A normal workday for me goes a little something like this: I wake up at 6:45 to breastfeed Buddy, dress both kids, shower and dress myself, and pray that I'll be out the door by 8:00. I need to be at work by 8:30, my mandatory hour lunch is spent either breastfeeding or pumping and maybe squeezing in an errand before I eat lunch at my desk. I leave the office at 5:30, arrive home 5:45-6:00 to immediately start working on dinner (or supervising the making of dinner while I breastfeed). By the time dinner is finished, it's close to 7:00. I get to spend about an hour with Kat before bedtime at 8:00. That leaves a mere two hours before I go to bed at 10:00.
When I went back to work after the birth of Kat and settled into this routine, it was a shock at how little time was left at the end of the day. And I realized that I could either spend that time relaxing, focused on activities that I wanted to do, and connecting with NerdDad OR I could spend time cleaning, doing dishes and laundry, and working on other chores.
This decision seriously stressed me out for a while. Obviously, spending those two hours in a way I enjoyed was my preference, but I just couldn't let those chores go undone. NerdDad is awesome, and we have chores pretty evenly divided, usually based on what we feel most passionate about. Keeping the house clean and organized fell on my plate. It takes NerdDad a few too many days before realizing that something is dirty. And I'm always concerned about what visitors might think if they arrive when I have dusty floors, fingerprinted windows, and cobwebs in the corners. However, spending my evenings straightening and cleaning just left me feeling drained, worn out, and on edge. Something had to give (or else I was going to fold).
Now, of course, there are some chores that just have to be done (dishes and clothes need to be washed and kitchen counters should be wiped down). But for a while, I let everything else go. And I felt horribly guilty!
Over time, though, I've realized something. The reason I felt bad about not cleaning as often as I "should" wasn't because I was bothered by the extra dust; it was because I was worried about others being bothered by my extra dust. And I realized that this was silly! My house is mine (and my family's)! I should be able to keep it however I want. My home should be a sanctuary, not a place where I'm worried about what others think. So I instituted a new rule: the only people who would be invited into my home would be ones that I was confident would not judging my housekeeping.
Perhaps my new rule seems silly, and that I just need to toughen up and not worry about what others think. But relieving myself of the need to impress visitors with my housekeeping skills has freed me to be able to spend more time on the things I love. And that's better for everybody.