Do you have a Roomba? It’s like a puppy that can do chores but doesn’t need feeding and walks itself. It’s woman’s best friend. Its hum keeps me company throughout the day and it even follows me around and nips at my heels when I stop paying attention to it. It is one of the greatest inventions of the modern age and it is my best friend (that’s not a human . . . or coffee).
I fancy myself organized, tidy even, but clean? Yeah, I’m not winning any awards there. It’s not to say that I don’t practice the act of cleaning or that I’m by any stretch living in squalor. I mean, I love it when my house is clean. It gives me mental clarity and allows me to be laser-focused and uber-productive! And so, that’s why I outsource it.
Every two weeks our cleaning service arrives and it’s like little fairies descending upon us to brighten our lives. I’m not exaggerating, it’s that good. After they leave, the house stays clean for at least six hours. By nightfall, life settles in and our messy reality rears its ugly head again.
We spend thirteen days destroying our once-peaceful home only to panic the day before the cleaning service is scheduled to arrive. The 24 hours before they come we morph into cleaning maniacs clearing every surface, stripping beds, picking everything up off the floors, finally parting with the partially eaten snack bag of chips from the last [insert sport] post-game-snack that my child told me all week he was “saving for later.” Later has passed my sweet little hoarder.
It’s also time to part with the roofing coupon that’s been laying on the kitchen counter all week “just in case.” We are 100% not in the market for a new roof. Recycling the coupons does not make us frivolous spenders. Repeat after me: just because I have a coupon, does not mean I have to buy the discounted thing. It’s only a deal if we need said-thing. I digress.
Day 13 was an anger-provoking, yell-talk manifesting, rough-day that no one looked forward to. And so, the ensuing madness had to stop! I’ll admit that I allowed things to reach the tipping point. I thought I could handle it; that I could live up to the challenge. I like to think of myself as a high achiever but this whole category of my life [keeping house] was checking just one box: NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
So, how did we get out of the rut? I took a good, hard look at what was working and what wasn’t and made my intentions known to my people. Ultimately, we defined some house rules together by setting our family roles and values. (This is yet another thing we took away from The Purposeful Family Manager course.)
My first order of business was acknowledging that my kids can help. And hey, yours can too! Read this enlightening article from thespruce.com. It offers age-appropriate chores for kids ages 2-18. Yes, 2! My second order of business was asking my husband for help. I know what you’re thinking: but he goes to work all day and is the bread-winner for our family, I should never ask that of him . . . Oh? Please, go on, I’m intrigued. Let me know when you get to the part about you agreeing to a life of indentured servitude because he got to follow his life’s passion and live out his professional dream. And the part where you married someone who never intended to support your dreams or foster your passions. Because, unless you enjoy and/or agreed to those things, my guess is that your partner is likely willing to share in the duties at home – especially if it’s something that does not bring you joy or consistently checks the “NOT GOOD ENOUGH” box for you.
Whoa, Rachel, are we still talking about cleaning?
Yes, I promise we’ll get back to that but we’re also talking about checking in with yourself to make sure your dreams are on track. If you love cleaning your house, get after it GIRL! Amanda has created a system that makes her a master in this field. I just don’t love it (though I’m slowly learning from Amanda. I’m the karate kid to her Mr. Miyagi, still annoyed that I have to paint the fence). I’ve been a stay at home mom for twelve years and I only recently admitted out loud that I don’t like cleaning OR cooking. That was a hard truth. Weren’t those things supposed to define a stay at home mom after all?
I do love eating and having a clean house, however, so what’s a girl to do? All this time I accepted that it was my job and so I sucked it up . . . that is, until I felt myself unraveling from the inside out (maybe you got a sense of that a couple of paragraphs back). I started harboring resentment. I got defensive if anyone made a negative comment about a meal or about laundry not being clean. I felt like I was trying to be someone I wasn’t and doing a horrible job at it. Yet, for the longest time, I couldn’t see any other option. It seemed there was nothing that would change the narrative. Then, the bubble burst.
I had a life-changing conversation with coach and author, Kamin Samuels. She reminded me that my husband married me for the woman I was before we had this life and that he would want me to honor that woman who was once chock-full of dreams and ambitions. That one simple thought allowed me to let go of the identity I had embroidered myself to and reconnect with my own goals and aspirations. I communicated my truths to my husband, Steve and sure enough, we worked through all of the things that were holding me captive to my own limiting beliefs.
One major shift that we made was that Steve took over folding the laundry. He claims to enjoy it because he can watch a show or listen to something entertaining on his phone while he folds. He otherwise doesn’t set aside time for such recreational activities. Then, when the deed is done, everyone puts their own laundry away – including the kids. This may seem like a novel thing but spreading out the duties of a daunting task like laundry has been a life changer! We applied this approach wherever we could. Take making dinner, for example, Steve is open to helping or even taking over the task all together on occasion. Turns out, we just have to communicate – a lost art in a modern marriage!
So, if my Roomba could talk, it would tell you that it is filthy under my couch, that I don’t sweep after every meal, that our dust bunnies multiply like . . . well, bunnies, and that this household is a happier place for having open lines of communication and for defining our family roles. We can all win at this game of playing house when the whole family is on the same page, supporting the dreams of each of its members. When we share our intentions with one another, we take pride in serving one another and upholding our family values – together!
Okay, so I set out to write about cleaning and got sidetracked but it was well worth it – that message needed to get out into the world. For everything you ever wanted to know about Spring Cleaning and Outdoor Maintenance, without the soapbox, click this link.
Finally, if you have thoughts or questions about this post, please leave them in the comments below. Thanks for being here!