Since I announced this series, Fitting in the Extras with a New Baby, last week I proceeded to have one of the most unhinged weeks ever since Miss E was born. I knew that if I was going to go ahead with this series, I was going to have to have to approach it from a slightly different angle. My goal is not to appear as though I have it all together, but rather to give you a glimpse into our somewhat hectic daily lives and to encourage you with what I’m learning and only just beginning to figure out. So, I’m changing the name to Finding the New Normal – because most of the time we’re just barely touching on the extras. New normal it is!
This week I’m talking about housework. Oh the dreaded, ugly dragon that looms its head daily. Toilets, floors, vacuuming and laundry drawers. Dishes, dusting, the shower doors are rusting! How on earth is it all going to get done?!
1. Involve your family
Our boys have been helping out with more “serious” chores around the house since they were about 4 (Keekers is 4 this month, so we’ll be stepping it up for her a bit more also!). Truly, honestly, the only way that I can get the housework done in a week is because I have the help of my boys and my husband. Granted, it takes time to train them. And sometimes you feel like it’s actually twice the work because you have to show them, then have them do it after you. BUT in the long run, it is an investment of time well made!
We have flip-flopped back and forth about how to assign chores, who does what, how much is too much, and whether we should pay them or not. I used to have a picture chore chart on our fridge, but found that every week I was moving cards around and forgetting to flip them over and paying 10 cents for every little thing. They did well learning that way, but it was far too hands-on.
Then, after much discussion, we decided that we weren’t going to pay for chores anymore. They should just help out around the house without expecting to be paid. That took the pressure off of keeping up with their earnings BUT also the responsibility and motivation factor for them was removed. Hmm, problem.
So again, after much hashing it out, my husband and I decided to meet in the middle. Since The Boy and JJ are now 8 and 6, their responsibilities are quite a bit more as far as helping me out with chores. They each have mandatory chores, but some of the bigger ones are paid. (We really want to teach them the value of money – giving to God, saving and buying things and appreciating the hard work and cost that goes into a lot of what they have given to them.)
For example, they rotate sweeping the floor, setting the table, and clearing/wiping with Keekers daily. Other unpaid ones are putting laundry away, tidying up rooms, emptying the trash and recycling.
Then each boy cleans a bathroom (BEST DECISION EVER! They are boys, they are messy, get them to clean up their own messes :D), each boy dusts a room, each boy vacuums 2 rooms a week. Those are mandatory, but paid for – $1 per chore.
On top of that, we have extra chores they can do to earn extra money. These would include the things that don’t need to be done weekly, but certainly every few weeks could be tackled – cleaning the baseboards, wiping down cupboards, vacuuming the upstairs, etc.
As far as laundry goes, thanks to my friend Darla’s routine recommendation, I’ve slightly revamped our laundry system. Instead of separating and sorting their laundry into ours, the boys’ laundry goes in one load, comes out and into a basket for them to fold and put away. Brilliant! I still tackle our laundry and the girls’ together – I tried spreading it out over the week, but still really prefer working on it from Friday night to Sunday night and just having it all done with. The Man and I will often sit down and fold laundry Sunday evening while catching up on a TV show or watching a movie – that way it doesn’t seem so much like a chore!
So what about the rest of the stuff? Well, what the boys and Keekers don’t get done, my hubby usually picks up the slack on. Really, most of the chores are delegated to the kids – we might follow up with bringing them back in to redo a sloppy job, but for the most part they do really well – AND there’s very little complaining because they’re earning money and are learning to participate and help in our family. After the mopping, I’m pretty well left with just the laundry and the daily cleanups around the house. TOTALLY manageable! And if we’re having a particularly disjointed day, we leave it :0)
2. Get some outside help
Let’s say your kids aren’t old enough to help out around the house. Or they’re in school all day, or working, or whatever else. You just can’t find the time or energy to teach them and the house is falling down around your ears.
That’s when you need to bring in some help. Listen to me, Mom! Asking for help is NOT a weakness! Do not feel ashamed or embarrassed if you have to ask for or accept help to get through the day (especially if you’re a consistent blogger). So many moms feel like they can’t ask for help because they have to keep up the appearance of everything going just fine and dandy, when in fact, it isn’t!
Hire a cleaning person! One of our church families brought in their cleaning lady for me after our kids were sick and while I was still pregnant. It was such a blessing! And definitely made me want one on a regular basis :D
Bring in a babysitter so you can tackle stuff – or just sleep. And if it just isn’t in the budget, work with other moms to support each other in this way. Trade off some park runs – I’ve had my friend Jenn offer many times to take the kids to the park if she was already on the way there so I could get things done or just sleep. Get a bunch of moms together and converge on someone’s house to help them clean. Many hands DO make light work!
3. Don’t worry, be happy
A house is a house is a house. It does not have to be neat and orderly and perfect even part of the time, let alone all the time. People live here y’all, what did you expect?! (I’m talking to myself here too :D). In the end, if you don’t get to the housework for a few weeks (yes, I said weeks!), let it lie. If getting the housework done means you turn into a sergeant barking orders and cracking the whip, stressing yourself and others out, it’s not worth it. It can wait, but your little ones can’t.
I’d love to hear from you how you tackle the housework around your house! Leave a comment below so we can encourage each other with our ideas! And please join me next week as I talk about Baking/Cooking and Meal Planning.
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