Guest blog post: Danielle Raine on housework delegation
The lovely Danielle Raine, author of Housework Blues: A Survival Guide and Make Peace With Housework (we’re giving away 6 copies on the blog here) has spent years battling with the physical and emotional strain of housework and is on a one-woman mission to help domestically challenged women everywhere become one with their homes.
In the following guest blog post, exclusive to Home of the Houseproud, she explores delegating tasks to make your home life easier.
However much you love your home, and however much you enjoy taking care of it (or not, as the case may be…), there are bound to be days when housework is not top of your list of Fun Things To Do. But housework does not like to be ignored and will seek its revenge by rapidly multiplying. So, what is the best way to cope on the days when housework blues strike? Or even better, how can we reduce or even prevent Domestic Overload in the first place?
Time for a brief foray into the business world….
In any successful company, it’s very unlikely that one person will do all that needs to be done. All the best managers know that it makes perfect sense to get help. In this way, they not only get more done, but it gets done more efficiently and very often to a higher standard. No one person is struggling and juggling all the balls (and possibly dropping many of them). Delegation, it seems, is a happy route to success and accomplishment.
Well, why not use this principle within the home? Keeping a home is also a considerable managerial task and the same rules of human productivity apply. So, if you’re feeling swamped or disheartened by your workload, it may be time to call for reinforcements. Now you may be all for the idea of sharing your workload, yet not convinced that it is an option. But there is more than one way to avoid housework delegate. And if you take these steps, where possible, it will free up more time for you to cope with the work that can only be done by you. (Until your ship comes in and you can hire an army of maids…)
So, if you’re the CEO of your home and you’re up for lightening your domestic load, allow me to introduce…
5 easy ways to delegate some of the domestic stuff
This is the obvious one. It is also very effective, even if only on a psychological level. There is something very comforting about knowing that you’re not alone in the domestic battle, that you have someone on your side, even if only for a couple of hours a month. If you feel that your struggling on your own, knowing that you have a little bit of back up can provide a much-needed boost.
Of course, there is the financial impact to consider. Though if housework is beginning to effect your relationships (been there!), please bear in mind this fabulous book title which sums up the bigger picture quite nicely: A Housekeeper is Cheaper Than A Divorce. Depending on the severity of your housework blues, it may help to weigh up the costs as a justified investment in your family’s well-being.
Mouse power. The internet can be an amazing opportunity to offload some of your least favourite chores. The most obvious one is grocery shopping. Setting up a weekly or monthly shop may be quite time-consuming the first time you do it, but after that – just think of the hours you’ll save. Unless you particularly enjoy this aspect of housekeeping, delegating the weekly shop could reclaim precious hours that you would previously have spent in the supermarket. Plus no more heaving heavy bags from store to door, not to mention the reductions in fuel costs, parking hassles, back strain and those perfectly-timed toddler tantrums.
Compared to previous generations of homemakers – we have never had it so good! Not that long ago, whole days were devoted to laundry or baking. Our grandmothers would look at all the appliances at our disposal and consider us thoroughly spoilt. So why not take full advantage of this type of delegation? Making full use of your dishwasher can save you hours at the sink. Soupmakers. breadmakers, coffeemakers, slow cookers, steam ironing systems, robot mops and vacs – anything that reduces or eases your workload is a valuable investment in your day-to-day life. As they say in the business world, work smarter, not harder. By making the most of the technology available, you can put a serious dent in your housework schedule, simply by flicking a switch. So, if time, energy or inclination is lacking – set up your own small army of electronic helpers. Haul your housework into the technological age and put your appliances to work.
In business, it makes sense to utilise existing resources and the business of homemaking is no different. Children undoubtedly add to your workload (to put it mildly) but they do reach an age where they can and – in the interests of churning out considerate members of society - should, pitch in. Maria Montessori, founder of the brilliant Montessori Education System, claimed; ”You should never help a child with a task at which they feel they can succeed.” So, by encouraging children to take care of themselves and their home, you are instilling a sense of responsibility and independence that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives. (And their future spouses will be eternally gratefully!) Plus, making a contribution can be a real self-esteem boost, so your children may even feel happy and proud of their efforts. How’s that for smart delegation!
(NOTE: Children (like adults) work best when they can see some kind of tangible reward for their efforts. It’s a rare child that wants to hang their clothes up just because it’s the right thing to do. So reward charts (i.e., bribes) are a great idea, as is attaching pocket money to certain regular tasks, such as emptying the dishwasher or sorting the recycling. Obviously you will need to match the chores to your child’s age and ability – if it is too challenging, they will become discouraged.)
This is a tricky one because all relationships vary on who does what. What works for some may not work for all. The best way is usually the one both you and your partner are happy with (regardless politically correctness). However, it’s a good idea to clarify these terms within the relationship. If one partner thinks the housework is your sole responsibility, yet you feel differently, there is likely to be constant friction until this is resolved. Going through this process is valuable in terms of your relationship but it may also work a little magic on your workload. For example, you may find that your partner is happy to take on certain chores that you loathe or struggle with. It’s a yin yang thing. So why not open up the conversation with your partner? You may find that helping hands are closer than you expected.
So, there you have a few ideas to kick-start your delegation programme. There is even more magic at work here, though. Thanks to the way our brains work, once you start looking for ways to delegate and become more efficient in the home, you’ll find more and more opportunities to do so. What better reason to start now? There’s an old proverb that says; “Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.” So, cast an enquiring eye across your homekeeping timetable and look for the ways and means to relieve some of the pressure on you. Then all you need to do is work out how you’re going to spend all that lovely time off…