Chores. Not the sexiest of topics, but one which comes up every time I run a Rhythm in the Home course. Specifically, how to make time for the endless list of chores that seem to come with having young children whilst actually having time to see your children / go to work / spend time with your partner / have time for self-care.
I really believe in the importance of the prepared environment for children, and for me this includes trying to keep our home relatively tranquil and tidy as I think this creates a calmer and more pleasant environment for all of us to spend our days in. I work from home and also home educate Frida, so we spend a lot of time here! It makes it nicer for all of us if we make an effort to try and keep it neat.
There are always loads of brilliant tips on incorporating chores into a daily and weekly rhythm shared by course participants, but I wanted to share with you a few of the things I do that help me stay just about on top of things at home:
- Doing a daily load of laundry. This might seem excessive, but doing a relatively small load of laundry every day means I stay on top of it, and we don’t need lots of clothes as when something is dirty it can be ready to wear again the next day.
- Weekly online grocery orders. I used to get these delivered in the morning, but I found that it either ate into my working time, or it was really annoying having to interrupt my time with Frida to put everything away (in theory getting her to help put shopping away would be lovely, but in practice our kitchen is tiny and it’s not very practical). I now prefer getting groceries delivered in the evening, ideally on a Sunday so that we start the week with a full fridge.
- Including Frida in cleaning chores – if she wants to. Frida is always welcome to join in if I am cleaning or doing chores, but she doesn’t have to. She prefers mopping and spraying windows to sorting laundry! But I model taking care of our home as much as I can, and she’s always welcome to join in.
- Tidying as we go. I always try and make sure that we tidy up as we go. That means clearing away toys before lunch, wiping the table before we go outside, and making sure Frida’s bedroom is tidy before she goes to bed every night. This can sometimes feel like an awful lot of tidying, but our house is not very big so if we don’t try and keep on top of things it can very quickly descend into chaos!
- Having an evening rhythm. Whoever is not doing bath and bedtime with Frida (you can read more about our bedtime rhythm here) can put the laundry on, load the dishwasher, clear the dinner table and have a quick clean and tidy of the kitchen and dining room. Ideally, we try and empty the dishwasher in the evening too so we don’t start the day with dirty mugs stacking up…
- Prioritising one task a day. One day it might be washing the sheets, another day I might clean the bathroom, on another I might wash windows or mirrors. Having just one job a day keeps things feeling manageable, and Frida i(Reality check: Some days I don’t do anything. And our windows are often really grubby. Such is life!)
Also – a confession – the other thing that helps me tidy up is having playdates in our home and inviting friends over for dinner. I KNOW I really shouldn’t be, but I do get a bit embarrassed if people come round and the house is a tip, so it’s always a good motivation to quickly whip round the house with a broom. Hell hath no fury like… me fifteen minutes before guests are supposed to arrive.
I want to stress that our house is never totally tidy or spotlessly clean or meticulously organised – far from it. I would hate to give you an unrealistic expectation or portray an unobtainable high standard. I always try and make meal plans, but I’m an impulsive cook and never stick to them. Whilst we try and keep the main living areas relatively clear and uncluttered, our bedroom is often a dumping group for clean laundry and miscellaneous things which haven’t made their way up to the attic yet. No matter how many times I declutter the hallway there is always an assortment of hats and shoes which seem to multiply when by back is turned, and don’t get me started on the cupboard of doom under the stairs.
I very much subscribe to the belief that you can do everything, just not at the same time. With a young home educated child and a busy job, I simply can’t do everything, and tidying and cleaning is often the thing that gets pushed to the side in favour of a bath with a good book when I’m tired at the end of the day. The same goes for my husband (who I should point out also gets stuck in with chores – although I wouldn’t say the mental load is always split 50/50 it’s important to both of us that we both do as much as we can, and when one of us is super busy or run down the other will always pick up the slack). But I’ve found that just making small adjustments to my own daily and weekly rhythm have made a big difference in making me feel like, just maybe, I’m not dropping all of the balls.
You can read more about Rhythm in the Home, my popular online course on crafting a rhythm that serves your family’s unique needs. February’s course is sold out, but the April course will go on sale in just a couple of days on the 7th February. I look forward to working with some of you then!