Who knew that the way you cleaned your home, as a parent, was up for debate? I for one didn’t realize that when I became a mother, so many people had an opinion regarding how your home should look. I have to say that I was lucky that while I was raising my first son, that Pinterest wasn’t a thing. Let alone Instagram. I had enough struggles on my shoulders that I couldn’t imagine what it would have felt like being told my house (or my parenting for that matter) wasn’t worthy because of how it looked.
Unfortunately, that bliss did not last long. Because I have raised two more kids in the era of social media. I’ve always kept a pretty tidy home when I only had one child. It was easier then. Yet, adding more children into the mix really did screw that up. Add mental and chronic illness into it and it was a disaster. And when I say it, I mean my life. I felt like crap if I didn’t have dinner made at a certain time because misogynistic idealization of stay-at-home mothers that were instilled in me. Now, add Instagram and Pinterest’s utopian world of dust-free floors, Montessori-themed playrooms, and mothers who never seemed to rock a pimple, spit-up, or a care in the world. Overnight, there was this pressure to have a home that was plucked out of a Pottery Barn catalog. It was appealing and magical. And totally, unrealistic. But those newsfeeds of perfection just highlighted how much of a failure you were if you couldn’t keep up.
What about the parents whose priority isn’t cleaning? What about the parents that are neurodivergent? Or the parents that have a chronic illness? Why are these parents made to feel inadequate because there’s a group of people that prioritize cleaning?
Enter KC Davis, aka DomesticBlisters. She is the mastermind behind the movement, Struggle Care. Davis is a Licensed Professional Counselor that tackles the shame associated with parents who aren’t considered the “ideal” cleaners while implementing a system that helps a person complete care tasks while dealing with visible and invisible barriers, such as mental health, chronic illness, lack of family support, trauma, and more.
One of her biggest messages is acknowledging that we are all different and perform at different levels. While cleaning your house may seem like a simple task for many, it can look like an unsolvable puzzle to others. Why can’t a person just clean as they go? Because cleaning is not one simple step. It is a process of many steps that can become overwhelming.
Let’s say you need to sweep your floor. That sounds like an easy enough task. But in truth, there is more to it than grabbing the broom and sweeping. First, you need to pick up any toys that are on the floor. Are there any clothes, shoes, pet toys that need to be put away? While many can see each of those sub-tasks of and complete them, there are others who become lost in the chaos.
Step inside the mind of someone who struggles with simple tasks. While picking up the clothes off the floor to sweep, they realize that the hamper is full. So, they take it down to the laundry and start a load of clothes. While walking back, they see a sippy cup on the floor and take it to the sink, only to see that it is full. Now, they begin to unload the dishwasher and load the dirty dishes into it. Only to realize they haven’t swept.
Well, what’s the problem? At least they are cleaning? True but they are not completing the task they originally set out to do. It can become utterly frustrating when you can’t do the one thing you want to do because your mind cannot keep focus. And this is just an example of someone that might be dealing with an executive functioning disorder.
When struggling with completing care tasks, which are “any task, chore, or errand that is required to care for self and keep life going,” there is an overwhelming amount of frustration. You may ask yourself, “Why am I failing at something so simple?” And because of the shame and judgment of others, you are afraid to reach out for help.
KC Davis created Struggle Care to provide a safe place that shows how to complete care tasks while dealing with functional barriers. Not only does she help by providing the coping skills to learn new skills, but she also helps in changing the inner dialogue of shame and guilt within ourselves. These are known as her Six Pillar of Struggle Care.
First: Care tasks are morally neutral. That if a person is “good or bad” at these tasks, has nothing to do with being a good person, parent, spouse, etc. Seriously. If your dishwasher is always full, has no bearing on rather you are a good person or not.
Second: You are allowed to rest even if the care tasks are not complete. These tasks, such as feeding, cleaning, hygiene are never-ending. There will ALWAYS be a task to complete. And you are allowed to take time for yourself before finishing these tasks.
Third: You are worthy of kindness no matter how well you complete these tasks. It’s important to change that inner dialogue we have with ourselves about the nature surrounding cleaning. You are not lazy or a failure because you struggle.
Fourth: It’s okay to be wasteful. While it is important to be eco-conscious, it’s okay to use paper plates if it helps you survive. You can’t save the Earth if you can’t save yourself first.
Fifth: Shame prevents growth. There are times that we try to complete a care task because we are filled with shame if we do not do them. However, completing tasks based on shame can cause avoidance of the tasks altogether.
Six: There is no word, “should” in the world of Struggle Care. It’s important to work on goals that work for YOU, and not what it “should” look it. Allowing yourself to create tasks and goals that are specific for you can help foster a more positive environment without shame and guilt.
To learn more about Struggle Care, head over to Mental Health | Struggle Care. And if you aren’t following her on TikTok, check her out! Her videos are extremely powerful and have changed the way I approach my ideas on care tasks.