Fact: I had absolutely no idea how truly tiring being a housewife could be, until I actually became one.
Over the last few years, after I decided that I was done working full time, I’ve been sort of a housewife. I say sort of because we were living with my parents then, meaning I wasn’t the head housewife of the household. My mom was.
As junior housewife, I had far less tasks and chores to complete. I had nothing to do with the household budget. I could afford not to cook or shop for groceries when I didn’t feel like it, since I had my mom to count on when laziness (or busy-ness) would strike.
Obviously, since we moved to a home of our own, I’ve started wearing a bigger crown on my pretty little head (yes, I just called myself pretty,) as I now assume the role of lead housewife. Actually, make that, the only housewife in our household.
I now understand why, when we were being difficult growing up, my mom would sometimes break down and angrily tell us that she is our mother and not our maid.
I get it because I now also notice every bit of dust on the wall, every water stain on the flatware, and every splatter of oil on the stove.
I know now how frustrating it feels to want to do so many things in a day, but not be able to because you simply lack time or energy, or both. As a former office mate of mine used to say, hindi kaya ng katawang-lupa ko! (Translation: My earthly body cannot handle it.)
Housewifing ain’t easy! The trick, I have come to realize, is to be smart about things, to find a strategy that works, and to stick with it. You also have to be adaptable, though, able to think on your feet and come up with plans B to G as fast as possible, whenever necessary.
I’m certainly no expert, but I’ve been able to find a few things that have worked for me over my first few weeks of being the queen of this (messy but happy) house. And here they are.
Mrs C’s practical tips for the newbie housewife
1. When in doubt, throw it out.
I believe that this is a very, very, very important rule. This goes for:
- Questionable food in the fridge and in the pantry
- Storage containers that have seen better days (meaning those that are stained or already smell funky)
- Old toys that no longer work
- Old bills and receipts, and other random pieces of paper you may have lying around
- Housewarming gifts that you do not absolutely love (you can re-gift or re-purpose these)
- Ratty underwear (I’m serious, and I am speaking from experience)
In other words, de-clutter. It can be so tempting to hold on to everything, especially if your current space is bigger than your old one. Believe me when I say that the last thing you want is to start building meaningless piles of random things. I think my husband would be truly proud of me for saying that.
2. Choose to clean a little at a time or all at once
Some people prefer to go on all-out cleaning sprees, while some find it is better to clean a little at a time. The point is to make it a point to clean. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it.
I am lucky that I have a husband who likes cleaning. I recently got him hooked on the wonderful smell of Pine-Sol Lavender, and this has encouraged him even more to keep our house spic and span. Since he works, he only gets to go on cleaning sprees on weekends. This means that I am responsible for our space for the rest of the week.
I try to help out by throwing wrappers and scratch paper I see lying around, doing dishes, and sweeping the floors once in a while. At times, it really doesn’t feel like much. But I tried not sweeping for a week (yes, gross, I know), and now I know for sure that doing it every other day does make a difference, and that my small efforts are worth something.
3. Plan your meals
Fortunately for me (and for the two boys I need to feed) this is a task that I actually enjoy. I find that meal planning is so relaxing. I love knowing exactly what I need when I go to the store. I like the predictability of having a set plan for dinner. At the same time, I’m not afraid to mix things up and experiment every once in a while.
I love being in the kitchen, from conceptualizing our dinners, to preparing and serving them. Cleanup, well, I leave that to MrC. Which leads me to…
4. Work out a system with the people in your household
If you are crazy enough to brave it without house help, make sure that you enlist the participation of the people at home so that you don’t go nuts trying to do everything yourself. Like I said, MrC is in charge of keeping things clean. He is also iron man. I take care of laundry, food, shopping and driver duties.
Little MrC is slowly being encouraged to help out. He sets the table, brings used plates and utensils to the kitchen sink, puts away his laundry, and fixes his room (sometimes.)
5. Make the most out of your time
I usually organize my tasks and chores weekly. I set blocks of time for me to accomplish each, and I move things around as needed.
There are weeks when I am unable to complete all of my laundry loads. There are days when, instead of the four hours I’ve set, I end up working on an article for almost an entire day. It happens. It’s okay. You just have to learn to adjust whenever necessary.
Also, find time for yourself. Yes, it makes me feel a little guilty when I choose to sit and enjoy a glass of homemade iced tea and a TV show for 30 minutes when I know that I have a basket of laundry waiting to be washed. But I need the me-time, otherwise I will burn out.
You need the me-time to. Yes, you. So go get some.
I. Cannot. Stress. This. Enough. Sleep is gold. It is so tempting to forego sleep, especially when you are a multitasking momma, but really, we all need to get enough rest if we want to stay healthy and alert.
I am so used to getting 8-9 hours of sleep a day, so now that I’ve had to cut down to 6-7 hours, I find myself on mombie mode more often. That’s where coffee comes in. I make up for it on weekends, though. On Sundays, in particular, I allow myself to sleep in as much as I can. So please don’t bother me on Sunday mornings.
7. Make like Elsa and let it go
Of course we dream of having it all – The immaculately clean, perfectly decorated house. The almost-gourmet home cooked meals. The shiny happy family relaxing at home. The perfect hair and manicured nails. Hey, a girl can dream.
But seriously, if you wanna stay happy, you have to let go of some of these things. I’ve learned to accept the fact that our house will always be a little bit dusty. On some days, it’s a lot dusty. But we are happy here. We are building memories together in this house. So I don’t mind the dust.
I’ve also given up on getting a manicure and having my hair done. I’m saving that for a special occasion. It doesn’t matter anyway, as long as I know that my husband still thinks I’m pretty. Which I know he does. And on days when he doesn’t, I know my son still thinks I look lovely. Yes, I just called myself pretty again.
Whenever you feel like something isn’t going the way you want it to, step back, let go, and enjoy the things that are going right. You’ll feel more content, and a lot happier. Trust me.
So there you go. That’s where I’ve been these past two months, trying to figure all of this out. Now that I kind of have my groove back, I think I’m ready to start writing again. Yay! More stories soon!
What are your practical tips for surviving the housewife life?