If you struggle with home stress and overwhelm, you aren’t alone. For most people the never ending list of domestic labor is one of the first things that comes to mind when talking about stress. There’s simply too much to do, it never feels done, and honestly, it’s a thankless job. But let’s face it, there’s no avoiding it. These 5 simple tips will help you not only reduce home stress but will also help you lighten the load.
1. Stop Shoulding
How much of your todo list is occupied by things you think you “should” be doing? For most of us, it’s much more than we realized. Sometimes it’s because we were raised to think these tasks need to be done and other times we’re learning it from media, social media, or our community. But regardless of where we’ve picked up all these tasks one thing is for sure, we can’t help but believe that we’re failures if we’re not getting them done.
So often women in particular associate their worthiness and effectiveness as a partner and parent with the cleanliness of their home. They feel (and are judged) if it doesn’t meet an undefinable and unobtainable standard. So many women I talk to feel intense pressure about cleaning and feel embarrassed about or ashamed of the daily condition of their homes. They find it difficult if not impossible to relax or have company if their house isn’t exceptionally clean. And honestly, this home stress impacts their self-esteem and creates resentment in their marriage and family.
Understanding what really matters to you is essential in combatting this type of home stress. Start a list of all the things you’re doing to maintain your home big and small. Then thoroughly review this list and consider whether each item really matters to you. And if it does, how much does it matter. Does it matter more than the things you’re currently prioritizing it over? Do you need or want to do it as often as you do? Does it need to be done to the degree you’re doing it? Could someone else in your home take this over?
And, don’t forget to turn down the volume on the pressure. Unfollow social media accounts that create feelings of inadequacy and avoid inviting people over who are judgey about your space. Keep in mind that people tend to judge the things they personally feel insecure about. That means those most harshly judging your home are likely doing so because they feel inadequate in some way. This isn’t your problem to solve or accommodate. Live in the home YOU feel most comfortable in and stop doing the things you think you should.
2. Pitch Perfection
Spoiler alert, your house will never be perfect! As soon as you finish the laundry there will be more to do. Lint and pet hair will cling to your carpet. There will be cobwebs in corners and clutter in closets. Instead of focusing on perfection consider pitching this home stress and embracing comfort.
Home perfection is something I’ve always struggled with and I’ve found this requires a reframe. Instead of looking at the glass that’s out of place or feeling behind because there’s laundry in the hamper I remind myself of how important it is to me that my house feels like a home. Homes are filled with love and that means they have their messy bits. And in letting go of my expectations of a perfect home I’ve also been able to let go of my expectations of a perfect me (or maybe it’s the other way around). My house is a reflection of me and of my family. And, y’all, that might not be perfect but it’s just right for me.
3. Keep it Simple
When it comes to housekeeping we tend to think there’s a right way and a wrong way. And honestly, we overcomplicate things. All those products and tools that are supposed to make cleaning easier often just lead to more home stress. And all the things we keep in our house also add to the load. If you have a home filled with nick nacks, closets filled with clothes, and cabinets filled with cleaning supplies you’re much more likely to feel overwhelmed and stressed about keeping up with it all.
Before bringing new things into your home be mindful of the work it will take to maintain and use them. For example, fancy dishes need to be hand washed, cotton dresses need ironing, and decorative items need dusting. And you’ll need to figure out how to use all those cleaning products and store all those tools and supplies.
P.S. In busy seasons in your life you may find that simplifying even more is beneficial. To learn more about how to do this I highly recommend the book How to Keep House While Drowning by KC Davis along with her free guides and resources.
4. Share the Load
Everyone in your home can help. Ok… so maybe not your 2 year old but you know what I mean. The more people who live in a home the more that needs to be done to maintain it. But so frequently the work load falls primarily on one person and this home stress is too much to bare. Just because those who live in your house don’t see the mess or aren’t bothered by it doesn’t mean they can’t pitch in. And let me tell you, it’s likely they won’t see it. Wondering why? Head back up to tip #1 in this post for a hint. Remember how women are often associate their worthiness and effectiveness with how well they care for their homes. How we perceive, fear, and experience judgement regarding cleanliness? This is because we’re conditioned toward this basically from birth. Even in families that make a concerted effort to break gender rolls regarding domestic work it’s often modeled that the woman will carry more of the load (if not all of it). In addition, it’s often the woman in the house who assigns and follows up on chores. And your kids notice that mom runs around tidying before company comes over and they hear the comments that are only directed toward her about the mess. In all these ways and so many more young girls know they are expected to see and handle the mess and young boys simply don’t.
To address this (and break this cycle going forward) it’s important to make a list of everything that needs to be done to keep house or get the fair play cards. And once that list is made it needs to be divided in an equitable way. That doesn’t just mean that everyone has tasks but it also means they own those tasks. When it comes to kid chores a parent needs to be designated to teach, supervise, answer questions, etc and that parent isn’t always the maternal figure.
Oh… and stay at home moms, you might think this tip doesn’t apply to you but it absolutely does! Your partner doesn’t work 40 hours a week so you can work 24/7.
5. Celebrate Your Wins
One of the things that makes home stress so, well, stressful is that it feels never ending. And while there will always be things that need to be done (unless you don’t live there) that doesn’t mean you haven’t made any progress. Being mindful of our wins helps us stay motivated and just feels good. Try to include tidying something you can see, keep a tada list, show off your progress by sharing it on your social media or sending a pic to a friend. There are many ways to celebrate your wins. But the most important thing is that you take the time to feel good about your efforts even if you aren’t done. Because the truth is, you never will be but that doesn’t mean you can’t have peace and feel good about your home!
To learn more about how to care for your home will without all the stress, be sure to check out my Take Control of Your Home Course and Workbook offered free in Inner Circle.