293: Rethinking Housework // KC Davis



Are You Overwhelmed with Housework


A while ago, I shared a video on Instagram of my sink overflowing with dishes, with pots and pans spread across the counter. My caption read:

“This is what my kitchen looks like right now, and it’s the end of the day, and quite frankly, I don’t have the energy to tackle this. I could force myself to, but what feels like the self-compassionate thing right now is to throw a few of these dishes into the dishwasher and just start it and ignore the rest because I don’t have the mental capacity to deal with this crusty cereal bowl right now or to do a bunch of hand-dishes. 

“Now I tend to be an all-or-nothing person and a perfectionist, and it’s sometimes hard for me to do a half-baked job – to just start the dishwasher, even though I don’t have everything in it. But that is not helpful because tomorrow, I can unload the clean dishes and have more energy to tackle the rest of this. So, if you are an all-or-nothing thinker like me, here’s my permission for you: You can start the dishwasher even if it’s not full and leave the rest of the dishes in the sink until tomorrow. You don’t have to end the day with a perfectly clean kitchen.” 

This type of self-compassionate attitude has not always been easy for me to adopt, but it’s become easier and easier as I’ve done lots of therapy and dug into the work of therapists I respect, such as KC Davis

KC is a mom, therapist, and author. Her book How to Keep House While Drowning has sold over 160,000 copies and is an Amazon and USA Today bestseller. 

Shortly after KC had her second baby, the world locked down from COVID-19, and the stress of being postpartum during the pandemic soon sent her into postpartum depression. One glaring result of her struggle was that her house became unmanageable. Having been a messy but functional person all her life, it was surprising to find that housework had suddenly exceeded her ability to cope. 

She began making TikTok videos about cleaning, cooking, and life hacks for all the other people overwhelmed with housework. Her online platform quickly grew to over a million followers, and her unique and compassionate approach to self-care resulted in a book and a podcast. 

Her message is simple and perfect for any mom who is overwhelmed with housework

“Care tasks are morally neutral. You aren’t failing; you’re just having a hard time, and people who are having a hard time deserve compassion. They also deserve nonjudgmental help and advice that works with their brains and lifestyle instead of the cookie-cutter advice we so often get.”

I love that she uses the phrase “care tasks” rather than “housework.” She does so because it reminds her that she’s doing these tasks to take care of herself and her family. Cleaning and housework so often become an outside measurement to others of how well we’re doing, but if we reframe them to be self-care, it makes all the difference! Let’s learn more as we jump into her takeaways. 


KC’s takeaways for moms who are overwhelmed with housework


1. Change the meaning of mess. 

Try to look at the mess in your house through different eyes:. 

Can you find evidence in the mess of good things about you or your life? You fed your family! Your kids are creative, and you allow them to be! You live a rich life, full of the expected evidence of a rich life! 

You can also look at the mess through an honest but compassionate lens of “I see that I am really struggling right now. And people who are struggling deserve compassion. There is evidence here that I need more support, and I am going to seek it.” I loved how KC puts it when she says, “people that are having a hard time deserve compassion. And I’m people too.” 

This is very different from looking around your house and seeing it as evidence that you are lazy, broken, or a loser.

It will take work to make this a habit, but it’s so powerful, especially if you are overwhelmed with housework


2. Focus on function and start breaking the rules

We make up all sorts of rules about how a house “should” run, but when we start thinking about what could make our house function better for us, we come up with lots of creative solutions. This can help so much with the overwhelm of housework

Two of KC’s ideas on how to break the rules really stuck out to me: 1) She has a family closet where all the clothes hang and everyone gets dressed. I love the simplicity of this, especially since her children are still young and she needs to help them get dressed. 2) She has a no-fold laundry system. I love that she’s debunking the myth that clothes need to be folded. And let’s be honest, they get wrinkled on our kids’ floors anyway!


Let’s remember that we deserve to function in our homes, and any way we can make that happen is acceptable.


3. Rest is a right, not a reward

When we’re overwhelmed with housework, we often feel we don’t deserve rest until everything on our list is done. But let’s be honest, if we wait to rest until all of our care task responsibilities are complete, we will never rest. As adults, the tasks involved in caring for ourselves and our families are literally never-ending. Rest is a really important part of keeping ourselves in a place where we can function and take care of our family. Getting burned out and over-tired does not serve anyone. 

We have to give ourselves permission to rest, not because we earned it, not because we are having a really hard time for a supposedly “good enough” reason, but because we are human! 

So, this is your permission: REST! Even if the dishes aren’t done. Even if the laundry room’s overflowing. We are human, and humans need rest. 


I want to end with the last few sentences of KC’s life-changing book: 

You do not exist to serve your space; your space exists to serve you. Care tasks exist for one reason only…to make your body and space functional enough for you to easily experience the joy this world has to offer.” 

Did your soul breathe a sigh of relief as you listened to that compassionate wisdom? I know mine did. KC’s wisdom has helped ease my overwhelm with housework


To hear my full interview with KC, check out the podcast episode on any podcast platform! 


>>>Are these tips from KC Davis on feeling overwhelmed with housework helpful? What would you add to the takeaways? Tell us in the comments below.




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