Lightening The Load
Mama, I know you're tired. It's the nearing the end of the year and also one of the busiest times, whether you get right into the holiday spirit or it feels like everyone else around you is rushing, it's just busy. When you add in the fact that you wake up in the dark, it can be draining. Really, you just want to curl up on the sofa with a beverage of choice and a good book or binge-worthy TV, but behold, there's washing, and tidying, and cleaning, and homework, not to mention the various school dates, meet ups with friends, that poxy secret santa gift you gotta find. Man I'm tired just reading it all, and I know if this list is similar to you're own to-do list, you must be tired too. Well I'm here to tell you that you don't need to do this alone.
Let's start with actually lightening the load (and yes I'm referring to the washing). If your child goes to school, they can sort out dirty clothes. I'm not telling you they have to load and set the washing machine (although one of my kids is begging me to teach him this) but they can make sure that their dirty clothes are where they should be so that you only have to do a cursory glance around their room for that odd sock that didn't quite make it to the wash or that hoody they had on that they want to wear again despite the sauce stains down the front.
Now how about washing up? If you have a dishwasher they must load it, if you don't have one, again depending on age, they can rinse up, they could dry and put away, mate it could just be that they search the house for all the washing up. If you're a stickler for the way washing up must be done, then it's better to teach them early, so you're not losing your mind every time you have to relinquish this task. Or better still, decide what's important and stand back. Do you want the job done well or do you want the job done your way?
Going shopping? I prefer to do this task by myself. Honestly it's my alone time. I get to pick up what I need, stick to my list or budget without having to constantly say no or cuss out people for treating the supermarket like a park. Man I tell you I can spend a good 2 hours shopping and feel no way. Yesssss ladies take advantage of this and where you can give this to another sista too, trust me she will appreciate it.
If you can't go by yourself, involve them. Make them pick up, teach them how to select good fruit and veg, show them how to round up the pennies so they can guestimate the shop before you reach the til. This lends itself to academic learning (numeracy and literacy) as well as life lessons (budgeting, financial education) and you will cuss far less when they're occupied...win-win.
Tidying the communal places, this is kitchen, bathroom (x2 if toilet and bathroom seperate), hallway(s) and living room. This should be a collective task, you, your partner and the kids can get this done in half the time it takes you to do it, alone. Alright, so you may be thinking, are you mad? By the time I have to tell them where everything is and how to do it, I could've just done it myself. Whilst this might be true but it's not the way forward and it certainly isn't helping you to get any rest.
To start with, it is going to be hard-work, especially if your kids are teenagers who wanna go out or sleep til midday and your partner feels like they've already done their work (outside of the home) and now want some "down" time. Well this is the point to let the WHOLE family know that you will not be cooking another dinner, washing another shirt or plate until people start picking up their slack. I'll tell you honestly I was getting so tired of the washing up piling up, I bought paper plates. My partner was a little pissed because they don't do large paper plates and when you have things like bolognese etc the plate doesn't like to hold it's shape.... oh well, if you decide you're using a real plate then you best wash it up.
I can't tell you how many times I heard "Babe, have I got a clean work shirt?" (he wears a uniform). Girl, with one eyebrow raised and a side-eye that would've made my grandmother proud, I turned and asked him whether he had washed his work shirt. The man huffed and puffed and stomped off like one of the pickny and I gave no f's, the peace of the Lord was with me because my kitchen was clean and I had the clean clothes I needed. Needless to say, not long after this debacle we came to an agreement regarding shared chores. It's not perfect but I have had to realise that it's a work in progress.
Places like the kitchen and the living room will always gather mess, they are the living entities within your home after all. However when you stay on top of it all you can feel less stressed and - if we're honest - less uncomfortable with how it looks. I'll admit that I am a messy person but only to an extent, when someone else i.e. my partner comes along and he is a-whole-nother level of messy I wanted to lose my mind. Wait, no, scratch that, I DID lose my mind on a regular basis, but I'm also a self-reflective person so I had to ask myself what are the basics that I need to see to keep my equilibrium. I need to see a made bed (including my kids'), I need clear kitchen sides - free from spills, crumbs and debris consisting of packaging, lids, jars. Litter is for the bin, if we don't drop crisp packets or sweet wrappers on the streets then I should NOT be finding these things in my home. So I started there.
What's your minimum level? Start there and build up and make it a collective force. Often times, me and my boo have the biggest laughs when we're both in the kitchen even when he's driving me crazy. My kids beam with pride when I tell them what a great job they've done tidying their rooms and best of all I'm rewarded with a feeling of tranquility when my basic household needs are met.
Mama, you deserve this.