Whether it’s the Depressive spiral I fell into after my miscarriage in June of last year, or the fact that I recently found out there is a high likelihood that I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome… Occasionally, I talk about my health problems; I’ve always been open about them- sometimes more than really necessary. And when those discussions come around, the discussion about how these things don’t make you less of a Housewife often appears alongside them- and with good reason.
Being a Homemaker isn’t easy; even in a modern, technologically advanced society a House doesn’t run or maintain itself. There are still a number of tasks that need to be done daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly to make sure that our homes are the welcoming, nurturing safe havens that we need (or want) them to be. And sure, with the right time management skills and routine it’s usually not the back breaking labor that it was for some of our predecessors. But that doesn’t mean it’s truly any easier.
As a result, I have always advocated taking time out for yourself. Not only twice weekly (once for you, and once for your spouse) in order to prevent burnout and take care of your own needs… But also every now and then when you can’t keep going and really just need a break from it all. After all, our Spouses get paid vacations… We can be free of our own duties and let the housework go at least a week (or more if necessary), too.
But sometimes it isn’t a matter of burnout. Sometimes it’s a matter of health- specifically, our Mental Health… And if there is one thing that I learned during my own spiral down the rabbit hole last year? It’s that sometimes not taking a break is the better way to help yourself. Before you go running for the brooms and dusters and working yourself into a frenzy (or go throwing your hands up and screeching about how I expect you to do it all even when sick), however? It’s not exactly the way it sounds.
Our environments often have significant emotional impacts on us. It’s only right that they do, after all, when a large part of our job is to create an environment that does so in a positive way. Yet sometimes that impact can be negative- most notably when our Mental Health is suffering; when the dishes have gone for two weeks, but the thought of tackling the ever growing pile is so daunting that you convince yourself to let them set a little longer. You’ll get to them tomorrow, you tell yourself. Tomorrow, you’ll have more energy.
But for a lot of us, “tomorrow” becomes “just a little longer”- and “just a little longer” often becomes much longer than intended. It’s the procrastinator’s conundrum, and the result of that is all too often a decrease in our already suffering mental health; a downward spiral. As a result, the dishes pile up to the point where we no longer have the wherewithal to do even a single load. And the thought of tackling them? Well, that brings on thoughts of all the other Housework you’ve neglected over time. Eventually, maybe, you wonder “what’s the point”? There’s no emotion left, only feelings of sadness and failure- and maybe even embarrassment.
If you are lucky, like me, you have a Spouse willing to lend some elbow grease of their own to tackling the issue. If you’re unlucky, like me, your Spouse might not have the energy to do so because he’s overworked at his own job… But the realization that I came to last year, is that it doesn’t look that bad if you simply turn your sights to something else.
What I’m talking about is something achievable, but which makes a significant impact on how your home feels. These are things I’ve taken to calling essential chores in the last few months since I discovered them… For me, these were acts such as sweeping my floor, straightening the accumulating stacks of paper lying around into nice piles, making the bed, cleaning the litter boxes, and turning on the Wax Melter; they were such small things, but they were achievable and they made my home feel clean even if it really, really wasn’t.
What is perhaps the most surprising, though, is that even though they were such small acts? They (along with upping my Iron intake) were absolutely instrumental to pulling me out of that rabbit hole that I fell down; I didn’t feel overwhelmed anymore. Sure, I still looked at the dishes and groaned in dismay- and I still haven’t tackled them… But the thought of the piles of Housework was somehow less daunting than it had been. Instead, suddenly my house was clean and all I had to do was maintenance, even if that wasn’t actually the reality.
So I encourage everyone to find what those essential chores are for them… And when you feel that spiral starting? Find the gumption to do them (and only them) anyways. Because sometimes a break isn’t the best option… Sometimes “me time” isn’t the right course of action… Sometimes, just sometimes, what we really need to do is to just keep cleaning– if for nothing else but the preservation of our own Sanity.