August 22, 2013

Share the Wealth (aka. Don't Make Yourself a Houseslave)

Thanks for joining me on day four of the encouraging "How Do I Teach..." five day series! As I introduced on Monday's post, this week I'm spending time discussing a question near and dear to many homeschooling mom's hearts--
how do I teach and still fulfill my role as wife and mother
So far I have discussed how by first putting God as your #1 focus will allow you to be in the right balance to take on the responsibilities that you have as a mom, wife and homeschooling teacher. Yesterday we talked about how your husband needs to be in that #2 spot in your life--and offered up ideas on how to keep the romance alive between you to give you the support you need.

And that brings us to today's discussion...
don't make yourself a houseslave
Let me start with a confession...

I am messy.
I leave things out.
I "miss" the clothes hamper and don't go pick it up.
I leave shoes scattered all over the house.
I can operate just fine with a dirty bathroom, a floor that needs mopped, and mirrors with spots.

BUT
I don't LIKE messy.
I get on my boys for leaving things out (like me).
I get on my boys for missing the clothes hamper and not picking it up (like me).
I get on my boys for leaving their shoes scattered around (like me).
And they too can operate just fine with a dirty bathroom, a floor that needs mopped, and mirrors with spots (like me).

BUT
My husband cannot. And there is the rub. He is the "Felix" to my "Oscar" nature. He loves things in their place, clean and orderly. He will follow behind me and pick up my trails. He is ecstatic when I give the house a scrub down or decide to organize. Or if he sees me cleaning the kitchen after I dirty it up. The scent of PineSol brings him joy because he knows I only use it if I mop the floor.

Do you see where there is a problem? Do you see where BOTH of us can get overwhelmed? He by my messy-ness. And me having to fight my nature to try to bring the house up to his "standards" and always feeling like I've failed thus making me overwhelmed.

But remember what I said in yesterday's post?? He didn't marry me for my housecleaning skills. He married me for me. And He KNOWS how hard it is for me to do housework because frankly--I hate doing it. But at the same time, I KNOW that my messy-ness is a character flaw that I deal with every single day as I battle to keep it under control and set a better example for the boys, which means I push myself in an effort to eradicate it. And that's not necessarily good either.

So being a team...we've learned to Share the Wealth to keep me from turning myself into a "houseslave".

What does that mean?

It means that we sat down and worked out the things that we agree to "let go" and the things that are always done. This means that somethings are on a once a week or month or yes even YEAR cleaning schedule while other things are a daily list. The next thing we did was decide who was going to be responsible for what. This is key---Your husband should not expect you ALONE to do EVERYTHING involving taking care of the house.
(If he does, then you need to have a serious heart-to-heart with the man)

#1 Delegate
I've done a poll of my homeschooling friends and it seems that MOST of our husbands do at LEAST 10% of the household chores. That's 10% less things we have to mess with!

So pick a few chores that HE will always be responsible for in the house. For us it is garbage and vacuuming. I never have to ask him to take out the trash. It is HIS job. Likewise he is in charge of vacuuming the 3 rooms of the house that have carpet. 

[Yes, my husband manages the vacuuming and let me tell you, he is VERY attractive with a vacuum!]

He also is in charge of breakfast every Sabbath. ONE day a week, I do not have to worry about what to fix for my family. It's nothing fancy. He puts the same thing together every week (potatoes, eggs, toast) but it's delicious and I didn't have to do it! He even volunteered to do it!

I want to stop and mention WHY this is actually very incredible for our family. 
My husband was raised by a father who believes (yes he STILL does) that the woman SHOULD do everything. Her place in the marriage was the house. The end. She cooked, cleaned, took care of the kids and met his needs. Period. His role was to have food to eat when he wanted it, attention when he demanded it and then to just be left alone until he wanted something. 
(Did I mention he's NOT a Christian?) 
Thankfully, my husband was also raised by a very loving Christian mom who explained to him the way a woman WANTS to be treated and how God desires husbands to treat their wives. And for THAT I will FOREVER be in her debt. My God-fearing husband STILL goes head to head with his father about the fact that he (Love-of-My-Life) helps out in the house.

Anyways--to return to the subject at hand...with him cooking one meal a week, taking care of the garbage, the vacuuming and a few other oddball jobs, it takes care of "10%" of the chores...but you know, that's not all we delegated!

Now that our boys are ages 7 and 3, THEY have increased amount of chores to be responsible for. My seven year old is in charge of sorting, folding and putting away all his own laundry. I spent a day teaching him HOW I wanted it done and then expected him to do it. He has done it brilliantly and was heard this week teaching his brother how to fold. And sure enough, my THREE YEAR OLD came to me proudly displaying a well folded inside out T-shirt of his own. Guess who's going to be learning how to fold from mommy next? LOL!

My seven year old is also responsible for the classroom and their bedroom. Every day before they leave to go outside and every night before bedtime, everything MUST be put back where it belongs. If it is not and it's a toy, mommy confiscates it. It doesn't take long before that encourages them to put it away themselves. He makes his bed and his brother's bed every morning, he collects all their dirty clothes into the hamper, he hangs up all the towels for their bathroom, he puts away their bathtoys, and yes he CLEANS HIS OWN BATHROOM!

What? A 7 year old cleaning a bathroom?
Why not?
I give him a spray bottle filled with vinegar hand him a rag and tell him "Go for it!" He easily takes care of his toilet, walls, floor, tub, sink area. Is it perfect? No. But it's a whole lot less for me to have to do! By the time he's done I pretty much just clean the faucet and mirror. He's absolutely capable of it, so why not delegate him the job?!

My 7 year old is also responsible for helping his brother put away the dishes and emptying the food scrap bucket every day. Once a week he gets handed the duster and dusts the living room.

Do you see how MY list of chores is dropping?

And the 3 year old isn't off the hook either! He helps his brother with the dishes and laundry. He puts away all the dishtowels and dishcloths for me. He is given the "Swiffer" and takes care of the floor in the living room. He handles the dustpan when anyone sweeps. And he's responsible for pulling clothes out of the dryer and into a clothes basket.

I've also started him on the cooking. He's learning to crack and whisk eggs. Measure out bulk ingredients and stir batters.
don't make yourself a houseslave
We will be re-evaluating their chore lists soon to see what adjustments need to be made. They are absolutely capable to contributing to the family and are EXPECTED to do so. So by delegating them chores, that takes off at LEAST another 10% of the chores...bringing the total I don't have to do up to 20%! 

What about your own children? If you have children at LEAST of the age of 2, then they are ready to help. Make a list of the chores you do every day and see what you can sort out and DELEGATE for each person to do. Some may be individual efforts, others might take a team. You will need to help them at the start, but they will pick it up quickly!

Delegating jobs leads to the NEXT lesson that my I have learned...

#2 Let Go and walk away
What do I mean by this? Well, when you delegate a job you did to someone else, they are most likely NOT going to do it the same as you did. So don't delegate and then try to take it back when you see them doing it differently--when it's not wrong. My mom and I fold clothes differently. But she's thankful for my assistance so puts them away the way I folded them--even though it's different. She doesn't refold everything I folded.

Same thing for your children...if they are going to help they won't get it right all the time. They will forget or do things differently, but don't let that be the reason you don't give them jobs.

One of the jobs I'm considering delegating next is WASHING the dishes...but I'm worried "What if he breaks something? What if it doesn't get clean enough?" And then I have to remind myself--"I still break things. I still have to rewash things." How will he learn how to do it, if I never let him do it?

It's the same for bringing my boys into the kitchen to help me cook...I know they won't get it right. I know I will have to help them, but it does them no good if I never let them try. I want to teach them HOW to cook things and that requires me to give up some control.

Same thing with the bathroom scenario...I hand Little Britches the supplies and then walk away and only come back when he tells me he is done.

And yes, the same thing for my Love-of-My-Life when he helps me. He doesn't do things the way I would do them...but his way isn't wrong. So I just have to let him be. 

#3 Get into a routine or schedule
Remember the old songs about the days of the week and the chores that go with them? It's not something old fashioned--it's very handy! The women who created them were in a routine to keep from getting overwhelmed doing it all at once.

I can handle cleaning in bite size pieces....so I have certain days of the week that I do certain things. Rather than go on and on about how to do this, I recommend you read this week's "How do I teach..."series by Proverbial Homemaker on "How do I teach and Keep up with House?!" She tells you step by step how to do this very thing. I highly recommend her post from yesterday called "Keep up with the House: Morning and Evening Routine" as she gives excellent suggestions for creating yourself a routine.

I am a huge fan of cleaning charts. They are all over Pinterest and I have quite a few saved to my Pinterest board "Around the House".

But I have a few favorites that I will share with you:
*Detailed Job Cards for Kids (Madsen's Memories)

I have the 15 minutes a Day one and the editable chore chart (I edited to fit my own chores) laminated and on my fridge! At a glance I can see what needs to be done and what I've already done. By portioning it out by day I don't feel the need to try to do it all at once.

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The #1 thing I think that mom's forget to do is DELEGATE and share the "wealth" of chores involved with taking care of a family household. I know that I can swiftly get in the habit of taking back the chores I gave to my boys and my husband and then I get all flustered about all that I have to do and become overwhelmed again as I try to do 100% when I really only need to do 80%.

You don't win any prizes by turning yourself into a house slave and keeping all the chores and responsibilities to yourself. Think of yourself as the head supervisor. Or as they used to call it the "Housekeeper". She ruled the roost and had final say on everything...but only did a portion of the jobs herself. So figure out what you HAVE to do (because it's things no one else can) and what others can do with levels of guidance. This is really going to help you find a way to manage your 24 hr day more wisely and keep you from getting burned out.

I do want to share the #1 thing that has helped me deal with conquering my messy-ness is the phrase:
If you got it out, put it back. If you drop it, pick it up. If you made a mess, clean it up. If you open it, close it.

Seems simple right? But when you are battling a nature of messy like mine, I have to keep these words running through my head and it REALLY does help. And by keeping the basic messy-ness at bay we reach the best of both worlds where "Felix" and "Oscar" can dwell together in peace. (wink)

One last thought...for those of you who don't have children old enough to help...it IS harder. But if you have a husband who is there, and if you can get him to at least help you with the 10% I discussed earlier it will help you out a lot. And then remember that your baby WILL get old enough to help out before you know it. The baby stage IS the most demanding on a mom...so do what you can, delegate what you can, get yourself into a routine and just let go of the need for perfection! If you strive for everything to be spotless you are going to wear yourself out. Save spotless for special occasions...I save it for when my mother comes to visit. Hehehehehe.

Before I go, here are some more links about chores for children...

Where My Treasure Is: Chores for Preschoolers
Homeschool Curriculum for Life: Free Printable Chore Charts for Children
Homeschooling Just Next Door: Chores with Purpose
Adventure Hollow: The Chore Jar for my Sanity
It Takes a Village: Chores- Take #4899937722

Now that we've covered setting our priorities with God as #1, giving our husbands quality time and sharing the chores among the family, I have one last VERY important thing that needs to be considered when finding ways to keep yourself from being overwhelmed from all your responsibilities as wife, mother and homeschooling teacher...so join me on our last day of the "How Do I Teach..." Blog series as I discuss the importance and necessity of "ME-time"!
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