1 Smart Strategy for Managing Housework
I don’t have it all figured out. I don’t have it even ¼ of the way figured out. Being a mom is hard work and adding anything at all (a job, a rowdy pet, a messy, manly husband, a broken vacuum) and it starts to feel like you a struggle to keep your head above water. One strategy that I have found very helpful is described below and makes me feel as if, at the very least, that I am doing more than treading water and that I am in fact winning the daily war on chores. I’m inclined to think it actually does keep me a tiny bit ahead but the I’ll have to look back in 20 years and let hindsight make that determination.
Here’s what I do:
I feel like the appliances that we buy, borrow, rent, and bother to store and upkeep are like our little soldiers. They are our minions of service to help us battle laundry, dirt, and clutter. They should be working all the time. They shouldn’t get a break unless they are on fire. If I’m working, peeling potatoes or folding wash, those machines are going to be working too.
When I am driving up my bumpy dirt drive, I think through and decide on the appliances I’m going to put into immediate action when I walk through the door. Often it is the washing machine that is set into action first.
An aside on laundry: This is an area of housekeeping that I can say with confidence that I’m good. I’m solid on laundry. My kids don’t have TONS of clothes, and they aren’t often naked. I keep up on the cloth diaper laundry well, and have them ready for daycare almost always. My husband has very few work pants, shirts, and white tee shirts that he likes (*insert huge eye roll from me here) and he also goes to work clothed. I am weaker in the folding area, as my couch laundry pile demonstrates but I have the washing part down pat. It’s because I am in a fairly steady state of washing.
By rounding up the dirty laundry that is strewn from Hell to breakfast and depositing it into the washing machine, the floors are thus less cluttered and closer to a state of vacuum readiness. Turn that washing machine on, Wildflowers!
The dishwasher needs to be running or the plates need to be soaking if you don’t have a dishwasher. Soaking before washing cuts scrubbing time significantly. If the dishwasher is running, then there are probably fewer dirty dishes on the counter tops, right? See how getting a few appliances turned on makes your home less cluttered, stat?
While you set those main machines into motion, your human minions may or may not be directed into putting toys away, bringing you said dirty laundry or dishes, or maybe just resting in a state of neutrality where there are neither dirtying nor cleaning. Insert fantasy of helpful, whistling children here.
The crockpot and bread machine are other workhorses that, with a little planning, can set a homemaker ahead. The crockpot has gotten lots of press in recent years for good reason. For those of you new to the cooking game, here’s what they do: They cook food, slowly, likely with plenty of liquid but not necessarily, and can make cheaper, tougher pieces of meat tender and tasty. The feature that I depend on is that there’s no “done” time, with a bell ringing where you have to run, not walk, to remove the food. It’s like a “done” hour or two where you can shut the pot off. As long as there is water/beer/broth/can soup/other liquid in the pot, you’re not going to ruin supper. They’re awesome.
I will write a full length ode to the bread machine sometime soon but here’s the short of it. While I wouldn’t say you NEED a bread machine, I will assert that they are exceedingly helpful and if you can score a used one for free or cheap, they are a wonderfully useful addition. I even leave mine (handed down from my Gram) on the counter all the time and I have like 2.5 square feet of counter space in my whole microscopic kitchen. They are the unsung hero of the kitchen appliance world. The homemade bread you can crank out is top notch and it takes under 5 minutes to fill the compartment with ingredients. Many models have a timer that can be set so your bread is done at a certain time, so you could fill it in the morning and come home from work to the smell of baking bread. They are rad. If I really have it together, I can come home to baking bread and a simmering crockpot of stew. You can do it too, Dear Readers.
So my strategy is a simple one. I get all appliances going that I can and then focus on more immediate concerns. That way, my little soldiers are cleaning and cooking for me while I complete tasks that can’t be automated or mechanized. Of course, my washing machine and dishwasher aren’t running all the time but by setting them into motion early, the likelihood of making time to put away dishes and clothing is increased and the surfaces of my home are clearer.
I don’t have a robot vacuum but I swear I registered for one when I got married in the hopes that we had a secretly wealthy relative who would spend the $700 dollars on one for us. I’d love to hear from my Dear Readers if I should save my pennies for one and if so what kind you all recommend. Share in the comment section below!