When you are no longer chased by a parent to get your chores done, the never-ending tasks at home can seem daunting. They drain your energy and enjoyment of your home.
However, I believe that you don’t need to give up your career and be a stay at home wife or mom in order to keep the home clean and functioning well. Nor do you need to spend tons of money on getting professional help or fancy gadgets. There are simple strategies to make your home life a much more relaxed and enjoyable one. You can learn how to break down, simplify, and automate these mundane but life-sustaining tasks in the home. You too can have a clean and organized home, home cooked food, and no worries about being a slave to your home. Just like me, I believe you can get all your tasks done and still have time and energy to enjoy your life. This is what I will be sharing with you on this blog.
My humble and unorganized beginnings
A long time ago, my idea of cleaning up was simply to shove things into bags and throw them into the closet. (I’m not joking!) My idea of cooking was spending sometimes hours in the kitchen for one meal and then being too exhausted to clean it all up. Life seemed to be way too complex and stressful, and it only got worse with time.
When I first left the structured world of high school, I felt freedom and yet also a sense of panic. I loved not being in school 9am-3pm but the freedom that a flexible university schedule provided threw me into chaos, especially when the first exams came around. Since I didn’t have a structure for meal prep, I always ran out of time to make food at home and ended up eating out most days. Finding clothes that weren’t wrinkled or dirty was a morning ritual. And forget about self-care and time to relax. It was always “go, go, go”.
A teacher’s life
Once I finished university and started working as a teacher, the problems only got worse. I would work long hours (sometimes being at the school for 12 hours at a time!), come home and feel like I’m drowning in chores, having nothing to eat (unless someone cooked), no structure at all. This constant stress, feeling like I am always running behind, not getting proper nourishment needed, led me to burnout, along with depression and anxiety. I no longer had any enjoyment in life and just wanted to give up on life altogether. Adulting at that point was simply too difficult.
From overwhelm to victory
I knew something had to change and I knew that other people were able to keep it all together, despite having way more responsibilities than I had. When I got married to my awesome husband, I wanted to start our life together well. So, I started to reflect on what in my past had given me success with conquering the tasks at home. Once I got that, I started to put that into systems. What were some of those good habits growing up?
Habits at home while growing up
As a kid I was of course taught by my parents the importance of cleaning and keeping my room clean. I was lucky enough to have parents who were laid back enough to let me experiment in the kitchen and learn to cook some simple meals. However, our home was never super organized – the space nor our schedules. It always felt like we were playing catch up with the chores in the home and our lives in general.
A library book that changed it all
Unfortunately, I forget the name of the book now, but one line still sticks with me:
“Anyone can have an organized home.”
Inspired, I got to work. For weeks after reading that book I dumped out whole closets full of clothes and practiced the now famous Konmari folding technique. It was super frustrating at first, but with practice, over time the techniques became second nature. Now, I can fold with my eyes closed or listening to a podcast and letting my mind wander.
Later on, I learned how to clean efficiently through a family cleaning business, where I learned on the job efficient cleaning techniques. Once I had the right tools and techniques, it was so much easier to actually get work done.
My big aha moment
As a teacher, I learned the importance of ROUTINES. My teacher friends here understand the daily struggle, but let me illustrate. For my first year of teaching I had a grade 8 classroom, teaching them 5 different subjects in French. As a fresh graduate, I was brimming with all of the revolutionary teaching ideas but was pressured by all the other expectations of classroom management, record keeping, parent meetings, lesson planning, and report cards. Before coming up with a routine, I would arrive to class every day reinventing the structure of the day. What I was doing though was putting way more pressure on myself than necessary.
I finally caved and created a routine. Instead of always having to depend on me to tell them what to do, we established a routine. My students knew what they had to do and got straight to work. This of course gave me more time to deal with the most urgent cases and be a more efficient and calm teacher.
I’m willing to bet that you are doing the same thing in your life. Everyday you are approaching as if it’s brand new. However, making a new plan for every day is tiring for the mind. I’ve learned that the mind loves routines and once given a routine, can function without your help, just like my students. The more things you delegate to a routine, the more you can free up your mind for dealing with more important and interesting things.
A plan to battle overwhelm
The next phase after setting a routine is reinforcing it until it becomes a habit. This way it will take no effort whatsoever. I remember taking the bus and subway to school. It was a routine that I repeated throughout many years. I remember when I first started taking the transit it was so hard and required my attention – where I’m going and when. However, with time, I was able to drift off into thought even while changing buses and snap back to reality when I was almost home.
I realized the same can be done for any routine. As long as we practice it long enough, we can make it a habit that requires no mental effort. I began to apply this to areas where I was getting overwhelmed: cleaning, cooking, planning lessons, and more. I developed a routine and then simply got to doing the actions. The overwhelm? Still sometimes there. However, the daily panic that was my life before is no longer there. I finally am enjoying my home and feel in control.
If you’ve read up until this point, bravo and thank you. If you skipped ahead to the bottom, hey! My name is Alisa and I overcame overwhelm in my life at home through simplifying tasks into routines. Then through practice, I made those routines into habits. That is what I want to share with you through the blog, the newsletters, and on Instagram.
I am so glad you found your way here and I would love to stay in touch. If any of this resonated with you, drop your name and email below to get weekly letters with tips and encouragement to simplify your life at home.