Working moms often feel the pressure to be doing it all. And sometimes, we do. We have weeks that we feel like a superhero with our home cooked family dinners. We have weeks where we are lucky if everyone makes it to the right place on time with their shoes. Most of the time when someone at works hears about my two under two situation they ask me how many days a week I have someone clean my house. While this is a staple for many moms (which I sometimes envy), we do not have a line item for cleaning help in our household budget. For many of my fellow working parents, outsourcing various things like house cleaners, dry cleaning, and meal planning kits is their “secret sauce” to success. In our house, financial literacy and budgeting are current priorities. Which means, during this season of littles, these outsourced items do not fit in our budget. Without outsourcing, the two strategies my husband and I count on the most are adjusting our expectations, and being creative. We may not do it all every week, but we do enough to keep everything running and still find joy in the mundane.
Adjusting our expectations.
Adjusting expectations during this season does not mean throwing out all expectations or letting your house run you. We adjust our expectations to allow for kindness for one another, finding joy in the small moments, and being intentional with our time. It starts with learning yourself really well, and then learning your partner equally as well. Once you have the self awareness, you can use that to fuel your expectations of yourself and each other. Instead of “doing it all” choose the things on the top of your list that have the most impact. For me, I know the weekly mundane things in our household that are important to me include clean floors throughout the main living areas, healthy food options for the kids, and family activities instead of screen time. The important items on my husband’s list look different but what matters is that I know what his important items are and he knows mine. Expectations are only as strong as the words used to communicate them regularly.
Once you are aware of the expectations (at least the current expectations) the creativity comes into play. The creativity looks different every week but it allows our house to fulfill (most) of our expectations while allowing for the spontaneity that is needed. Being creative allows us to do it all, within the expectations we set for ourselves which still allows for success. Hopefully some of the ways we creatively meet our expectations can be helpful to you as you build your routine!
Most weeks, I grocery shop at 8pm after my kids go to bed, usually on Friday. Sometimes the store is empty, which makes it quick and painless. I get everything I need for the week within budget and do not have little toddler hands in the cart. And frankly, I really do not enjoy grocery shopping on the weekend when it already feels short. The meat and produce looks just as good at 8pm on Friday as it does on Saturday morning.
I use the dishwasher at least once a day, to either unload, load, or both. I make sure that the dishwasher is always working for me in some capacity. Whether actively cleaning or storing my dishes, I make that dishwasher show up to work daily.
We buy our non-grocery items in bulk and everything else on Amazon. Bulk things like paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning supplies etc. makes for less running of errands. Amazon is the catch all for anything else I might need.
Use your crockpot and learn how to make a mean sandwich or salad. Meals do not always need to be elaborate, and sometimes do not even need to be heated up (hello, sandwiches). The important aspect for me is ensuring we have healthy meal options for our kids, and that they’re not hungry. The presentation is irrelevant.
Involve the littles.
Make cleaning a family activity, even at an early age. My oldest daughter is not even two, and could spend hours loading and unloading the washer and dryer. Instead of reserving cleaning time or feeling like you can never get it done with the kids around, make them part of it and limit the cleaning to a few small tasks at a time.
This one sounds silly, but take some time to do some interior decorating or house updates to feel good about where you come home to. Some of the things you did not accomplish that week seem to fluff off faster when you can appreciate the beautiful things around you. We recently re-did our half bath (on a budget!) and I love the custom sink and vanity. Choose something in your house you have been wanting to tackle and get excited to come home to your house.
Communicate, communicate again, and communicate more clearly. If you know ahead of time you will have a demanding week (big presentation at work, a personal conflict etc.) make sure everyone is aware. Work the conflict into your routine for the week to prevent any added stress.
Stop reserving a “time” for cleaning. Yes, I am calling out all the mamas who reserve a large chunk of time to get everything cleaned in your house. Outside of house guests or holidays (which I have additional thoughts on), you do not need to deep clean everything during your only free time (unless you want to.) Choose one small task to do each night before settling into social media scrolling or Netflix. When the weekend comes your cleaning to-do list will be fairly manageable.
Hopefully one or two of our strategies for managing a dual-career household with littles will simply your routine. I would love to hear what other mamas are doing successfully so please comment or reach out and let’s chat!
All the best,