Brighter Days: 5 Top Tips for Coping with Housework
Since my oldest son was born, I've worked from home. Usually, my workdays are quiet, with my fiance and our sons off at work or school. Since March, however, they've been working and schooling from home, and now, of course, they're home for the summer.
Though they are a tidy bunch, having more people at home means more cleaning, more dishes and, for some reason, more laundry. At first, I felt overwhelmed trying to get everything done perfectly all of the time.
As this pandemic appears to be more of a marathon than a sprint, I realized I needed to make some changes to prevent myself from getting overwhelmed and burning out. I eased my chore load with a combination of delegating, making some efficiencies and relaxing my standards a bit. I realized that having some dishes in the sink or crumbs on the counter pales in comparison to my happiness at having them all here!
My sons are teens now -- 13, 14, 15 and 16 -- but I remember being a new mom discovering that, like so many things with a baby, laundry, dishes and dust bunnies are multiplied, not divided. Luckily, your love for your baby is also multiplied, which makes all of the extra housework a lot easier to bear.
Here's what our Mommy M.D.s -- doctors who are also mothers -- did to maintain their busy work-home balances when their babies were young.
"If my baby wasn't sleeping in her crib and I needed to do something around the house, like wash dishes, I put her into her Babybjorn," says Jeannette Gonzalez Simon, M.D., a mom of two daughters, a pediatric gastroenterologist in private practice, and founder and CEO of Dr. Simon's Remedy, a line of natural products for your baby, in Essex County, New Jersey. "That way, I had both hands free.
"Another thing that helped was the baby swing," Simon adds. "My daughter loved it, and that swing was my best friend. I don't know what I would have done without it. My daughter was chubby, so the batteries didn't last long, and sometimes my husband would resort to pushing it himself! I put my daughter in it while I did things around the house or when I took a shower. My husband and I carried the swing from room to room. We actually had a portable swing, but our daughter didn't like that one as much as the regular swing."
"When I get home from work, I'm tired and ready to just play with my kids and spend time with my husband before going to bed myself," says Michelle Hephner, D.O., mom of a son and a daughter and a family physician in private practice with Central DuPage Physician Group in Winfield, Illinois. "The dishes fill up in the sink occasionally, and when we need spoons, we wash them. It can cause me stress, but you can only do what you can.
"I find that making a list of the household chores that need to be done helps me to set reasonable goals for cleaning," Hephner continues. "Then, as I cross things off my list, I feel a sense of accomplishment -- even if it was just to fold some clothes. My mom comes over and reassures me that the house looks fine. But I know where all of the dust bunnies are hiding."
"When my boys were babies, I tried really hard not to push myself to do too much too soon," says Heather Orman-Lubell, M.D., a mom of two sons and a pediatrician in private practice at Yardley Pediatrics of St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Pennsylvania. "I accepted help around the house as often as I could, for instance, letting my mom come and help me with the laundry. I tried to adopt the attitude of, 'It's not going to be done today, but maybe we'll get it done tonight.' For those times that I couldn't keep the house up to the standards we were used to, I hired a cleaning lady."
"To clean my house, I use Shaklee products," says Cathie Lippman, M.D., a mom of two grown sons and a physician who specializes in environmental and preventive medicine at the Lippman Center for Optimal Health in Beverly Hills, California. "They are very clean and green, and they don't harm the environment. But distilled white vinegar goes a long way to clean a house. These days, it's easy to find excellent nontoxic cleaning products in health food stores."
"One thing that helps me around the house is ordering my groceries from Peapod and having them delivered," says Siobhan Dolan, M.D., a mom of three, OB-GYN and adviser to March of Dimes in the Bronx with a master's in public health. "I never loved going to the supermarket, and this saves me a lot of time. People might think it costs a lot more money to order groceries online than to go to the store, but the delivery fee is reasonable, and I think their prices are comparable to stores' prices. Also, because my groceries are being delivered, it's easier to buy in bulk, which saves money. It's wonderful when they pull their big truck up to my garage and unload the groceries."
Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, co-founder and CEO of family- and veteran-owned custom publisher Momosa Publishing, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years." She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate Inc.