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How to Be a Successful Modern Family Woman

This is one end of our hall. The other end is even messier. There are five of us making this mess. Six, if you include the dog. (He’s responsible for making the carpets permanently filthy.)
Sometimes I look around me and think that it looks more like twenty people live here, we have that much clutter and footwear.
I often wake in the middle of the night and think I am failing as a woman/wife/mother because I am not keeping things tidier (I promise you it’s not all about the hall). But deep down I know that tidiness is not a representation of any sort of success in those roles.

So I thought about how I could get through the days (and nights) without beating myself up over every little imperfection.

And this is what I came up with:

Add “Look tired” to your list of desired achievements for the day. (TICK!)

Make “Emergency ponytail” your favourite hairstyle.

Make “Teaching daughters about feminism” your reason for having breakfast dishes on the kitchen table all day and a confusion of clean and dirty laundry strewn around the house

Add “Check Twitter” to every even number on your “(AS LONG AS IT TAKES, OKAY!?) To-do” list.

Add beguiling entries to said list, such as: “Read that thing I have to read”, “Google that important thingy”, and “clear out underwear drawer”. Tick them and put list on fridge for all to see. This turns the guilt of time spent reading, web-browsing and having no clean underwear into achievements.

Wear a “Period Pains Hurt!” t-shirt once-a-month – or anytime you need people to sod off and stop asking you to do too many things.
(“The Menopause Is No Joke!” “Ask Me When I’ve Had Enough Sleep” and “The Most Productive People Take Breaks” are also useful for sending an important message)

Get “Superwoman Doesn’t Exist”, “Oh, Sod it!” and “All the best people are a bit smelly & messy” magnets for your fridge.

Have a partner who is a partner and not a stereotype.

Before anyone can ask you about all the things you haven’t done tell them all the things you have done.

Every time anyone says anything about how much better things used to be when families were more disciplined, mention the mass, hidden, domestic, mental and physical abuse of women and children of the nineteen fifties and the inequality and fear of the patriarchal figure that stinted the potential of many people for many years and still fuels the guilt and perceived (= made up) duties of the twentieth-first century woman.

Know that the best people trust you and like you a lot more when they know that you are not perfect

Never allow chores or household appliances to remain an enigma. Repeatedly marvel at how fun and easy the dishwasher/washing machine/cooker/vacuum cleaner are to use instead of being truthful about how depressing housework is. (Now that I’ve read this through I want to point out that what I mean by this is other household members should be allowed and encouraged to do more)

Don’t be a domestic goddess because your daughters will think they have to be a domestic goddess and your sons will expect their wives to be a domestic goddess and you don’t want that do you?
Well. I don’t.

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Phew!!! This makes me feel so much better about the chaos that is my house! I have a rival pile of shoes by our front door 🙂 may just print this out and stick it to my fridge to point at when people moan at me 😉 x


    • You are marvellous and active and I can’t for a second imagine you being happy chained up indoors. You will have grown-up kids one day who know what makes for a good happy day. The appearance of a home is down to opinion about what you are prepared to live with nothing more, don’t you think?


      • I definitely can’t stay indoors for long. Thank you! Two of them would rather be out and up for anything which is brilliant. The other would rather watch DVD’s but I’m working on her 😉 That is very true. 🙂


  2. Brilliantly put! I write this sitting in my armchair, feet up, coffee table covered in clutter, my wee side table covered in notebooks, pens, magazines, sticky tape, cotton buds and tweezers (for seeing to the poodles’ ears), a box of tissues and earphones. I’m not going to go into the sofas, shoe cupboard in the hall or my ‘study’ with a desk hidden under stuff to be filed and tidied and an assortment of small animals and their paraphernalia.
    Your post has made me love you more cos I feel less guilty.


    • I think of you as a better version of me. And look how that lovely daughter has turned out! 🙂 xxxx


      • How odd, cos that’s exactly how I think of you! x


  3. Amanda O'Dell #

    I repeatedly tell myself (and anyone else who visits!) that it was never one of my ambitions to be a good housewife. Which is a good job really…


    • Yes being a housewife is a good job. Being a housewife whilst also being a mother is the most undervalued unpaid job I know. I suppose everyone has their own idea of just what being good at that means. I was once an obsessive housewife and my children saw nothing but unhappiness in my eyes. Now I am still a housewife but I am other things too and I’ve altered my view on what is important to us. I suppose we’re all “good” if we learn to prioritise the important stuff…


  4. Bridget Oliver #

    I knew there was a very good reason for not keeping my house like a show home – I am ensuring the future freedom from guilt of my daughter and daughter-in-law. This is a happy thought to take into the weekend. Yes, I’m a bit of a sloven, but a righteous one! When Nee and I were looking at a catoalogue the other day she said, ” I’m glad our home doesn’t look like this; I like lots of mess around” Good girl!


  5. Hear, hear! It’s so wrong that women still see it as their responsibility, though. In this day and age, no-one should feel like this: ‘I often wake in the middle of the night and think I am failing as a woman/wife/mother because I am not keeping things tidier.’ But I’m sure many women do. And you’re absolutely right – by not being a domestic goddess you are putting a stop to this ridiculous way of thinking. Thank you for being messy.



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