Clearing The Trash Before The Boss

I am enjoying being home again and settling in to finding new routines… which are distant memories of my old routines of being home with the girls when they were tiny. Except now they pile out of the house at dawn and come back in the afternoon under their own power. Holy crap this is easymode. Somebody nerf me lol.

Alphaguy (and others) are worried about me though…

The other pitfall is that you’ll become the defacto person to do all the chores around the house. At first you won’t know it, but then it’s “honey can you run up to the store and get some milk?”. Then, “Can you pick up the kids at school”, next thing you know you are running around doing Honey Do stuff all day long. Be firm! Save it for the weekend or in the evening. I speak from experience!

In part I’m correcting an imbalance, the Honey Do list entered the fossil record back in early 2010. So we do actually have a ton to catch up on. A burst of effort is fine to catch up, but I agree that there is a trap in donning an apron and snapping to attention when Jennifer rings a little bell. My name is not Jeeves.

My trick to stop getting sucked into housework is to first understand that housework expands to fill the time available to do it in. Even having labor saving devices like a washer, a dryer and a vacuum cleaner doesn’t end up saving you any time… if you allow the work to expand to fill the time available.

Let’s quote a feminist shall we… Betty Friedan in The Feminine Mystique…

The more a woman is deprived of function in society at the level of her own ability, the more her housework, mother-work, wife-work, will expand – and the more she will resist finishing her housework or mother-work and being without any function at all. The time required to do the housework for any given woman varies inversely with the challenge of the other work to which she is committed. Without any outside interests, a woman is virtually forced to devote her every moment to the trivia of keeping house.

Study after study revealed that American housewives were spending almost as many, or even more, hours a day house keeping as women thirty years earlier, despite the smaller easier-to-care-for homes and despite the fact they had seven times as much capital equipment in housekeeping appliances.

Or put another way, it doesn’t matter if you have to walk down to the river and bang your clothes on a rock to wash them, or pop them in the washing machine and then the dryer, if you have six hours to do the laundry… it takes six hours. So some thoughts and tips….

(1) It’s a Trap! Recognize there is a housework trap that can suck you in. Give yourself a time limit. If you only have an hour each day to clean, it typically only takes an hour. I’m a night owl at heart and have zero thoughts in the morning, so that’s when I’m cleaning. I just stop the house chores at 10am.

(2) A Little Dirt is Okay. Accept that no one is coming to your house wearing white gloves and running a finger along anything. The Health Department is woefully understaffed for such shenanigans. Besides, getting foodborne illness from food cooked in your own kitchen is fairly self-correcting. As such I use a variant on the 80/20 rule as a guideline…. meaning that 80% of the mess is cleaned up with the first 20% of your effort, and the remaining 20% of the mess is cleaned up with the final 80% of work. My advice is to just get it 80% clean and call it quits on that area of the house. You can exhaust yourself deep cleaning one room of the house in the same time you can clean five rooms pretty well. And frankly, no one will notice you cleaned out the grout behind the fridge. If you lie awake at night thinking about your dirty grout behind the fridge, you either have a mental illness, absolutely no life or have your mother-in-law coming to stay.

(3) Pump Up the Jam. Music increases productivity and television decreases productivity. So no television, just crank some tunes and wade into the chore list. Jennifer and I have wildly different musical tastes, plus I’m mildly deaf so I like to really crank it up and give the cats some hard rock induced PTSD. I love Pandora for this. Click, Click, Boom!

(4) House then You. If you can stand it and are doing morning cleaning, time your shower in the morning to come after all your cleaning chores are done. Can be a bit tricky if you have very little ones, but if you can do it, it makes a nice transition / cut off from cleaning up and then doing whatever else you need to do with your day.

(5) Your +Something. Have something else productive to do during the day that you’re clearing you way to get done. I’m into my email around 10:30am today instead of 7p-9p. So yeah, I’m doing some “housewife” stuff, but I’m way ahead of things for MMSL today compared to what I was a week ago.

So anyway…

…if you’re a gamer you’ll know exactly what I mean in the title of this post. Clearing trash mobs is all part of the game to get to the juicy stuff that drops off the boss. But you don’t spin it out into time-wasting nonsense like a noob guild. Just nuke the trash mobs into the ground with some quick and dirty AoE spam, then go do the cool stuff.

Jennifer: Believe me, if he turned into chore-man instead of writing it would stress me out…I need him to write!  It is freaking me out a bit to have him doing things I was doing a week ago, but then I can get home from work earlier, be less stressed in the evening, and enjoy time together and family time more.

 

 

Comments

  1. “The more a woman is deprived of function in society at the level of her own ability, the more her housework, mother-work, wife-work, will expand – and the more she will resist finishing her housework or mother-work and being without any function at all. The time required to do the housework for any given woman varies inversely with the challenge of the other work to which she is committed. Without any outside interests, a woman is virtually forced to devote her every moment to the trivia of keeping house.”

    So in other words, in order to save you from the terrible trap of ever-expanding housework, we need to keep commenting, sending emails, and asking long rambling questions to keep your MMSL duties from drying up.

    Can do.

    (-:

  2. Flahute says:

    I used to be in a work at home situation and I recommend, imho, that you establish a ritual and stick with it. Block out your workday, make it sacred, and DO NOTHING ELSE. Do not even get up to switch the loads of laundry. If possible, isolate yourself in the house.

    I highly recommend Steven Pressfield’s book, “The War of Art”. 10 out of 10. If you want a glimpse into the work ethic and dedication of one of our great American writers, check out “Mornings With Mailer.” The man was amazing. Remember, now that you are a writer, all reading is “research.”

    You are doing very important work. Good luck.

  3. SentWest says:

    I work full time from home as well, and headed off the “But you’re home all day why aren’t the chores done” argument with my SO long before we lived together. I don’t do chores between 8am -5pm weekdays as a strict rule. If I am in my guest room/office I am essentially not in the house. If I get something chore-like done it’s a bonus. On the other hand I’m available to run around and do stuff he can’t do during the work week as he’s stuck in one place, and I can get up and leave, and I do those things.

    It’s worked for us for three years now, but we don’t have kids to worry about either.

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