I know this “domestication” theme is supposed to be super spiritual, but I can’t get beyond practical with this one. So, I’m bringing you some real life “domestic” experience.
I’ve had a house helper for eight straight years. That’s most of life with children. The last time I cleaned my own toilet (before August 2016) was probably eight years ago. Go ahead, laugh at me. I know. It’s ridiculous.
After our summer visit to Texas, I returned to China and found out my house helper couldn’t work. Rather than find a replacement, I decided it was time for me to learn how to clean up after myself and my own family.
During the first two weeks of trying to find my new normal, I happened upon a “helpful” article on the handy dandy Internet about how to keep a tidy house. As I read the ten pointers given by a nice, well-meaning woman trying to do me a favor, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed and upset about the high standards she placed on stay-at-home-moms like myself.
Reading her daily to-do list made me want to run to my bedroom and lock the door and watch re-runs of Downton Abbey (like I’ve never done that before…). Just because I’m a stay-at-home mom does not mean I should spend my day scrubbing something. Even though my older two kids go to school, I’m keeping a two year old alive all day. If nothing else gets done, I’m proud of that achievement.
Instead of hanging the expectations of someone else’s to-do list over my head, I came up with my very own list of how to survive my life without house help.
- Never mop the floor before hosting a group of people, especially if said people have small children. MAYBE sweep, unless kids are going to eat at your house, then definitely don’t waste time and energy sweeping. Wipe the table, make sure there’s toilet paper and a clean towel and soap in the bathroom, de-clutter a bit and there you go. Have a party.
- When you’re frustrated about the absence of a dishwasher (machine or human) in your life because your kids insist on using five different cups every day and there are three kids which means you get to wash 15 cups a day…go with paper for awhile, until the motivation to wash 15 cups everyday returns.
- Scrubbing toilets isn’t as bad as I thought, especially after 8 years of diaper changing. If you’re grossed out about cleaning the toilet, remind yourself of the worst diaper changes, and suddenly it’s not that hard to swish a brush around the porcelain express once a week. While you’re at it, thank God the kids are no longer pooping in their underwear.
- Let yourself buy the clean vegetables at the grocery store instead of the mud-covered ones at the market if you’re like me and hate cleaning dirt off of carrots. (I grew up on a farm. Can’t tell, can you?) I find that if I buy the dirty ones, they sit there all week as I avoid them. But if I spring for the clean ones, I’ll use them that same day!
- Only do the dishes once a day. I can’t stand feeling like a full-time employee in the back of a diner, scrubbing my life away. I’m more willing to do the chore when I let the dishes pile up until the end of the day. By then, there’s a great excuse to turn on some tunes, kick everyone else out of the kitchen and –Viola!–the chore is now transformed into “me time.” And I sometimes look forward to it!
- Do not get a high-maintenance pet…and if you’re always cleaning up after your plants, they are now in the pet category and you should disown them as well. I have three kids. I do not need other living things creating more messes around me. So the options are: a goldfish or a cactus. That’s it.
- Purchase a few household or kitchen gadgets to make life easier or more fun. I love my electric sweeper vacuum. It’s way more engaging than a boring old broom. I daydream about getting a clothes dryer. If there’s something on your mind that will simplify your daily chores, go for it! The cost is justifiable because it’s cheaper than hiring someone to cook/clean/do laundry for you (but I still don’t have a clothes dryer).
- Take your shoes off at the door. This is a cultural thing we’ve picked up in China, but I don’t see why everyone everywhere doesn’t do it because your house stays cleaner longer, unless you love mopping…but if you love mopping, I’m pretty sure you stopped reading this already.
- Shop online or at stores that deliver. I know everyone doesn’t have this sort of thing available to them, but if you do, take full advantage of it! Since I can’t go out alone to haul groceries, I don’t have a car, I have to take the toddler along and the boys drink so much milk we should get a cow, delivery is everything!
- Reward yourself. Spend some time cleaning, then take a nap or treat yourself to a hot cup of coffee and some uninterrupted Instagram time while the kiddo naps–and don’t feel guilty about it because you worked hard today (even if you didn’t clean…).
I’m still trying to figure out my best practices. If you’ve also struggled to find the balance between having a crazy messy house and a pristine, perfect house please share your own “life without a house helper” tip with me. I’d appreciate it.
What “life without a house helper” tips have you picked up?
How have they revolutionized your domestic life?