Mom-to-Mom Support/How do you divide up your housework?

How do you divide up your housework?

Young boy cheerfully vacuums floors


I would love for you to share with us on how you divide up your housework, mainly cleaning duties, among your children, yourself, and your husband, plus the time involved. Do you make up chore charts? I realize that your division of labor probably changes each year as your children move out and go on to college. We currently have a cleaning lady, but as explained in the next paragraph, we will be forced to let her go due to financial restraints. I don’t want to overburden my children with cleaning duty, but at the same time, they should be doing more than what they are doing.

Since I have started homeschooling several years ago, we were blessed to find a lovely lady from our parish who we hire twice a month to come in and do all our housecleaning. We’ve done this mainly for two reasons: First off, my husband and I always would end up in a fight and exhausted after we would do the cleaning. Secondly, by me homeschooling, I was finding it next to impossible to do the cleaning (even if husband & kids helped), and then have enough energy left for everything else – the homeschooling, tending to my special needs son, the cooking, the clothes washing, and on and on. However, we will be giving up our cleaning lady due to our extremely tight budget, as my husband’s job is no longer offering overtime.

Some of my friends have shared that they do just a little of cleaning per day, about 15 minutes. That way they are not overwhelmed or burned out by the daunting task of doing the whole house. I haven’t tried that method yet, since I am such a perfectionist, and I would hate not having the house all cleaned at once. We have four bedrooms and three full baths in addition to the kitchen, living room, and dining room.

I am praying for guidance on this issue, as it has been heavy on my heart for months now. God Bless You!

Dear Mom,

Isn’t it amazing how much our homes need tending to when we are busy with our children? Sometimes I think that the Tempter loves to niggle moms into thinking that keeping the house neat and presentable is an either/or situation. I know from my own perspective I go through seasons of personal growth with regard to the house and its needs.

I can remember when I began the journey of homeschooling it seemed that for me the cleanliness of our surroundings made it easier for me to stay focused and organized on the tasks of homeschooling. However, as the children became more “involved” and actively acquired the homeschooling lifestyle, it was apparent that keeping the house thoroughly presentable was not a doable priority. The children were loving each moment of the homeschooling lifestyle, and their activities and interests were taking a front seat in our daily efforts.

For example, just today I have been gone since mid-morning doing a 4-H competition in outdoor meat cookery. Our practice sessions were held at a neighbor’s farm. 14 children and their moms grilled meat and ate picnic style next to a lovely creek. With the temperatures in the 100’s, the cool, spring-fed creek was such an oasis for the children. We moms cooled our shared side dishes on the banks of the creek in the shallow waters while the 4-H-ers grilled all kinds of meat. I was gone until late in the afternoon. This evening, my husband is picking me up to go to Nashville to a prayer service centered upon the rosary and confession. The older girls have dashed out the house for lifeguarding, and the youngest daughter is about to leave to babysit for a homeschooling mom in the neighborhood. (This means that I have a choice to either put my feet up for a few minutes and have a glass of ice tea or do housework. Easy choice, heehee). What is the moral of the story?….My own house looks like a mild wreck. There are the remains of cooking from this morning, breakfast and last night’s dirty dishes stacked on the counter, the laundry has to be shoved aside to get through the laundry room and the floors need sweeping, the bathrooms need an overhaul, and the front room needs attention. I haven’t been upstairs in a week….I don’t even want to guess what it looks like. Yet I am so grateful and happy that we have spent this time together: the children with their friends and other moms for me. I know that in the grand scheme of things, all the domestic needs can be met at another time; but the joys of family and children can not wait. (The experience of today pretty much sums up how I feel about keeping house).

I would suggest that you find a balance that suits you. You are the one who must deal with your home and the situations that will unfold there. It is important that you find a peaceful way to manage the needs of homekeeping. I prefer to eliminate as much clutter and dustables as possible. I prefer a clean and open look. This goes for projects, etc. We have a “no projects” zone in our house. This is the kitchen table. It seems that in most all homeschooling households, every flat service is eventually covered with some project or another. The kitchen table stays clutter-free, so one can have a quiet cup of tea or just sit and think. I like the beds made in the morning and the laundry brought to the laundry room so that I can begin washing and hanging out our clothes early in the day before it gets too hot. I prefer to cook simple food focusing on fresh ingredients.

I think one of the greatest helps we have employed in our home has been to eliminate the television. I would be the worst offender if there were a television in this place. I am sure that I would find the spare hour or so to watch cooking shows and decorating shows.

You are a mom with a heart for your family and especially your lovely children. It seems as though the Lord has blessed you with a wonderful home. Think of the house as only a place. The real drama of a day’s work will take place in the hearts and minds of your dear children. They will not forget a mom who is patient and peaceful, a home that felt welcoming and cozy, the spirit of joy that permeates each room and the memories of play and learning. Find a spot for your family altar. Make this area of the home the priority as far as cleanliness is concerned. Give this area all the attention necessary to make it worthy to be called a family altar. When it is time for efforts in the evening, make sure that the room reserved for family prayer (the living room etc) is picked up and ready for all of you to gather and spend the next 30 minutes or so in prayer. Set a mood in your home that speaks loud and clear, “People are more important than things.”

You are a wonderful mom working to be a holy witness. Let the Lord empower and inspire you in His own way to foster your unique capabilities with regard to homekeeping. I admire you very much and am grateful that you wrote this letter. Thank you.

Let us pray a Hail Mary for all the children of the world that will go to bed this evening in poverty. Let us ask that the Holy Spirit empower and inspire their faithful and hardworking parents to continue their efforts to provide for their children. Let us ask the Lord to embrace these families and fill them with hope and strength as they struggle to care for one another against such challenges. Amen.

Sending out a prayer,
Rita Munn

About Rita Munn

Rita Munn is a veteran homeschool mother of ten. For many years she was a popular speaker at Catholic homeschooling conferences. Writing has been a passion of hers for as long as she can remember, and she loves to use her writing skills to share her homeschooling experience with other parents. Her “family journal” reflections are featured in CHC’s Educating for Eternity e-newsletter.