Working from home, out of home or just in your home, the job’s involved with being a wife and Mum (or Dad), are never-ending. It’s not just about cleaning though. Here’s a point plan for being a tidy and organised (as well as clean) working full-time parent:
Don’t double up on duties
Put things away when you’re done with them. No procrastinating, no delaying. Doing things once from start to finish, rather than twice when you have to come back to put things away. Take clothes off and deal with them – toss them in the washing basket (ideally, sort them as you toss them, into whatever system you have for washing); hang them on a coat hanger on the door handle to air, (if they can have another wear before washing) tidy away shoes and bags and scarves rather than dropping them in a “hot spot” near the door.
Lower your standards.
Being a perfectionist means you’re going to be disappointed. Accept a level of chaos in your house, and don’t spend extra energy trying to get your house from one level of chaos to an unattainable level of neatness. Go for “lived in” and be cheerful about it, rather than expending energy and making extra stress for you and your family. Don’t dismiss all those great ideas that you have filed in your head or Pinterest!
Tidy up before you go to bed.
You may just want to drag your exhausted carcass through the shower, don a onesie and sleep for at least 6 hours before tackling another day but try to spend 15 minutes of a night time tidying the lounge room, making sure the kitchen is usable and the house picked up. It creates a huge amount of positive energy for the next day as well!
In your “spare” time when you’re not at work, do you want to be doing the housework or spending time with your partner, kids and family, friends and loved ones? Don’t be afraid to think about the option of throwing money at the problems. Don’t have time to clean? Hire a cleaner. Don’t have time on the weekend to weed, water and mow? Find a gardener. Your time is precious enough to pay someone else to give you the chance to enjoy your family. Someone else would love to be paid to do your ironing, wash your dog or delivery your groceries.
Plan, plan and plan some more. Meal plan, cleaning plan, bill plan – all the planning you do on your lunch break will be paid back in spades when you’re juggling fulltime work and parenthood. Make a list for tomorrow, today. Look at your diary and know what you need to do; think about the logistics of the day while brushing your teeth; maybe even pick out tomorrow’s outfits. Menu plan, shop online and have it delivered, book services in advance and know whether this week is a big one or a little one, in advance. If you work regular hours, know when you want or need to do things like food shopping, then work backwards to include menu planning and cleaning out the fridge, and forward to plan your next big-batch cook-up.
Put the dishwasher on overnight and the washing machine on so it’s finished when you get up in the morning. Use the time you’re not available to do housework, to do housework in a sneaky way! This might mean getting a robot vacuum cleaner, using timers to get coffee going or the heater to come on an hour before you get up.
Simplify your life.
You only have the same 24 hours in a day as the next person, but how you spend the 8 hours that you’re not working (and not sleeping) will have a huge impact on how much you love your life. Learn to say no to committees, commitments and responsibilities.
Declutter and use what you’ve got. You simply can’t organise clutter. If it can be organised, it’s not clutter. There’s no need to go out and buy heaps of new things but use containers you already have for storage, hooks for hanging and vacuum storage bags for keeping next winter’s clothes safe. If it doesn’t have a use, donate it. Neat baskets, cute boxes and stacks of plastic storage containers can still be clutter. If it doesn’t have a home, think about where you’d look for it if you needed it. If there’s no home, or if you didn’t even remember that you had that thing, consider throwing it in the “recycle or donate” pile. Every single thing you keep costs you space in your house, time and energy to keep neat and fight entropy, and money to maintain. It’s also mental clutter.
What’s one way you have of managing a house as well as a career? What have you tried that’s not worked for you? Is there really an “app for that” we should know about?