Tag Archive | Housekeeping

Folding Fitted Sheets and Other Mysteries

Life is full of mysteries. So many things to learn as we travel our path. I have accepted who I am currently, and what I can do currently. I have set some short and some long term goals. Never, ever, did I set a goal for folding a fitted sheet. I have tried, and do try each time they are laundered, to make sense of the slippery, puffy fabric. And each time, I mutter “good enough” as I smush the unruly things onto a hidden shelf in the closet.

Folding sheets is one the myriad of mysterious tasks I have seen accomplished on TV and often wonder if it is real. Like having your entire house clean all at once.  Or a garden with anything other than weeds. Or a clear desktop. Or an empty sink. Or a flat tummy with no stretch marks. And the one that I will never understand – the dinner party – with fancy plate settings, several courses, various stemware and silver. Do adults really do this? Does some poor hostess slave for days to create this table and the meals, and then serve her guests without one little hair out of place?  And her shoes match her dress and the decor? and Or is it just a Martha Stewart myth to make the rest of us feel inferior and buy more of her products?

Our Candlelit Table

This will never be seen in my house (Photo credit: Dinner Series)

I can make lovely, elaborate origami creatures. I can solve a Rubik’s Cube. I can make delicate meringue cookies. I can put pants, socks and matching shoes, and tie the shoes on a squirming toddler. But I can’t fold fabric into squares. Retail workers follow me around, refolding everything I touch.  Opening my sock drawer is like opening those surprise cans of worms. So I had to laugh when my friend posted this on facebook today. I have not tried it yet. I have not gone to the shelf of oddly misshapen balls of sheets that mocked me as I attempted to show them who is boss. They are the boss of me. Always have been. We have had this agreement, where they get to live carefree on the shelf as long as they don’t tell anyone.

But no more. Watch out Twin sheets, you will be tamed. Queen sheets? Well, I’m not getting ahead of myself. There’s always next year.



Keeping Up (Pretty Well)

Fall Schedule –  times a bunch of kids and my own activities –  is quite demanding. Gone are the days of not getting dressed and staying home. I can barely recall the old me, the me that never saw anyone, never did anything. The me that barely existed and only knew depression and pain, no joy ever.

Every day now has school dropoff-pickup, and either basketball practice/game, theater rehearsal, dance rehearsal, music practice, work/work meetings, shopping, and date nights and girls nights. Oh my!

On top of all that, my house is cleaner than ever. We all do a bit each day, and then kick the house’s butt each weekend. Seems to be working. It is not perfect, but perfection is no longer my goal. Tidy isn’t really my daily goal either, just a controlled level of chaos for this busy tiny home.

Sometimes I find myself with a dustbuster in hand attacking the killer dust bunnies and go woah – is this becoming automatic? I don’t remember fighting with myself to do a simple boring task and negotiate my own reward of game time, or limiting my work time. I used to struggle to motivate myself to get moving to do anything, and especially boring chores. I used to find myself playing games and avoiding that stuff. The balance has switched and I am very happy with my progress. I didn’t have to battle my internal belligerent teenager, I just saw something needing done – and did it!

I found a great website I’d like to share, although I get nothing for sharing this. It is myjobchart.com. It is an free online chore chart where you put all your family members in there and assign daily, weekly, monthly tasks. You assign points to them, and get to save the points for rewards. You can link it directly to monetary rewards, but I have it set up for family rewards. My one son is working for a family movie night, where he gets to choose the dinner, the movie, and have movie candy too. Another son is working for extra computer time playing with me. I’ve tried different paper charts before, and they ended up being too much work and too difficult to maintain. Even my preschooler likes it, and it has pictures since he is not reading yet.

I want my kids to grow up with a strong work ethic, a sense of responsibility, an ability to see what needs done and just do it. I want them to see we all contribute to a happy healthy home. Although I did chores when I was young, we never felt like a family or celebrated, or thanked each other.

A sock puppet template

A sock puppet template (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I am very happy when I see my kids automatically getting out plates and silverware when I announce dinner is almost ready. And we all look forward to playing Sock Sorter. I save up all the socks from several loads of laundry, and then we sort them all at once. I lay out all the socks on the couch like a I am a conveyor belt, and the kids go “ding!” when they see a match, and race to grab it, ball it, and then toss the sock ball in a basket. We make all kinds of mechanical robot noises, and giggle when we mismatch and have to reject a pair. And usually some spontaneous sock puppet theater erupts at some point as we turn socks right side out. I’m hoping they will remember these chore games and not have so much difficulty keeping up their chores as they get older, and especially when they have their own homes. Not that it will always be fun, but just not such an ordeal.

Another great idea – a meal list. I have tried meal charts before, even planning ahead on a calendar, but again, it was too difficult to manage, and not flexible enough for a busy family’s changing needs. We started putting a list of available meals on the fridge. That way I can still shop for whatever deals I may find, and then add to the list once it is in the fridge/freezer. Then at 4pm each day, I consult the list, and choose what we have that night. Somehow the list is not so overwhelming as just opening the freezer and choosing what to make and pull together. And then I don’t feel like I failed when I didn’t make the right meal on the right day. Also, a few takeout options are on the list if needed. This was actually Hubby’s idea, he made the first list before he left on a business trip, trying to ease my stress of doing everything on my own that week. It worked so well I have continued it.

What do you do to reduce stress and make everyday chores easier to handle?




Can’t Shake This Funk

Been in a funk a week or so now. Trying to understand where it comes from, and trying to share it with hubby. Neither part is going too well.

Truth is, I am borderline miserable and only enjoy life on those special occasions, not in between.

My job can make me feel proud at times, but mostly it is dull and I get behind because I put off tasks, either to avoid them, or to wait for a settled brain, or  a quiet house. So then it is a stress. I don’t have the neat *now you go to work* and  *now you are at home* distinction. I know I am blessed to work from home so I can be here with the kids. But I don’t feel blessed. I feel frazzled and worn out.

My kids are so demanding, and fussy, and I always hated on moms who let their kids be like that. So, I hate on me. I don’t know how it happened, but I feel so disrespected. And no one is even a teenager yet, so when people joke, just wait, you think it’s bad now?? Well, yes, I do think it is bad now, so thank you for removing all hope for a better future.

I HATE cleaning this house. I hate it so much. At least when I work, I can feel proud that I solved something or created a solution. If I just did housework, yay for me, I figured out how to smear soap and rinse it off. Again. And again. Everywhere. Repeatedly.

So I tried sharing some of these feelings with hubby. And now he is disappointed in me. I always knew he was. He thinks he got jipped, that his wife does not know how to organize and keep a tidy house. He thinks every bit of housework he does is *for me* and a *favor* to me. He truly feels it is all my job and thinks I waste my time. I asked him exactly how many hours I need to work each work to be excused from some housework, because I thought 20-30 hours counted for something. I guess not.

So I am trying to not be so angry, and hurt, but I am. I just am. I see no end in sight. I’m trying to accept that I ruined my chances of a high powered career, and that even if I wanted to do it now, I would probably flake out and fail. I know that I am strong, but I have to accept that I may never be fully mentally healthy. And that pisses me off too.

I’m trying to be constructive today. Hubby has a day off, so I am trying to explain to him, and see if we can work together to make my daily life easier and more enjoyable. I said this house needs a lot of work, and I’m so terrible at organizing. I asked for his help to make a list of goals and mini-projects, broken down into a timeline, so as I go about day by day, repeating the same day, with the same chores, is there something I can cross off my list.

We identified some serious problems, like if I actually wash all of our dishes or laundry at the same time, we do not have room to put them all away. So hubby has honed in on the first problem, like usual, and is tackling it today. And he does not understand why I am not happy with this. I didn’t want to spend today cleaning cabinets. I wanted to make a list of things to do, so I could do them bit by bit.  I am supposed to be working today, making up some lost hours over the last pay period.  So he is off at the Home Depot, buying shelving and paint. With money we don’t have the luxury of spending so I will have to redo the budget, and I can’t complain because he is doing this project *to help me*.

He just doesn’t understand that a shelf will not fix this. It never fixes it. He’ll go to bed tonight feeling great, he fixed a problem today. I’ll go to bed feeling miserable and guilty, since he spent his day trying to fix a gaping wound with a band-aid.

I don’t understand how to run a home. There is too much to do. If I focus on one room, I have a clean room and the rest has gone to hell. None of the strategies work. Nothing has a place, I don’t where to put it. 12 years in this house, and I still don’t know where we keep the sugar, because it is always different. Wherever it was left or shoved, or fit at that moment.

I am not Martha Stewart, have no idea how to decorate or even make a room pretty or functional. In the movies, they always say, *oh this home needs a woman’s touch*. Well not this woman.

The feeling I can’t shake, is that I am BETTER than this life. And I am ashamed of that feeling. Why shouldn’t I clean up my own house? Well, I always thought I would have a beautiful mansion, and a staff of service people. It was part of my escape fantasy, and the *I’ll show them* attitude I had growing up. So, it really boils down to admitting failure, and they were right. All the lies of *you can be anything you want* from every teacher was a lie. What is want is not accessible to people like me. So instead of enjoying my lovely family, I feel trapped in a prison of endless duties, responsibilities, and worries. So then I feel shame, guilt, and hate on myself for not feeling grateful.


Another reason I am so hard on myself

microwave oven

But my microwave is always clean (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Made it through the emotional storm that hit the past few days, and now just have to clean up the debris.

I think I figured out why it makes me so angry. It isn’t just about perfectionism, though that is a part of it. I think the part that makes me not like myself and be so hard on myself, is that I fear I sound like my mom.

Yup, I hate hearing all my mom’s excuses for why her life isn’t how she wants, how her diseases keep her from exercising or cleaning or house. How her fears keep her from being real, or sharing her life with friends and family. I am disgusted by her. When you can tell her microwave has not been wiped out in months, and I pop in a cup of coffee, I am unsure how to react. But she has trained me to be non-confrontational with her, so I use the microwave and drink my coffee in silence. (I only go to her house a few times a year, she does not live nearby, but the sticky mess bothers me)

And then the phone calls, of her saying repeatedly how she is so tired, could barely make it through the work day, and is so happy to have a day off to just sit in her easy chair and watch TV. How is this different from my hours of computer games? The laundry has piled up, and it is getting difficult to walk through the rooms with so many displaced items randomly strewn about. She chooses to ignore her crusty microwave, and I choose to ignore the disorganized clutter.

I don’t want to ignore the unpleasant chores. I want to be proud of my home. And I don’t want to hear my mom’s excuses coming out of my mouth – and yet they do. Hmmm.

It is so hard to balance my mental health needs. When should I push myself to work harder, to have discipline and overcome mental blocks – and when do I give myself a break, and how long should that break be.

When I was in school, I always took the maximum number of days off allowed each quarter, which I think was 10. So I missed 40 days out of 180 each school year. Many of those days I was actually sick, fevers, ear infections and asthma kept me home often. But the other days, my dad let me stay home any time I wanted as long as I had straight A’s, which I always did. I thought that was awesome then, but now I think it taught me that working hard is not important. I always did the least amount of work possible to get those A’s, and would even calculate which homeworks I could neglect, always looking for a way out. I did not repsect the assignments or the teachers, so that was my way of silently getting back at them for wasting my time.

I usually did the homework for 1st period on the bus, homework for 2nd period in 1st period, and so on. It made the day interesting for me and provided a challenge that otherwise was not there. I know school is hard for some people, it just wasn’t for me. I was blessed with brains and memory and the ability to learn very quickly. So I never had to study. Never had to work hard. And I think that set me up for problems and makes me think I shouldn’t HAVE to do all this housework, and deserve time off from it. To me housework is just like those terrible worksheets the teachers assigned, just filled my time and never gave any benefit. I don’t learn anything new from housework, and have to do the same task daily, wash the same dish, wipe the same counter. And whatever I clean only lasts a few minutes. It is hard for me to be grateful for my house, when I feel like a prisoner, sentenced to fill my days with futility.

I keep hoping that one day I will *grow up* and it won’t be so difficult. I’ll just do the tasks that need done. But until then, it feels like torture, because I can never get the house clean enough for my perfectionistic standards like i did before kids. And it is endless. Mind-numbing torture. So I make lists of what I must do each day, and put on music, and try to dance or enjoy the tasks, but I am too smart to fool myself.

I tried to hire a housekeeper a few years ago, but that didn’t last long. I hated giving my money to her – I felt guilty paying someone to do my job. I hated that she talked to me. I didn’t want to be her friend. And I started feeling guilty for leaving messes for her. I had enough guilt, so I have not asked her back.

And now I’m blogging about my messy house instead of cleaning it. I have so many avoidance tactics, just not funny.