I have struggled with some of (my) perceived expectations of the role of stay at home mum. In an ideal world, I feel that caring for my child is a full-time 24 hour a day commitment. I need to watch, care for and entertain her constantly. I also feel that I never signed up to be a “house wife”, I studied, I wanted a career. Whilst I enjoy being in a clean and tidy space, i don’t enjoy the process. Some people claim to love cleaning, I am not one of them. And to be honest, it created some resentment between myself and my Husband. We used to split jobs round the house pretty equally. He had lived alone before I met him, so was used to looking after himself, I worked longer hours than him. We figured out a balance, mostly without discussion, we just slipped into our roles. that said, when two adults who clear up after themselves, and are out the house most of the day, how much mess can there really be? Fast forward to present day, and life with a toddler. Well you can imagine the scene. I know my Husband respects the challenges of looking after our daughter, he (fortunately) is not one of those people who have ever asked “what I do all day”, and doesn’t come home every single night expecting Supper on the table. That said, he works long hours, he works hard, he’s tired, he mightn’t expect me to do all the housework, but he’s not in a position to do it all, and it’s got to get done.
So I have choices, I live in a chaotic mess that gets me down, I embrace my inner 1950s Housewife (I don’t think I have one), or I find a new path. And here in lies the beauty of my living more with less project. I focused on the 3 areas which I find most annoying and tackled them first:
The linen cupboard– a jumble of sheets, towels, and linen, totally over 100 items. Not for a medium-sized B&B, but for two beds. It probably didn’t bother me when it was just the bi-weekly sheet change, but once my toddler started having nappy situations, crumbs in her bed, and the frustrating spell of coughing at night till she vomited, well suddenly I was wrestling through this cupboard, in the dark, trying not to full rouse the sleep thief. It become a big source of angst. Thankfully, it was one of the easiest areas to dramatically downsize. I don’t have too much emotional attachment to duvet covers. So off it all went, and now we have a modest stack or easily locatable items.
The laundry- I feel as though if I don’t do a wash pretty much daily this huge backlog develops. Every radiator in the house seems covered with clothes, and there is perpetually a stack on the chair in our bedroom of clothes that need putting away. With a stalemate between my husband and I until one of us (me) gives in. You’d think the bulging wardrobes would indicate we have plenty of clothes so could go a month without washing anything (isn’t that why someone has twenty pairs of pants after-all?!). But it never works out this way does it? So without outsourcing to a hotel laundry, or giving up washing all together, I needed a solution. Downsizing the input seemed the obvious choice. So I am working my way through our wardrobes. We may not be at “capsule” status as yet, but I am aiming to half the contents at least.
Toys- every parents will be familiar the endless struggle to keep on top of all the toys, they infiltrate every conceivable space. Now I am certainly not advocating taking away all my Daughter’s possessions, like some fairytale baddy. A good start for me is stopping purchasing anything new, it’s so easy as her skills and interest develop to want to get new books, new puzzles, new things to play with. I am also going to trial having a couple of different boxes of toys on rotation. This way things can be new and interesting, and hopefully a little less floor coverage. She is of an age where I am starting to encourage her to tidy up with me. I don’t want to restrict her play, and insist she only uses one toy at a time, but if I can try to get her to slow a little, rather than flit from object to object at warp speed, that’ll be a start.