Today’s Reader Question asks what my actual housewife routine looks like. It’s not the first time I’ve been asked this, and it probably won’t be the last.
I think many of us have a fascination with others’ daily routines. As someone with a number of creative projects going at all times, I’m fascinated by the routines of famous writers and other artistic types. The book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work is one I turn to repeatedly for inspiration as well as motivation.
Maybe we all hope that somehow, by reading about others’ routines, we’ll discover one that works perfectly for us. That seems to be the case with most of the emails I get asking about my housewife routine. Here’s the one I received today.
I’m a new wife and since losing my job I’m now a housewife. I really want to be good at it but there’s so much to do! We don’t have kids, yet I feel like I’m struggling more than some moms I know just trying to keep our house clean all the time. Your printable chore charts and all your explanations are helping, but I have to ask how you manage it. I always feel like it’s not right to stop cleaning until the house is finished but it’s NEVER finished.
How do you fit it all in on your schedule?
Karlie Is Going Krazy!
My Housewife Routine
Dear Karlie (and everyone else),
There is a world of difference between writing a blog about how to make housework easier and coming up with a workable housewife routine.
Like everyone else, I have high-energy days… and days when just changing TV channels seems like a lot of work. Add in a busy pre-teen who’s involved in a number of extra-curricular activities, two rambunctious cats, and a husband being treated for brain cancer, and there is NO WAY my house could be perfectly spotless even if I cleaned 24/7.
Nor should you expect yours to be that way, either! The goal of Housewife How-Tos is to empower you to do your housework based on the schedule you’re most comfortable with. I think sometimes we read words like “weekly cleaning routine” and think that means we absolutely must schedule living room cleaning on Mondays, for instance, bedroom cleanings on Tuesday, and so on.
That’s not how I work.
In fact, every time I’ve tried assigning specific chores to specific days, something has come up to derail my plans. The result? I get frustrated and blow it all off until the house is in such disarray that I can’t possibly tolerate it one more day. Plus, I feel like a failure.
I Work in Time Zones
My housewife routine involves “zones” of time. What I mean is, while I don’t necessarily do certain things on certain days, I do certain types of things around the same time each day.
Maybe it would be most straightforward to explain by giving you an example of my “typical” day.
7 AM-ish Wake up, drink coffee, make breakfast. While my son eats and gets ready for school, I do the kitchen part of the daily house tidy routine. I listen to music while I work — I like the mood it puts me in.
Morning: After the school run and any errands, I start some laundry, depending on what’s most urgent. Then I catch up on email, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for an hour or so. (Keeping up with Social Media is part of my job.)
Late Morning: Work. This time zone is my chance for uninterrupted creative tasks, whether that’s writing blog entries, developing recipes, staging food photos, or working on some of my other writing projects. I don’t check email or Social Media during this 3 to 4-hour period, and I don’t answer the phone unless it’s the school. It’s not the only time I work on these throughout the day, but it’s the only time I can do so without interruption.
Early afternoon: I make any necessary phone calls then get back to the daily cleaning routine. Switch the laundry. Eat lunch, outside on the deck if the weather is nice. Then it’s on to whatever weekly cleaning routine I’m doing that day. (I put my most important rooms earlier in the week.) If I happen to have a little extra time before I pick up my son, I’ll either catch up on whatever TV show I’m currently addicted to or I’ll read.
Late afternoon: Get my son from school, wrap up work projects while overseeing homework, and then make dinner. If there’s time while dinner cooks, I’ll do a few one-minute chores. I’m pretty adamant about eating dinner at 6:30 so I can get it out of the way.
Evening: Do my nightly kitchen routine, spend time with my husband and son, then take a bath. I’m in bed most nights by 9:30, although I usually read for a couple of hours. Hey, I love reading! The last thing I do is create the next day’s To Do list – errands to run, calls to return, what I’ll be cleaning, etc. That lets me empty my head so I can get a good night’s sleep.
Give Yourself Grace
Due to health issues, I have low-energy days when I do nothing at all and I refuse to feel guilty about it. Hey, people who work outside of the home get to take days off, so why can’t housewives? That’s where I sense a lot of frustration from people who ask about my personal schedule: they wear themselves out then feel bad about it.
The trick is, when you hit those low-energy days, don’t berate yourself. Give yourself permission to enjoy them. If a slew of low-energy days completely derails your life, that’s okay, too. It happens to ALL of us. (You think my house was spotless at any point the month after my husband’s surgery? Oh heck no.)
You can get back on track with my daily cleaning routine before deciding which rooms need more attention. Eventually, if you keep at it more often than not, it will all come together.
The Point of it All
Above all, remember this: your life is about more than just cleaning. Much, MUCH more, hopefully. So keep all of this housework in perspective. Do what needs to be done and then stop.
No one expects you to keep your house perfectly spotless every day. The goal is to make your home a comfortable, livable place not just for your husband, but for YOU as well. Housekeeping, like life, isn’t about being perfect — sometimes it’s just about being okay with just being.