I don't know why we have this idea that stay-at-home moms should have it all together. I guess because their mothering is their "career" we have impossible expectations of them? I don't know, but working mothers feel the pull too. Keep a perfect house, spend lots of time with your kids, serve in your community, have a hobby, cook only whole/clean/delicious/from-scratch food. Exercise every day and look fantastic.
Is this sounding unattainable to anyone else?
Well, I'm here to bust that image of perfection. You can't do it. Not all of it. But gosh we try, but something always slips. For me it was housework. And I was okay with that because it was clean enough, but I'd always get to a point, usually at the end of the week where I just couldn't stand it anymore and then cue the irritability, stress, and few hours of cleaning while grumbling about the kids messing everything up immediately.
Well, no more. I can't do everything, but I didn't want to give up something. Not my writing, not my work in the community, not homeschooling, not reading my books, or crafting, or playing games, or going on walks, or just sitting down on the couch sometimes and relaxing! I also didn't want to live in a dirty house.
A few months ago my mom came to visit and (lovingly) suggested that I should think about bringing in some help. She saw everything I did during the day and to her everlasting credit never suggested that I quit the stupid writing, or think about putting the kids in public school, or anything like that, even though there have been plenty of times I've worried that's what everyone thinks. But I'm blessed with very supportive family members, which is a wonderful thing to have.
It was a little hard to do at first. It kind of felt like admitting defeat. I'm a stay-at-home mom, I gave up working to be able to do all this. Did it make me a failure? Yeah, no. Forget you, society and your impossible expectations and darn you my passionate heart that loves to dabble and learn and read and play.
So a month ago I spoke with one of the girls at church choir practice about coming in a few times a week to help me and she said...YES!
It's been four weeks now. One of those weeks she was sick and couldn't come. But here's what we set up and why I love it.
She calls me on Sunday to let me know her work schedule and we agree on times she can come. It's usually about three hours a week, spread out over two or three days. I pay $10/hour. It's more than minimum wage and what she makes at her other job. I also throw in an extra five dollars a week to compensate her gas money, she doesn't live too far from us, but still.
Now the part you're probably wondering, what do I have her do?
All the things I just never seem to get to. These have included sanding and painting my kitchen table and chairs (I started it but never got around to finishing), scrubbing out car seats, helping clean out the car, scraping the gunk from off the table and chairs where Tom sits, and sweeping and mopping.
She also is just an extra pair of hands on days when I need them. When Tommy is extra clingy and hanging on my legs, I can sit down and just hold him while she takes care of whatever I'd been trying to do. She watches the kids in the front yard when I'm working on dinner. She's another person to read to.
And then sometimes she babysits for me.
Why I love it and have talked to her about doing it long term:
1. My floors are clean. CLEAN!
2. I don't have to mop!
3. It's allowed me to relax a bit more. I know I can take that extra thirty minutes to enjoy a book because she's coming in the afternoon.
4. It also gets me to work more. When she's here I can't just sit around and do nothing. That's awkward. So usually, it forces me to clean for a whole hour in the afternoons. That makes a big difference.
5. More dates! After months of not going out at all, Rob and I have gone on two dates this month because she came over and we were able to just take off. It was great!
6. I can leave on a date and ask her to clean something while I'm gone and SHE DOES!
7. It's someone to talk to and I think we both have things to offer. She gets paid and experience doing things that while not glamorous are important for living life. I get a cleaner home with less stress, projects finished, and extra time with Rob.
I have other ideas of things I'd like to use her for if I can ever stop needing her to clean my floors. One thing I've considered is leaving her with two of the kids while I take one of them out for some one-on-one time. Teaching her how to make breadsticks so I can count on having that help for dinner and not have to push it back an hour on nights I want bread sticks. Deep cleaning. Those hand prints on the walls? Dirty base boards? Window tracks? All those spring cleaning things;
All in all, the extra $140/month is well worth it. If you can carve out the space in your budget for help even just once a week, I highly recommend it. It's okay to ask for help. You don't have to be perfect. I'd say it's far more important to get in that extra hour of reading or painting or writing or playing.