Picture this: you’ve just spent a good portion of the day doing laundry. It’s now folded and put away. As you’re saying good night to your child you notice their laundry basket is once again full. You sigh as you leave the room – more laundry to do. You are filled with resentment for a few seconds, and you shake your head as you wonder; does it ever stop? Is laundry one of the household chores overwhelming you?
The two other chores that create feelings of overwhelm and resentment for many of my clients are taking out the trash and recycling and doing the dishes.
These three household chores are recurring. They are never done because there is always another dish used, something else tossed or recycled, or more clothes that need to be washed.
Why do people resist doing household chores?
There are several reasons many people resist doing household chores.
It will take them more time than they have available, they think.
There is only a little bit to do, so it’s not necessary to do it now.
They don’t want to do it. The parent in their head is telling them what they should do, and they are simply being stubborn, sort of like a belligerent child, and walking away from the chore.
The problem is that the more you delay doing a household chore like dishes, taking out garbage, or laundry the more there is to do and the longer it takes.
It is so much easier and takes less time when you do it right away. Almost everyone knows this when they stop to think about it, but emotions get in the way. Also, there is always something they would rather do than a household chore.
Here are my tips for getting more done with less resistance
Shift your mindset
Instead of telling yourself I have to do the dishes (or take out the trash or do the laundry) say I get to do the dishes. Continue the inner dialogue by telling yourself there’s only a couple of dishes here. If I do them right away the sink will be empty. How great is that?
Have a reward in mind
Remember to reward yourself by doing the thing that you want to do next. I work best when I know there is a reward waiting for me. Don’t you? It doesn’t have to be something you buy. The reward can be something simple like spending 15 minutes by yourself reading a magazine.
Change the time of day
If you start the dishwasher every night after dinner, you can empty it in the morning. Create a new morning routine for yourself. Empty the dishwasher while the coffee is brewing. By the time the coffee is ready, the dishwasher will be empty, and it will be easy to move the dishes out of the sink and into the dishwasher a little bit at a time.
Laundry is overwhelming when there is lots and lots of laundry to do. It used to be that we thought we had to wait until we had a full load of laundry before putting a load of clothes in the washing machine to save water. Now, the machines are smart. They have sensors built into them, so they only use the amount of water they need.
Do small loads of laundry. A small load takes less time to wash, less time to dry, and less time to fold and put away.
Don’t wait until you have lots of laundry to do. Tackle the laundry a little bit at a time and it won’t be so overwhelming.
Here’s another post related to household chores.
Doing chores feels better when you are sharing the work with someone else. Often, we resist doing things and are resentful when we think we are the only one contributing effort. If you wait for them to offer to help you, you could be waiting a long time. Instead, give everyone who lives in the home a choice of something to do.
One person can work on laundry, folding and putting it away. Someone else can do the dishes. A third person can take out the trash. If there are more people in the home, I’m sure you can find something for them to do.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed when multiple household chores accumulate. Conquer your resistance to tackling them by keeping them small and shifting your mindset. Do something even when it feels like there is very little to do. Then it is over and done with quickly and you can move on to something more fun.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Sign up for Diane’s newsletter to get more great organizing tips.
What a relatable post! For me, the endless task is washing the dishes and loading the dishwasher. No matter how often I tend to this task, there always seems to be another item in the sink. And I hate when I come into the kitchen and there are things in the sink. Plus I am kosher and have 2 sinks and 2 dishwashers- one for meat and one for dairy. So that’s 2 sinks and dishwashers to clear. I find that making sure that every member of the family is onboard is key. Particularly during the height of COVID when everybody was home and creating more mess. I also find that putting on music while I wash dishes changes my mindset and what was once a chore becomes a soothing time.
Thank you, Jill. Music can often help turn something that is drudgery into something less onerous.
Great idea – to listen to an audiobook while doing household chores. Yes, I agree, dusting is another one of those tasks that is never done!
I’m probably the odd person out here, but I actually get into doing these types of chores. It’s soothing to do a task with a distinct beginning and end. Plus, the results are visible and satisfying. I love your first point! There is nothing quite making a mindset shift to change one’s experience. I love what you offered of going from an attitude of “have to” and reframing it into “get to.” That alone can change how you approach less desirable tasks.
My husband and I share and help each other with the household chores, making these ongoing tasks less onerous. We’ve been making all of our meals (more than ever) and have noticed how often the dishwasher gets to run and be emptied. But instead of it being a source of frustration, we’ve acknowledged that we’re eating more healthfully, and the result aside from feeling better is having more dishwasher activity. And in this case, it’s a positive thing.
Oh, Linda, you’re not alone! I enjoy finishing these tasks also. But, I think we may be in the minority. Shifting the way you look at tasks is so important!
I love that your husband helps you with household chores. It’s always easier and more fun to do chores with someone else.
Great tips! Laundry can be overwhelming. I do laundry all at once during the week. That is primarily because our offices are nearby and we can do laundry while taking breaks during the day. Then on the weekend we can relax and don’t have to worry about it.
I love that you have a plan for laundry so that it doesn’t interfere with the time you have set aside to relax!
I love this article. Having an established routine for these chores makes them happen without thinking about them so they don’t seem like so much work. Getting help is a big part of not feeling like it is a chore. If any of these chores are spread out to a number of people no one has a big chore. The one in change is the need to be flexible about the quality of the work while helpers learn how to do it. These are life skills that should be taught to every child to make their lives easier as an adult. Why are they called “chores? Even the word gives them a bad reputation.
Julie, I love the idea of removing the word ‘chores’. You are so right. It sounds like a punishment when it needs to be simply part of what one does to maintain the home. Great idea!
I like doing laundry and the dishes and do both while watching TV or listening to podcasts. They are tasks that you can multi-task while doing.
What resonated with me was when you said ” The problem is that the more you delay doing a household chore like dishes, taking out the garbage, or laundry the more there is to do and the longer it takes.” I used to do my own bookkeeping for my business. I hated it, so I did it every Friday. It only took me a few minutes. But if I left it for a few weeks I really hated doing it. It took so much longer!
Thank you, Janet. I also dislike the bookkeeping part of my job and schedule time to do it regularly so I don’t fall behind. I love the idea of pairing a task like laundry or dishes with TV or a podcast.