What you can do now to eliminate one or two chores from your list and lighten the mental load.
There is a lot of encouragement from postpartum and mental health experts for new moms to ask for help. As a new mom, you should be focused on resting, bonding and adjusting to your new role. Amen, right?
But what happens as you come out of those first 40 days? What about the moms who are a couple years into this whole motherhood thing who feel like they are drowning in the sheer volume of work that has to get done? Because let's be honest, it all can feel like work after a while.
The constant routine of getting everyone out the door in the morning, accomplishing your job and then some at the office, coming home to prepare dinner, clean up from dinner, play with the kids, get them ready for bed, take care of the laundry, pick-up and as you have time or energy, tackling a few other projects around the house that you've been meaning to do for far too long.
You are a high achieving woman. You always have been. You can certainly handle it.
Sure, you might have a meltdown every now and then as you crack from the pressure of all of it, but on the whole, you know what needs to be done and you just do it. You vent to your girlfriends and emphatically like those silly memes that a little too accurately describe the sad state of affairs in your life as a mom, but you don't usually ask for help. You can do it.
But have you ever stopped to think about what it would feel like to have one of those chores eliminated from your responsibility list?
Would you feel relieved, grateful, happy, a little lighter and less stressed? What does that even look like?
You've probably dreamed of having a full-time housekeeper, a nanny who takes care of much more than the kids, or a chef who prepares your weekly meals each Sunday so all you have to do is heat and enjoy. Heck—you'd take all three if you could! But I don't know anyone with that arrangement, and I'm guessing you probably don't either.
So what could you do now to eliminate one or two chores from your list? How can you get creative and get more help at home?
Because with even one or two fewer chores on your list, that's time that you could do something fun—whether that's for you or for the kids. That's five or so minutes of relaxation that could make you feel like a totally different person at the end of the day.
This week, try one of these five ideas for getting more help around the house and challenge yourself to get at least five minutes back in your day... for you.
1. The obvious answer: Outsource
Outsourcing is the obvious idea here, but ask any mom who has outsourced one item from her life and she'll more than likely tell you it's worth every penny. If it's in the budget, or if you can re-work your budget to accommodate hiring out, here are some ideas:
- Find someone to clean for you, even if they come just once a month for a deep clean so all you have to do is maintenance work.
- Hire a virtual assistant (I've used this one) to help with making appointments, getting pricing, or placing orders.
- Outsourcing your weekly cooking to a meal-delivery service is another easy one. Not quite a personal chef, but if it takes even a couple of meals off your plate (no pun intended), that is a huge relief.
- Yard work is another big one that can take time depending on how much you have to maintain. What high-schooler in your neighborhood is looking to make extra money by mowing your lawn?
2. Hire a mother's helper
Maybe you don't have the resources to outsource all of your chores. Instead, you can get help entertaining the kids while YOU take care of the chores. You will no doubt get them done much faster than if you had to constantly fulfill requests for snacks and water and "play with me." Mother's helpers do still exist and really are a win-win for you and for the kid who wants experience with childcare before going out on their own for full-blown babysitting.
3. Get creative with your village
Maybe hiring anyone, even a mother's helper, is not in the picture for you. That's the case for many working moms with the cost of childcare being what it is. But surely you know other working moms, other mom friends, who feel the same as you—like they never have enough time or energy to do all the housework.
- Can you do a childcare swap on the weekend, again to buy you dedicated, interruption-free time to clean and take care of things while she watches your kids, and then you do the same for her?
- Can you get together and batch cook some dinners or put together freezer meals for the upcoming weeks making it more fun over a glass of wine and some conversation?
- How can you leverage your community to get more help and in turn help them?
4. Have a clear and even division of labor
I realize not everyone may have the luxury of having a co-parent or partner to share in the workload, or that some may have a partner whose schedule absolutely does not lend itself to helping out around the house. But, if your co-parent is working a similar job to yours or with similar hours, you should absolutely be able to split the household responsibilities.
Make sure you are doing that and not falling victim to the old "I'll just do it myself" mentality because you think you do it better. Having a chore done is better than having it done your way.
If you've not had this conversation before, it's not as scary as it sounds. Trust me. You just need to be open to compromise and make sure that you're each assigned the chores that are easiest for you to do. And then you have to trust each other to get them done. That last part is key.
5. Get your kids involved
Are you a mama who thinks that chores have to wait until the kids are either asleep or otherwise entertained? Have you ever tried involving them in the chores, even if it takes a little longer than when you just do it yourself?
Teaching your kids how to take care of things and that you're all a part of a team is GREAT learning development. Try starting young, by wearing the baby around in a carrier while you vacuum or load the dishwasher or sort laundry. Then, as they are old enough, have them start putting their clothes into the wash, wipe down their chair after meals, or put clothes, groceries, etc. away.
Kids are capable of so much, and doing chores together is much more fun. If they see you having fun with it, rather than complaining about it, they'll be even more eager to get in on that!
Bonus: Doing the chores while they're awake means less that you have to do after they go to bed, which could mean a few minutes to yourself (gasp, I know!).
If you're continually frustrated about how much you have to do around the house, and how little time you have, it's time to get creative and do something different than what you're doing.
Life is too short to be miserable working around the house. It takes a team to maintain daily life and you should start building yours.
Originally posted on The Mother Nurture.