Most people that I know handle household chores in a “catch as catch can” manner. That means, if they get home from work really late one evening, the tasks for that evening get shifted to another day. Laundry gets done when underwear starts getting scarce and ironing -well, ironing just plain doesn’t happen.
But it wasn’t always this way. The time intensity of tasks (just read Never Done by Susan Strasser if you don’t believe me) required a schedule. Whole communities functioned on a daily schedule, perhaps unwritten but certainly discussed over clotheslines and bridge tables, with chores completed on specific days. Mondays were typically laundry day, with ironing (in the days before Black & Decker steam irons) following on Tuesday. Mending might be on Wednesday and so on down the days. Each week followed the same pattern. You might remember your own childhood homes having a similar rhythm of sorts, if not the same tasks. In our house, my mom had set laundry days, vacuuming days and bathroom days. I wasn’t necessarily aware of the schedule but the order of our house flowed around us.
Once I had my own home, I failed to implement Mom’s system. It seemed easier to handle things in a Triage manner – laundry when I ran out of clean clothes to wear, toilets when company was coming to visit, and so on. The more hours I worked outside the home, the less my “catch as catch can” system worked. We had whole rooms that would be off limits to visitors because the disorder was beyond belief.
Years later, I’m finally learning the wisdom of “Monday is wash day…” It makes a difference having a schedule. And it makes a difference in what order things are accomplished. For our home, it is easier if I do laundry every other day to keep on top of it. It also helps me when it comes time to put that clean laundry away because I am notorious for leaving items in the “clean basket”. Similarly, cleaning the kitchen is now a daily task, not a Saturday morning marathon like before. Bathrooms get cleaned thoroughly Tuesdays and Fridays and baking happens on Saturdays. The week is starting to take shape for me and I’m even looking for a time to slip in some ironing (gulp).
Sure, it is hard to muster up the energy to do that load of laundry after a long day outside the home. But it is even harder giving up a whole Saturday afternoon with your family or taking a Febreze bottle to your kid’s school clothes. The threadbare phrase “never put off what you can do today” really does still mean something – at least as far as homemaking is concerned. So does “every little bit helps” because sometimes even just scrubbing the toilet bowl on the way out the door in the morning puts you that much farther ahead.