A week ago I created my first reader survey and, with fingers crossed, I sent it out into the world. I didn’t check the results for 3 days, terrified that no would take the time to answer the survey and I would be forced to write this post based on the feedback of my sisters and mother.
But, praise the Lord, I was wrong. Over 250 wonderful, thoughtful, charitable women took a few minutes to fill out the survey. And not only that, nearly all of the responses were deep, introspective, and honest. Even though the responses were anonymous, I felt like I was speaking with my best friends as I read through these struggles, or even more so, I felt that there were things I could have written. I am so excited to share the results with you, and to hear if the general summary seems about right to you.
The results reveal a lot about what we struggle with, but even more with the internal struggles of a wife, mother and homemaker.
Because it was easiest to get my arms around, I am started today by sharing the results from the question, “what is your biggest struggle as a homemaker?” And, here are the results:
Out of the 266 responses, 120 said they struggled most with cleaning, 51 struggled with Time Management (getting everything done), 50 struggled with meals, 25 sited general insecurity and 20 struggled to manage a household budget.
I would have been another vote for cleaning. And, my response would have sounded very similar to what one woman wrote on the survey,
“My biggest struggle as a Homemaker was, is and probably always will be CLEANING!!!!! I feel overwhelmed by it. I feel like every other woman probably keeps her house cleaner than me and that makes me feel like a failure. It just never seems to end. I vacuum and mop and before the end of the DAY ! It’s dirty again! That goes for the everything else also. It seems like all the cleaning is all my responsibility.”
The only change for me would have been that my husband is actually a great help with the cleaning.
Even still, I didn’t realize what a big job cleaning is before I became a stay-at-home mom–and especially before I had little grubby kids living in that home. It’a a lot of work, it never ends, but what I heard over and over again in the responses is the link between cleaning and identity.
Some talked about being a perfectionist and how hard it is to relax and let the house go a bit in order to be present with the family.
Other’s talked about being prone to laziness and lacking the motivation to clean and clean again.
And many, many talked about feelings of failure or inadequacy tied into their attempts to keep their homes clean and decluttered. That projects would never get done. That their cleaning efforts were quickly undone by small children. That their house would never live up to their husband’s/mother’s/friend’s standards.
I get it. I feel all those feelings.
Why is our self-worth as a wife/mother so tied up in how we keep house? I don’t know. But it certainly seems to be.
I laughed out loud when I read this response on the survey:
“making meals for an ungrateful hoard. The more effort I put in the better I feel, until the kitchen is a mess and they (husband and kids) would have been happier with hot dogs.”
Trust me, you are not alone. Planning, shopping for and creating healthy, yummy meals all while managing a brood of kids is quite a task. Add in kitchen cleanup and actually trying to get the kids to EAT the healthy meal and it suddenly feels like we have been asked to do the impossible.
It’s tough. On this same note, 20 people responded that they struggle most with staying within the budget–and for me meal planning/grocery shopping is where I fail the most with a budget. It’s expensive to feed a growing family and when I walk into the grocery store with no plan and 4 screaming kids I panic and start running through the aisles, grabbing what I can (too much of that, too little of this) and my budget goes straight to hell.
51 people sited time management as their biggest struggle as a homemaker. At first I was a little surprised by this response, just because I think my brain is programmed in a bit more finite, practical way, but as I read through the responses I totally got it–and could relate 100% to the struggle.
I think this response gets to the very heart of it:
“Always feeling like I’m not accomplishing enough, or getting anything done. Because I “only” stay home I feel like there is so much more that I should be able to do and want to do!”
Yes, I get that.
If I’m just home with the kids, why aren’t my bathrooms clean? Why didn’t I get a chance to put the laundry away? Why are there so many weeds in my garden? Where did all the time go?
If we are being practical we can see where all of the time went. It went to changing diapers, negotiating with 2 year olds, building forts, reading stories, cleaning up spilled milk and a million other things we are asked to do with little kids.
And yet, each day I make a to do list in the morning and when I go to bed and see all the items I didn’t get to, it’s hard not to feel defeated. Hard not to get down on myself.
GENERAL INSECURITY–because all of these things run together
I’ve spent a lot of time with the survey results, reading, categorizing and thinking about them. By my 4th or 5th time through the responses it started to occur to me how all of these things are linked: keeping a clean home, feeding our families, managing the budget, ordering our time. In one way or another we all struggle with each of these things and they all affect they way we interact with our families.
These three responses struck a deep chord for me, likely because the resonate the most:
“Taming the clutter and upkeep. Meal planning. Laundry. I always feel like I’m trying to catch up with everything. I’d like to get to a point where I’m enjoying the moment and not worrying about what needs to be done.”
“I want to do it all. And I feel guilty about working and not being able to do all. The hardest thing is to realize that I am enough.”
“Feeling like I am adequately keeping up with all the chores, giving full attention to the little people and their interests, and teaching them responsibility for their parts of the house- basically, balancing all the things and still doing them well.”
We want to do it all. We feel like we SHOULD BE ABLE TO do it all–and when we can’t we feel like we aren’t good mothers/wives/homemakers.
Like the only mom we are allowed to be is a super mom.
If sounds silly and if a friend or sister admitted these feels to us we would be quick to correct them, quick to remind they that no one is perfect or super or able to do all the things. But we never really give this advice to ourselves. We never really give ourselves a pass.
The struggle is real, so very very real.
I hope that these survey results were as insightful for you as they were for me. There are, of course, a few changes we can make in our lives to address these struggles–methods for meal planning or committing to a chore schedule, but a lot of these struggles have to do with self-love and spousal communication. These are harder problems to fix, but much more important to address.
Hang in there. Stop looking at the dirt in your house and look at the faces.
I’m going to try and do the same thing.
Stay tuned for the survey results for “what is your biggest struggle as a wife?” and what is your biggest struggle as a mother?”. Hoping to get those results shared with you all real soon.
All the best
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