Worth A Shot

"Closing Duties" Is The TikTok Trend For Moms That Changed My Life

You're welcome, future me.

Originally Published: 
TikTok mom and author Kc Davis explains "closing duties."

As a part-time work-from-home mom to an only child, bedtime comes for my daughter and I'm too tired to even consider sitting on the couch and binge-watching that show everyone's talking about. Every day, I fill roles as tutor, cruise director, and personal chef. Suddenly, it's dinnertime, and I haven't thawed meat for dinner, still haven't done the dishes from yesterday's meals, and still see that dust bunny blowing around in the living room. And, yes, still hear my kid in the other room requesting a grilled cheese for dinner.

As moms, we've all experienced that end-of-night dread — the feeling of looking around at the day's chaos, being overwhelmed at the idea of dealing with it, and knowing that it starts all over when morning comes. If you don’t get a handle on the previous day’s chaos, it’ll just be waiting for you.

One thing that has helped me significantly? Initiating "closing duties,” a TikTok trend often credited to author Kc Davis (aka @domesticblisters).

So... what are closing duties?

The idea is simple — it just requires thinking like a chef. In restaurants, a closing shift takes a few extra minutes to clean things properly so that the opening shift walks into a fresh start. The last thing openers want is to walk into a restaurant still wrecked from the night before; that's a sh*tty way to start the day. The thought process is that adopting that mindset will improve your mornings and make the next day better. (At least it does for me.)

"Closing duties is a routine I came up with that basically means I have five or six things on a list that I do every single night right as my kids are going to bed," Davis says. In subsequent videos, she emphasizes that you're not going for perfection here; you're going for momentum. "The idea is to lower the bar until you do it," she explains.

What should you do for closing duties?

"Well, a couple of questions," Davis starts in reply to a comment asking how you figure out your closing duties. "No. 1, what do you need to function first thing in the morning? Is it a pot of coffee? Is it access to your burner with a clean pan so you can make breakfast? Is it a clear spot of counter space so you can pack lunches? Just go from there — start with one or two things you really need in the morning, and just do them for closing duties. Another question is what would be a kindness to morning you?"

In other words, think of "closing duties" as literally anything that sucks to do in the morning or that can keep your morning from sucking less. I find nothing worse than waking up to no caffeine, so boiling a new pot of tea for the morning is part of mine.

Closing duties are, in essence, the signal to your family that the kitchen is clean, the living room is straightened, and Mama is DONE.

A few examples:

  • Do the dishes and/or run the dishwasher.
  • Wipe down the counters.
  • Start the robot vacuum.
  • Pick out school/work clothes.
  • Move trip hazards from the living room.
  • Pack lunches and load backpacks and purses.
  • Toss in a load a laundry so it's ready to go in the a.m.

How do you find energy for closing duties when you're already tired?

Once the kid is in bed, I'm exhausted. But even if I'm too tired to watch a show, I still need a bit of time to wind down after bedtime (cue revenge sleep procrastination). My closing duties are usually soundtracked by an audiobook I want to read... even if it's only a half-chapter at a time. And, anyway, no matter how tired I am at 9 p.m., I know I'll be even more tired at 7 a.m. when my tiny morning person is ready to rock and roll.

But closing duties shouldn't be something that adds to your mental load.

As Davis puts it, "The power in closing duties is the power of permission. It's permission to care for tomorrow you without having to make things perfect or up to other people's standards. But closing duties are only powerful if you also have permission not to do them. The key is that doing them is a way of taking care of tomorrow-you, and sometimes not doing them is a way of taking care of right-now-you."

Why are closing duties important?

There's no other way to say it: Completing closing duties is a gift from present-me to future-me.

Spending a few tired minutes making my house look livable again means I wake up to a home that is already functional for the day. It means I don't start my day angry and doing chores. As soon as my feet hit the floor, the requests from my kid will start — knowing I don't need to wash the skillet before I can start on breakfast is a godsend.

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