I don’t need to do it all

Evenings used to be so stressful.

I’m frantically packing up the leftovers, doing the dishes, wiping down the kitchen, sweeping, and chasing the kids up to showers late on a daily basis.

Sure, I don’t have to scrub down the kitchen each night, but I like waking up to a clean kitchen, even if the rest of the house is a total disaster. There’s something about having dishes piled high and all the counters covered in crap and crumbs all over the floor sticking to my feet that just makes my anxiety levels sky rocket.

Sure, I could wait until the kids are in bed to do it, but that means I’m spending what little free time I have to myself doing more housework. Nope!

That means cleaning the kitchen each night is really non-negotiable.

It suddenly dawned on me, while I was breaking up arguments and washing dishes- why am I doing this alone? Yeah, I’m slow.

I always preach to my kids that we are a team when it comes to maintaining this house. Mommy is not the maid. If you are a part of this family, then you need to work equally.

I divided up my kitchen chores. Yeah, it’s not done perfectly anymore. My organized Tupperware drawer is a disaster- but it’s all in there. There are still crumbs. But they are learning. And I can start to step back instead of wishing I could clone myself to get it all done.

It doesn’t help my kids for me to do it all. I don’t want them going off to college and have no idea how a washing machine works (which is scarily a common problem!)

I don’t know why I always default to “I alone have to do all the things” but it’s not good for anyone. It’s not good for my stress levels. It’s not helping the kids to eventually become functional adults. So why do I do this to myself over and over?

My 6-year-old clears the table. She helps my 9-year-old unload the dishwasher, as well as take out the trash and recycling. The 9-year-old wipes down all the counters and tables. The 11-year-old loads the dishwasher and washes the hand wash items. She sweeps the floor while the 9-year-old wipes out the sink. My evenings may have more griping but they certainly run much more smoothly.

I’ve also told my oldest that she’s now in charge of her own laundry. She has her own laundry sorter in her room and if she runs out of clean socks, that’s no longer my problem. So far she’s enjoying this responsibility but I know the novelty will wear off quickly.

I feel like I learn this lesson over and over and over again. Maybe this time it will stick. No, the kids aren’t happy about this all but we do plenty of things that aren’t fun that are good for them (vaccines, visits to the dentist, wearing seatbelts, eating vegetables) so why should learning housework be any different?

Jen Snyder, family photographer

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