Housekeeping routines and avoiding the pressure

3 October 2017
I sometimes have a quiet laugh at myself for something I've said or written. Yesterday I was reading through an old list of chores I'd set down for a normal day. It was the usual kind of stuff - "clean the bathroom, wash floors, water plants, sew on buttons, post mail, bake scones", then right at the end, the last on the list, "do whatever you didn't do yesterday".  It was a valuable reminder. A good friend of mine who is very well organised and lives in a neat and tidy home, would look at that last list item and shudder. It would not be good enough for her, not finishing a list would not be an option. 

But I take it in my stride. I'm not in a competition, I'm not trying to outdo anyone else, I'm not trying to be perfect. I just want do my daily chores, do the best I can and go to bed happy. Putting undue pressure on yourself, setting too high a standard everyday, using lists and routines to regiment yourself is not the aim of my kind of housekeeping. Lists and routines are a good way of helping you set your own rhythm. They allow you to be flexible with your housework and will guide you through what can be done each day. A list should not pressure you or make you feel guilty for things left undone.  Your lists should be a gentle reminder of what could be done but if you run out of time or decide to change the list, you can start it again the following day.  Without the guilt.

What we do is hard enough without applying unnecessary pressure to ourselves. It is a really good idea to make a list to guide you through your day. Hopefully that list will become a part of your daily routine and when you go through it for a couple of weeks, it may take on its own rhythm. When that happens, things move along at their own pace and it's easier to get your work done.  But if you ever have a day when you have extra chores to attend to, or people arrive, or someone is sick, you don't have to solider on doing your work according to the list.  Modify your day and your mind, do what you can and let that be it. You can either start the next day with the undone work at the top of the list or just drop it altogether and do whatever it is the following week or when you can manage it.

Remember, you are in charge of the list, it's not in charge of you; it's just a guide. If it doesn't work like that on a particular day, just accept it and go to bed knowing you did your best and that any work not done can wait.  Aiming for perfection and getting upset when you don't meet your expectations is a recipe for unhappiness. Be kind to yourself, set manageable goals, try your best and remember that there will be days when all the work will not be done.

You'll get pressure from all directions in the normal course of a week, no matter where you work. You could be at home with children or your elders, you could be in a shop, office, factory or outdoors working for a living. You may be retired, ill, volunteering or living the life of Riley. At some point, things won't go as expected and you'll make it worse if you pressure yourself to carry on regardless.

We're all trying to live our best lives and achieve the goals we set ourselves. But when that doesn't happen, when the normal flow of your work stops, when the unexpected happens and your daily goals just can't be achieved, it's okay to let go, step back, and start again the following day.  You wouldn't insist that a friend keeps going to tick everything off their list when it's just not possible. Don't do it to yourself either.  ❤️