Agonizing, bone-aching boredom. Stay-at-home moms often report intense boredom being their number one challenge. As a result, many become depressed. Some get themselves into trouble. Neither of those options is good, so let’s discuss ways to go from bored housewife to tranquil domestic goddess in 3 easy steps.
How is it possible to have so much to do and yet be so bored? It’s simple. The boredom does not come from having too much free time. Oh how we wish! It comes from the repetitive nature of what we have to do every day. The cycle of cook–feed–wash dishes is never ending, and the pile of laundry never shrinks. It is easy to become overwhelmed with monotony and discouraged with hopelessness. So how do we combat this tendency? First by changing our mindset. Then by changing how we approach housework, and lastly by having goals that extend outside of the confines of our homes. Sounds simple, right? Well, it really is. If you approach it one step at a time. Let’s start with the mindset change.
Why are you home in the first place? I am not talking about the “because I can’t afford daycare” reason. There is something bigger or you would have found a way to get an outside job. Why have you decided to stay at home while your spouse goes off to work every day? Grab a notebook and write down all the reasons. Don’t over think it. Just keep writing until you hit the one that gives you an “ah ha” feeling. Write until you get goosebumps or feel giddy or maybe even get teary-eyed. You’ll know when you’ve hit upon “the one.” I am purposely not going to give suggestions here because it’s important that this be entirely of your own creation. You have to find and know and believe that one reason to the level of conviction. It has to be the one that resonates with your soul. So go do that now, and then come back here when you finish. Got one? Good!
Once you have “the one,” write it on its own paper and post it on the refrigerator where you can see it and be reminded of what it is that you are really doing every day. And it’s not about making beds or doing laundry. It’s about that core value or conviction that you’ve uncovered. That is what is going to carry you through those tough days. When you are having a down moment, go over to your refrigerator and instead of opening it and looking in for something to eat to quell the boredom (for the twentieth time today), just read your paper. Close your eyes. Breathe. Now you’ve changed your mindset. Now we are ready to move on to the day-to-day things you can do to manage the rest.
So let’s talk domestic goddess. What is that anyway? Well I can tell you what it’s not. It’s not a woman who is perfect at everything to do with keeping house or caring for a family. There are no perfect women. (Just look what happened to Martha.) A domestic goddess is a woman who has a pretty good handle on keeping her house and caring for her family AND has maintained herself and her own identity in the process. That’s the woman that makes your husband’s heart melt. And that’s the goal here. Maintain your home, your family, your marriage and your self.
Let’s start with home. Household chores become mundane when two things happen. (1) We forget to be present in the moment, and; (2) We don’t do the chore with the intent to do it the best that we possibly can. Typically when we are washing dishes, folding laundry, or vacuuming the floors, we are rushing to get it done and thinking. We are either thinking about something that already happened in the past, or we are thinking about what we will do once we finish, or we are thinking about some other event coming up in the future. We are almost never thinking about what we are doing right then. That’s called not being present. Much of life’s joy is robbed from us by not being present in this moment.
As often as you can, begin to be present in what you are doing. While washing the dishes, take note of the temperature of the water on your hands. Look at the way the light reflects off the bubbles. Note how the soapy water scents the air. Suddenly you will find little moments of joy in the process. You will be shocked at how peaceful and content this simple act can make you feel. Do it with everything. Sorting laundry, unpacking groceries, scrubbing the toilet. Be in the moment.
Part 2, do the chore with the intention of doing the very best job of it that you can. If you are going to clean that toilet, intend to do it until it sparkles. If you are going to make that bed, do it so that any Army sergeant would be proud. You will come out of your cleaning with a sense of accomplishment and pride and not a feeling of drudgery.
Part 3, develop a system for daily cleaning. Have a “to do” checklist for what you will do daily and for what and when you will do your weekly, monthly, and seasonal chores. Having and following checklists also helps to maintain a feeling of accomplishment. You can see all that you have completed, but more importantly, you can share your list with your spouse so that he can see all you have done as well. This extra step helps combat the feelings of “thanklessness” by which some women report feeling plagued.
We’ll talk more about cleaning specifics and checklists as well as how to use them next week. There’s more to a checklist than you think! I’ll even include some printable lists for you to use. Watch for them, but for now let’s move on to maintaining yourself. (And your sanity).
The last step in combating boredom is to take steps to maintain your identity, your goals, and your self. That means making time for yourself and your own interests. That means that mom is just as important as dad and just as important as the kids. You must schedule time for you and work the kids activities around yours. You must. It’s just like when the oxygen mask drops on an airplane and they instruct you to put yours on first. You have to take care of you so that you are well enough to take care of the children. If you do not, and your marriage and house and family falls apart, what good have you done?
Get that notebook out again and write down all the things that interest you. If it’s been a long time since you thought about it, think about what used to interest you. What hobbies do you have or did you have? What things do you feel passionate about? If you could do one thing to change the world, what would it be? Start getting back in touch with who you were before you were wife and mom. Here’s the thing. That person who you used to be is the person that your husband fell in love with. When he married you he hoped you’d never change. He is just as interested in you maintaining her as you should be. Make finding her again a priority.
The biggest challenge with pursuing your interests is going to be finding time. Where there is a will, there is a way. You can find snippets of time to delve into your hobbies and dreams, but to make it easier, this is where having a friend in the same situation comes in handy. A babysitting exchange is incredibly therapeutic for all. Work in an exchange of 3-4 hours of babysitting once every week. During her time with the kids, do the things that used to make you feel alive. Do NOT use the time to run errands, clean, or sleep. If you feel that you need a block of free time for those things, schedule two babysitting exchanges each week–one for “work” and one for “pleasure.”
This is important too. During your time to babysit, have a plan of an activity to do with the kids. Make that time during babysitting a true quality time for the children. Be sure that your friend does the same. Here’s why. You will not feel guilty about leaving the kids with someone else if you know they are having a fun time. You will be free to enjoy pursuing your interests. You will also not have guilt about your friend babysitting your children because you will know that you will be doing the same for her and her children later in the week. It’s a win. win. win.
We’ve begun to scratch the surface of how to combat homemaker drudgery, and during the upcoming weeks we are going to delve further into these topics. Feel free to leave a comment on your progress and your challenges. I look forward to reading them!
p.s. The photo attached was built upon one of my creations. To combat my boredom, I write and I paint. This one is called Waiting. I chose him for this article because he looks bored. 🙂 I hope you enjoy it! Oh, and also, don’t forget to Like our Facebook page. You can just click on the “like” button over there in the sidebar ——> or visit us on Facebook at Modern Day 50s Housewife.