy versus spotless!) keeps all of us more settled and peaceful.

Living in a "spotless" house would make me really uncomfortable. Our house is clean, lived in, warm and loving. We have fun, we make messes, we clean them up-we are not perfect, but we are happy! Life is too short to worry about cleaning all the time, especially when you have kids and you want to enjoy time with them. Also, cleaning/cooking is NOT just one person's job (even if you happen to be a parent staying at home) and I am so pleased that so many posters above share the jobs (if they live in a 2 parent home) and are setting such great examples for their children. It just makes sense. We are not living in the 1950s.

So you are a work at home parent. You work, while you have your children there. Your work is to help OTHER people get organized. You also care for your children at the same time. If you work, and on top of that your kids are clothed and fed, you are doing a great job. Don't let others judge you. Would it be better if your house was spic and span clean and because of the time you spent on that you focused less on your clients and their houses weren't ideally organized? Nope.
If the state of your house bothers you then maybe you need to do a bit more. See if you can find someone to exchange your business services with instead of cleaning. There are likely cleaning ladies out there who would love a hand at organizing their own home in exchange for their work at cleaning yours. And your children are still clothed and fed and that's what matter.

I don't feel very hospitable when my house is all messy. But I have never been offended by a friends' messy house.
If we work and have kids, we could all make a list of the top ten things we'd like to accomplish every day, and we'll likely accomplish 2 or three of them. I am always deciding whether to excercise or clean, shower or read the kids a story...We are all constantly prioritizing. I'm sure not a mama here doesn't care about their families, their homes, their well-being. A former clean freak,I am trying to embrace the idea that my attitude about the mess is so much worse than the mess!

We are busy people, raising up kids, working (because we all are working mamas, in or out of the home). I'm saying this for myself as much as for anyone else -- "What you are doing is enough".

Thanks for reading my article and for all the great comments, mamas. It’s been fascinating to see all the various viewpoints on housework and interesting to see how different parts of the article resonate with each reader.

It sounds like a lot of mamas who have husbands/partners willing to share the workload chimed in. It’s great you have found equitable ways to share those responsibilities. It’s also great that your sons will learn from example that housework is not just mom’s job.

My heart goes out to those mamas who revealed they feel guilt, shame, frustration and exhaustion in regard to their home, as well as those mamas who are parenting alone and have no one to fall back on when it comes to housework. You can always email me if you want some support. You don’t have to be alone in this. maryjo@respacedpdx.com

One point I neglected to mention in my article is that the age of your children makes a big difference in how hard it is to maintain your house. When I was just starting my business and my son was 2, it was much more difficult to clean with him underfoot than it is now that he is 6 and in full-day kindergarten.

I don’t think anyone has answered the question: “Do magazines and websites like Apt Therapy and Pinterest make you feel badly about your home?” I’m curious about how those kinds of images make you feel. If fashion magazines often make their readers feel fat, does Apt Therapy make its readers feel dissatisfied with their homes?

And has anyone else noticed that there are no men in the commercials that advertise household cleaning products? It would seem that for most of America, at least from the marketing side, housekeeping is still mostly the domain of women.

The continued disparity over who takes care of housekeeping in most marriages really bugs me. I do worry about the message our kids gets when they see me doing most of the cooking and cleaning. I'm glad my husband does a lot of the cooking on the weekends. I wish he cleaned more, not only because it would take the load off me, but I think it provides a good model to our son and daughter.

“Do magazines and websites like Apt Therapy and Pinterest make you feel badly about your home?” YES!!! As does visiting friends with immaculate, well-decorated homes. I want that, too. I want the time and the money and the know-how to do that. I suffer from house envy...

Like Debby, I am a WOHM single mom with responsibility for EVERYTHING. However, this is only marginally different than when I was married. My ex-husband would do the "manly" chore of mowing our huge suburban lawn with his big, manly riding lawn mower, but that was about it. Oh, and he would grill a steak from time-to-time on his big manly grill. I worked full-time (and made more money for much of our marriage,) did the huge majority of the child care, and all of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc., while he simulanteously complained about the state of our home and left a mess in his wake. Hence, the "ex" in "ex-husband."

Now, I still do it all (with the teenager taking on a set of her own responsibilities) but I don't feel resentfulness I did when I was married. So that's better.

Even with just my teenage daughter and I, though, the house does not stay in the condition I'd like it to. We're just so busy (and that's with making it a point not to be overloaded) with school and work and sports and volunteering.

Sometimes I am embarrassed by the condition of our home when people stop by. I am by no means embarrassed at the size of my NE Portland house (although the entire thing--main floor and finished basement--could fit inside the first floor of the suburban home of my marriage,) it's just the mess and the unfinished stuff (like the baseboards that have needed paint for about 5 years) that make me feel shame.

What really bugs me is that the daily/weekly upkeep is such that I don't get to the projects that need to be done (or the projects I'd like to do) and it's just not affordable for me to farm many of those out. Or to farm out the housecleaning and yardwork.

When holidays and birthdays roll around, my family always asks what I want. I always say something like "3 hours of your time helping me clean out my garage" or "paint my spare room" or "clean my gutters for me." Always, always those things get laughed off. That sort of gift of time would be more meaningful, needed and appreciated than anything that could be purchased.

I am a FT working mama. Up to 2 days a week, I travel for work. Other days, I work at home primarily so I can clean my counter while on conference calls or load/unload laundry between work projects. I have 3 kids - 2yo up to 11yo. It's a lot of work, period. The 2yo spills yogurt/milk constantly. The 11yo goes through so many outfit changes and most of it ends up in the laundry (as much as we have the discussion that it ought not be that way).

I bear the brunt of the housework, cooking, laundry and all those domestic tasks. It is not a matter of dividing the chores equally. My husband handles stuff I hate like IT/tech needs, house projects/maintenance, the garden. In addition, his work situation has changed a little as he has started a FT doctoral program. He works more than ever and I feel that I am doing my part to support him by trying my best to keep the domestic tasks mostly taken care of. I accept this role.

I focus on keeping the main living area generally clear and the kitchen/dining area clean. I wipe counters every night, load dishes (to be emptied in the morning) and try to keep the dining area tidy. We like to have friends over and I don't apologize when it looks a little crazy at our house. It's reality for us.

Our bedroom is usually mayhem. We maintain a pile of clean laundry in one corner. When we have time some weeks, we will fold it, make piles, and have each family member put away their own piles. I rarely make the bed, and I know that bothers my husband. Bills pile up in a corner and we try to file away important papers every quarter. I need a better management system for the kids crafts. I have a big box for each of them and throw significant works into the box (with date & age). One day, I will make a big portfolio for each of them.

I don't feel too much pressure in keeping the house kept up. I feel more pressure to provide healthful homemade meals, but I think that is just reflective of my personal priorities and what I would like my friends to know about me. To be honest, websites like Apt Therapy can annoy me, as I do not feel it to reflect my reality. It is also something toward which I don't necessarily aspire.

As a full time working mama of four (2,6,9,12), I am a huge believer in all hands on deck for housework. We can usually get the place tidied and pretty clean in an hour or so, maybe two...I am the commander general but also the hardest working grunt - my list is double theirs. Each kid has had lessons on specific chores, or one of the olders checks the younger's work, or they team up. When they finish one chore, they check in with me for the next one. When we're done, we have a little treat - a homemade cookie or something of the sort.

Dad also helps out...I haven't done dishes in years, but I do all the laundry. BUT, we can't nag each other if things sit for a day or longer. We just realize that each of us is doing our best.

Don't get me wrong, by the end of the week, we all usually look around the house and think "wow, what a shit hole..." but then get busy and clean it up. Sadly, we rarely get to the deep cleaning, which I often yearn to have a professional come in and take care of...

My best, though, is having Dad take everyone out of the house for an hour or two after cleaning. I sit, peacefully, while everything remains in its tidy place ...

This story is just what I have been trying to find: excellent, educational and pretty useful

It would be so helpful if those moms with little kids can ellaborate on what regular chores the kids help with and how old the kids are. In my case:
- 4yr old takes plate to the sink after each meal
- 1 1/2 year old does it sometimes
- 4 yr old likes to help wipe the table because it's fun to squirt cleaner, but then I have to clean the mess
- kids put their shoes in cubbies when they come into the house
- 4 yr old helps clean the toys once a day, but I do most of it

What else could they help with?

As for the story, just do what makes you happy. We are not all built the same way, so if a spotless house is a must for you, by all means go for it. If you can manage with a bit of clutter, that's okay too. Judging others will not accomplish anything productive. In my case, I think I've accumulated too much stuff. Whether the house is freshly cleaned or "lived in," I miss the simplicity of growing up in a one-bedroom apartment. Cleanup was a breeze, possessions were few and prized.

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