When you’re buried in housework

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I have come across a truly eye-opening post about why we are really overwhelmed by housework. It’s kind of oldish, but trust me, it’s a real gem!

‘Sometimes in my life I have not been overwhelmed by housework so much as just overwhelmed. Sometimes life sends stuff at us that is just hard. Sometimes we might not even want to acknowledge that stuff, even to ourselves, so we look around at the mess we are in, at the housework that is not getting done because we are so consumed by other hard stuff, and think, ‘If I can just get the house sorted and clean and pretty like every single other person in the world seems to be able to do, then maybe all this other misery will go away and we can be the Brady Bunch, and every area of my life will be Pinterest worthy, and then I will be happy.’

I have never stopped to think about any aspect of this except having babies and small children in the house, which obviously makes one slower. However, I did not often stop to consider that many of the times I was overwhelmed and frustrated supposedly with housework were not really about the housework at all.

Lately, I’ve felt I’m really struggling, chasing my tail and not really getting much done. I was too busy and tired to stop and think that it’s not really about the number of loads of laundry I have to do each week, but about some adjustments I’ve failed to make.

One is having my husband at home full time. He freelances, which means he often strolls into the kitchen for a drink or snacks or just hangs around. Now, I’m sure I’m not the only one who absolutely hates doing any sort of housework beyond bare maintenance when there are people around. I need space and quiet and can’t handle having to shoo people away while I’m cleaning. So I often find myself waiting for my husband to get out of the house to really get into gear, and it just doesn’t happen all that often. Now I tell myself, don’t wait for the perfect time to do whatever it is I should be doing, just jump in with both feet and get it done!

Another factor is living, for the first time in my life, in a house with stairs. Our previous house had a compact shoebox shape, and getting from one room to another took about half a second. Now I find myself wasting a lot of time running up and down the stairs whenever I need something or forget something. I’m slowly teaching myself to group my tasks so that I spend a chunk of time upstairs working on things that need to be done there, and then go downstairs for other tasks. I also keep some things I need on hand, like diapers, both upstairs and downstairs.

Finally, I’ve taken an extra commitment at the beginning of this year when I started working from home as a copyeditor. I love the financial perk and am grateful for the fact that I work with one company rather than having to hunt for new freelance gigs each month, but work is work and nothing gets done by magic. So some things just had to go, like ironing. It’s a delicate balance, and we all just have to keep at it, doing the best we can with what we have.

6 thoughts on “When you’re buried in housework

  1. The Squire and I are both retired, so I also have the man in my life underfoot as often as not. I don’t like to mop or sweep while he’s in the kitchen, but he’s standing around keeping the floor in place, I’ll give him a dishtowel. “I’ll wash, if you’ll dry.” Or even, “Can you put this dish up there?” Once you get them trained, husbands are very handy. A friend of mine married a military man; she claimed it was only because he was good at taking orders!

    Keeping diapers in two place is wise. Have you considered a second vacuum? Lugging that beast up and down the steps gets old, very fast. Dust clothes, window cleaner, spray wax, etc. can live in a closet upstairs, too. Get a basket to sit on the steps – or on a table beside it – and make one big trip instead of two or three. Can the girls carry their own laundry up and put it away?

    Good luck to you! And remember, NOBOY ever has themselves, their children, and their house all looking good at the same time! Ever.

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    • You have given me some really good points to consider! I don’t vacuum much because we don’t have any carpets, just tiled floor we wash the Israeli way (by pouring water and cleaning solution over them, then driving it out). So vacuum is used only on car seats and occasionally couches.

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  2. My husband retired 7 years ago and has been too weak to do a lot of late…but he has vaccumed for me a lot these past 7 years. I should probably train him to cook more as if I go first, he will be up a creek without a paddle. But yes, I do not manage to get a lot done as I should either…so you at least have a LOT of reasons that cleanup is so difficult. With all the children you have yet at home, seems reasonable if your husband would help out…with dishes, sweeping, etc. Those things don’t take a rocket scientist to do. Heh, now laundry is another thing…I RARELY let mine help with that…I am picky as to how things turn out after washing. Sending you hugs.
    Elizabeth

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    • I know what you mean about the laundry. I was very fussy, but I eventually learned that undies hung up with one clothes pin get just as dry and undies hung up with two, and take up less line space to boot! For the most part, we each fold our own clothes, and whoever is closest folds the other stuff. I fold the bath towels in half and in half again, and then into thirds. I swear, The Squire never folds the towels the same way twice, but they do come out the same size. I try to let it go, I really do, but as often as not I’ll refold them when he’s not looking. And we each put away our own stuff. I wouldn’t appreciate it if he got to stirring up my dresser drawers, and I don’t mess with his. When the girls were still home they were always responsible for hanging, folding, and putting away their own clothing.

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      • I will need to work on relegating those responsibilities to my daughters too. They could sure do some folding and putting stuff away.

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