This past week I ran an experiment on myself. The idea came from an article on Challies about things college students can do to be more productive during finals and the coming summer. I decided to immediately implement the 40-hour work week as the only amount of time I was allowed to do housework or writing. And I absolutely loved it, the very same day. This solved multiple ongoing emotional difficulties for myself: guilt over housework and to-do’s still not done at the end of every day, feeling unproductive and inadequate, and feeling stressed almost constantly. I also hoped this could be a general solution for homemakers, particularly those who are at home full-time. I realize it needs tweaking for those working outside the home.
Between roughly 7:30 AM and 17:30 PM I did laundry, cooked meals, completed chores, ran errands and went to appointments, played with Prima, updated the budget, meal-planned, and prepared for Mother’s Day weekend. I became far more productive than was normal. The Norseman would come home, and we would eat dinner, clear the dishes from the table, and spend the remainder of the evening however we pleased. Reading, surfing the Internet, reading blogs, playing games, watching Netflix, going for a walk, talking, checking social media – all very leisurely activities for us. We spent plenty of time in each others company, and I revelled in the peacefulness of it all. I think the reason it was so successful and emotionally freeing is that it established a clear delineation between work and rest time periods, which in effect gave me “permission” to focus on work and leisure activities, respectively.
Now, Saturday was an exception to this schedule. We had a good bit of tidying up to do, still, as we wanted to finish some decluttering of certain areas (ahem, Master Bedroom and Closet of Hidden Things), as well do some deeper cleaning and preparing to host over twenty people for lunch on Sunday. I had the idea that Saturdays should only have four hours of work or errands total on this schedule, leaving the remainder for us to spend however we please. While Saturday ended up being a long, exhausting day, we were able to clean up from the lunch on Sunday quickly. Our house soon looked as neat and clean as if no one had ever been over.
The week was a great success. I’ve definitely broken some “cardinal rules” of proper housewifery – (“Don’t go to bed with a dirty kitchen!” comes to mind.) But I believe that some of these rules need to be reevaluated by 21st century standards (alas, we no longer live in the 40’s, to my deepest sorrow.) To further expound on the above broken rule – I clean up the kitchen in the morning, while Prima takes her morning nap. The Norseman values quality time higher than a clean sink and humming dishwasher. I value feeling as if the workday has come to a definite end. And so breaking this rule creates a happier home, and happier hearts in our family.
I had thought about creating a list of exactly which tasks could and could not be performed during my 40 hours. But I realized that would take away some of the flexibility I require. The beauty of being home full-time is that I do get to be more flexible than when I worked. Instead, I’m working on a list of activities to be completed only during “off” hours. I’ve given myself until the end of May to hone this idea more clearly, and hopefully have some ideas for part-time and full-time working women. Until then, I’ll try to put some updates about how it’s going on Instagram.
What do you think? Would this idea work for you and do you plan to try it?