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Inferiority is relative. It needs something or someone else to be compared to.

A sense of inferiority arises from comparing ourselves to someone else, someone supposedly superior. Why do we do that? Is it helpful? Very often, it isn’t but it can be automatic and unconscious. It’s a natural human tendency. Everybody does it. But whereas men tend to compare sizes (car, salary, appendage…), women tend to compare appearance – figures, clothes and inevitably, homes.

And as a feature of the modern age, we are increasingly exposed to media standards or celebrities’ homes and lifestyles. So now we also get to judge ourselves against these additional, artificially high, expectations of what we feel we should be doing.

I know I’ve been guilty of proclaiming, “I’m no good at housework. I’m just not as good as most women.” But if we examine this common grievance, it’s actually ridiculous.

Firstly, how could I possibly know how good most women are? I have a reasonable number of female friends but even that’s a tiny sample of the current female population. Secondly, is there really a single standard to which ‘most women’ conform? And who sets this arbitrary standard anyway? If there was just me on the planet, my techniques, standards, would be the norm – who’s to say they’re not the right ones? Besides, why does it even matter what ‘most women’ are doing? We’re not sheep, we’re individuals.

In light of all this, then, it seems obvious that one quick route out of inferiority is to stop comparing our homes with other women’s houses. But that can be easier said than done. So, whist it’s certainly worth remembering there is no single ‘right way’, there is another way to approach the problem.

Instead of focusing on your perceived shortcomings, turn the spotlight onto that which you believe to be better than you. It’s very likely that when you start to uncover the story behind these ‘superior beings’, you will discover that your lofty view of them is based on smoke and mirrors…

Don’t believe the media

Is your marriage like a movie marriage? Are your children like the perfect darlings we see on adverts? Does your hair always look like you ‘just stepped out of the salon’?

Let’s face it, no-one could maintain that level of perfection. Even supermodels admit they’re not as perfect as their airbrushed covers and posters. Why, then, do we sometimes feel pressured to have homes that resemble a magazine spread? Even the home in the magazine doesn’t look like that all of the time! It’s just a snapshot, a small timeframe, until life carries on, people and things gather, dust accumulates.

So be careful with how you relate to these ‘ideal’ homes. Whilst it’s true that interior magazines and TV shows can be uplifting and a vicarious pleasure, keep in mind that they are usually far from the norm. The are intended to be aspirational rather than realistic – to inspire you, as a force for good feelings. (Personally, I love them – they spur me to create the beautiful home that I long for – they make me want to tidy up, which can’t be bad.)

However the danger comes when these artificially perfect images depress rather than enliven. So, if your reaction to them is to sigh with despair, either a) remind yourself how contrived or unlikely that one shot is or b) look at something else!

People lie

We all have egos. We all want people to believe a certain version of us, so we gloss over the bits that don’t fit the image. I’m not suggesting your friends or peers lie to you, or you to them, but we may have a ‘best side’ that we’d prefer the world to see, rather than the more realistic and less flattering truth.

So there may be aspects to your domestic life that you’d rather keep quiet. But do you think you’re the only one? No-one is perfect, (which, in my view is a good thing – it would be exhausting!). What you see isn’t always the whole story. So, whilst it’s good to admire those who posses the qualities you’d like, don’t belittle yourself in comparison to their perfection – you are only seeing the highly-polished veneer.

It’s not a level playing field

You cannot possibly know all the facts about someone else’s life. Yes, your neighbour may have a perfect home. But she may also have staff or an over-zealous mother-in-law or obsessive compulsive disorder!

Don’t waste your energy comparing yourself unfavourably to women who seem to effortlessly pull it off. Firstly, you have no idea what effort is actually going on, behind the scenes. Secondly, you are unlikely to know the full extent of any support they may have. For example, your friend may keep an immaculate home but her husband may do all the cooking or her mother may help out with childcare or any number of scenarios. It’s pointless to compare results when everyone’s situation is different.

So, if we’re not comparing like with like, why compare at all?

Perfect home does not equal perfect life

There are worse problems than a messy home. Those people that you envy may be facing issues so serious they would swap lives with you in an instant. Everyone has problems, but for some these can be severe, traumatic, life-threatening and permanent. As depressing, exhausting and frustrating domestic woes can be, if this is our biggest problem, that’s actually something to be thankful for.

 

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As always, I’d love to hear what you think!

Danielle

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This post is an extract from: Housework Blues – A Survival Guide.
Available in paperback and ebook formats. Click here for more details.

 

Picture credit: E D Plug

 


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“Is this it?”

“Is this what my life has come to?”

“I’ve got so much more to offer.”

Sound familiar?

If your life is consumed by housework, no wonder you feel superior – of course you have more to offer! I don’t believe that any woman on the planet has nothing more to contribute than cleaning and tidying. However, that doesn’t mean we should never do it. We have more to contribute than pretty nails but that doesn’t mean we should avoid manicures!


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 girl put your records on

Any regular readers will no doubt be aware that I have a natural aversion to housework. This is not to say I don’t do it – I want to live in a pleasant and comforting home, so needs must etc… But generally speaking it’s not top of my list of things I want to do.

So you probably won’t be too surprised to discover that when I do eventually shift my gears into housework mode, I race about at a frenzied pace, trying to get the jobs done and dusted (literally) as quickly as possible.

Now there is nothing wrong with working quickly, if that’s how you work happiest. Also, there may be times when a brisk pace is essential (ie impending guests are looming). Quite often, though, I have no need to rush the housework, other than my in-built urge to get it over with. And I have also noticed that these domestic frenzies don’t leave me feeling satisfied and competent, instead they actually they wind me up. They make me anxious and tense. So not only do I begrudge the work as I’m tearing through it, but when it’s over, I feel slightly glum or more than a little snappish. Hardly domestic bliss.


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crayke

 

I recently wrote a guest blog post for my Twitter friend Jo Belfield on the subject of photography, (Jo creates beautiful photos for a living).

I believe that having your favourite photos on display in your home can be a great antidote to the housework blues.

So, here’s the blog post again in case you didn’t catch it:

I recently embarked upon a full day of housework.

This is not something I do very often. Not because I don’t enjoy a clean and tidy home – I do, I love it. However, I find that Great Big Cleaning Efforts mess with my head. There’s a very real danger that all the mindless domestic activity will result in a head-space of frustration, despair or low-level fury. (Or on a bad day, all three.) Admittedly there are far worse ordeals to be facing, but I don’t think I’m alone in occasionally feeling the strain of home and family maintenance.


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Thanks to the marvels of technology, some of my recent online articles included a comments facility and some people very kindly used this space to volunteer their own housework-success secrets.

These included some real gems and I thought it would be helpful to put together a summary of these words of wisdom. So, here follows a collection of top tips from the online community, on how to cope in the domestic trenches. (Thanks, readers!)


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Could it be true? (again)

Now I am a self-confessed Undomestic Goddess. I am not naturally inclined to clean and tidy. I am a million miles away from the Perfect Housewife. And yet…

The other day, I had a few precious minutes of un-spoken-for time on my hands and what did I choose to do with it? Well, believe it or not, I actually went looking for some housework!

Admittedly, I didn’t have to look very far…but the point is, I was motivated to do housework. Now what strange magic was at work? What could this new driving force possibly be? What awesome power could be behind such a freak occurrence?

Well, the good news is, the answer is a simple one. The even better news is, you can quite easily get your hands on it, too!


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Could it be true?

It just might be! Allow me to demonstrate with a personal story…

My youngest child has recently begun ‘Big School’ (though it could well be the tiniest Primary school in the country…). It’s quite a milestone in his life but also, it’s the beginning of an exciting new phase in my life, too. After ten years of being a full-time stay-at-home work-from-home mummy, I now appear to have my life back (a bit).

To celebrate this new era, I set myself the goal of becoming fit, healthy and the possessor of a beach-body to be proud of. Now, this is no mean feat.


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What if….?

I am not a natural-born bedmaker. When I see an unmade bed, I am not overwhelmed with an urge to make it. I am more often overwhelmed with an urge to go into another room.

However, I do admit to a slight blip of happiness when I see a beautifully made bed. I love to see a sumptuous and inviting slumber-zone, with plentiful plumped-up pillows and creaseless sheets (a la the gorgeous Beachy Cottage).

So, how to combine this love of bedded-bliss with my strong housework-avoidance streak…?


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It’s not often you’ll see the word feminist linked with the topic of housework. Surely, feminists don’t do housework..?

Oh, but we do!

A belief in equality is all well and good, but it won’t do the dishes or make the beds. And until the theory of equality reaches the domestic workload (don’t hold your breath…) guess who gets the bulk of the housework? Feminist or not – if you are The Lady of the House, chances are it’s down to you to keep it clean and tidy.

So, what can we do? Spend all our time fighting the regime? Berate our menfolk for their enviable ability to dodge domestic pressure? Possibly. But in the meantime, the dust is gathering.


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…to help with the housework!

I recently wrote a chapter about motivation in the domestic realm, for my new book, Housework Blues.

It lead to the following spin-off idea which I think you may find very useful and effective. The idea is to utilise a powerful technique that deploys your subconscious mind – requiring less conscious (and begrudging) effort from you.

Sound good?


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The ‘Not Enough Hours In The Day’ Trilogy – Part III

Keeping our homes and feeding our families are innate human habits. And, thanks to today’s mod cons, this domestic stuff has never been easier. Why, then, do we still struggle to find the time for it?

One answer lies in the position of housework on our to-do lists, (ie not very high.) But there is another explanation: if we have so much to do that such a primal and essential need gets neglected – perhaps our lists are too long! The existence of housework isn’t the problem – it’s a side-effect of being alive – but if we don’t have time for it, the problem is: our lives are too full. If we lack the time to take decent care of ourselves and our families, something, somewhere has gone wrong…


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The ‘Not Enough Hours In The Day’ Trilogy – Part I

Ever find that you just don’t have enough time for housework? Do you ever feel that the mountain of laundry is just unscale-able? That you need more hours in the day to get it all done? I’m guessing, by the fact that you’re here, you answered a resounding YES to all of the above.

And yet, never in the history of women, have we had so much assistance within the home. Imagine, only a few generations ago – whole days were devoted to laundry! These days, we balk at the effort of slamming our clothes into a machine for an hour – but when we return, they’re all clean! No fetching pails of water. No rubbing our knuckles raw on washing boards. No losing our fingers to menacing mangles. Compared to the efforts of our foremothers – modern laundry is a breeze.


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