Doing less at home

doing less at home

This post is part of a series called “doing less to build more.” Click here to read the other posts in this series.

As a newlywed, I felt I needed to master all things domestic. I considered my home a direct reflection of my femininity and godliness. When I found I didn’t excel at decorating, cooking or cleaning, I felt a little bit like a failure.

This is meant to be a more practical post, so I’ll try not to go too deep here, but I think it’s important that I say this:

Your home is not your identity. The state of your home and the quality of your meals does not make you a good (or bad) wife. Your value is so much more.

Keeping a house is work, and it has to be learned just like any other skill. Some people take great joy in the time they spend making their homes. If that’s you, check out the book my friend Anne wrote about today! It looks beautiful.

Me? I’m aiming for competent. I want to be efficient, capable and peaceful in my approach. When I tried to live up to my preconceived notions of perfection, I was frustrated and anxious. So no more perfect. Just solid, B minus level housekeeping.

Here are a few ways I achieve competency and make the most of my time:

I enlist Mike’s help. My newlywed idealism and his exhausting workload for most of our marriage means that I’ve done almost everything to keep the household running. We are in a transitional season right now where we are establishing new patterns.

I used to feel like a failure if I asked for help with household stuff. Man am I glad I let that go! Mike is a great cook, and a lot faster at many household chores.

I listen to a podcast or watch a show while I do dishes. I’ve (almost) tricked myself into looking forward to dishes.

When company comes, I wait until the last minute to clean house. It can get a little stressful, but it’s easy for me to dawdle and space out while I’m decluttering and dusting. If I have limited time, I’m much more efficient. It also helps me practice one of my favorite phrases:

“Done is better than perfect.”

I use my crock pot.

I grocery shop all at once. This one’s more aspirational, because I usually end up stopping at the store midweek, but I try to only go once a week. If you think about it, most of the grocery shopping overhead is driving there, driving home, and unloading. Picking up a few extra items in the store so you can go longer between trips is a huge time saver.

I also tend to spend less that way, because when my cart starts filling up, I get more judicious about what I throw in. When I’m just picking up “a few things” it’s easier to impulsively buy that bag of peanut butter pretzels. The more smaller trips I make, the more likely I am to go over budget.

When it’s not cleaning time, I ignore the mess. Some people thrive on 15 minute bursts where they tackle one small job every day. Not me. My tendencies toward “all or nothing” make it very difficult to go in and out of cleaning mode.

I’d rather go all out and clean for a longer time and then not think about it for a week. I work at home, and house work can be a procrastination haven. It’s important that I see the sink full of dishes, get my glass of water and go back to my desk.

To tie it back in with the 31 days theme of doing less to build more: doing less at home, or doing it more efficiently, leaves more time to invest in relationships, your health and leisure time.

How do you “do less” at home? Or do you intentionally do more because you enjoy it?

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10 thoughts on “Doing less at home

  1. I enjoy having a home that looks nice, but I don’t enjoy doing the work to get it there… and my husband could truly care less how it looks so he puts no effort in to keeping things picked up and looking nice. It’s a source of great frustration for me! I’ve gone on and off the Flylady system, but it’s just SO MUCH WORK. Is it this hard for everyone to keep their house tidy, or is it just me? It seems like stuff just piles up overnight. Makes me craaazzeee!

    1. You are not the only one! I can imagine that it only piles up faster with children in the house. I try to just have subjective awareness and ignore the mess when it’s not cleaning time so that I don’t get frustrated. :)

  2. Love this. I definitely started out the same way as you when I first go married but now I’m definitely over it. I listen to podcasts while doing dishes/cooking too!

      1. I love this American Life and Radiolab. I also enjoy the online seminary courses at covenant theological seminary (they’re free!) and sermons by my favorite pastors. How about you?

  3. I, too, am an “all or nothing” cleaner. In fact, I need to be cleaning my house right now instead of reading these posts, but the bathrooms can wait because what I’m gaining by reading your words right now is way better than a sparkling sink!

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