Chores. Ugh.

Let’s face it, nobody likes chores.  The word evokes not-so-fond memories of childhood, with your parents as taskmasters, keeping you from having fun by making you dry the dishes, clean up after the dog, or clean the toilet.  Yuck.

Now that you’re an adult, you know that they’re necessary to keep your household running smoothly, but that doesn’t make it any better.

I recently got some additional insight into chores.

You see, after several busy days, I had a full day to work on things around the house and time to run errands.  I had planned the day to accomplish things.  As I was working on those things, a friend called, inviting me to breakfast, and I decided to add that to my day, knowing I had the time.  She found out that I had been working on chores and asked what was on my agenda.  I listed a few of the items and she commented that then she did not feel bad pulling me away from them.

It struck me how she seemed to view the tasks I had set for myself as “chores.”  She comments fairly regularly to me when we go out that she really should be running errands or working on things around the house, but she’d rather hang out with me.  Her chores are burdens and she struggles with feeling them hanging over her head.

When you need to play catch-up with standard tasks is when they become tedious.  Life in general can start to feel out of control and overwhelming when you know that there are so many things waiting on your action, especially chores.  Then you make time to catch up, only to let them get out of control again.  Laundry is always accumulating and dishes are always getting dirty again.

The solution for this is to create a system to keep dishes, laundry, or other chores from piling up, so they don’t have the power to overwhelm you, a process so you can keep up and avoid worrying about being behind.

Part of creating your system is making time for each task that can grow to become a burden, and think about what each task requires to keep it under control.  How many loads of laundry would you need to do each week to maintain decent levels for your family? 

That does not mean you need to do all those loads on one day, unless that is what works best for you.  Yet, it does mean that you will know where you stand.  If you have done only one load and it is Friday, but you have five loads you still wanted to wash, you might start to feel overwhelmed.  While on the other hand, you have accomplished four loads, you can rest easy knowing that there is only one other load you wanted to get done.  You can start to figure out how to integrate laundry into your schedule at intervals that work for you and your schedule.

I have found that actually assigning specific days for certain tasks can be helpful, but you want to avoid being too rigid about it, for then it can become a chore again.  I know someone who chose two days a week to accomplish four loads of laundry.  The days were specific, but the key is that she knows if one of those days does not end up working for laundry she just changes the day to another one that week that works better.  She decided on a routine for herself and will know automatically that she will need to modify her laundry day when another appointment arises.  She shared that by having this system and being able to modify it to fit her schedule without falling behind actually helps her feel more successful.  She can be flexible with her routines and does not feel controlled by them.

Routine household tasks are not invigorating or exciting.  However, by staying on top of them, finding a way to fit them into daily life, they do not become burdens.  An amazing peace of mind and sense of tranquility can come from setting up routines for yourself.

How are you going to reclaim some control over your chores?

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  1. I think I’ve got this mastered for myself, but how can I teach my 7-yr old? No matter how many times I try to explain that if we “do as we go” it won’t be so overwhelming, he just doesn’t seem to catch on!! 🙁

  2. @Lori Lashley Congratulations on mastering this for yourself.

    As for your 7-yr old, I think what matters is that you are teaching him the concept. Are you demonstrating the actions for him? You model the behavior and break it down into the smallest steps possible.

    I know some adults who set aside a day a week and run around doing everything they did not do during the week, as so much with organizing, it is about the personal preferences!

    By the way, my mom commented to me that I was not much different at 7 and look at me now! 🙂 If that can give you any hope!

  3. Pingback: Passing on the Skills to Your Children « Sustainable Organizing, Milwaukee WI

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