Do you experience guilt over housework? How not to lose your mind… Part 2

You’ve spent the whole day at work, or you’ve been home taking care of the kids, or you’ve managed to squeeze out some time for yourself after taking care of everyone else.  Now, exhausted, you sink into a chair after a good day’s work and look around.

This is Part 2 of a 4 part series.
Part 1 can be found here:

 

Tell the truth. How bad is it? Do you have piles of unfolded laundry flowing onto the floor? How’s the trash situation? Is every flat surface you have in your house fully covered? How long has it been since the dishes have been done? Let’s not even talk about the bathroom.

Don’t despair. First, it’s important to recognize that our culture gives us mixed signals about housework. On the one hand, we feel guilty about a dirty house while on the other, housework belongs to a category of work which is beneath us – unless we’re paid to do it. We have a distorted view of physical work in this country and I for one, am tired of being pushed around about it. I want some level of cleanliness in my home.

So, the second thing to do is to decide what level of cleanliness you can realistically do. You need to consider your work hours, your commitments to family and friends, your health, and your budget.   

If you are working full time or you have a chronic health condition, you might consider someone coming in once a week or longer to get to the things you cannot get to. If neither of these are possible because of your budget, you can still manage to keep some order by attending to a limited number of tasks each day.

And to help you get started, I highly recommend the following book:

How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind by Dana K. White

(Please note that I get a commission if you use that link)

I really liked this book because it was close to my own approach to housework: I hate everything about it, but I also like the results of a tidy home. Also, I learned something new that helped me with some tasks that I was still struggling with and how to fix what I was doing wrong.

Continue reading “Do you experience guilt over housework? How not to lose your mind… Part 2”

Do you experience guilt over housework? We’re all there…Part 1

In the last century technology freed men and women from many time-consuming daily tasks. It was such a rapid, sweeping change that in the 60s people envisioned a time when all labor would be replaced by machines.[e.g. The Jetsons: The Complete First Season ]

This is Part 1 of a 4 part series
Part 2 is here:

I grew up in an era that proclaimed housekeeping a ball and chain holding women back from their true potential. It was a time when all the skills women had accumulated over millennia were belittled and considered worthless. It was a time where Home Economics classes were still taught in public schools (in the late 60s) and yet we were hearing through the culture that women should refuse to do these things in order to be free.

The women in my own family knew how to cook and clean, how to sew and knit, how to organize a dinner party and some of them actually had a college degree and went to work. They did it all. But, I did notice that they had very little time to devote to any creative activity of their own. They were still expected to keep an immaculate home and prepare homecooked meals every night.


By the time I went to college (late 70s), attitudes about women were changing for the better. I was in a Physics class (my major) with three or four other young women. We were holding our own and there was no talk of women not belonging in the sciences. We were going to make the same kinds of intellectual strides as the men.


However, by the ‘80s women were beginning to regret that they never learned domestic skills or, as in my case, failed to practice what they had been taught. They felt guilty that they were not able to do the things their mothers and grandmothers could do.

This anxiety was exemplified in the comedy called “For Richer, For Poorer” starring Kirstie Alley and Tim Allen where a well to do couple, whose marriage is on the rocks, ends up hiding from a crazed IRS agent in an Amish community.


Caroline (Kirstie Alley): Every day’s a reminder that I don’t know how to do anything.

Brad (Tim Allen): You’re feeling sorry for yourself.

Caroline: No, I’m not. These women know how to do everything. Hell, I can’t even cook or sew. [pause] I’m domestically challenged.

Brad: [laughs]

Caroline: I feel so useless here.

A link to the video at amazon is below. (Please note that I get a commission if you use that link):

Continue reading “Do you experience guilt over housework? We’re all there…Part 1”