I heard something very interesting today. His (the speaker’s) mother once told him, “This is a home, not a hotel. I’m your mother, not housekeeping”.
I think this is a wonderful way to have “housework boundaries”.
I personally love cleaning. Any excuse to clean but that doesn’t mean I am willing to pick up after my grown up children. I have housework boundaries that I have set.
As the primary homemaker (mother, father or partner and even those taking care of the elderly) we take it upon ourself to do everything, then we complain that housework is never ending and we are overwhelmed. This is because we have not created housework boundaries.
You take take it upon yourself to be a homemaker but that doesn’t make you a slave to others.
There have to be clear rules on what you will do and won’t do in a day.
Let’s look at some of the tasks we do and the boundaries we can set.
1. Common household chores
Fair! This includes washing up after cooking, doing the laundry, tidying the general spaces and cleaning the floors.
Please curtail this to common spaces only. Personal spaces are best left to the individuals, unless they are very young.
2. Accidents and spills
These are unexpected tasks of cleaning which no one has scheduled for, yet it needs doing. No one wants to have any sort of an accident but if anyone does, they will need to take the responsibility.
You can choose to help, to instruct and advise or simply leave it to someone else.
Your chosen action may be different depending on the mess in hand, but have clear lines so no one feels differentiated.
3. Dirty dishes, messy room or bathroom
Ideally, each person should pick up after themselves. This includes washing their dishes, making their beds, emptying their trash, keeping bathrooms stain and gunk free and putting away their own laundry.
I’m sorry but unless it is a one off favour, I will not be doing it! If I have to do it, there will be consequences.
Sure, I’ll cook but if you choose not to eat it, fend for yourself.
Cooking individually for everyone is not a prerequisite.
I would be willing to go as far as prepping some ingredients which you can use but no more than that.
There are two outcomes, there will learn to eat what’s cooked or they will probably get some fast food. Eventually, they will eat what’s cooked or learn to cook. Both are great life skills.
While you do a load a day, it can be said that any additional steps required like soaking or ironing are not the homemaker’s responsibility though many chose to this as they have a “system”.
Nonetheless, even if you do this, have boundaries like where the laundry needs to be placed and that they need to put away their own clothes.
6. Heavier work
If there is a task beyond your physical capability, you should ask for help. The family should be willing to help when needed or asked.
On your side, be respectful of their schedule and ability when requesting help.
7. Tasks that don’t require your personal attention
There are many tasks that are stand alone ie. taking out the trash, changing bulbs, bathing pets and such.
These are basically the easiest tasks to delegate.
My advice is to set a minimum standards and delegate the task. Don’t hover, complain or re-do the task.
Let me know what your boundaries are. Mine are very clear!