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I know the feeling. I honestly do.
I know how it feels to look around at your messy house, and even your life, and say the word “impossible.” I know what it’s like to think there is too much to do and not enough time…or energy…or arms. I know the discouragement of waking up full of ambition for finally tackling the out-of-control toys and the stacks of dishes, only to have your plans derailed by a fussy baby or a disobedient child.
I know. I’ve been there. Many days, I’m still there in some shape or form.
Sure, if you were to stop by my house this afternoon, you might think it’s lovely and clean, but I can see the piles all over the desk that drive my husband absolutely crazy (although he’d never say so). And I can’t forget the mess that hides behind a certain bedroom door where there’s barely a path to get from the bed to the closet. I know the shelves I promised to straighten up months ago, last season’s clothes I never put away, the sticky spot that’s been on the kitchen floor for at least a week.
Sometimes it seems like everyone in the world must have their lives put together.
And color coded.
And stacked in cute little bins.
Everyone except for us, that is. No, we feel just plain overwhelmed by homemaking.
We really want our houses clean and our stacks of mail sorted and filed away, but it’s just out of our grasp. We have every good intention of getting things done, but then we’re so weary and overwhelmed that we make the choice to eat chocolate today and attack the work tomorrow instead. And we spend one more day feeling like a homemaking failure.
See? I told you I know.
At some point we have to decide that enough is enough. We must stop making excuses and then guilting ourselves into inaction. We have to quit the dramatic swings between comparing ourselves to others one moment and being satisfied with our own laziness the next. We don’t have to live like this. We really, truly don’t.
Decide to Take Action
Our homes didn’t fall apart in a day, and they won’t be glued back together in one, either. That’s alright. Every step we take toward dealing with our overwhelming homemaking issues – big or small – will be one step better than things were when we started.
One of the best “first steps” we can take is to challenge ourselves to turn off the phone, the computer, the iPad, and the television for one hour each day. This one hour challenge will sting a little, kind of like ripping off a band-aid, but it’s amazing what can be accomplished when we aren’t checking Facebook or replying to email. I double-dog dare you to give it a try.
Also, we need to keep in mind that what someone else’s home looks like does not matter. Your husband will not be more or less blessed because of how clean Suzy Homemaker’s kitchen counters look in those pics on her blog. And your children will not feel neglected because their toys aren’t organized just like that magazine article described.
Everyone lives with different situations, limitations, and starting points. Don’t let all those perfect images bully you into thinking it’s hopeless. That’s just a lie.
Still, even with the best attitude and resolve, the mountain of work in front of us can be daunting. Catching up is always harder than keeping up. This means the path to getting our homes into the proper condition won’t be easy, but maintaining that level of clean will be much, much easier. Trust me on this one!
Suggestions for where to begin:
1. Take care of time sensitive issues.
- Check for any appointments or activities you may have forgotten.
- Look for bills that need paid.
- Think about other things with a time associated, such as the library books needing returned, the dry cleaning waiting for pick-up, or the permission slip begging to be signed.
2. Focus on food and clothes first.
- Figure out what you’ll feed everyone today, and then make a menu for the rest of the week.
- Decide when you’re going to make the next menu plan and what day you’ll go grocery shopping.
- Gather the laundry and work at it until you see the end in sight.
- Don’t worry about anything else until you can feed everyone and have enough of the laundry washed, dried, and folded so there will only be one or two loads each day from here on out.
3. Make a simple morning routine.
- Follow these steps for making a morning list that works for you.
- You can also grab my Simple Cleansheets right here if you’d like to follow my Morning To Do List.
- Start small and don’t worry if the list takes most of the day instead of just the morning. It will get easier with time!
4. Make a simple afternoon and evening routine.
- Make a list that includes only what must be done to keep things running smoothly (such as finishing the laundry, making dinner, washing dishes, etc.)
- Get comfortable with your basic routines before adding additional tasks. Even a few chores in the morning and afternoon will be a huge improvement!
- Do not get discouraged if it takes a couple weeks for your morning and afternoon routines to become habit. Keep working and you’ll become more and more efficient at completing the tasks.
5. Choose one special task to do each day.
- Pick one weekly cleaning task to do each day, such as running the vacuum or dusting.
- Or, set a timer and work on one area of your home that needs cleaned or decluttered.
- Don’t worry about perfection, just do something!
The company my husband works for has this motto: “Better today than we were yesterday; better tomorrow than we are today.” Keep working to make your home just a little better today than it was yesterday and better tomorrow than it is today. You can do it!