I get asked from time to time if my husband and children wash dishes and help with home maintenance. People make these comments on videos where I’m talking about establishing a routine. Generally, it’s people who are new to my channel and haven’t watched many videos or read my blog, but I wanted to talk about it because it is a frequent question.
The answer is yes. Yes, my husband and my children wash dishes and participate in taking care of the home.
I purposely don’t share them doing it (often).
Our husband and children are not the ones searching the internet for how to get the house under control. We’re the ones that are bothered by it. We’re the ones watching YouTube videos on how to keep a clean house.
I’m the one bothered by a messy home. It doesn’t do any of us any good if I blame the other people in my home. And it’s worse if I’m not willing to make changes in my life but decide to enforce them making changes.
If I’m the one that wants the change, then I’m the one that needs to take action, regardless of my family’s participation.
Likely, they don’t mind the state of the home, it’s what they are used to. They may not even see the things that need to be addressed.
I need to make the changes I want, and I need to do it for myself.
I like to compare it to running a marathon.
If I decide I am going to run a marathon, I have to do the things to prepare for it. I have to exercise, I have to adjust my diet, I have to increase my water intake. I am the one that has to take the goal of running a marathon seriously.
And I can’t be mad at my husband if he also doesn’t want to run a marathon. It’s something I want to do, not him.
Maybe he’ll get inspired and want to do it with me. Maybe it will take a couple of years of me running marathons before he decides he wants to join me. But maybe he never will… maybe he will only support me and say, “you go right ahead. That can be your thing.”
But I can’t hold that against him – he’s been living his life, quite content, not running marathons.
It’s the same way with our homes.
Our families aren’t the ones looking to change. They are used to the way things are and are (generally) content with how things have always been done.
The change then has to take place in us.
We have to change our daily habits, we have to learn to remove unnecessary items from our homes, and we have to make it a priority.
We can’t force them to think differently about the home or have different priorities. We can only change ourselves.
Perhaps they will catch on and participate, but perhaps they won’t.
Yes, it is frustrating when people in our homes aren’t “on board” and empty out their pockets on the table or decide to make brownies in the middle of the night and leave the kitchen trashed.
But in the meantime, we can work on ourselves and do it for ourselves. We can wash the dishes because we enjoy walking into the kitchen and seeing an empty sink. We can declutter the house because we enjoy seeing clear surfaces.
It took my husband about five years before he got “on board” with minimalism, and it took a bit longer before he started improving his own habits and taking care of the dishes without me asking him to.
FYI – it’s ok to ask.
Everyone has different degrees of tolerance, my husband could tolerate a lot of mess – it didn’t bother him to have dishes piled in the sink. But he was also very willing to jump in if he knew I wanted things taken care of.
He didn’t realize it was bothering me so much. I didn’t talk about it – I just grumped about it to myself!
I’d rather not have to ask. I’d rather not feel like I nothing gets done unless I’m the “manager.” But in the end, it’s better to let them know when something needs to be taken care of rather than wallow in martyrdom and resent every action we take.
Along that note, if you do have children, it’s good to have them help.
Yes we need to work on ourselves first, but after a few weeks of working on our habits, we can bring our kids along and teach them to do it with us.
In our home now, someone is helping with dishes every night after dinner – unloading the dishwasher, loading it, clearing the table, whatever needs to be done, it’s not all on me.
Helping with household tasks gives our children a sense of belonging. (Though, they may not view it that way!!) Knowing that they are needed for the function of the home is a good feeling. It also helps them understand how to take care of things when they get out on their own.
If they’re home with us, let’s teach them. Teach them how to change habits, let things go, and maintain a home. That way, they won’t be in the same place we have been… scouring the internet for answers on how to have a clean house.
They’ll already have the tools they need to do it.