Four tips for quitting housework at 6 p.m.

Have you ever traveled a long way and upon arrival at someone’s home, the host asked, “Would you like to freshen up?”

Indeed, freshen up after a long journey sounds fabulous. In a way, each day is a long journey and at the end of it, it's time to enjoy the evening in leisure.

Often, right before my dad came home from work, Mom would say to my sister Peggy and me, “Girls, Dad’ll be home in 15 minutes, I’m going to go freshen up.”

She’d be in the bathroom for about 10 minutes and when she’d come out, she looked and smell fresh. What I didn’t realize back then was my BO (Born Organ-ized) mother was setting the stage for her leisurely evening with my dad.

During your day, find as many ways as you can to get housework done so that you can stop at 6 p.m. Consider it quitting time.

Of course your little Snuggle Bunnies will need your love and attention after 6, but I’m talking about the household workload.

If you tend to be frazzled in the evening, you’ll love my four tips for quitting at 6 p.m. and having a leisure evening become a reality.

1. Get Organized

By getting organized and creating a routine, you’ll work smart during your day and give yourself leisure evenings. When we were little my sister and I were in bed by 8:30 p.m., and that gave my dad and mom time alone to relax and enjoy their evenings with each other, Pam and Peggy-free.

When I had kids of my own, I remember wanting that same goal but because I was disorganized, I didn’t have good habits and wasn’t in control of a routine that enabled me to get the kids in bed by 8:30 p.m. Instead of heading to the bathroom to freshen up before my husband got home from his work, I’d be thawing steaks in the dishwasher, no soap (pre-microwave days) and deciding whether to get dressed or just stay in my pajamas. We’d eat late, and the kids would be in bed by 9:30 or 10 p.m. if I were lucky.

2. Make ahead Meals

Freeze some free time. Having a freezer is like having a time capsule. With a freezer, you can actually freeze free time.

For example, when I make chili and soups, I make enough for four to six extra meals and freeze in Zip-Lock freezer bags to use when I’m super busy or I’m not in the mood to cook. Since you’re going to make a mess anyway when you cook, you may as well get more meals for your mess.

When you cook double a couple times a week and freeze your meals for another night, you become your own convenience food company. By freezing meals, you save the prep and clean-up time when served later.

This taco dish was frozen (without the avocados) and heated up before adding fresh ingredients, such as avocado, tomato, fresh onion, etc. Adding a touch of fresh ingredients to a meal that has been frozen and heated up truly makes the whole meal fresh.

When I make a salad for my husband and me, I make enough for two nights and before I put dressing on it, I put half the lettuce and vegetables (tomatoes, green onions, fresh parsley, radishes etc.) in a Zip-Lock bag for the next night.

I make my own salad dressings (a week’s supply at a time) and add it to the salad and toss, right before serving.

The convenience food industry would love us to believe that they are helping busy moms get food on the table quick and easy, but in reality, it takes the same amount of time and energy to bake a chicken, roast some healthy sweet potatoes and toss a fresh, green salad as it does to prepare stuff from a box, and when you prepare enough for another day or two, you’ll be freezing free time for the future.

3. Learn to Delegate

If children have the energy to climb the walls, and most kids do, think about all the chores they can do before 6 p.m. Get the family into a routine that involves them accomplishing those chores.

Kids can bathe, set out clothes for tomorrow and tidy up their rooms before dinner. They can also help with laundry, vacuum, dust, set the table and meal preparation. After 6, when dinner is over, delegate kitchen clean-up to the family and go get in your jammies.

In my book, “The Joy of Being Disorganized,” I wrote about the art of delegation. It’s an art and most moms I know are not very good at it. Here’s an excerpt from the book about the art.

“What’s very interesting about delegating is that once a job has been assigned to someone else and you are no longer responsible for doing it, you’ll find you’ll be more willing to do that job as well.

For example, my husband Terry does all dishes for every meal and with that chore off my shoulders, I feel free. In that freedom, often I’ll have the thought, “I’ll surprise Terry and wash all the pots and pans before I call him to dinner,” or “I’ll tell him after breakfast that I’ll do the dishes because I know all the extra work he has to do right now.”

Also, when jobs are delegated and there is an offer to help by the delegator, there is so much gratitude for the help.

Before you know it, the delegatee will return the favor and do one of the chores on the delegator’s list. It’s a beautiful cycle!

4. Enlightened Selfishness

Be selfish about your personal time. Make a list of down-time activities, such as luxuriating in a bubble bath, reading, watching a movie, playing with a hobby that relaxes you and such.

Learn to say, “NO.” Get into the mindset, if you’re not already, you deserve help.

Getting help doesn’t mean you are some poor soul who isn’t strong enough to do it all. I remember in my young motherhood, taking on more than I could possibly do, just to be liked. When I figured out what was behind my unreasonably, overbooked schedule, I started saying “NO.” If you’re a people pleaser, this is going to be a new skill you’ll need to learn.

As a caregiver, you need downtime on a daily basis.

I hope these tips will help you get into the habit of taking the night off. Thank you for reading my blog. Please share it with your frazzled friends. Now, go freshen up.

For more from Pam Young, go to You’ll find many musings, videos of Pam in the kitchen preparing delicious meals, videos on how to get organized, lose weight and get your finances in order, all from a reformed SLOB’s point of view.