Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Our grandmothers had a system for getting things done. Each day had a chore. Monday was washday. Today we should have Tuesday and Wednesday off. There’s little or no ironing or mending that needs doing. Thursday was cleaning day in those olden times, and unfortunately there’s lots of that that still needs doing.

Friday was shopping day. I live within walking distance of stores, and order many items on Amazon or eBay so I don’t need a shopping day.

Saturday was a cooking day. The little cooking I do is usually making a pasta salad or heating up a veggie burger.

Then comes Sunday, and don’t we all need a day of rest. Except there are always chores that need doing even on a Sunday.

Nowadays most women have workdays. Several days out of each week, we must be busy doing someone else’s work. I admit that when I worked outside the home, lots of housework didn’t get done.

I would leave my classroom with piles of essays to correct, and wishes that I had become a math instructor instead of a writing teacher. Math tests can be corrected in minutes using a Scantron. I had to read each essay, sometimes more than once and make comments. I had to get grades in. I ignored the dirty floor, messy litter pans and the dirty dishes. Housework got done eventually, but it had little priority.

I retired at the end of 2013, and cleaned house. I went through all the rooms, sweeping, mopping, dusting and rearranging. It left me so exhausted, I didn’t do anymore housework for awhile unless it was necessary like cleaning litter pans.

Things quickly got dirty again.

I wanted to learn American Sign language, write a blog about learning better, and write a novel. I began writing the novel, and volunteering at an animal rescue group. Occasionally I would go to Youtube for an ASL lesson. I decided I would not be a slave to the household.

Now that I was home more, housework seemed to nag me. The dirty floors stared at me. Even my computer screen had smudges I hadn’t noticed before.

The months went by. The house didn’t look any cleaner, and I hadn’t learned much ASL. My novel was coming together, but the blog was a drain of my energy. I volunteered sometimes as many as five days a week for the animal rescue group, but that was just two hours in the morning.

It was also an excuse. Why wasn’t housework getting done. I was too busy.

This is really about time management, not chores.

The old Monday is washday schedule doesn’t work any more and not because I don’t iron, mend or cook. So many things like litter pans need to be done everyday need. Daily shores take up chunks of time, that I want to invest elsewhere.

I read everyday, write everyday, eat and sleep everyday. These are core activities for me. Eating and sleeping already had times carved out for them. Litter pans, another core activity, were done first thing every morning. I read in the evenings, after I am too tired to clean or even write.

Over the first year of my retirement a schedule evolved.

I put in time everyday for writing. I finished the novel, and now I can’t stop revising it. I started a second novel and a memoir. Occasionally I have a day where the best I can do is squeeze in fifteen minutes writing time, but it is an important fifteen minutes.

Housework is like that. I plan a chore, but something else comes up. My husband and I and Cinco, one of the cats have all had emergency room visits this year. We just contracted to have a steel roof put on our house. Solar panels will follow. These will mean interruptions, and I can’t always plan the day or time when the interruption will occur.

I have divided cleaning chores up. I clean the kitchen on Monday; utility room on Tuesday, office/living room on Wednesday. I have a room for each day. Sometimes I double up and do two rooms in one day.

What I need is reading time. I get depressed if I don’t read 70-100 pages a day. I am a reading addict. And the reading feeds the writing. I learn from good writers. So around five each evening I curl up with a book. This is my reward for cleaning, writing, shopping and volunteering.