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.
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!
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?