I have a confession.
I’m not one of those women who has a schedule for chores. Back in my pre-child days, I would clean just before people came over (or pay someone to do it from time to time) and do laundry when I was out of a key element of my work wardrobe. When my husband was deployed, I’d mow the lawn when I couldn’t stand looking at it any more. (Until I was pregnant and hired someone to do it for me. Thanks, Will!)
Meal planning? As if. I might pick up some staples to make dinner a couple of nights a week, fully expecting to go out to dinner at least twice a week and bring home something deliciously terrible (mmmm, Chipotle…) another time. I did enjoy spending a weekend afternoon and evening cooking elaborate recipes with food I picked up at the Farmers Market. But cooking under pressure? Gah!
It was a terribly inefficient and wasteful system. But it didn’t seem to matter with two incomes and limited time away from work.
Then 19 1/2 months ago I left my job, thinking I would spend time at home with my baby for a little while, at least until he didn’t seem to be such a helpless infant. I would nurse him all day, the house would clean itself and cooking dinner would be a fun thing we would do together.
Well, none of that worked out and then we moved to England.
We have been here a full year! And I’m just now starting to understand: I’m the “housewife.” I had a hard enough time embracing the stay-at-home mom thing (I have a masters degree in advertising, not early childhood development!), but at least Pinterest has given me hope that I’m not entirely clueless about what to do with a toddler all day. I just seemed to overlook the fact that, since I’m home all day, why wouldn’t I be the one to take care of all of the household crap. The dishes, the meals, the laundry, the mopping (ugh, the MOPPING!), the car maintenance.
I know my attitude is really in need of an adjustment about this. I understand why women try to create corporate-sounding titles for themselves in this role. My generation was raised to be empowered young women – who could go TO THE MOON if they wanted – and learned that “housewife” sounds rather belittling. Plus, my mom is a career-woman and it never occurred to me that I would be here, at this roadblock to embracing my “housewife”-ness. (Is home maker a better word? What on earth do we call us?)
Of course, all of that Girl Power talk has me feeling completely inadequate for not being able to come to grips with this job that millions of women conquer.
Meal planning feels totally overwhelming.
A cleaning schedule feels like I’m taking all of the fun out of being a stay-at-home mom (you know, nap time).
At least I keep up with the laundry? (I simply can’t understand why the other moms I meet are always talking about all the ironing they have to do.)
It’s all fine, in that we eat each day and my house isn’t disgusting. But the meals stress me out and there’s so much more house to clean in this new place! There’s also this glimmer of hope that I’ll have slightly more time to myself if I can get my shit together.
Of course, I’d probably have the same feelings as a working mom, trying to cram all of this into my evenings and weekends. Y’all working moms are really phenomenal! And/or dads. However it shakes out.
So, I’m developing a course of action for wrangling this whole “household manager” gig.
- Tackle meal planning.
- Carve out reasonable time for cleaning.
- Give in. Decide to be really good at it, like I would any job.
- List out all of the “big” maintenance stuff and get it in the planner.
- Blog about it so it feels like a project and not a chore. (So this is how blogging can change one’s life!)
Phew! It feels good to have this off my chest. Now I feel like I’ll be held accountable. Are you in the same boat? Do you have any tips for running a household? Are there any resources you recommend?