Surviving Through December Without a House help
The festive season is approaching quite fast. Mums are dreading the inevitable conversation with the house help about days off over the Christmas period.
Truth be told, holiday time without a house help has a totally different definition for mothers. It is not a holiday; it is transferred from one workplace, the office to another, home. Here are some tips on how to cope with the holiday:
1. Prepare mentally
Esther, an administrator and mother of two, has been without a house help for two years now. They made the decision to be without one after their help, who had been with them for 7 years, left. Esther had to mentally adjust to the fact that housework would fall on her. For the 2 or 3 weeks, your house-help will be away, first prepare yourself mentally.
Know how much energy you are willing to put into housekeeping. Remind yourself that it is only for a couple of weeks, and determine how much you are willing to do and to what extent.
2. Have a schedule for cleaning
Violet, a house-help in South B, says that her employer has a schedule set out for her daily and weekly tasks. She advises mothers to follow the schedule they set out to their house-helps. You may not follow it strictly, but it will provide guidance and sanity. Schedules keep one from feeling like they spend the whole day on one task. With guests around it may be difficult to stick to the schedule, so just do what you can and focus on key areas.
3. Don’t let laundry and dishes pile up
Nyambura, a stay-at-home mother of 3 children with 2 boys under 3 years, ensures that dishes are washed after every meal. Clothes are washed on a daily basis or at most, every other day. It gets a lot easier if you have a washing machine as you can run a load as you work on something else.
With guests in the house, try and work on the dishes as soon as they begin to accumulate. If your guests are good friends or relatives, they may join you in the kitchen. If they do, accept the help.
4. Get extra help if need be
If it is too much for you, consider getting extra help. Consider bringing in someone to restore some sanity and get you back on track. There are cleaning ladies available outside most estates who can lend a hand. If you are worried about security issues, get a referral.
5. Delegate chores
Both Nyambura and Esther agree that everyone in the family should be involved in the chores. MumsVillage has a great list of age appropriate chores that you can refer to. Esther’s children are old enough to help prepare meals and clean up their rooms. Her husband does the dishes and lends a hand around the home. Nyambura’s toddler clears up his toys. The older child helps in the kitchen and around the house. Their father can be found in the kitchen or making beds.
“It is a family affair, we all live in the same house so we might as well work together to keep it clean,” says Esther.
6. Learn to let go
Housekeeping can be overwhelming. While you might want the floor to be clean enough to eat off, it is difficult to keep it that way. Choose the chores that must be done on a daily basis That may include keeping the kitchen, living room, bedrooms and bathrooms tidy,. If you are tired, rest. A little dust or dirty dishes left in the sink overnight never killed anyone or caused an avalanche of roaches to emerge.
7. Keep meals simple
Esther advises on keeping meals simple. Elaborate meals can add unnecessary stress. If you are having guests over, organize for a potluck, take out, or keep it simple. Or your friends could come earlier and help you prepare the meals for the guests. Alternatively, you could consider getting a cook to sort out the meals when you have guests.
Managing a home without a house-help requires a set routine, good communication, and realistic expectations.
It is obviously much easier with fewer or older children. If you have younger children underfoot, it is a good idea to lower your expectations. Much as you want to clean up, remember that your family also needs you to spend time with them.
Read more from Ory on her Blog