Out damn spot: On the drudgery of housework

Can we talk about housework? I am truly terrible at it. Here is the thing. I go on this epic cleaning binges, and will put a full week into getting the house top to bottom clean. And then I forget. Just for the longest time. If the Dude didn’t do laundry and dishes, then they might not get done. You know all the wives that complain about their husbands’ apparent blindness to dirt? yeah, that is me, the blind one.  And it isn’t because I am lazy or I think a task is beneath me. Sometimes I am too tired, and sometimes I am too busy, but often it is because I forget.

This is not me.
I am fortunate to have a husband who doesn’t think twice about jumping into the fray. I suppose that is one of the perks of spending his teen years with a single dad who travelled a lot. They both lived a bachelor lifestyle, and so for him, tidying the kitchen and folding laundry is a norm. Some women talk about “training their husbands” to get them to pitch in. My husband has always embraced the idea that he lives here and the mess needs to be cleaned.
I have never been a scheduler. And without external pressure, schedules fly out the window anyway. But I am going to try again.
What is working:
A few months back, I handed down a rule that every time a person uses a dish, they must wash it immediately and put it in the dishwasher to dry. I know a lot of people simply fill their dishwasher as they go, but this didn’t work for us. First of all, putting clean dishes away is a challenge for us, so then the dirty dishes would back up because the clean dishes were in the dishwasher. Second, it can lead to a back up where we would have no clean bowls, but the dishwasher isn’t yet full. Third, we would get the backwash that hits the clean dishes and so we would often have to run them again. My family did not like to rinse the dishes before dishwashing them, because at that point, you might as well wash them. When we started washing all the dishes, we didn’t want the counters to get full, and if we asked people to wash, dry, and put away every time they ate, that wouldn’t happen. It turns out that right next to our sink is a GIANT drying rack:
(Note: ours is NOT this cool)
So now people wash a dish when they use it and then put it in the dishwasher to dry. This is actually working! Yes there is still some spillover, sometimes people are busy or lazy, and so sometimes things get backed up. But by and large, we are using this system and it is working. Our kitchen is staying a lot cleaner.
What needs work:
These two areas. Cooking and laundry.
First cooking. So many parts where we fall short on this.
Meal planning, shopping regularly, using what we have, cooking it, making enough for adequate leftovers, using the leftovers we do have, throwing stuff out after it goes bad. We are trying to do weekly meal planning.
I want to do Once a Month Shopping and Cooking. Or even Twice a Month Shopping and Cooking. The Dude is hesitant because he doesn’t like to spend so much money all at once, he is concerned that we will get overwhelmed and not do it and will waste food, and he is concerned about storage, since we don’t have a super big house. We do have a freezer, but even having adequate storage bags and finding the right lids for our plastic containers is a commitment. He is right to be concerned about all of this of course.
My main reason for wanting to do it is that I have the attention span of a fruit fly. Remembering to take meat out to thaw, knowing what to cook before 7 pm-these are challenging for me. On my nights to cook, you can often find spaghetti with sauce from a jar (throwing in some veggies for good luck!) or rotisserie chicken for Safeway. If I knew that a day or two was dedicated to cooking, it would be so much easier.
Right now our compromise is to make a weekly meal plan and shop for it. We will see how it goes. We often forget to make anything that is on our meal plan.
The second big looming issue?
Laundry, laundry, laundry!! The Dude does it often, and Magnus will run loads through as well. I remember sometimes. However, even when we do remember to do it, we are very bad about folding it, so it sits in the laundry baskets until very very wrinkled. And when we do manage to fold, the clothes are supposed to be put away, right? Yeah, that is a problem. So there is usually at least one basket sitting in the living room, either folded or not folded. I want to stop the madness. I have tried the FLYLady method of one load per day, but honestly in our house, there is always more than one load per day, it is hard to get people to put laundry away daily, and some days I just don’t think about doing laundry.
So, we are going to try my mom’s method. Every Wednesday and Saturday, I would wake to Mom sorting clothes into 8 piles on the kitchen floor. My mom was running a house that had two adults and 9 kids, so precision was her life saver. She had two laundry days per week-clothes were washed, dried, folded, and placed on people’s beds. I will not be doing the last part so much, and in fact will insist on a lot more input throughout the process, but it is the method I am going to try. I have placed on my Google Calendar a recurring event-Laundry Day. Monday and Thursday. And I am going to add sheet washing every two weeks. You just don’t even want to know how long we normally go between sheet washing.
So, that is the plan to tackle these dreaded tasks. Weekly meal planning, with an eye toward bulk cooking, and two days set aside for laundry, and marked on the calendar so I don’t forget. And just to be clear, although I am using 1950s pictures throughout this post, the boys and husband are very much involved with this process. I will not be doing this alone.
I am sure that for a lot of you, this is all quite simple, but I have to work at these most basic tasks. Hopefully this is a step towards taming the beasts.
Please talk to me in the comments. How much time do you spend a day on housecleaning? Meal prep? Laundry? What methods have you found helpful?
signed-Not Very Good at Making a House a Home, and Not only Would Martha Stewart Give Me Side Eye, but I Think Even Roseanne Might be Better at it Than I Am.