It is so easy to start feeling like a failure when at the end of the day, you are just staring at a laundry list of things you didn’t get done. Especially when you have kids who need you, a spouse that needs you, a house that needs you, friends that need you, parents that need you, YOU that needs YOU…you can get overwhelmed quickly.
As a work at home mom, I have quickly found out that it doesn’t take much to start feeling the pressure of the day. Not only do I want to be perfect, but if I don’t get everything done, I feel like we are always falling behind. This was my cycle for so long. My stepson son is 11 and after him, I’ve had 3 kids every 3 years. So needless to say trying to get everything done when I’ve had a toddler and baby at the same time for the last 9 years has been hard. With my husbands job calling for him to be out of the house more, I knew I needed some help some where.
A housekeeper who would come clean my house seem like money wasted. Especially when the kids got home and tore it apart anyway. I quickly learned that the biggest ally in our house was my 4 kiddos. One thing that I told them was that this household wasn’t just my job as a mom, it’s everyones job in our house to help so that our household can function properly. By properly, I mean that everyone is happy. If they want my attention and want to go play outside, all I needed was 15 minutes of help cleaning and folding clothes and then we could play all afternoon.
Bottomline was, if they helped, we could all do whatever we wanted for the rest of the day.
Plus, I’m not going to be sweeping, mopping, and cleaning the bathrooms while you sit on your room on your iPad. It just doesn’t work like that.
Why the big deal about a “clean house?” When the house is a mess, we can’t find things, we break things, our minds are cluttered, and the feeling of being overwhelmed is, well, overwhelming. When you have 4 kids, you can’t afford to be piled down by the piles of stuff around you.
I used to function on chore lists, awesome printables, reward systems, etc.
I found all of that fun and cute at first, but then just became ANOTHER thing for me to manage, ANOTHER thing for me to do and think of. So I ditched that pretty quickly.
Here is what works in our house now:
- I don’t have a chore list and the kids don’t have a list of chores. I simply tell them what needs to be done in that moment. If the bathroom is dirty, “clean the bathroom.” If the floors need to be vacuumed, “get the vacuum out.” If I see it, someone does it.
- I am not responsible for anyones bedroom. It is their job to keep their room tidy, dusted, and vacuumed. If they can’t keep their room clean, then I help them by throwing away toys so that they don’t have anymore to clean. Simple as that. (I’ve never had to throw away any toys, the threat has worked so far.)
- We don’t give a “reward” or “allowance” for things like chores or helping mom and dad. Chores are what everyone has to do in the house to help the house function. I don’t get paid to sweep and Dad doesn’t get paid to wash the dishes. Why would they? They understand that it’s called RESPONSIBILITY and that it’s their job to be responsible for themselves AND WANT to help their family. It’s called work ethic and doing things that benefit more people than just yourself.
- With the kids helping around the house, it gives us more family time. Even the youngest kids who are 5 and 2 know that if they help mom clean up and put away the toys or wipe down the tv, then that means they can play with mom. If the 4 kids and I put in just 30 minutes of putting things away and wiping things down, then we are DONE for the DAY. They are free to trampoline with mom, and run around, and the mess is less when it comes time to clean up before bed.
- Less stress on mom means less stress for the kids. I used to want to do it all and my time was taken up by trying to do it all. I snapped, was mean, was tired, and felt resentment. When we do chores together it takes up WAY less time, and the weight is off my shoulders. I can focus on RAISING kids instead of cleaning up after them.
- Make it fun. My kids are not drudging away mopping the floor with violins playing by their heads. I always make it fun. Our chores are part of our family time as well. The kids play music, we dance, I time them on their rooms to see who can get done the fastest and make it a contest, my 2 year old rides the vacuum, and the older kids see who can make the trash in the bin from the farthest away. Cleaning should not take all day and should not feel like work.
- Kids can do more than you think. As the mom I take on most of the chores in the house. That’s just natural because I can do more and I can do more quickly. But take cues from your children and have them help more. As I wash the dishes, my 2 year old helps pick up all the trash and wipes the cabinets. While he’s doing this we are singing about dinosaurs chasing him to the trash can. He doesn’t know his helping (not by much, but enough) and we are playing at the same time.
- Minimize your stuff. One day I noticed it was taking the girls a longer time clean up their room. “We have so much stuff” they said to me. So I got rid of tons of toys, broken things, and more so that they didn’t have so much to clean up. Same goes for the rest of the house. Why are you dusting that table you don’t even use, get rid of it and you won’t have to dust it.
- In the evenings before we go to bed, everyone does a final clean up of their rooms, and in the morning, there beds have to be made and everything put away before we leave for school. Again, this takes no more than 2 minutes on their part but leaves something off my to do list for the day.
- Give them grace. They are not going to do it right the first time. Probably not the 2nd, 3rd, or 8th time either. But they will catch on. Be patient with them and know that it will stick with them. You are teaching them valuable life long skills. Don’t be mad if they do it wrong, just do it with them and show them how to do it the right way.
It’s important to remember that you are not super mom, you can’t do it all. It’s also important to remember that you shouldn’t do everything for your kids as well. Love them, and you’ll make it work.