When mother of two, Danielle Raine, became a full-time work-at-home/stay-at-home mum, she found the constant cooking and cleaning so overwhelming and frustrating that she needed help. Hiring help was out of the question, so she sought advice on how to become more motivated – and less resentful of all the mundane chores.
"I felt overwhelmed and a lot of the time quite frustrated. I wanted a lovely clean and tidy house but resented that it always fell on my shoulders. I went to people's perfect houses and wondered why they had it so right and I seemed to have it so wrong"
Being a keen reader, she sought the relevant books, yet all she found was information on how to clean your home. Nowhere could she find advice on dealing with the psychological aspects, such as the futility or boredom. So, when her unhappiness began to affect her relationships with her family, she decided to do something about it.
"After doing a search on the internet, I discovered there were more women, just like me, who struggled with the domestic side of family life. So every time I had an idea that helped me, I wrote it down."
She started a blog at the same time, which she says she found cathartic and also made her realise just how many women feel the same way. These scribblings eventually grew into a book, which has just been released.
Entitled, Housework Blues – A Survival Guide, it's already receiving some heartfelt reviews from grateful women.
"I didn't set out to write a book, I just jotted down things which helped me that I thought might be useful to others," says Danielle.
"Many women aren't naturally domestic yet we still have the work to do. Coming to terms with the psychological issues surrounding housework can make the actual chores less stressful – which makes for a far more peaceful family life."
Danielle stresses that the book is not about how to keep your house clean and tidy, but more about how to reconcile yourself with what has to be done and give ideas on how to reassess your relationship with housework.
"One day when I was mopping the kitchen floor resenting the fact that my life had come to this I suddenly had a revelation," explains graphic designer, Danielle.
"I realised that it was all in my mind. Why was I feeling so frustrated when some women do this quite happily? If I could some way come to terms with that and approach it a bit more positively then I was sure it would change the way I was feeling and behaving. I didn't like being angry but I was just so overwhelmed."
Danielle comes from the "women being able to have it all" generation who were encouraged to follow their careers and be a success and yet also juggle marriage and family life. "I told my mum that I was never going to be a housewife. And then one day I ended up married with
two children. I had no idea how hard it was going to be," says Danielle.
"I think part of it was the feminist in me which made me resentful and led to constant rows with my husband. Then I eventually realised that he didn't leave his shoes in the middle of the room because he expected me to pick them up, he just left them there because that was part of him, he didn't even realise that he did it. You just have to sit back and take a deep breath and think does it really matter? Is it something to get so worked up about. It is just housework.
"Once I came to terms with the fact that I truly loved my family and wanted to make a nice home for us and the housework was all part of that I no longer resented it."
Danielle's beautiful home in Boroughbridge is testament to the fact that her ethos works. The three-storey town house is tidy, but without the feeling of a show home. It still feels like a lived-in family home. She says she doesn't feel like she does any more housework than before but the house stays tidier. Her sons, Joshua, nine, and Charlie, four, even manage to keep their bedrooms tidy – for a short while.
"Once I stopped nagging them all the time to tidy up they seemed to respond better. Now I tidy their room and show it to them and they think it is great and want to keep it that way.
"My husband is still very untidy, but now I realise that that is just him and I have to learn to live with it and stop fighting against it. He's not doing it on purpose it is just the way he is. I no longer compare my home to other people's and the rows have stopped. The house is so much calmer."
Danielle's book addresses the whole spectrum of Housework Blues, from the more complex mental aspects such as futility, boredom, injustice, inferiority or superiority, to the simpler issues of being overwhelmed, lack of energy or motivation. Unlike many how-to housekeeping manuals, this book provides encouraging reasons to take care of your family, with tips to ease the psychological burdens.
Housework Blues – A Survival Guide; How to cope with the mental and emotional challenge of keeping a home by Danielle Raine (10) is available on Amazon. Her website is: www.makepeacewithhousework.com
Danielle's top tips
1 Embrace minimalism: Less stuff equals less to clean.
2 Open a window: The room will at least feel fresher.
3 Operate a No Shoes policy: It has been claimed that as much as 80 per cent of the dirt in your home is brought in on shoes.
4 Eat out.
5 Redecorate: Sometimes it's just easier to paint over.
6 Leave your vacuum cleaner out: Shows good intentions.
8 Leave pots and pans to soak: It is not procrastination, it's efficiency.
9 Feed other people's children: Hopefully they'll return the favour.
10 A jacket potato is a legitimate meal.