Photo: Your Best Digs via Flickr Creative Commons
As a full time working mom of three kids with a crazy evening schedule most weeks keeping up with the housework is like trying to shovel snow while it’s still snowing. However, one of the most annoying things I hear is the well-intended, “the housework can wait.” I know the people that say it mean well, but let’s be real for a moment.
I’m not exactly sure what people have in mind when they say the housework. Any work around the house to me counts as housework. Housework is not just cleaning the house. The real cleaning that I probably have put off for months now CAN wait. I went back to work almost six months ago. I think I’ve dusted once. Besides wiping down the bathroom counters when they annoy me, my husband or myself giving the toilet bowl a scrub when we can’t take it anymore, and the actual cleaning of the tub happening when I realize it’s looking dirtier than the dirty kids I’m about to put in it to clean them is honestly about all the cleaning housework I’ve done since I’ve returned to work. So trust me some housework does wait. And wait and wait.
However, not all housework can just wait and wait and wait a little longer. It doesn’t matter how exhausted I am, how busy we are, how much a I moan and complain some things around the house either have to be done by me or I need to be hounding everyone else to get them done, which is the solution since the “it can wait” is not a realistic expectation. What cannot wait?
The dishes cannot wait. They can maybe wait until the next afternoon when I get home from work, which they do sometimes. But they can’t wait all week until the weekend when I’m maybe not busy. What would we eat on and how would we even get around the kitchen to cook after about the second night of dishes. Could you imagine the chaos of the kitchen if you left five nights of dishes for a family of five laying around the kitchen? Dishes have to be done so sorry they cannot just wait.
The laundry cannot wait until just one day on the weekend. Maybe in some houses it can, but between the work/school clothes, workout/practice clothes, and then sleep clothes between five people it is not a one day job. I work five days a week; I do not want my weekend to be sorting, washing, folding, putting away laundry. Laundry for a family of five is a huge job, and I refuse to handle it all on my own on top of a full time working schedule. The kids and the hubby are all expected to pull their weight with keeping it up so we all don’t go naked and aren’t spending our whole weekend in laundry hell.
The kitchen floor with a crawling baby cannot wait. It can wait when the kid starts walking but unfortunately for the moment with a crawler it has to be swept almost daily or who knows what that kid will put in his mouth.
The bed has to be…fixed. I don’t know if I’d call it made because again when it comes to trying to squeeze in housework on top of a crazy schedule officially making it is pushing it somedays. Unfortunately though when you have nightly visitors-also known as your mini sized off spring- and they sleep sideways and upside down by the next morning it looks like someone came in and flipped your mattress upside down while the sheets were still on. The fitted sheets are no longer fitted, no one’s toes have hope of being covered for the next night, and how anyone had covers the night before with all the ones left on the floor who knows so if we want to at least start off with getting a decent night’s sleep the bed has to be somewhat put back together.
I understand the house does not need to be immaculate cleaned. Believe me it is not, nor will it probably be for another fifteen to twenty years. However, telling a busy, overwhelmed mom the “housework can wait” is just a false myth that doesn’t work with the reality of her situation at all. However, reminding her what more the kids can and should do to help sounds like a great piece of advice to improve the reality of managing all that housework on top of everything.