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.  ❤️


  1. I need this reminder sometimes Rhonda. Two things really stood out for me here. The first one being change your day and your mind. Mindset is a big one for me. I change that internal dialogue if it starts pushing me around and the more I do it the better. Training my brain.
    The other is that we are in charge of the list. I will take that one with me and carry it around all day ready to use.
    Thankyou, I love this post.

  2. Great advice, Rhonda. I try to accomplish all on my lists, but it does not always happen. In that case, I usually have a good reason, so do not let it affect me negatively. I just get up the next day and do it first thing. That bed sure looks comfy and inviting. The linens are lovely; and the whole room is so charming.

  3. Thank you for this reminder Rhonda - I expect nearly all of us put unnecessary pressure on ourselves sometimes - do more, be all things to all people etc. A list is a useful tool but we shouldn't beat ourselves up about not finishing.
    Loved the photographs too!

  4. Goodmorning Rhonda,
    I love lists, they make my home hum along. I find if I don’t have a list I procrastinate and not much gets done. I do try and make the list achieveable and practical so I don’t get stressed about not ticking off all the list. I have a housework routine and do a bit every afternoon after work. It works for us and at the end of any fortnight, all the areas of the home have been cleaned. Have a lovely day.

  5. I feel like you know me all to well because I just cannot go to bed at night without finishing that list. It will keep me awake all night trying to regroup everything to catch up the next day. Hats off to you for being able to let it go. I sure would like to be able to do that.

  6. Rhonda, I have found since retiring that lists are essential in order to get things done especially when you walk into a room to do something and by the time you get there you can't remember what it was. LOL! Then the list comes in really handy. We had about 36mm of rain here and I hope your tanks are full again now.

  7. Morning Rhonda. Lists, I have never been good with them for housework. I always say that the dusting disintegrated once my third child came along! Your post was beautiful to read and look at - beautiful bed, great looking drawer and that garage/shed. It is making me wanting to organise myself better but as you say, we shouldn't beat ourselves about it. Great words of wisdom.

  8. How true. This lifestyle is so rewarding but after working for 30 years with schedules and deadlines one of the best parts of this lifestyle for me is being able to's ok I can do that tomorrow

  9. Thank you for this post, Rhonda. I need to be better about making lists. They give me focus. It also helps if I write down what I have accomplished at night. It's easy to try to do too much, and then feel upset. I love your photos. They are beautiful.

  10. Living with chronic illness means that I can have all the lists I want. But no guarantee I’ll get it all done
    I had to learn to be happy with what ever I achieved for the day
    Some days more, some days. Just getting up was an achievement

    1. Exactly, angela.
      I, too, live with a chronic illness and have been sick for about 6 years. It's been a learning process to accept my new normal.
      I do keep lists but they are only suggestions. I am not bound by them. I also find that if I write something down on my list, it frees my mind.
      SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

  11. I make lists most mornings but there is no guarantee that it will all get done that day. I call that my weekly list, and prioritise the few essential things to be done. The joys of being retired.

  12. Oh Yes! this one resonated strongly with me also, Rhonda.
    I write copious lists. Lists of priority work for the farm in general; lists for the house-daily, weekly & long term; lists of maintenance (prioritized); lists for next weeks shopping; lists of wants verses needs; etc.
    Things get done eventually, then crossed off their list.
    I love it when I have crossed everything off a list. That doesn't happen very often because most lists are on-going or rolling.
    I write lists because my memory is not as good as it used to be, but also because I can get quite side tracked. The list will bring me back to focus.
    It was hard to learn that the list was not a hard & fast rule, that I could leave some items not done or partially done & it would be ok because everything (for the most part) would still be there tomorrow.
    I still do have to work hard at allowing the list to be a guide rather than a master. ;)

  13. Oh my gosh Rhonda, this is exactly what I needed to read today.
    I work in the emergency services and had the most awful week last week with 3 deaths (a colleague, a colleague's son and a fatal I attended) obviously there is far more involved in each of these that I won't go into... But I have been pressuring myself to function normally and get everything done.
    I needed to read your blog to remind myself that the house work will still be here another day. It's ok to take a break and focus on the important things. It's ok to take time for myself and clear my mind instead of the table.

    Thanks Rhonda for always being inspiring.

  14. Oh, thank you for such a gentle reminder to accept what we can do as good enough. - "What we do is hard enough without applying unnecessary pressure to ourselves." It seems a common myth that those who tend to the home and family have it "easy." It's rewarding, certainly, but not easy in the least! I've been dealing with some health issues this year, which have forced me to slow way down. I've really been struggling with accepting my limitations. Some days I'm afraid someone will show up and see what a terrible homemaker I am! Your wise words made me realize that it's really only me putting that pressure on myself. Thank you, Rhonda xx

    1. I've been wondering about you and your babies, Jaime. Sorry to hear about your health issues. I hope you're recovering. Sending you lots of love. xxx

    2. Like you Jaime, I've had severe health issues since last November that at first really limited my walking and standing and now, thanks to chemotherapy, I am chronically exhausted with no energy. I too, feel embarrassed when people visit and see my house not up to my standards.

      Hopefully for both of us there are better days ahead.

      Did you get good rain, Rhonda? Lovely post, by the way.

      God bless,
      Lyn in Northern New South Wales.

    3. Sending you my best wishes, Lyn. Don't worry about the house, focus on getting back to good health. I'm sure all your friends understand. xx

  15. A great reminder at the moment, thank you! I'm a stay at home Mum with an 11 month old baby, and I usually love my lists. However when my little one was sick all last week, my list and related housework went out the window. It's nice to be reminded that housework can be put off in favour of things that are more important.

  16. I always say I can do everything I used to and more, I just take much longer to do it.

  17. Wonderful advice Rhonda. Since I retired from my paid work I seem to be busier than ever, and I refer to what I do here as 'working for myself'. I don't do lists as such, (except when we have a function coming up and things need to be organised) Aside from all the normal daily farm and house duties, I aim to achieve at least one extra thing each day. Mowing the lawn, making soap, pruning the roses, making chutney etc. I can go to sleep knowing that I've ticked off one thing on my 'to do' list in my head.

  18. Hi Rhonda,
    very wise words as usual. Thank you for reminding us to be kind to ourselves and to take pride in what we have achieved rather than focusing on what we havent managed to accomplish on a particular day. A few questions for you.

    1.Is the bread in your photo your 5 min bread? It looks delicious. I use your recipe regularly. Amazing bread every time.

    2.Is there a recipe on your blog for the yummy looking buns in the photo?

    3. I am interested to know what you have packed in the snap lock bags. Looks like a handy time saving idea.
    Warm regards from Maria in Adelaide xx.

    1. Hello Maria.
      1. The bread is my normal bread recipe, not the 5 minute bread. The recipe is on the blog.
      2. I forget is there is a recipe here for the cinnamon buns. I just used the common recipe on the internet.
      3. Green beans packed in meal size portions.

  19. Good morning dear Rhonda ~ This was a very good and encouraging read for me. I had a couple of months of real depression for me this summer. Being a widow has made such a change in my life in many ways. During this time of depression I was thinking, 'what's the use of doing anything?' My heart was just not into it. I prayed and basically didn't do much of anything, except what was absolutely necessary. Eventually, I came out of it, then had to deal with all of the anxiety and preparation of Hurricane Irma heading in our direction and not knowing where she would hit. Then clean up afterwards and dealing with emotions brought on by the storm. (I had minimal damages, lots of brush to clean up and some leaning fences still to be taken care of. It could have been so much worse.)

    Your post has helped to lift a burden. I'm in the middle of a bit of remodeling and will take things one at a time, doing the best I can, with what I have.

    Every day is a gift and I want to enjoy and do my best with each one. God is my strength and I am thankful for His always being with me.

    Thank you for taking the time to write out your thoughts and share photos also, that inspire us all.

    Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

  20. Such a good post!
    I do my best but some days things just don’t go as planned.
    No pressure!

  21. What a great post I know since I retired last year I was still trying to do to much and not relaxing and enjoying my home... You are so correct what will happen to me if I leave out a task today... nothing.. so Thank you so much I need to relax more and enjoy my home, my family, my baking, my sewing...Thank you Rhonda

  22. Such good advice. It's always good to remember that there are no "house police" who come in with their white gloves and run their hands along the tops of the door frames to check for dust. They would have a hard time at my house and would have to use super strong laundry bleach to get those gloves clean.

    People should just do the best they can and let the rest take care of itself. No one can ask any more of you than that.

  23. Thanks for the reminder Rhonda! I love crossing things off my list, but I also have to be realistic about what can be done in a day :)

  24. Hi.

    Thank you for the reminder. I have been sick and too tired for almost a year with a now 5 & 3 year old and as much as i wanted to i couldn't manage my housework. It is hard with no help around and my parents shaming and guilting me when they visited. I only cooked (all our meals) & did laundry. The rest was done sporadicaly and i feel like i am failing my family, especially since i am a full time homemaker.

    Now i am getting better but i feel like i have developed bad habits or simply can't find a rythm or routine. And am dissapointed when i fall short of my to do list because my body sort of gives out even if i started my day feeling better.

    I fear i am setting a poor example for my kids.

    Any advice?

    Avid reader from France

    1. I'm glad you're starting to feel better. You'll still be regaining strength so start slow - it's the only way. Know, and really understand, that none of this is your fault and there is no reason to feel guilty. Make a new list every day and make it a doable list with only the bare necessities on it. When you start work, set a time limit of 15 minutes and rest when that time is up. Keep going in 15 minute spurts with rest periods until you can do more. Eventually you'll get back to normal as you see your home coming back to how you want it to be.

      Give your children their own tasks - picking up toys, carrying things to the table and setting the table when they are old enough. They can also pick up their dirty clothes and put them in the laundry basket, take their clean clothes to their room, feed pets and a whole lot of short simple tasks that will teach them how to work and that they are part of a working family.

      Good luck, love. xx

  25. Rhonda, I know this is completely off topic, but I'm pretty sure it was here that I read about some new kitchen product that you commented on. I opened up the ads this morning to see that my local market is selling "Ready to pour Cake Mix" and bagged "Cooked Pasta". :::thud::: I think it's time to have a serious discussion with oneself when there is no time/energy to boil pasta or add some eggs and oil and stir.....

  26. No one else knows what you're going through. I can relate to how you feel, because I have an illness too. However ,don't stress and do as Rhonda Jean says. Rembering, it's not your business what anyone else thinks.

  27. Making DAILY To-Do Lists instead of monumental for-the-rest-of-time To-Do Lists was such a game changer for me. It makes the list work for me! Most days we get everything done, but I don't beat myself up if things take longer or get put off for the next day. It can be hard for me, but flexibility really is key to happiness and success.


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