If you work, you already know it can be incredibly difficult to manage a home and a job. Here’s how to do it!
Reader question: I am a full-time teacher and a young wife. My husband and I don’t have children yet but we are hoping to someday, Lord willing. Before you had children, did you work full time? If so, how did you prioritize what needed to be done each day?
Most of the time I can follow my to do list. I was sick for five days last week and now I am so far behind, I almost don’t know where to start. I have been trying to be Proverbs 31 wife, but some days I feel like an absolute failure … and I don’t have kids yet! I can’t get behind in grading papers or lesson plans because it is part of my job. If you have any helpful hints or advice on how to manage a job and a home, I would greatly appreciate it!
Before I became a stay-at-home mom eight years ago, I spent ten years working a full-time job, 50 weeks a year.
Commuting to work and then sitting at a desk for my editor’s job took 10 hours out of every weekday. When I finally got home, I was tired, hungry, and needed to make dinner.
After dinner, I needed to clean up my dishes, but then I had the rest of the night to do as I pleased.
When I was single, this typically meant I could commit to a Bible study, get together with friends, start watching a favorite TV show, read a magazine, surf the (dial-up) Internet, journal, or work on a craft.
On weekends when I didn’t have plans, I tried to clean as much as I could.
Once I got married, I also juggled my free time with my husband’s sporadic restaurant schedule; when he was home I wanted to spend my time with him.
I quickly found that I didn’t want to devote my Saturday mornings to cleaning my home, so I needed to break my housework up throughout the week.
Around that same time, I found Flylady. I loved her cleaning routines and quickly started cleaning six nights a week in little chunks of time.
Even though I was tired after a day of work, I still had enough time and energy to wipe down the trim in my bedroom. Or clean out my medicine cabinet.
Flylady’s suggestions were small, very do-able cleaning jobs that left my house extremely clean.
Life with work, home … and kids
Then I had kids.
And I just didn’t have time to devote to Flylady’s daily cleaning tasks – even if they only took 15 minutes.
Important note: I have been a part-time work-from-home mom, ever since my firstborn was eight weeks old. But I have never been a full-time working mom. I have absolutely no idea how to juggle or balance family, home, life, and a job outside the home. I admire women who do.
I know that with the demands of a job and a family, taking care of your home is the first thing to slide – as it rightfully should be.
People should always take precedence.
And working hard is good, especially if it helps your family pay the bills.
But what can you do?
How can you tend to your home and family when you’re busy with work?
Managing a home and work
As long as you’re working outside the home, your time to clean or care for your home is extremely limited. You have small windows of opportunity to clean –typically nights and weekends.
Just like you have small opportunities to clean, you probably also will have very little energy or motivation to clean much after working all day. Accept this fact and try to work around it.
Focusing on a few Non-Negotiable Daily Chores will be helpful. Simply be grateful when you can finish these chores, and don’t sweat the rest.
When you do have a little more time or energy, taking the time to declutter your possessions and purge your home from anything you don’t absolutely love or need will be really helpful. Then, when you’re in the middle of your busy work schedule, you won’t have as much to care for at home.
Adding children into the mix
If you’re also a working mom, you’ll also need to figure out a way to juggle caring for your children and home, too.
If your children are young, know that cleaning with young children in the house is a unique situation because infants and toddlers are just so needy. When my children were young, I brought them along with me as I cleaned each room.
Now that my children are older and life seems to be moving busier and faster than ever, I make sure to involve them with their own chores so they learn the work that comes along with living in a home and being a part of our family.
(Granted, you’ll need to take some time to teach them how to clean, but the extra help is worth it.)
One of the most important things to remember as you’re working is that caring for your home will be a struggle. You’re busy and away from home and that’s a natural byproduct. (When you’re busy and working from home, caring for your home also is a struggle.)
I still wish my house was absolutely spotless every day – but I know it doesn’t happen. I’m learning to be OK with that.
While seeing piles of stuff and knowing that there aren’t enough hours in the day to finish everything is frustrating for sure. But take a deep breath, walk away, and look for bigger chunks of time you can devote to bigger cleaning projects.
Those projects may stay on your to-do list for a while – a long while – but manage what you can manage and try to go with the flow.
- let go of perfect,
- keep important priorities in place,
- then fit housework in manageable chunks of time.
In your experience, what tips do you have when it comes to managing a job and a home?
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