Do the dishes distract you when you’re working at home? Housework that needs to be done takes away from your work hours if you let it. But is that a reasonable expectation of an at home parent? How do you balance housework and working at home?
There are a lot of challenges to working at home. You have a lot to get accomplished in the day and many distractions. It’s easy to have very high expectations of what you will accomplish on a particular day, and it’s not always realistic.
This is where the flexibility of some work at home opportunities becomes a disadvantage. You can set up your own schedule, and that means people start expecting more of you in the home and at work.
Worse, you probably feel guilty at times for focusing on work rather than on keeping a clean house. You’re home and you may feel like it’s a part of your job to keep that house clean. Traditional duty of the stay at home parent (especially moms) and all that.
But being at home should not mean that it all falls onto your shoulders. You need to look at what the appropriate divisions are.
What Are Your Work Hours?
How many hours you work at your home based job or business can play a role in how much housework is reasonable for you to do. Working a full time work at home job only differs from working a full time outside the home job by the length of the commute.
If you work part time from home, you may be able to spare more time for housework, of course. How that works, in reality, depends on what else you have to get done during the day. Don’t forget a little time to set yourself up for a productive work at home day.
Some of what you can take on around the house as a work at home parent may depend upon what time you work. If you have to work at the time dinner is normally made, you can’t be expected to make dinner every night. Someone else will need to handle it.
Does Your Income Matter?
Many a work at home mom or dad may feel as though they should take on more household work because they don’t earn that much yet.
Maybe your job doesn’t pay that well. Maybe your home business hasn’t taken off yet. But at this moment you earn significantly less than your partner.
Do you need to make it up by handling more of the household chores?
Personally, I would still count more by hours worked than by income. I’d rather have a partnership count these things by effort rather than dollars. In the end, you’re all contributing, right?
Another problem with taking on extra housework if your income is on the low side is that you put too much of your energy into that, and too little into improving your income. Taking on that extra housework can tire you out.
What Other Chores Are You Taking On?
Housework is often not the only chore that a work at home mom or dad takes on regularly. When you’re dividing things up, you need to consider everything that each person does.
I drive my kids to and from school each day, for example. We don’t live close to their schools, and while walking to and from would not be impossible, it would be difficult for the kids and very time consuming. Driving them makes more sense, even though it takes a chunk out of my day.
Chores like that have to be done by the person who is available since they must be done at certain times. Schedules are often planned around such things. It can more than make up for the lack of a commute for a work at home mom or dad.
How Do Want The Housework Divided?
How to divide the housework can be challenging for any family. People don’t always agree on how clean everything needs to be.
Get your spouse involved. Get the kids involved. Don’t let all the housework fall on one pair of shoulders. It’s important to talk about these things so that no one feels as though they’re carrying an unfair share of the load.
The division of chores with children depends on how old the kids are. The amount of housework I have to do has greatly decreased as the kids have grown. They can handle quite a bit.
But when the kids are young, they’re often more hindrance than help. When you can spare the time, it’s still a great idea to let them help, so that they learn how to do the job. It will pay off in the long run.
Some of the division may depend on what each person prefers to do, so long as everyone feels the division is fair. If one parent prefers yardwork to housework, and that takes an equal amount of work, there may be a good division right there.
Figure out what you will do at which times. Housework that needs to be done can be scheduled just like anything in your home business.
How well all of this works can tell you a lot about how supportive your spouse is of your working at home. If you both work a similar number of hours, yet you’re at home and expected to do a significantly larger chunk of the housework, you may need to have a talk to make sure that what you do is being taken seriously. Sometimes it’s not. Other times it will just be that your spouse hasn’t quite realized how much work you’re doing.
Pick The Right Time
Knowing when to do housework when working at home is key to keeping it from messing with your work schedule. There’s a right time and a wrong time to do things.
The wrong time, of course, is when you should be working. Laundry days are probably the worst for interfering with working at home – it has to be moved so often. Any chore you can save for when you aren’t working gives you more time to work on the things that earn money for you.
The right time to do housework is outside of your working hours. You can do little bits during your breaks, but isn’t it better to take an actual break for you sometimes? Save the housework for when you can get more done. Try these tips to help.
- Clean the night before – If the dishes are done after dinner, and the clutter put away before anyone goes to bed, there’s much less temptation to clean during the day.
- Make freezer meals – Plan out some meals that you can make ahead of time and put into the freezer. Seek out recipes that can be frozen and then put into the crockpot, pressure cooker or oven when you want to make them. This saves a ton of meal prep time if done right.
- Get rid of stuff – The more stuff you have, the more mess you have. Declutter your home and you’ll have much less cleaning to do.
Know When To Let The Housework Go
There will be times when it makes sense to let some of the housework go. You won’t be able to handle it all, all of the time. Life gets in the way.
It’s common for things to be on the messy side when children are little, for example. Unless you’re very strict about toys being put away immediately, kids are super messy creatures. Odds are that you won’t be able to keep up with their abilities to make a mess.
A crisis, either within the family or your work, can also cut down on how much housework you can handle. If you suddenly add 10-20 hours a week to your work schedule, obviously you won’t be able to do as much housework.
Depending on your family, you may have to deal with the house being a mess for a time. The other possibility is that the other members of the family pick up the slack. That won’t work every time – a family crisis can make it harder for the entire family to keep up.
Is It Worth The Expense To Hire A Maid Service?
If your household income is high enough, sometimes it makes a lot of sense to hire a maid service. This won’t take care of the daily chores but can be a huge help with the bigger cleaning jobs.
The decision to hire a maid service can depend in part on how you value your time versus money. How does your hourly rate compare with what the maid service costs? If it gives you more time to work, a maid service can be good for your income.
Of course, if you can’t resist cleaning everything before the service comes, you may not want to hire a maid service. Make sure it will save you a good amount of time and effort in keeping your home as clean as you want it.
Talk About It If Things Aren’t Working Out
It’s common to find that whatever balance you agreed upon for housework won’t always work out. We’re all human.
Try not to let resentment build.
Instead, sit down and talk about what’s happening. Discuss solutions you can agree upon. Make job lists if they’ll help, or set up a calendar. Find something to make it easier for everyone to do their share.
If all else fails, hang a sign like this one:
and see if everyone gets the hint. It might be worth the smiles, especially if you have any Harry Potter fans in the house.