“Best practices” that aren’t best for me.

When I left my full-time teaching job to be a full-time at home mom, I did my research. I started on mommy message boards, which added very little to my life beyond paranoia, feelings of inadequacy, and PTSD-style flashbacks to high school mean girls.

Then I discovered mommy blogs, which made my head spin with their conflicting wisdom. Their advice ranged from, “Go ahead! Live in filth and chaos!” to “Only bad moms use cribs,” and “Chicken nuggets are poison,” “How I potty-trained my 8-month-old,” and “Sex is for suckers: 6 ways to shut down your husband.”

Obviously I jest, as none of the above titles are linked to actual articles, but if you’ve ever read a Mommy Blog, I think you get my point.

But, there were also the moms who were humble and humorous, who recognized the nearly endless list of good ways to raise a child, who neither made “mom-ing” a competitive sport nor tried to squeeze it into a restrictive box. Motherhood was a season to be lived to the best of our abilities in a world that often seems to have turned on its head since our own moms were actively mothering us. (And that’s for those of us lucky enough to have good moms.) Luckily these lovely women shared their nuggets of wisdom. For free! (Sometimes.)

Do you know how many resources there are for mothers, wives, and homemakers? There are books and ebooks, workbooks, ecourses, and conferences. Should you choose, you could pursue your Ph.D. in Motherhood with minors in Slow-Cooker Meals and Backyard Homesteading. And my Clifton StrengthsFinder strength is Input, so I was addicted to absorbing all the information that I could. I adopted new habits and routines, lifehacks, experimented with gross recipes, and generally became a boss. Or as much of a boss as possible when there’s still only 24 hours in a day and a million things to do, and you still enjoy television and sleep.

Still, there are some of these “best practices” which I can no longer abide. I have no doubt that they are working well for thousands of women across America at this very moment – streamlining chores and creating family peace and harmony. But I just can’t any more and I’m done pretending. I’m not sure if it’s my goldfish attention span or sprinter work style, but enough! I’ve moved on and I think you should, too! (If you want to. Or maybe you should adopt these habits instead, if you have, say, a healthy attention span and can manage your time well. I hear they work for thousands of women!)

So here we go:

I absolutely refuse, I mean REFUSE, to do one load of laundry every day. I won’t do it and you can’t make me!

When I first stumbled on this tip, it sounded like so much sense. Yes! If I just did one single load every day, I’d never be behind! I wouldn’t be buried under this mountain of dirty underthings because one load per day is so manageable! And simple! How had this never occurred to me?

Because it’s a sham! Here’s the thing – if you only do one load every day YOU ARE NEVER DONE. Laundry already never ends. But it really doesn’t end if you can’t at the very least enjoy those five minutes every month week where everything is clean, folded, and in the correct drawer. Personally, I need that small, temporary victory. It’s the fuel that keeps me running. When I was doing one load a day, all I really had was dirty piles of socks and underwear.

I will no longer tidy up for ten minutes everyday. This is a total wasted effort, appreciated by no one. If I wanted to waste 10 minutes of my life I would just watch YouTube videos of goats.

When I’m in a “mood,” a.k.a., I want to get “organized” I write in my planner to “tidy up” for 10 minutes every night, which is supposed to mean my kids tidy up their stuff for those 10 minutes while I pack my work bag and wash the dishes. I think we all know this song and dance.

Tack on an additional 10 minutes of whining and feet dragging before any sort of tidy up begins. Then add another 10 minutes to the end, because you spent the allocated tidy up time helping the one who was “too tired” to clean up all her Barbies and “doesn’t remember” where the dress up bin is, so you will clear your own desk and any leftover dishes later. This entire ordeal is going to eat up at least 30 minutes of your day. Multiply that by 7 days. I’m extremely confident that you can “tidy up” you entire house in under three-and-a-half hours one day a week. Yeah, it’s going to be messy the rest of the week, but let’s be honest: If you live with children, it certainly wasn’t going to be clean anyway.

 

These points are not the random rantings of a tired, crazy lady. They are the time-tested conclusions of a tired, crazy lady. Please, please, please, if your brain works even the slightest bit like mine, forget what the “experts” say. Cram your chores into one day! It will feel dangerous and forbidden at first. You may even hear the little voice that lies to you that only hot disorganized messes don’t keep up with the laundry! But don’t buy into it! You’ve done the math and got this figured out! You, my friend, are going to defy the odds, buy back some time, and feel the exhilaration of five minutes without dirty laundry every. single. month week.

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