Dear Home Ec 101,
I love your site and I want to love this chore list, but I don’t know how to make it work for our family. We have a 6 month old, a toddler, and two hairy cats. I work part time and have two days during the week to do chores. Can you suggest a 4 day chore chart and/or how to get chores done with two young children. We can manage to pick up clutter, keep up with the laundry, and make home cooked meals. I do spot cleaning of the floors, bathrooms and kitchen when necessary but have a hard time fitting in bathrooms and deep cleaning. Suggestions?
Wilma Whelmed Overly
I won’t lie, my first inclination was an internal “Does she think it’s any easier over here?” Then after I sat on my hands for a bit, ok after I let it stew and rattle around the back of my head for a while, it came to me, “It’s not about you, Heather; it’s about the overwhelmed lady asking for help.” Sorry, I can be a little defensive and dense at times, bear with me. It’s part of that annoying human condition I suffer from. If you want perfect, I’ve heard Martha Stewart has built quite the empire.
We all have times in our lives where things are going to slide a little bit. You are in one of those times and I promise, it’s not the end of the world. No one is going to come in and take your World’s Best Mom Mug or your parent license -oh, wait, we don’t have those, do we? If you are at all concerned about how to do better and if I were a betting woman, I’d put a lot of money on the line saying it’s not as bad as you perceive it.
I have been exactly in your shoes, just a little over three years and one child ago. Now that the youngest is two, I’m either accustomed to the chaos, completely insane, or things are actually becoming a little easier. Pick one.
You didn’t mention your living situation and it’s none of my business, but if you have a spouse or partner, you are not alone in this chore situation and there needs to be some communication. Write a letter and leave it taped in front of the toilet if you have to, just don’t make it overly long. Something along the lines of:
Dear, Hey you, LOOK!, (pick one)
I’m overwhelmed. I need some help to get things under control around here. Could you please:
- very specific
- list of
- chores you most need assistance with
Whether we like it or not, chores are a daily event. The addition of every person and pet to a household increases the number of chores that must be performed. Some things have to be done each day:
- Pet care -grooming / cat boxes / exercising etc
- Bathrooms need to be wiped down
especially if a toddler / preschooler is goofing around in there
-stomach bugs take much more work than wiping down the toilet and sink-
Use convenience wipes if you need to. Get things under control and THEN find the best ecological solution for your life.
- Dishes and food prep areas must be taken care of
- Make your bed -it sounds silly, but it gives you one thing you got right even on the crappiest of days.
- Ensuring the laundry cycle hasn’t stalled (put something away, start a load, transfer a load, or fold)
In your case sweeping / vacuuming needs to be done more than once a week. Don’t make it a big event, just grab the broom, sweep the middles making sure you get the Gerber Puffs or Cheerios. Same with vacuuming.
For your own sanity, confine eating to the kitchen and dining room only. Yes, it IS a big giant pain in the rear, but sweeping up crumbs is much easier than digging them out of the couch or finding chunks of apple behind the tv weeks later. Most children adjust to consistently enforced rules.
- clean sheets & clothes
- clean floors
- catch the missed areas of the bathroom
- catch the missed areas of the kitchen
- dusting & fingerprint / smudge patrol
- ensure there is food in the house (menu plan & grocery shopping)
- make sure things aren’t falling apart – errands / projects
Really, that’s the rundown; how you arrange it depends on your unique situation.
A friend of mine told me she took the list from the chore schedule and rearranged it to fit her schedule and taped it to the inside of her bathroom cabinet. She sees it every morning and knows what she needs to get done before she leaves for work. Just because I catch up on laundry on Monday (I do it throughout the week, that’s just catch up day) doesn’t mean you can’t do so on Saturday. The chore chart is a starting point and meant to be adapted to fit your needs.
Lastly, if this overwhelmed feeling has been going on for a while, make an appointment with your OB or general physician. Yes, you are busy. Yes, it’s natural to feel a little rundown, but it shouldn’t be constant and you shouldn’t be miserable. If you are miserable, the people who live with you know it, no matter how hard you try to hide it. Your children need a mom who isn’t suffocated by life.
Find some support if you don’t already have a network of friends and family. Whether it’s secular or faith based doesn’t matter. I don’t care if you “don’t like” or “don’t get along with” women. Go anyway. The idea of hanging out with a group of women used to make me break out in a cold sweat. You will be surprised by how much you share with other women in this same, busy season of life.
Hang in there.
Home Eccers, if you’ve made it this far, please feel free to offer your advice, too.
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