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Dear {Working} Wife, You Cannot Do It All!

on May 27, 2014 by Rachel ONeill 12 comments

By Rachel O’Neill, Contributing Writer

My first big shock as a newlywed came when I realized that I just couldn’t do it all. By “all,” I don’t mean anything too crazy- just working 40-50 hours per week outside of the home, planning and preparing meals, grocery shopping, keeping up with laundry, and maintaining a clean and orderly home.

My first big shock as a newlywed came when I realized that I just couldn't do it all. I guess I just never realized how challenging it can be to run a household!

I guess I never realized just how demanding managing a home can be.  I’m sure my mother was rejoicing as I began to understand and appreciate a fraction of the work she’d done throughout my growing up years.

This being said, I think that many young wives place too high an expectation on themselves for what they can reasonably accomplish inside and outside of the home. Part of it comes from watching our own mothers manage so much (after years of hard work and practice), and part of it is probably unbridled, shiny idealism.

The reality is, that no one “does it all.” If you and your spouse are currently both working outside of the home (or even if you are stay-at-home, but are struggling to keep up), here are the tips that helped to keep me sane.

5 Tips for Household Management

1) Be realistic about your limitations 

The first step is to acknowledge that you only have so many hours in a day. You need to sleep, eat and relax, besides just accomplishing your work. My problem is that I tend to be overly optimistic about what I can get done in a limited amount of time.

Figure out how long each task takes you, and keep the numbers in mind as you create your to do list and schedule. Learn to say no to extra obligations that don’t fit in with your goals and schedule. Do what you are able to do each day, and refuse to be discouraged about what was left undone!

2) Cook smart

In my working days, I didn’t get off until 6 p.m. If I started dinner as soon as I got home, we wouldn’t have eaten until 7:30 or 8 p.m, way past the point of exhaustion, starvation, and good temper. I relied heavily on my slow cooker with a timer,prepared casseroles in the morning before work, and tried to make double batches for the freezer.

Having a plan was essential. If I didn’t know what we were eating when I walked in the door, meat would be frozen, preparations too consuming, and many times we’d end up grabbing fast food. Make a plan, keep it simple, and follow through. Remember- it is okay to eat pb&j sandwiches for dinner every once in awhile!

3) Don’t throw in the towel

It can be devastating to be swamped by piles of dirty clothes, dishes, and clutter when you’re already exhausted. Don’t let it get you down- remember, you are a fallen human being with limitations, not Super Woman! The longer you practice, the easier it will be to keep your home running smoothly.

My number one mantra is “Something is better than nothing.” Maybe you don’t have thirty minutes after work to whip your kitchen into shape, but 5 minutes is better than nothing. Often times once you get going, it is motivation enough to help you keep going. Do what you can do!

My tendency is to feel so discouraged about what I can’t do that I give up on what I can do. Don’t let your discouragement lead to laziness.

4) Use weekends wisely

Plan out your weekends in advance so you have a game plan. Do your grocery shopping for the week on your way home from work on Friday night. Spend Saturday doing some food prep and preparing freezer meals for the upcoming week. If you can do a little prep work throughout the weekend, your weeknights will run much smoother!

Note from Jami: When I was working full time outside the home, freezer cooking changed my life! You can take a peek into my kitchen to see how I utilized freezer cooking in my homemaking!

5) Work as a team

When it is necessary for both spouses to work outside of the home, as it was for us in our pre-children days, cooperation as a couple is an absolute necessity for keeping up with household tasks. Wives need to realize that they can’t do it all on their own, and husbands need to be willing to come alongside and help.

Which household management tasks do you often find overwhelm and stress you?

Dear Working Wife, you CAN'T do it ALL!

Get instant free access to my Finding Joy in Your Home video course.

  • Do you want to discover more joy, peace, & tranquility within your home?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed and like your house is out of control?
  • Join my free course and learn the essential habits for Christian homemakers
  1. So timely for me! I’m in that muddy place of I can’t do it all and I don’t want to do it all. And maybe a dash of trying to figure out who I want to be when I grow up.

    My little girls were born at 24 and 25 weeks and are now 15 and 9. And adding in some of those issues on top of household management….whew! Enough to wear this mama out!

  2. It is funny. I don’t remember having as much work when I was single but having another person in my home seem to really pile up the work and now there is a third person, I often feel I am drowning but I just have to remember that I can only do so much in a day. So I do what I can and leave the rest. Normal by Friday that house is beautiful just in time for a weekend to get it back to disaster level. I love motherhood.

  3. I struggle with this on a daily basis. I work leave for work at 7am and typically get home about 5-530. I make supper for my girls and I plus make sure I have leftovers for my hubby. Then I have only a couple of hours to try and do chores and spend time with my girls before their bedtime and my husband gets home about 8pm. Once he’s home he likes for us to spend time together talking or watching tv, not doing dishes or chores. We’ve been married a year now and I am finally getting into a groove after several tearful tense evenings. I start a load of laundry first thing in the morning and throw it in the dryer when I get home from work. I try to finish the dishes before hubby gets home, otherwise I do them while he’s in the shower or when I get up in the morning. I get a lot done on Saturday while he’s at work so that I do very little, other than dishes and laundry, during the week. Our home isn’t spotless but I’d rather spend time with my family instead of moping anyway!

  4. Thank you for this post. I try so hard to be super wife. And then beat myself up when I don’t get things done. I never thought it would be so hard being a working wife. I have been married for 17 years now and I still get so overwhelmed and haven’t mastered it. You definitely have some good ideas. Thank you. God Bless!

  5. Meal planning often stresses me out. I like to make everything from scratch because I believe it to be healthier, but having 3 young kids makes it nearly impossible. I have had to be more realistic about what is reasonable for me to make for dinner and learn to accept certain short cuts (like pre made foods, etc). I’ve also had to accept that chores take longer with kids around, and I am often interrupted. I think having realistic expectations was an awesome piece of advice….one I wish someone had given me a few years ago 🙂

  6. I’ve been a SAHM for the last 2.5 years and some days it feels as though I have less time to do everything than when I worked! It helped that we weren’t at home making things messy. 😀 Now I rely on meal planning and a cleaning schedule to help keep chaos at bay.

  7. You have NO idea how great it was to find this post. I’ve been struggling with this for years. An added back injury has not helped the situation. I’m working on getting better and trying to devote 20 minutes a day to focused cleaning. It’s about all my back can take until I get it stronger!

    I think the blogging world makes us all think we should have Pinterest worthy homes! It’s refreshing to see someone else struggles with this too!

  8. I realize I’m a little late to this, but let me just say, THANK YOU! I got married in December and less than two months later we moved two states away. My husband works about 50 hours/week and I recently started working my second “part” time job. I struggle daily with keeping our home in shape, in fact I’ve been so overwhelmed by it that I’ve broken down crying multiple times. Thank you again for letting me know I’m not alone.

  9. Great article! Both my husband and I work full time outside the home. We also have a 6 year old who keeps us hopping! It’s taken me a while, but I’ve finally learned to give myself a break when I don’t get to it all. I go through cycles where I am super motivated, I garden, I can, I freezer cook, I craft, etc. Then for weeks I take a break and just keep up with the basics.

    NOTE – I need to think about using the crock pot more! For those that have one but don’t have one with a timer feature – one tip I’ve read about is using a basic light timer to turn it on/off for a certain length of time. I may give that a try one weekend while I’m around to make sure it works right!

  10. Use a pressure cooker. I cook 4 dishes in one and then just add some spices and garnish. While I was working 3 jobs and full time grad studies I could still make all meals at home. Never used prepackaged food.