Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Keeping House in Difficult Circumstances

Sometimes the reality is that it's difficult to get all the housework done. Maybe your children are small and into everything, maybe you work outside the home, maybe you or a family member is sick. Life happens that way.

During times like these, fantasy housekeeping has to go out the window.  You're not going to be able to keep everything spotless, weed the garden, prepare gourmet meals, organize the closets and still find time to make elaborate centerpieces for the dinner table. 
If somehow you are able to do all that please let the rest of us know how you manage it.  I can't manage all that even when things aren't hectic at my house.

So what do you do when you don't have the time or energy for perfection, but you don't want your home descending into chaos?  You probably  already know what I'm going to say don't you?  Realize that you can't do everything and simplify your housekeeping routine (and I'm not talking about the fake sort of simplify like you might see in a magazine).

Put all the home improvement and decorating projects on the back burner.  If you don't have time to keep things at least tolerably clean, organized and have meals ready on time, don't get out the paint cans or start trying to feng shui the house.

No matter what is going on, your family needs food to eat at regular intervals, clean clothes to wear and a basic order in the day.   Think about the things that matter most and focus on those basic needs. Let go of perfect.

Focus on simple meals.  It won't hurt anyone if your menu's not fancy or even if it's somewhat repetitious.   Put a roast in the crockpot every Sunday for a month or make oatmeal for breakfast 3 days in a row; it's OK.  Keep the menu plans from week to week and just repeat them.  There are times when I'll rotate 4 different weekly menus for a few months at a time.  My family has never complained.  Having a repeated menu is better than standing at the stove at 5:30 wondering what you're going to make for supper.

Make the kids part of the housekeeping team and send them around with a duster, let them set the table or teach them to match socks.  Of course they won't do it perfectly, but they'll learn and before you know they'll be old enough to help with the dishes.  It's good for them to realize that mom doesn't just swish her ponytail in circles to get the house clean. :)

And most of all (and hardest of all for some of us)...ask for help when you need it!  Maybe you can find room in the budget for a mother's helper.  Maybe your mom or best friend could either help you get caught up or watch the kids so you can clean in peace for a few hours and you can return the favor.

Hang in there and realize that this season will pass!

“There is a magic in that little world, home; it is a mystic circle that surrounds comforts and virtues never known beyond its hallowed limits”
-Robert Southey