Keeping Up With Housework When Your Schedule’s Unusually Busy

retrochick.JPGIvy says:

This has been one of THOSE weeks. The major problem is that my grandmother’s fighting for her life in the hospital, with several different infections fighting with her over 90 year old body. This makes all the other stuff seem small, but when adding in the other stuff, it all becomes overwhelming.

We’ve all had weeks like this where you’ve got your candle lit at both ends. How do you keep from getting irretrievably behind? Easy. First, accept that you’re going to get a little behind. Your schedule is not going to be this busy forever, so eventually you’ll be able to get caught up. So if you accept that you’re going to get somewhat behind, then you can decide how behind you can get without feeling crazy, and go from there. After all, there’s nothing worse than dealing with a filthy house while you’re going through a bunch of other stuff.

Many times, it’s a matter of saving time vs. saving money. Even then you can sort of mitigate the damages. I pick up paper plates when I find them unusually inexpensively for just these times. It’s a whole lot easier and faster to wash a sinkful of silverware and glasses than it is to deal with a bunch of plates, glasses, etc. I do the same with easy, fast meals like frozen lasagna and taco casseroles. Now, if you’re really good, you can make these ahead yourself and freeze them, but sometimes you get hit with a surprise such as mine, and going the frozen lasagna route is a whole lot cheaper and healthier than hitting the drive through.

Decide what’s most important to you to live with being dirty. Me, I can stand a sinkful of dirty dishes, but I HATE dirty floors. So I, personally, am a lot more likely to sweep and mop up my kitchen floor in these sorts of times than I am to do a whole load of dishes. You do what’s important to you. Don’t worry, nobody’s coming in to inspect.

Do things that can run while you’re away- throw a load of clothes in the dryer before you leave the house. Run your dishwasher, etc. Keep in mind also things you can do in scant moments that’ll help you keep up, like swishing your toilet bowl with the toilet brush every morning.

Don’t forget to enlist help whenever possible. If you have kids, make them get some stuff done for you. They might complain and feel like they’re slaves, but sometimes if you explain to them why you need the help so much, they’ll pitch in with fewer complaints. Same with your husband, if you have one. Make sure, however, that you’re specific. “I’m heading to the hospital, can you make sure to have some chores done by the time I get home?” doesn’t work. Something like, “I’m heading to the hospital, can you put away all the laundry while I’m gone?” works a lot better.

And don’t forget to take care of yourself. In times like these, it’s acceptable to forgo much of your beauty routine, but for the sake of everyone else’s noses, at least take a shower, ha. Maybe throw on some lipgloss to make yourself feel a bit more human. But you and everyone else will live if you throw your hair into a ponytail instead of straightening it. Use that time to relax- read a few pages of a book or do a crossword puzzle.

The most important thing to remember is that these busy times in your life will not last forever. Be good to yourself and others, and you’ll come through it all just fine.


  1. tink on February 28, 2009 at 12:31 pm


    Thoughts and prayers with you and your family.

  2. Diaper Cakes Becca on February 28, 2009 at 1:44 am

    Very sorry about your grandmother… is my opinion that a dirty house is of no consequence during such times. But I also understand that sometimes one cleans because it cleanses their soul……it is hard to have your house in order when your family has lost a piece of its foundation!

    Big hugs…..

  3. Andrea Holloman on February 27, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    After a thoroughly busy week, this is a breath of fresh air! Thanks.

  4. Vickie on February 27, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Great advice – EXCEPT for the part about leaving the dryer running while you’re away. We had friends whose home almost burned down from this, so be careful and don’t do it. Thoughts and prayers are with you!

  5. Judith on February 27, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Prayers for you and your family.
    When my Dad was dying, I did minimal stuff, strictly by priorities:
    food for family, clean clothes, clean toilets and bathtub, vacuuming and sweeping up “the middles” (just where it showed). Kids helped each other with homework; hubs filled in with carpooling & school papers.
    That works for a while. But if the situation goes on and on, sometimes you just need a day for catch-up and extra rest.

  6. shellcoast on February 26, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    pretty good experience to share with us.
    thank you so much.

  7. Joie at Canned Laughter on February 26, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Sending loving prayers for your family. Love this advice. I’m going to try following it.

  8. Jennie on February 26, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    I also wanted to add to make sure you take time to eat. We have a tendency to make sure everyone else is fed and we forget to eat ourselves.

    This article has some great advice. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Mom of three on February 26, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    I posted a list similar to the one we used when my dad and brother were both sick. Dad had cancer, brother had CP. It’s a good list to have handy when someone says, “what can I do to help.”

  10. Mom of three on February 26, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    I actually do better in times like that than normal days. I think it’s that feeling of I have to get this done or else I will never get caught up that I don’t have on normal days.

    BUt I admit I drop my standards during real times of stress. Laundry is done as possible, and we go to takeout and paper plates as much as possible.

    ANd I enlist help. Can Hubby pick up groceries on the way home from work? Would a friend mind picking up a few things while she’s shopping?

    When my dad was dying, we had a list of things posted on the back door.

    I’ll do a blog since it was a long list.

  11. Taylor at Household Management 101 on February 26, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    I think it is so important to give yourself some slack at times like this and take a more realistic view of what you can get done. There is no reason to beat yourself up about housework as long as the very basic minimums are covered (not necessarily by you though, can be outsourced to family, friends, or even paid help).

    Thanks for this reminder, and I am sorry to hear about your grandmother.

  12. Gigi Griffis on February 26, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Great, great advice, thank you. Hope your grandmother win’s this fight. Prayers for her and the rest of yall.

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