This week’s post for Managing the Chaos Series is all about balancing the stresses of kids and housework. This is especially important around the holidays when the daily stresses of motherhood seem to be multiplied by all the other things you have to worry about for the holiday season.
Vanessa from ShetheKidsMother.com is sharing with us how she manages to keep up with her kids, the housework, and her sanity.
“Apologies for the mess!”
Whether you’re a full-time working boss-lady or a stay-at-home super mum or dad, juggling housework and time for family – while maintaining sanity – is a challenge.
Housework is something no one notices when you do it, but they always notice when you don’t.
Take the bed sheets, for example! Unless you’re the one actually washing them, they are always there. Do they get washed? Of course. Are we ever without bed sheets? No. It’s magical really…
In reality, there’s always going to be a lot to do when kids are involved. It’s mind boggling. Especially if you’re the one who does a majority of the housework.
It’s easy to become consumed with all of it.
What if I told you my “secret to sanity“. Something I learnt after months of vacuuming and breastfeeding at the same time (or attempting to). After mentally listing all of the chores I needed to get done before the baby woke – none of which I actually ended up doing that day because I was too exhausted from making mental lists and stressing about them.
OK, here it is…
It’s OK for the house to be untidy.
There. I said it.
I don’t mean it’s acceptable to leave moldy milk in the fridge and have your children sleep in dirty sheets. You can still have the house in some order, make sure the children get fed and have clean underwear to wear each day. Let me explain…
While speaking to other mothers I find judgments are often made based on one’s ability to run a perfect household. Why is this so? We are all living different lives. We all have different circumstances and priorities. We shouldn’t miss out on quality family time, outings and “down time” just for the sake of a spotless living room.
I think back to before I had a baby when I thought I was a “Domestic Goddess”. Wrong. I simply had something called free time in the evenings and on weekends. My child-free Sundays were often spent colour coordinating my wardrobe, bleaching, and scrubbing. Nowadays I’m lucky if my toddler’s lunch doesn’t end up on the roof, and there are always sandy feet running through the house after a fresh mop has just been done.
In reality, I wasn’t a Domestic Goddess. I simply had time to deep clean the bathrooms and organize the cupboards. The only mess made was caused by the adults in the house, and our vacuum wasn’t always hijacked by a 1-year-old.
Now that I’m a mum I consider myself a Domestic Duchess. On a good day I’m reining as a Domestic Princess, but most days I feel more like a slave.
The way I see it now, I manage to feed, clean, entertain and care for a toddler and a ten-year-old. My house stays relatively tidy most of the time, and my kids are happy. Go me!
The house is messy again as soon as one of the kids moves or breathes, but my partner and I have learnt to embrace the mess when it shows its face again. Sadly, we bond over it. We look at the kids’ toy room, look at each other, and exchange a deep embrace of self-pity and “why me” which brings us closer together.
The truth is: the house is never that bad. Most days I’ve got things under control.
Yes, there almost always seems to be a pile of washing on the couch needing folding, and pieces of Lego that find their way under my feet as I’m dashing out the door to get to work on time. But it’s never anything of deep concern.
But when guests arrive I always feel the need to apologize. “Apologies for the mess” or “excuse our mad house, it’s been a long day” comes out of my mouth before I’ve even said hello. Why is that? Is it rude of me to have lived my life in my own home, with mess-making kids? Do people even care? Some do I’m sure, but most don’t.
Now that I’m working four days a week I actually find it easier to keep the house in good order because my little one is at daycare and is instead making a mess there. But then when it comes to Friday, Saturday and Sunday I never want to spend my days off doing housework. Naturally, I want to spend the days out and about with my family living life and creating memories. I don’t always want to be an adult and do adult things.
I don’t believe I can have a full career and a full life at home with my family if I am also doing all of the housework, all the time.
So, we as a family agreed to settle for balance. If the item doesn’t smell, catch fire or multiply, I can leave it for later. My family doesn’t mind if the place is a bit of a mess.
I’ll hire a cleaner if the bathrooms are building up and I can’t find the time or energy to do a deep clean once the kids are in bed. I might even hire that cleaner on a fortnightly basis! There’s no doubt they’ll quickly become one of my favourite people in my life!
This allows me to reduce my mental load. I can focus on being exactly the mumma, partner and human being that I want to be. Happy, carefree and making the most of the time I have with my family.
My kids are happier if we spend Sundays creating memories instead of being stuck in the house while I do housework.
From this day forward I am not going to apologize when guests arrive. Join me! Tell your guests about how much fun you had cooking dinner while your little one played at your feet, instead of apologizing for the kids’ toys that are sprawled over the kitchen floor.
Next time you go over to someone’s house who is “sorry for the mess”, make it a competition about whose house is messier thanks to those darling kids. Remind them that mess means life has been lived and time has been spent loving.
It’s OK for things not to be in order all the time. Don’t put pressure on yourself to meet expectations that we set for ourselves.
Do bit by bit. Ask for help if you need to. Write a list and work on it when you can.
I’d take a smile on my kids’ face or some quality time to myself once the kids are in bed over constantly worrying about cleaning any day!
The mess will still be there when you wake up, but don’t let the stress still be there too.
Vanessa is your average Australian mum on a mission, who chooses to adopt empathic parenting techniques. She also aspires to spread love and support to other women. She is a 26-year-old mumma to a 1.5-year-old boy, a step-mumma to a 10-year-old boy, and a partner to a 30-something-year-old man. Between my own human instincts and Google, she has survived and conquered being a mum so far and it’s been an incredible journey. To follow her journey follow her blog SheTheKidsMother.com and find her on Instagram.
Getting to Know Vanessa:
When did you become a mother?
I became a mother on Valentine’s Day in 2016. We had actually already chosen my son’s name (Valentino), then he arrived on Valentine’s Day! This ultimately confirmed name choice.
What is the most rewarding part of motherhood for you?
I could go on and on about this, but I think the most rewarding part would be watching my son develop into a kind, independent, inquisitive young boy. I am overwhelmed with pride and love every time I see him make his own decisions with thought and care.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
The main challenges I have faced have mostly stemmed from my own expectations and judgments of myself. I used to spend a lot of time worrying if my ability to parent was going to have a negative impact on my son’s life. I learnt to let go of these thoughts, and minus the challenging toddler moments we have at times, things became a breeze.
Do you have a post you’d like to share on how you manage the daily chaos of motherhood in your life? Please leave a comment or email me at ChaosinMommyhood@gmail.com. I am always on the hunt for more contributors.
If you liked this post, be sure to check out the rest of the series Managing the Chaos.