The invention of tools like vacuum cleaners and washing machines may mean that today's mothers spend less time on housework than our grandmothers did, but we still do a lot! One Australian newspaper says housework would cost the average household an extra $60,000 a year for all the housework the average woman does.
The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics' time-use survey found that women spend about one hour a day preparing meals, double the time spent by men. But if cooking was outsourced to a personal chef at $50 an hour, the average household would pay up to $17,600 a year simply to get dinner on the table each night.
Add to that $26,080 for general cleaning and $21,840 for childcare, and the annual output of mums' household work totals $65,520 at the low end.
Overall, unpaid housework contributes more than $261 billion to Australia's economy every year, according to the latest Australian figures.
So how can mums get more bang for their housework buck? By spending LESS time doing it, not more. Here are some ideas to reduce your housework load, and steal time (and money) back for yourself.
Lower your standards
Some housework does not need to be done. The playroom will just get dirty again. No one cares if the spines on your books align. Try this thought exercise: If you disappeared, would your partner or kids ever do the chore you're about to do? If not, ask whether you should do it either. On that front, try not emptying the dishwasher for a while, and see how long it takes for another family member to step up to the plate. Fortitude! You can outlast them. Then check out our 6 ways to get kids to help with housework story for more tips to share the load around.
Hit the internet
Order groceries online. Your time is worth the delivery fee. Even if you don't live in a big city where you can order fresh goods, you can have cereals, pasta, canned goods and other nonperishable items delivered. Think of all the commuting and shopping time you'll save (plus you don't have the chance to snap up those impulse buys if you aren't perusing the aisles.)
Make dinner easier
A lean protein, a fruit or veggie and a whole grain makes a respectable meal. Examples: spaghetti with tomato sauce or an omelette and toast - nutritious and healthy. Try these easy and quick meals so you can spend more time enjoying your meals instead of preparing them.
Simple fettucine carbonara
Pesto pasta pronto
Baked flathead with crunchy salad
Buy enough socks and underwear so you can go for more time between laundry loads. Instead of every family member throwing their clothes in the dirty clothes basket each day, encourage them to rewear items like jeans and jumpers. Check if your local dry cleaner will also do laundry - a bag wash might cost less than $20 and they sure know how to fold clothes nicely! Some dry cleaners will even deliver. Oh, and don't forget to read our Halve your laundry load story - you'll be grateful for the tips from Shannon Lush.
Declutter, own less
The more stuff you have, the more has to be picked up, cleaned and maintained. Living in a smaller house will also save you housework.