Feeling "taken advantage of"

This was sent by Schuyler Waynforth. It's Deb Lewis, responding to an unknown questioner (known to Deb, maybe, but unknown to me —Sandra):

Subject: [unschoolingbasics] Re: I'm feeling "taken advantage of"

I initially used the strategy of a lot of "huffing and puffing" to try to make sure they realised I was the poor person having to do all the work and it wasn't fair....... lol.

It's good you're getting past that but you're probably still giving them the vibe if you're feeling resentful and overwhelmed. If you make housework seem like a pain in the ass they'd be pretty stupid to jump right in and do it, don't you think? You don't want a bunch of stupid kids, do you?

Are you pretty good at setting priorities or when you look around to you feel like you have to clean up everything? Pick one thing and do it and then pick something else. Start with the thing that will most lift your stress or your husband's stress. Let the other stuff wait until you get to it. Feeling overwhelmed often has more to do with our own unrealistic expectation than it does our actual work load.

they happily leave their dirty plates etc lying wherever they used them
They're not happily making a mess so that you have to clean. They're happy, and they don't think about the mess. There's a difference and if you can see it it will help your attitude. Remember, you're the one setting the standard for clean, not them. You can't make them want to help you but you can adjust your standard and your attitude.
It just feels really unfair to me, to be standing in the kitchen late at night, surrounded by cockroach-attracting mess, watching the kids play the xbox or watch TV, while I do all the cleaning up,
I don't live where cockroaches are a problem but do you really have to do all the dishes to make sure you don't get cockroaches?
  • Can you rinse the dishes and stack them in orderly piles and do the few that people might need first thing in the morning? I sometimes just do the dishes we'll really need and leave the rest for a more convenient time.
  • I fill the dish pan with hot soapy water when dinner is ready and as each of us finishes eating it's easy to just swish our plates and flatware clean. Maybe you could try that. Nobody has to do all the dishes, just his own stuff and you have fewer dishes. If you keep your dish pan full of water you can wash one or two things when you get a minute.
  • Can you get a dishwasher? Craig's list or Freecycle might be a place to look if you can't afford a new one.
  • Can you serve dinner right from the stove, right out of the cooking pans so you don't have serving dishes to wash?
  • When a cook pan is emptied put it in the dishpan to soak while you eat.
  • One night a week you could use paper plates, give yourself a break.

(I stand in the store, in front of the paper plates, and finally decide to buy the plastic ones because I can wash those and use them again! Yes, I'm really that stupid!)

I wrote once before about how dish washing has come to be my mental health moment. I light a candle, I make some tea or pour a glass of wine, turn on some music, (life support!) take off my shoes, and do just the dishes I want to do. I use dish soap that smells great -LOVE that hot water...sigh. I never start out feeling like I *have to* do *all* the dishes. I think how I want to have clean dishes and do however many I feel like doing. I dance around a little. I plan my garden. I save the world. It's never just about doing dishes.

So if you like to listen to audio books or watch movies figure a way to do that while you do dishes.

It just feels really unfair to me,
It's not unfair it's life. People are messy. You knew that right? Houses get dirty. That's how it is for everyone, not just you. We're all cleaning too! Some of us are just sickeningly well adjusted. You'll get there.

You can ask for help. Remember if a thing feels like too much for you it's probably too much for someone else. Ask one person to do one thing when they have time. "Next one who goes upstairs please take the laundry basket."

Figure out what would help you the most and make the changes to make it happen. Maybe that means putting a garbage can in every room, having baskets or bins to chuck stuff into, having a container of those premoistened cleaning wipes in every room. Get a Roomba and let it go. Cook enough for two meals one night so you don't have to cook the next night, etc. Joyce recommended a pizza night so you don't have to cook. You could have sandwich night and everyone can eat off paper towels.

Woody Allen said, "The talent for being happy is appreciating and liking what you have instead of what you don't have." You don't have a bunch of kids who are interested in helping around the house right now but you do have a bunch of happy kids. : )

Deb Lewis

More on chores or other daily considerations