I am a SAHM to 4 children and a 5th on the way. I LOVE my job as a mother, but I could live without the rest of it.
Do any of you ladies have any advice on how to find motivation and fulfillment with the everyday cooking and cleaning. I loath it all, but I want so much to provide a clean home for my family and feed them well too. I just get so tired of the same thing day after day, such mindless, thankless chores.
I know that people often hate their work, but at least with a job you get sick days and weekends. No such luck for the house wife. How can I overcome this daily dread and accept my vocation with grace and joy?
No words need be exchanged. A strong embrace and a safe masculine shoulder to cry on may do wonders. When a man physically supports a woman while allowing her the freedom to feel, everything is changed yet nothing is different.
I don’t know that anyone can get fulfillment through cleaning. Maybe, if they are saint. For me, it was a necessary chore (still is). I enjoy the house once it is clean. So getting to the end point is satisfying. I used to clean one day a week, and put on my headphones and listen to Dr. Laura. For some reason, her show was just enough of an entertainment or distraction and maybe I got a little annoyed at some of her callers to keep me cleaning! (I clean best when I’m a little frustrated…when I start cleaning out of nowhere, hubby and I have probably had an argument!) iPods are great for cleaning! But not when you are a mom of little kids - you need to be able to hear any crashes or cries that might happen!
Feeding a family is similar, although I take pride in it, it can be routine to the point of being a chore. Food has to be obtained, stored, prepared and cooked. I get bored with cooking - I try new dishes every once in a while to try and keep my own interest up.
I imagine that you still have little kids, if you have 4 and one on the way. Your days will be filled with the same thing, over and over again, until they are old enough to be in school some of the day.
One thing you can make sure that you do, is to start training your kids to do chores NOW, as soon as they can toddle around, they can pick up toys, pretend to sweep and dust, etc. Make it fun for them. I used to throw a toy to each boy and they would race each other to put them away. They love competition. It got the job done. Keep it up, keep encouraging them and praising them when they help you. Once they get old enough to do a job completely, LET THEM even if it’s not done perfectly. Just don’t re-do what they do. Let them help you cook too. Teach them to take care of themselves.
It’s not just about you - the home is a training ground for the children to grow up and be taught in the way that they should go. And chores are part of life!
-Multi-tasking as much as possible.
Combine the harder chores with physical exercise. Combine them so that you work up a sweat.
-If you are doing something that is mindful drudgery then use an ipod or radio to keep your mind on something else.
-Beef up your imagination. Imagine yourself in scenarios where you are doing the same thing but in a more pleasurable setting. IE sometimes I imagine i am in a gothic mansion rather than my tiny apartment.
-Combine some chores with memory exercises. Get a book on mnemonics and then decide what you want to memorize.
-Keep a journal. Learn to write well. Frame your life in a way that seems exciting and beautiful. Find a way to make even the boringl days seem fun. Read your journal often and enjoy the work of art that is your life.
-Photography. Enjoy the small beauties of the day. A dinner well-plated. A freshly organized closet. Put these pictures in your journal.
Here’s a woman’s opinion. Yes, hugs help. Nevertheless, what really helps is when the strong safe masculine hands fill the dishwasher and makes the kids brush their teeth without wanting a medal for “helping.” It helps when he makes sure I have something to do that interests me, too, and not just the same routine all of the time.
I have a PhD, he has doctorates, too. He goes out and does interesting things that make money. I stay home, do SAHM stuff and, until recently, took care of his mother in our home. It isn’t easy, but we have decided that it is important for me to be where I am. When he does what I do once in awhile, the things that are neither glamorous nor mentally stimulating but still need to be done, that shows that he thinks that my work is worthwhile work, too. It makes his support more than lip service.
His job is our job, my job is our job, that is what helps me.
This is a little piece from Mother Angelica that I also like:
“Every work can be a holy work. Look at laundry for a minute. We are all in the cleaning business. Just like I cleanse my soul, I can use this mundane type of work to remind me that I am a work of purification. I can offer the laundry to God so that the clothes I wash are not only purified from dirt, but they may purify the soul who wears them or uses them.”
–from Mother Angelica’s Little Book of Life Lessons
I have had a similar meditation when cleaning windows for Easter, before I had read it. IOW, having a prayer life to root your work in really helps, too.
Ideas in echo of yours:
a) Books on tape from the library while you’re cleaning, for times when the kids are occupied. Use a walkman player and headphones. Even a bit a day helps keep your brain a little happier. Plus, books on tape can be interrupted without irritating you too much. If that doesn’t work, music you like or talk shows that the kids can listen to can help a lot.
b) Kids who know that your work is their work, family work. (Not that they always like it any more than we do.) If you’re training them to work, you’re accomplishing far more than if you do it all yourself. Even if it takes longer, it is worth it. The message that “I’m teaching you because knowing how to do this is worth knowing” comes back to your own ears, too!
c) Making double batches of meals that can be frozen, in order to give yourself a day off at some time in the future is good, too.
d) Do your hand work with raw meat before the kids enter their “arsenic hour”, so you can handle it with tongs or spatulas or the like when it is time to make dinner. That way, you don’t have to wash your hands eighteen times to break up arguments between 4 and 6 pm.
I had eight children, and the advice I would give is to have a sense of humor, and make sure that you have an evening off with some ladyfriends two or three times a month. I am thankful my husband encouraged this, and he was perfectly okay with staying home with the children for about 1 1/2 hours.
At that time it was Rosary Mothers, and Mother’s Club for me, each one time a month.
As for cleaning, you can offer it up while putting on a nice CD. It can be good exercise, and therapeutic as well!
You should tell your husband you need a break on the weekends for some alone time or just to take a nap. If you are pregnant it is even more important.
I have some friends where we get together during the week and we just sit and talk while the kids run around. Usually my house since it is bigger. We talk about whatever and sometimes we talk about the kids. It is a big destresser. Also we talk about worldevents, religion and whatever comes to mind.
You can try to spiritualize cleaning but really that seems silly. You just have to do what you can and that’s that. If you are pregnant you shouldn’t do as much. You husband should pitch in.
Figure out a way to spend time with him and be grownups. Romance and laughter can do wonders!
Wow. Yeah, I can well imagine that you’d be a bit burned out, what with 4 kids and carrying a 5th.
Do you have the ability to get out and join-say, a book club, the local gym, something like that, while your husband takes the kids? I’d try for something like that weekly. Couldn’t hurt, anyhow…perhaps there’s something at your church? I know my friend’s church offers a book club and a jazz night, they actually have someone play jazz and the members have coffee and fellowship.
I think “play dates” are nothing short of insane, but…hey. I’m a single mom of one boy, so what do I know? Perhaps if you get together with other moms who have kids in the same age bracket, that would help you?
I used to clean houses, and what I would do is play music or have talk radio on, something to distract myself from the mindless task. Oh, and there’s a trick to cleaning…you want to make it as easy on yourself as possible…get all your cleaning supplies together in a basket, and get you some cloth diapers…they are excellent cleaning cloths…do one room a day, something like that-there’s more tips to making cleaning really easy, but I’d be writing a book…I’m guessing you’d have to wash every day…what with 4 kids, your hubby, and yourself…perhaps you can manage to do that when the kids are down for a nap or something?
Would your husband help you?
Most do nowadays, you know…both my husbands did…we shared all the cleaning tasks…ALL of them…even cooking…
I am the world’s worst cook, so I can’t help you there…I’m butchering some potatoes for a salad and making bean soup…that my boy won’t touch with a 10 foot pole…so I’m hoping I can get him to eat potato salad and a sandwich for dinner. Yeah. I’m a mess like that. But I digress…
Oh, and yeah…are you able to have down time with your husband? Just the 2 of you? One of my co-workers has a weekly “date” night with her hubby, and nothing will cut into “date night”…that’s very important to them…
I wish I had other suggestions. I really can’t relate…I always worked, or went to school, one…so…I will be blunt, I think it takes a special person to be a stay-at-home mom. I couldn’t do it. I’d be in the loony bin. Yep.
EasterJoy, this may seem trivial, but the things I do not say I do not say. Brevity can be useful. Maybe JayLynn longs to feel [/FONT][FONT=Arial]Like a Woman that is appreciated. Absolutely, a man should and can help load the dishwasher. I sense something deeper, but being only a man, what do I know? I don’t have a PhD, so I will defer to your wisdom.
Come on! Yes your work whatever it is helps you get to heavan but most people are just trying to get by. No matter how much I try I still hate housecleaning. I do it but it is still house cleaning. My work in the home is my calling but that doesn’t mean I love mopping floors.
This poor woman needs some help. She is pregnant and has 4 other kids. There is a good chance she does not have time to read anything!
I did try to read that book but her spirituality while wonderful for many Catholics didn’t do much for me. St Phillip Neri speaks my spiritual language.
As for help. There may be older women (or for that matter young women) who can send casseroles. They’re not the fanciest thing but it will get by.
Go paper and plastic for the time being. Yes it’s “wasteful” but it’s not worth your sanity.
cerial and fruit for breakfast. Don’t do anything intensive. If the kids are hungry they will eat.
put those older kids to work! Everyone older than 4 should be doing something to their ability. They should know that they have to in general, pick up after themselves. They need to do basic stuff
a)in the bathroom. They should be whiping the sink after brushing their teeth. They should pick up bath towels and hang them.
b)they should pick up clothes and put them into general laundry piles…socks&undies…towels…light clothes…dark clothes/jeans. Getting bins may help.
c) toys that cannot be cared for go into the tupperware of doom. They don’t reappear for 2 weeks. At which time one can be released a day)
These are all things that I did myself as a nanny of 6 (3 teens, 2 young kids, 1 toddler) and that a mother just like you with four kids 10, 8, 5, 2 and one on the way does.
I think the most important is starting to enlist your children’s help and holding them, to it. It has to be supported by both you and your husband. I see it in the family that I help (the one with 4+1…) the mom and dad say (to the whining children) “Why do you think we have kids! To do all the icky chores!” And believe me…really pushing them to help out will make your life alot better.
Thank you all so much for your advice and replies.
Sometimes it just helps to vent and know you aren’t alone. My kids are 8, 5, 3 & 1 (plus the one arriving in May). I have been working on getting the older ones to pick up after themselves. I recently laid down some “house rules”, because I was going crazy and I’ll admit that I was letting them get away with too much. They are sweet little ones, but pretty messy too!
My husband isn’t opposed to helping, but he isn’t home very much and he works hard at his job, so I never want to add more work for him, especially since I am the one home all day. I get him to do the things that I can’t do, like house repairs and vehical maintenance. Or I get him to keep the kids busy while I get some cleaning or cooking done. I also ask that he at least be home to help put the kids to bed, because they give me much more grief then him. I’m just not scary enough, so when he isn’t home, they get up several times and I find an hour passes and they’re still up. I would say that is the biggest stress of the day, because that is the time when I need to get dinner dishes done and put my feet up and unwind a little before I go to bed myself. Usually also, it’s the time of day when my patience and energy have run out and I really need the quiet time.
I know I could do more, if I manage my time better, but I just feel so tired all the time and motivation does not come easily! Plus I find when I do start a job, I get so many interruptions, that I just never seem to complete anything and then I feel discouraged, because it looks like I’ve accomplished nothing, even though I’ve been at the same stupid task all day. I guess that is something I need to pray about. Like one poster said “it’s my daily cross to bare” and I should offer it up to Jesus. There are much worse things in life then housework, lol!!
(1) Have everything organized and easy to put away. If it takes up too much room, is bulky, or in the way, get rid of it.
(2) Get a mother’s helper. Advertise in your parish bulletin. I had a girl from our church help me with my little ones and it was a godsend. As the children got older, I got a housekeeper to help out. We ate beans and rice, and drove older cars, but it was worth it. It really is not that expensive. At first, my husband was opposed because he didn’t think we had the money (there is a misconception that only rich people have housekeepers), but we retooled our budget until we could make it work. It was the best thing I ever did. Our housekeeper was with us until the kids were in high school.