The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs explores the dysfunctional family dynamic. Not everyone comes from a perfect, loving and caring family. There are many that come from screwed up parents, disturbing childhoods, and neglectful guardians. Many that come from a dysfunctional family question just where everything went wrong. Why are they so screwed up?
Janet Peery takes a look into the lives of one dysfunctional family, the Campbells. The family consists of a former judge (Abel), his stay at home wife (Hattie) and their six children.
With Abel retired from the bench, and Hattie taking care of him, the story revolves around their final years after Abel turns 80. With one child dead and the rest with a long history of problems that range from substance abuse addictions, arrests, DUIs and estrangement, each child continues the cycle that contributes to the perfect dysfunctional family, one that is always at odds with each other with no end in sight.
How did they get this way? Was it the parents? Did something horrible happen in their youth that made them make such poor, destructive decisions? Were they neglected? Just what was it that made them utterly hate, yet love each other?
The youngest, Billy, should have died long before. He is HIV+ and is slowly deteriorating. He spends most of his life trying to find any drug he can get his hands on. He is a ‘masseuse,’ which is what pays the bills for crappy tenements he believes are luxurious, even if it is downtrodden, covered in trash and rat infested.
He relies too much on his 80 year old mother to help pay for his prescriptions, bills, rent, and addictions. He is in and out of rehab more times than anyone can count, yet no one really helps him out except his mother. He is the brother they know is killing their mother, but they try to forget he exists.
The eldest daughter is an academic that stays far away from home. She lives out on the East Coast and travels home only a few times a year. Another brother is a drunk and stays away from everyone most of the time, including his own children. The middle child always screams for attention and feels like everyone is being taken care of except her. The eldest boy, a recovering alcoholic, always has a hard time letting go of things that hurt him. He keeps them around, hoping in a way that everything will get better, but never does.
They not only squabble with each other, but they all have to deal with their father, Abel. He may be respected in their hometown, but in their home, he is the reason why their family is this way. With the insults he throws at them, making them feel like they will never amount to anything or be good enough, that is why this family is in pieces.
Hattie, though, is part of the problem. Between showing too much love and affection towards the youngest child who takes advantage of her, and enabling all of the wrong things…her children are basically left to fend for themselves, and have no idea how to do that, so they turn to drugs and alcohol so they don’t have to think about it.
I grew up in a dysfunctional home. Looking deep inside a dysfunctional home to try to understand where everything went wrong so that you can stop repeating the same mistakes is a difficult task. You have to make decisions, including the tough ones that make you look like the selfish one, when all you are trying to do is survive.
Not everyone wants to live a life of pain. Everyone deserves some happiness in their lives. It’s that little bit of happiness that the Campbell family is trying to find. There is a source to their unhappiness, tied to them by blood and obligation. They will never be rid of it.
The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs is well written and explores the side of family most fear to look into. For those who are hurting, this book may give you the answers you’ve been looking for in finding where the wrongs are in your family, or maybe it won’t, because the Campbells never really figure out how to be free from that pain.
In the end, it’s really about choice. You can’t fix a wrong by committing another wrong. You can’t fix what happened or how someone made you feel by drowning in drugs or alcohol. You can’t fix it, but you can choose to let go of the pain and be the change. You can find happiness, but that means you need to learn to let go of all the wrongs.
[Pictured in photo: Rebecca Minkoff studded handbag. Similar.]
[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I may receive a commission.]
All of my friends have the same lament. They hate spending the weekends cleaning the house all day long. They’d rather be out on the weekends enjoying their time with friends and family. But instead, they’re stuck in the house cleaning on the weekends.
One woman told me she outsourced her cleaning and has a maid come in every other week to help clean the house. She just can’t fathom wasting another Saturday cleaning when she could be out meeting her friends for Mexican food and a nice cold drink.
Another friend has some health issues, so she can’t drag a load of laundry to the laundromat, let alone fold the laundry with the arthritis in her hands. She’s been trying to outsource it to a laundry delivery service, but she’s had no luck finding one. Now her dirty clothes are piling up. She has to keep ordering new clothes all of the time because she doesn’t have any clean clothes to wear. Don’t get her started on the rest of her apartment…
We all have busy lives. We go to work. We have after work activities with friends or family. We’re absolutely exhausted by the time we get home. The thought of making dinner, cleaning house, etc. after a long day at work is asking way too much. So how does a person get everything done?
A few years ago, I came across an article by a woman who does 100 chores a day. She assigns her kids 10-25 chores a day (depending on their age). This may seem like a crazy notion, but the way she broke it down actually made doing daily chores a lot simpler. It only takes 20-35 minutes of your time a day. Sound crazy? I thought it was until I saw the difference doing 100 chores a day made on my home and it didn’t take a lot of time to do.
The way 100 chores works is this…for each dish you wash, that’s one chore a piece. For each dish you put away, that’s one chore. For each piece of junk mail you throw away when you get home, that’s one chore a piece. You see how easy that is to rack up 100 chores in no time?
I start counting chores the moment I wake up. Here’s how my cleanup routine generally looks:
Feed 2 cats, clean 2 bowls. (4 chores)
Make the bed. (1 chore)
Consolidate trash. (3 chores)
Clean out litter box. (1 chore)
Consolidate litter trash with other trash. (1 chore)
Take out trash. (2 chores)
Take out paper recyclables. (1-2 chores)
Put dirty clothes in laundry bag. (5 chores)
By the time I leave in the morning, I’ve done between 20-25 chores. That makes it a lot easier when I get home to finish up.
Take off shoes, put them away. (2 chores)
Put coat away. (1 chore)
Put jewelry/work clothes away. (5-8 chores)
Feed 2 cats, clean 2 bowls. (4 chores)
Throw out junk mail. (2-5 chores)
Wash dishes. (6-40 chores).
Put dishes away. (8-25 chores)
Prep lunch for next day (4-5 chores)
And so on…
This is daily tidying up. When I get to the last 20 chores, I usually have to be inventive and focus on something that doesn’t fall under the daily chores.
I keep a list of items that need to be done and go through that list to find ONE big chore that takes a little longer to do (like clean the oven). You can create your own list by going through each room of your home and taking some time to sit down in each room. Write down each item that needs to be done. This is the list you are going to refer to for the next month as you try to tackle 100 chores a day.
Sure, there are days that I get home at 11:30PM and doing chores isn’t on my list of things to do. I just want to go to bed. On days when I know I’m going to be out late, I try to tackle the majority of the chores in the morning. Whatever is leftover from the day, gets put over to the next day. Maybe I’ll get 91 chores done that day. That means I have to do 109 chores the next day.
Don’t take too much advantage of this leeway. You don’t want to have 125 chores and then 150 chores and then 300 chores. That’s sabotaging your efforts. Make sure you do at the minimum 85 chores a day if you’re going to push a few chores over to the next day. I don’t recommend pushing any chores over to the next day, but I know how it is…you pass out before you finish those last few chores and completely forget about it until the next morning. When I do that, I get up and immediately do those chores I missed the day before, before I get started on the 100 for the day. [Trust me on this, you don’t want to cheat yourself and end up having to do too many chores every day. Do the 100 a day, leaving those extreme instances of pushing chores to the next day to the absolute minimum. Don’t make it a habit.]
On the weekends, I try to do all 100 chores first thing in the morning so I can have the rest of the day to do other things. I try to do a few more of the big chores on the weekends.
Outsourcing. I do outsource the chore that takes up the most time for me…LAUNDRY. It used to take whole afternoons just to wash, dry and fold laundry. I got my Sundays back by outsourcing my laundry to a local cleaner that picks up and drops off my laundry every other week. It costs a little bit more than if I did my laundry myself, but the time I get back is worth the extra cost. Everything arrives folded in the Kon Mari method. All I have to do is put it away (and I don’t count this towards my 100 chores).
If there are certain tasks that take too long to do, consider outsourcing it. If you hire a maid service or a lawn care service, consider having them do the more difficult or nuisance tasks that you can’t take care of yourself. Leave the easier chores for your daily 100 chores. Leave the nitty gritty stuff for the people you hire. That way, you are making the best of the service and of your time.
Get kids in on the task. One of the boys I was with this weekend was lamenting to his mother that she is working them like a slave. All of these chores he has to do (like washing the windows) was like slave labor. She told him that this was his way of paying for his phone, and all of the data he uses on the phone. I chimed in and said, “Actually, all of those chores are designed to be a life lesson. You need to know how to do these things when you are an adult. This is your mom’s way of teaching how to do things for when you are an adult.” His mom agreed, and that quieted him up.
I told him that until he can outsource those chores (like maybe pay his brother to do it for him), he’s stuck with learning this lesson. [Knowing the tightwad that he is, he’s not going to pay anyone to do anything for him.]
If you want to start teaching your kids life lessons on how to clean and take care of their future homes, start off small. For little ones, have them pick up and put their toys away. Start off with a small number (like 5). Slowly work up to more chores as they get older.
Don’t ever think that kids shouldn’t do chores or help around the house. It is your responsibility to prepare them for adulthood. They are going to need to know how to do laundry, wash dishes, iron their clothes, etc. They need to learn to put their things away. They may hate it, but you can make it fun.
Kon Mari as you go. I keep a piece of paper that I carry with me all the time. It says, “Have Fewer, But Better Things.” The more stuff you have, the more stuff you have to take care of. After obtaining so much stuff over the last 12 years to build a home, I all of a sudden discovered I had way too much stuff. It was so much, I was overwhelmed. I found that I spent way too much time taking care of my stuff, that I didn’t have the time to do the things I wanted to with my life.
I started to Kon Mari everything (i.e the Japanese Art of Decluttering). I made a huge dent in my first run. I donated over 20 bags worth of stuff. I am now in maintenance mode, because I know I can still do better and pare down even more. I am constantly going through my things and asking myself if these items bring me joy. I only want to keep the things that bring me joy. My goal is to be more of a minimalist so I have less things to take care of. It will make tidying up so much simpler to do.
I have found that in doing 100 chores a day, I really don’t like having a lot of stuff to take care of. I am constantly going through what I have and getting rid of things. I’m starting to see the value in the things I have invested in. It has also helped me be a far better shopper in that I know only to purchase quality, so I only have to buy it once, not several versions of the same product in order to get it right.
So as you go through your regular cleaning, always ask yourself if this item you are cleaning brings you joy. If it doesn’t, or you have no real use for it, let it go. Or you can do like I do…donate it because you just don’t like taking care of it anymore.
In Summary. Doing 100 chores a day can be fun. When I get home, I start tidying up the second I walk in. I try to complete the 100 chores for the day before I sit down to have dinner and catch up on a show. I do my best not to go over 100 chores a day. I want to leave something for the next day to do.
You’ll find that at the beginning, it may be overwhelming. There’s so much to do, and you’re only doing 100 chores a day. But keep at it. The daily chores start to become less and less, so you have to find other chores to do around the house. There is always something! Pretty soon, your whole house will look nice and clean like those houses you see in magazines and on Pinterest and Instagram.
Keep a list of chores that need to be done around the house, including those big chores. Involve the entire family. While the adults do 100 chores each, the kids can do their own number (depending on their age). Make out a list of things that need to be done around the house and assign a big chore for each person each day, along with the regular daily chores. You are trying to instill clean habits for everyone in the family. Have everyone start their chores as soon as they get home during the weekday, and first thing in the morning on the weekends. The sooner they’re done, the sooner they can play, watch TV, or relax for the evening.
100 chores shouldn’t take you all night to do. It takes me between 20-45 minutes. Just putting your things away as soon as you get home counts. Each sock, each shoe, each piece of jewelry…they all count as a chore a piece. While I always consider that the easy ‘cheat’ chores, some people consider it a necessity in keeping a clean home. Some people prefer to not lay things about and immediately put things where they belong to save on time, clutter and a mess that later has to be cleaned up. Not all people are hard wired to think that way. You have to train yourself to think that way. Until then…consider it your cheat chore to count towards your 100.
Pretty soon you’ll find that tidying up your home is simple and easy to do. You’ll be on your way to having a more perfect and clean home.