Parenting Win of the Week: Struggle Care
Because parenthood isn't perfect, and that's nothing to be ashamed of.
I have been a parent long enough to know I just can’t be all things to all people ... it’s impossible. When I am killing it at work, I may be lacking just a bit in the parenting department and vice versa. One place I know I am usually not killing it? Keeping my house perfectly clean. Oftentimes, we as parents set ourselves up to believe that we need a picture-perfect home where everything is organized in rainbow colors and personalized labels abound. I love "The Home Edit" as much as the next person, but this is not my reality. My kids are happy and healthy, but there are far too many socks under furniture and loads of laundry to be done on any given day.
That’s why it was refreshing to come across KC Davis. KC is a licensed professional counselor who wrote the book "How to Keep House While Drowning" and a podcast called "Struggle Care". She has 1.5 million followers on TikTok (@domesticblisters) where she is really honest about the struggles she has with "keeping house" and the tips and tricks she uses to make it work for her family.
We chatted with KC all about her journey and how she turns those domestic struggles into wins for her family.
How did you get into having these conversations and sharing your struggles?
Honestly, accidentally. I was pregnant with my second kid in the beginning of 2020. We had just moved, my husband started law school, and I had a whole postpartum plan that included lots of help...but I didn’t plan for a global pandemic. I was suddenly by myself with two children and couldn't leave the house (and nobody could come in).
I was inside all day long, breastfeeding, not sleeping, and I slowly started to power down. I had always been a messy person and was eventually diagnosed with ADHD. There was always clutter but everything was always functional.
All of a sudden, I found myself with two kids, no outside support, and realized that nothing is functional. I can’t walk without tripping. I kept stepping on laundry. I had postpartum depression with no energy or motivation.
So, I just started making these "clean with me" videos, tips to stop me from feeling overwhelmed. I would usually tackle five things in a room at a time. That’s how the whole channel was born and what the book is about.
It was helpful because housework is so boring and repetitive. It was helpful to have a purpose behind it. It gave it more meaning.
Why was this important?
As a society, we don’t tend to value invisible labor. Moms who go from having a career and doing things on their own time to being a mom of small children where it’s harder to accomplish things. You can look around and not see something to show for it.
People ask what do you do all day?
Moms really feel this deep shame and I couldn’t stay on top of it all.
What sort of systems did you put into place to help make it work for your family?
I realized that the bottleneck in that system for me — folding laundry so I stopped folding.
I thought a lot about the way my family functions and we currently dress our kids in our room, so why am I taking clothes to 3 diff closets?
So, I started a family closet. All of our clothes are in one closet. We go in there and we all change our clothes. When we do laundry we just go to one place. We just put them into baskets instead of folding. We replaced dressers with a basket system for our one closet and keep the clothes on our first floor because that’s what is easier for us.
When it comes to the kids' toys, we have a toy library. We’ve always had a playroom, but where the dining room is supposed to be, I did a play corner. The majority of toys stay in the closet, which is a win-win for everyone.
They play better when kids aren’t overwhelmed by their toys, and can only create more mess. So now, it’s put the toy away, take a new toy. And it’s much less battle.
When it came to dishes, I used a dish rack on the counter and a second silverware compartment to keep dishes organized before I load them in the dishwasher.
All of these systems are really about the recognition that care tasks don’t have anything to do with your ability to parent or your character, it’s more about finding the easiest way to do it for my family.
I don’t want to spend all of my energy on laundry. Instead of low-key shaming myself, I searched for different, easier ways that match my brain and season of life instead of making myself change to a system that would make me change me.
I put a laundry basket in every room so I can get my clothes into a laundry basket without moving and then got a huge laundry basket on wheels that I empty the baskets around the house into.
And now, I have the luxury of outsourcing a few things. I have a housekeeper once a month.
How did this help you feel more comfortable about not having everything done all the time?
It was a lot of letting go of parenting perfection. We are paralyzed by too much information on parenting that all looks picture-perfect. There are days when I allow my kids to cook with me and those are the days the house looks like a bomb went off, where other times I have a beautifully clean house only because my kids were on screens most of the days.
We are rotating through the good things that matter and not being perfectionists on the other things.
I think the biggest thing is the real work of parenting is the emotional work. Kids really reveal to you your unhealed places, so I need to heal the parts of myself that impact my kids. Emotional resilience and a sense of compassion.
That is the real work of parenting. Try to prioritize that work every day. That often requires putting the more visible things in last place. It means chicken nuggets, messy house, me not looking put together.
Parenting has gotten a really shiny exterior, but the real work of parenting is really invisible. We should be proud of things that don’t look perfect, it means we are doing the real work.
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