I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I struggle with organization. I always have. My teachers in school never noticed because I’m good at keeping deadlines. I think my Mama had a very hard time dealing with my messy ways though. Pretty sure I’m getting paid back in full measure, so I may as well just stop feeling guilty about that. When you see this to do list you will realize that I started this post a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t quite get it all the way done…but I wanted to finish it anyway.
A few weeks back I mentioned on Facebook that I was hiring someone to help me clean once a week. We are paying an individual per hour so that I can have her come a bit more often than if I hired a service to come clean from top to bottom. It is working out great so far. Our house is cleaner than it has been in months. I’m no longer mortified if people show up at the front door unexpectedly….actually that hasn’t happened since we started this. I think unexpected guests only show up when your house is trashed….but please…stop on by…especially on a Monday or Wednesday.
Anyway, I have lots of thoughts on housework since I’ve been the main spouse and parent at home these last 8.5 years.
First off, I’ve noticed that I am pretty bad at to do lists. I can make a mean list, but when it comes to actually making a realistic list, forget it.
Here was today’s list.
- Work on laundry. First off, how does one even know how much laundry must be done from this list item. When I wrote it I was thinking all the laundry….but we’ll get to how that worked out later. I was very behind on laundry this morning. The boys were on their last pair of pants, and so was I, and so was Grace, and Ava was on her last pair of underwear.
- Write a blog post for tomorrow. I guess I can check this one off the list. YES!
- Work on my matron of honor speech. My sister Zadi’s wedding is this Saturday. The speech is coming along…though I will be working on it some more tonight before bed.
- Bring in sweet potatoes. An easy task…but something I keep forgetting to do. I let them dry in the sun…and now they need to come in.
- Pick up everything off of the floor in the entire house (yes, it was as daunting as it sounds). Tomorrow the lady who helps me clean is coming and while she would help me straighten up the house, I would much rather she actually clean, because she can do that much faster than asking me where everything goes.
- Continue to pretend we are moving. We aren’t moving, but over the last couple of weeks I’ve been packing like we are. You see, the babies are getting into EVERYTHING.
To combat having to pick ALL the things up, I’m packing away things that we don’t use very often. For instance, I keep all of our everyday bowls and plates in this cabinet. Plates went on the second shelf and mixing bowls went on the bottom one…but now nothing goes there, and I’m going to move my decorative stuff (which you cannot see in this photo) on top to the basement, and remove the soup bowls we hardly use, and voila…messes and broken glass avoided. I also did this with all my cookbooks. That were on this smaller shelf. I only kept out the cookbooks that I’ve used since having the twins. That added up to 4 cookbooks and one loose recipe.
By the time I got my list made this morning it was already 11:15.
At 11:19 I realized that before making the list, I had already taken both girls to school, stripped our bed, folded a load of laundry, put a load away, gathered all the dirty laundry from the master bedroom (there were still mountains in the girls’ room and the guest room), eaten breakfast, changed several diapers, and nursed Finn down for a nap.
11:21 As I’m folding more laundry, I hear Granger at my feet. He is stuck on the crossbar of the table, and I notice he has wriggled out of his diaper. So of course I take a picture.
I get a diaper back on Granger and he starts rubbing his eyes so I nurse him down to sleep. Only he keeps waking up when I try to lay him down so I decide to just hold him and try and work on my speech. Instead, I get two calls from my family about wedding related details, and then Granger wakes up, and starts playing. I go change the laundry over. Finn wakes up from his nap too (neither slept more than an hour).
12:39: I am hungry for lunch. I yank some left overs out of the fridge and gobble them down. I put in more laundry and fold stuff from the dryer. I also realize I need a couple other things on my to-do list. I need to shop for a hair accessory for Grace’s flower girl hairstyle this weekend, and hope that I can get out the door a little early so I can stop by the store on my way to pick up the girls. I also need to gather all the cleaning supplies for our lady. As this is going on I start to think about how even though it is a lot of work to get ready for her to come, it’s awesome to have a deadline every week for having the house in some semblance of order. I wouldn’t be able to do the three focused hours that she gets done in a week, but I am getting more done just because she is coming.
1:00 I make our bed back up, and put a load of laundry away.
1:30 I hear the dryer buzz and go down to realize that I never started the washer (the lid was up). Start washer. Decide I won’t be starting any more laundry today. I will just *try* to finish up what I have started already. I put away a load of laundry. I think about how I’m a curator of all this stuff that is in my house, and I need to thin the collection so that we can appreciate the things we choose to keep more.
It is now time to nurse again.
I start picking up stuff from the floor.
2:20 Switch the laundry to dryer.
2:50 I get the boys all dressed to go pick up the girls from school. And nurse them until 3:05. There are 10 minutes left until it’s time to leave. There will not be time to run the errand I was planning before going to get the girls.
Thoughts: So, as you can see my list didn’t really have on it most of the things that I would have to do for the day….namely, take care of my children’s every need. Lately I’ve been noticing how we mothers talk about housework.
“I never get anything done.”
“I am amazed that you ever get anything done.”
Talking about housework this way makes it sound like it is the be all end all of what we do. Cleaning, straightening, laundry, and dishes are some of my least favorite tasks in the universe. And I would also say they are some of the least important tasks that I do. The time and care I give to my children are so much more important by far.
Our midwife told me as I was struggling a few months post partum with the boys that I needed to get some rest. Part of my mood issues was lack of sleep (that could not be denied). She said “your children need their mother’s smile much more than they need a clean house, clean clothes or even a clean dish. With a family of your size it can get dirty very quickly and my advice to you is to not look at it. So close your eyes and take a nap.” I think if it had been anyone else giving this advice, I might have thought it was smug and trite…but at the time I did need to hear that I was doing my best. And putting my efforts into other things (i.e. the happiness of these four little ones) was much much more important. The cobwebs grew. The dog hair multiplied. Shower shoes probably would have been best in the upstairs bathroom. I accepted help when it was offered. We got the dishes through the dishwasher…but maybe not all clean at once. We made it through.
Not that having a nice cozy home isn’t important to me…it is. Actually it’s more important to me than ever, and not for the reasons it used to be, used to I would feel the weight of an impending visit and feel the need to hide the way we live. I’ve not grown immune to what I think others think of my mess, but I don’t think that was ever a good motivator. It just led to more mean self talk, and a mad dash to get ready for company.
It clicked for me one day when I was talking to papa and asking him if he thought I could hire someone to help me. Honestly, it seemed like such a pipe dream. Would anyone be willing to wash my dishes? or throw a load of laundry in the washer for me? I mean people other than the ones who love me. They have done many of these things for me, but they have lives of their own. He told me that my purpose in life isn’t to do housework, and I deserve a clean house…and there is someone who needs the hourly wage. “So set out how much you can pay, how often, and make up a flier.” And so we found money in our budget. I took a flier to a store in the pouring rain and had an interview set up less than 24 hours later. I know not everyone can do this. However, for the price of going out to eat once a week we have made our home so much better. It still isn’t perfect (we would probably need to hire someone full time for that), but the grime is coming up from regular cleaning.
I still rush around the house and pick up before she comes through the door, but little by little it’s staying cleaner and tidier. I love the feeling as the stress falls away after she comes to our house. This is the nicest thing I’ve ever done for myself.