Housework: How to Deal with It When You’ve Got Better Shizz to Do!

Over at Kelly Rae’s e-course, there’s quite a bit of discussion going on amongst the participants on how the heck you stay on top of the housework thang AND carve out a creative career when you’ve got those little pint-sized wonders known as children.

Which has prompted me to drink share the following:

If you really do want it all – a thriving career, fulfilled creative passions, a happy family, AND a clean house…then you’ll get it all. And by “all” I mean “everything, including a nervous breakdown.”

Seriously, there are only so many hours in the day. Something’s gotta give – you’ve just gotta work out what that ‘something’ is.

For me, that something is ‘an impeccable house’. This used to stress the living daylights out of me, especially when it came to other people being in my space. I would be so paranoid that they would be judging me, tsk tsking over my failure to be on top of this that I would even stop extending invitations. I know, RIDICULOUS!

Then one day, my great friend Penny (a fellow ‘house cleaning is not my top priority’ woman after my own heart) said to me “If you come over, I’m assuming that you’re here to see ME and not my house!”

That really stayed with me, and I think it’s a great thing to remember – the people who matter will not mind, and the people who mind do not matter!

Now don’t get the wrong idea, it’s not that I’m a complete and utter failure in Club Housekeeping (I can actually FIND my children amongst the rubble, so long as they yell loud enough), but what I’ve really learned is to just commit to the main thing that really matters to me in my house.

I’ve decided that  I can deal with a bit of clutter, a bit of mess (I don’t like it, but I can deal with it), but a disgusting kitchen just undoes me. I’m not kidding. It turns me into this:

So…I focus on getting the kitchen done each and every day, and then if the other mess gets cleared up, well: DING! DING! DING! I present myself with a giant stuffed hippo! His name is Herbert.


Get the brood in on the house-keeping as soon as they are able to – and they are able to as soon as they’re walking! I’m serious! My littlest loves handing me clothes from the washing basket to hang up – right after he’s finished stitching the line of sneakers I’m working on in the basement.

"Grow my darling, I've got a mop with your name on it...MOIHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

And yes, there might be tantrums direct from the hell realm moans and groans, but do not relent! My pitch goes a little like this:  “we are a family and a team, and part of being the team means helping each other out.”

And if that doesn’t do it, “Gummy bears!”

Each child has their designated parts of the house and they don’t get their allowance unless they’ve completed their responsibilities.

Note: if you have a little Donald Trump in waiting, you might just be delighted. My 7-year-old daughter has recently cottoned on to the profit potential in this arrangement and is always asking me if she can do extra jobs, vacuuming, mopping, even doing the bathrooms herself for extra pocket money.

“Mummy, PLEASE can I do the bathtub?”

“Alright my dear. But you’ll have to fight me for it. KAPOW!”


This tip came in the comments from the lovely – and Canadian but that’s not why she’s lovely though I’m sure it helps – Kate:

I don’t dilly dally while doing my chores – I do them with purpose, and while I do them, I mull over my projects. I also do them with the kids around instead of during any “alone time” now.

I think there’s a few key points here:

a) When you’ve boarded the house-keeping train, do not get off it until the train has come to its destination (i.e. do not get distracted by TV, internet, non-fatal injuries or other blather). Unless you are forced to of course, even the best trains get derailed from time to time. (Note to self: this sounds good, but if literally true, could be cause for great alarm. Hmmm. Must investigate).

b) Your mind is still free to wander, even when your hands aren’t. Okay, so you’ve decided to scrub that toilet. Whoop-dee-doo! Now, as far as I’m concerned, once the brush is in your hand and things are in motion, that’s enough. You don’t really want to think about that thing too do you? I don’t care how much you love ‘living in the moment’, if you’re actually being fully present with a toilet bowl, then I think the cosmic joke’s on you. Instead, use that time to let your mind wander away to a happy place, a lovely buttercup field full of the flowers, buds and pollen puffs of your creative self and the things you really want to be doing! Frolick! Tra la la!

c) Use your “alone time” wisely.

While of course it’s tempting to just crack out a few chores in the peace and quiet that comes with that elusive space, DO NOT DO IT. Do you see how much I mean that? I bolded it and capsed it, just so you’d know that if we were talking about this in real life I’d be yelling at you. In a friendly way of course.

But yes, seriously. Don’t.

Instead, you have to use this time to do what you  need it most for: fuelling up the fire. Whatever it is that really gets you going, whatever you really need to be working on, being creative, blah blah blah, whatever it is (the blah blah blah was more of an ‘insert your own option here’ thing by the way, not an ‘I don’t really give a flying shizz’ one…just so we’re clear) THAT is what you need to use this time for.

No housework allowed!

Well, okay, wipe that puke off the rug, but only if you really feel you need to.

*Images courtesy of elisfanclub and graphicsfairy

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jennywynter Written by:


  1. June 22, 2010

    I absolutely LOVE what your friend said about the nature of a visit! I feel that same way about people answering cell phones while we are having precious few moments of face time together!

    • June 22, 2010

      I know, I love her – and her attitude – to bits.

      I have another friend whose mother’s house has always been a little chaotic on the mess front, and she said to her daughter: “Well, I’m never going to let a little mess stop me from connecting with my friends!” I love that too – the thought that the real ‘clutter’ problem is the obstacle it can form between relationships. But only if we let it!

      True on the phone front too, I hate that.

  2. June 22, 2010

    I don’t have kids…just a little dog, but I remember my mother spazzing about the house and when I think about it, most likely made me into the slob I am today. At least my mother thinks I am! Some things never change!

    • June 22, 2010

      Oh don’t worry, my Mum’s constantly cracking jokes at my lack of housekeeping – and this is when I’ve actually cleaned the living daylights out of it in preparation for her visit! 😉

  3. June 22, 2010

    I remember when mine were little, we would play the clean up game. Where I would shout out a number and they would have to pick up and put away into the “right” place that amount of items that were out of place. This worked for about a month, then they reaised it wasn’t a game anymore, and why do I have to put Mum’s stuff away.

    The mysterious balance is never achievable, but we can just shrug our shoulders and say, “What the Hell , I am not Wonderwoman, although I do look hot in Blue and Red leotards”.

    As a Mum of teens, I can tell you it’s not possible to do it all and we should never expect that of ourselves. Enjoy the good stuff, and don’t worry so much about what just doesn’t matter.

    Will our epitath ever say, Great Mum, good friend, talented (insert talent here) and a deplorable housekeeper? I think not.

    • June 22, 2010

      Hot damn woman, we DO look hot in Blue and Red leotards! 🙂

      Such a good call on the epitath – I’ve also thought of the reverse idea i.e. that at my funeral, do I really want them saying in my eulogy: “Her floors were an inspiration to us all…”

      Uh, that would be a ‘no’.

      Lovely to see you here! x

  4. June 22, 2010

    I just love your attitude to life! The big one for me would be “use your alone time wisely”. It is far to easy to “should on yourself” at those points and fit in a few more chores. Great post

    • June 22, 2010

      I’m so glad you came over here Marion, lovely to meet you! For some reason your comment is loading right from my end at the moment so can’t read it all, will fix it up shortly! x

    • June 22, 2010

      Aha! Got it working! Yes, so true, it’s so easy to try to convince yourself to work through your housework to-do list (namely because it’s easy to justify as time well spent!) But we must fight against it, rise up as one and CONQUER!!!

      Okay, calming down now. So glad you stopped by!

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