Moms these days do less housework than our grandmothers did, but we still do a lot. According to one government study, even moms who work full-time spend more than 14 hours a week on cleaning, food prep, laundry and other chores. That’s like a part-time second job. And that’s before we even get to kid chores like changing diapers!
But housework doesn’t have to consume valuable time when you could be doing something more fun. We all have 168 hours each week. Ever hear about productivity guru Tim Ferriss’s book, The 4-Hour Work Week? Well, here are 10 tips for achieving that grand idea, at least on the housework front:
Lower Your Standards
Much housework does not need to be done. The playroom will just get dirty again. No one cares if the spines on your books align. Try this thought exercise: If you disappeared, would your husband ever do the chore you’re about to do? If not, ask whether you should do it either.
On that front, try not emptying the dishwasher for a while, and see how long it takes for another family member to step up to the plate. Fortitude! You can outlast them. Or you can start using Dixie cups.
School lunch. At least a few times a week.
Order groceries (and diapers) online. Your time is worth the delivery fee. Even if you don’t live in a big city where you can order fresh goods, you can have cereals, pasta, canned goods and other nonperishable items shipped (Check out netgrocer.com and amazon.com/grocery).
Don’t Over-think Dinner.
A lean protein, a fruit or veggie and a whole grain makes a respectable meal. Examples: spaghetti with tomato sauce and Italian sausage, mushroom omelet and toast, pork chops with peaches and instant rice, chicken breasts with asparagus and instant couscous. Throw in a marinade or sauce and you’re good to go. Spend your time enjoying dinner, not cooking it.
Lessen the Load
Buy enough socks and underwear so you can go 2 weeks between laundry loads, and try re-wearing things like jeans and exercise clothes. Why do you care if you smell at the start of your workout if you’ll just smell more later?
Buy outfits straight off the store mannequin. These have been professionally styled and save you the time of figuring out what works together.
Check if your dry cleaner will also do laundry (this can be anywhere from $.50-$1.50/lb depending on where you live and whether the dry cleaner delivers).
Own Less Stuff
More stuff just has to be picked up. As a corollary, live in a smaller house. A bigger house just takes more time to clean (or money, if you’re hiring a service).
Keep bins in each room for stashing toys that wind up there. Yes, you’ll lose toys this way, but when you find them again two months later, your kids will think they’re brand new!
Laura Vanderkam’s new book, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think (Portfolio) is in stores this month. Visit her website, www.my168hours.com for more. See Resources for links.