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Busy Working MumRunning a home when you also work full time means you need to pay particular attention to your life balance.  Your work life balance is what your sanity depends upon, and needs your attention. 

The following is an example of an email I seem to have written quite a few times in response to readers who, like me, struggle to do everything when they work full time as well as run a home:

Thank you for your email.
It sounds as though you have a full time job as well as running your home, and I know that makes it very hard to get everything done and still have time to relax.  You certainly don't want to be doing housework at 11pm.
From what you tell me, I think you probably need to lower your standards to a more realistic level, delegate chores to your family, and make a new timetable that works better for you. 

You should be able to see on paper when you write it all down whether it is going to take too long or not.  Having the reality of your life set out in front of you can help you see what the situation really is so you can make some decisions about things that are within your control.
Remember the section in the book where I talked about prioritising, and the thing about the rocks in the jar?  And time boxing?  You decide how much of your time each week you're happy to spend doing housework, and make a plan around that - not thinking of what you would need to do to have a perfect house, and then fitting your life around that.  Do you see what I mean?  Time for yourself to relax IS a priority.  It's all about balancing how you spend your time, and making decisions.
Hope that helps.
Kind regards,

The main point I want to make here is that many of us are sucked into having unrealistic standards and expectations of ourselves about how we keep our homes.  Unless we can clone ourselves, there are just so many hours in the day, and a number of different categories of activities we want to devote time to.


Housework is just one category.  We’ve also got work, sleep, family time, couple time, time for ourselves just to relax and have fun, time for our physical and spiritual health.  If you are placing housework as a second priority after work, and taking the whole lot on yourself, you are going to burn out and go nuts unless you set limits for it.

I remember all the ads on TV for disinfectant products and cleaning products, and have had the idea seep into my head that my whole house needs to be disinfected and spotless at all times.  I enjoy having a clean house.  It’s lovely, it’s calming, it’s pleasant.

But in reality, I don’t have a cleaning service, and there is only one of me, and I have to work, and shop, and drive kids around, and change nappies, and wash, and cook.  Therefore, there is a finite amount of time I can spend on housework, and I am not prepared to stay up til all hours just so my house is clean.  I need to read, watch a movie, talk to my kids and watch them play, say hello to the cats, go for a walk….

One of my favourite TV shows is Wife Swap, both the UK and the USA versions, and Trading Spouses.  One thing I’ve noticed, especially in the UK, is the obsession with ironing!  There was a woman who had a child, ran a home, and got up at 5.30am every weekday and did her ironing before leaving for work.  They iron underpants, tea towels, everything!  It’s insane!  It’s so nuts I started a Facebook anti-ironing group just for a laugh.  You can join it here:

What some of the participants in Wife Swap learn, and what I want to get across here, is that we all need balance in our lives.  Keeping our homes organized is a worthwhile thing to do, but there need to be limits to how long we spend on it.

So how best to manage it all?

- Delegate!  Don’t be a martyr, share the load.  You’re not doing your family any favours if you take it all on yourself without any or much help.  Ok, so you think you’re the only one who knows how to do everything right.  Get over it.  Think of yourself as a manager, with delegation and training skills a vital part of your role.  You might even find you’re family enjoy having you organize them to share the load.  They’ll feel a sense of pride, and it will be good for everyone.

- Lower your standards.  Things need to be cleaned regularly, but don’t have to be perfect all the time.  I know this is really hard to adjust to, but if you’re faced with a choice of lowering your standards or doing without leisure time and family time, get your priorities right.

- Watch out for perfectionism.  If you have a tendency to be a perfectionist, you might find you tend to swing between doing things excessively and not doing them at all.  It’s not working, is it?  It’s better to just do something regularly, but not perfect, than to not do it at all, or to spend an unreasonable amount of time on it.  Ask yourself:  “is this reasonable?  is it sensible?”

- Time boxing.  See my earlier article about this.  Rather than doing something until it’s ‘done’, which of course can be subjective, do it for a pre-determined amount of time. 

If you’re really feeling exhausted and overwhelmed by things, first get yourself into a good mood.  Pick a time when you’re feeling your most happy and relaxed.  This is the time to think about how your life is set up at the moment, and how you feel about it all.  Get your head into the right place by starting with thinking about what you’re thankful for.  Then, when you feel the benefit of this, think about your life.  What really matters to you?  How is your time balanced at the moment?  What would you like to change?

It’s never completed of course.  It’s always a work in progress.

Organize Your Life – Get the Ultimate Guide here


#3 Megan 2013-11-17 10:02
De-clutter and put things away before you start cleaning - clutter far outweighs dust - if it's tidy, it looks better - then worry about dust, marks on the glass, cleaning tiles, vacuuming etc : 8)
#2 Megan 2013-11-17 09:56
If you're feeling overwhelmed, concentrate on de-cluttering first and putting everything away - then you can come up with a cleaning routine - use a list if you find you do the same jobs over and over - it will help with the ones you forget about
#1 Jana 2013-11-12 19:07
It is always a work in progress... Thanks for reminding me! 8)


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