Honestly, perfection just does not sit well in a house of six, four of them children, four of them males! It’s been a long road but I have finally started to relax my standards of what is acceptable in the home, and of myself, and oh my goodness, the relief is just a little bit a-may-zing!
When we relocated to Palmerston North after Richard and I got married, the plan was for me to give up work and be a full-time stay at home mum. At least for the first year to help the transition for everyone. Richard and I had each been running a home and playing the parts of mum/dad/breadwinner/taxi driver/chief-cook-and-cleaner alone for years. The relentlessly long days, burning candles at both ends, had taken their toll and we were both quite excited about sharing the burden, taking on more traditional roles.
Well it seemed exciting but reality was, we had run our homes very differently. I like things pretty spick and span. The boys had a more relaxed approach to things.
That said, with a lot of chats around the dinner table, some trial and error (I don’t recommend a communal ‘putting away’ basket, it turns into a dumping ground), some reminders, and some more reminders, we worked out what needed to be done and where the standards lay. We had it sorted and things were running smoothly.
This year I was offered an admin job at a local high school, school hours and term time only. Jackpot! We’d already talked about me heading back to work in some form, probably not a career job, but something that worked around the kids. This was heaven-sent.
At home we quickly realised that, while the kids had been at school, I had actually been doing a LOT to keep the house at the standard I wanted. With me being at work during the school day then taxiing kids to extracurricular activities until 5 or 6pm, I didn’t have nearly so much time on my hands. My perfect home and routines were slipping away from me and was getting s-t-r-e-s-s-e-d out. This made me frustrated, and snappy, and frustrated that I was snappy.
After two terms of working I have learned that I just have to let it go.
So what if the upstairs towels are washed with the downstairs towels. If a towel will fit in the machine with other towels, it is getting washed. I buy groceries online for delivery now and sometimes I BUY the baking instead of making it myself. I have learned that washing can wait in a basket to be folded for days – nobody gets hurt, sometimes somebody else will sort it for me. And does it really matter if we have fish-fingers and shop bought chips for tea once in a while? Truth be told, the kids love it. They’d rather I took these shortcuts and I sat and helped them with their homework, chatted about nothing in general on the couch or made a loom bracelet anyway.
And oh my goodness, housework is only once a week now (ok I still get to the kids’ toilet more often). In fact,we have turned this into family time – Saturday mornings after hockey we spend an hour with music up, cleaning the house. I can tell you the vacuuming is never done how I would do it and I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who dusts upstairs.
But you know what, our house is not filthy, it’s just not how I would normally like it to be. And I’m learning to be ok with that. Our house IS happy. Besides, why wouldn’t I prefer one hour of cleaning resulting in a pretty clean house and the rest of the day with the family, over me slaving ALL weekend for a result that really, I’m never going to be totally happy with anyway. Perfection be gone, I’m living in the happy medium.
I have also noticed, the more I relax (and stop nagging) the less likely the kids seem to be to leave their stuff lying around! Hmmmm, could be something in that…