I came across your blog almost a year ago and I took my time making a (Home Management) guide, probably about a month. It’s lovely. But there’s one problem, I don’t use it! I want to use it (or do I??) no I swear I do….but I just don’t use it. I think I made it too big and intimidating so recently I started reorganizing into something smaller. I can see how this will help us, I just can’t seem to stick with it. Any advice or experience with this? We are due with baby number two in May and I rrrrrrreally want to get into a groove before then!
I think this reader is referring specifically to the cleaning lists and work schedules in the HMG, and her email prompted me to write about something that I know is an issue for each and every one of us…including me.
Most of us really do enjoy having clean homes, but the work involved isn’t exactly a picnic, am I right? (Some people tell me that they enjoy cleaning toilets – I don’t believe them). I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather read a book, or write a blog post, or do pretty much anything else. So, how do you get motivated to clean, when there are other things that are so much more fun?
Well. If I had the answer to that question, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this blog post in order to avoid cleaning my basement. Obviously, I can’t give you the perfect solution to the problem of motivation (or lack thereof), but I can offer some tips that may help.
Silence is not golden.
When I’m really struggling with a lack of energy, I put on some upbeat music because it instantly boosts my mood. My favorite cleaning music right now is Lady Gaga. I’ll admit that I think she’s a total freak, but the chick has some serious pipes. I also have Adele’s 21 in heavy rotation right now. Rumour Has It is a great cleaning song, as are upbeat worship songs, such as Everlasting God, by Lincoln Brewster.
Look at your work from a new perspective.
A change of attitude makes a big difference. If you think of your work as drudgery, you won’t be very enthusiastic about it, and let’s just be honest here – motherhood can be a pretty thankless job. Husbands and kids aren’t always appreciative, and it’s easy for our work behind the scenes to go unnoticed, and be taken for granted. I find that it really helps if I consider my work to be of service to the Lord. HE sees my efforts, and my job IS important to him (see A Mom Who Works for the Lord).
Do just one small thing.
If I have to clean a room, and the task seems overwhelming, I divide the room into four parts, and tell myself that I’ll just thoroughly clean one part. If I don’t feel like doing anymore after that, I don’t have to, but the funny thing is that I usually do. As with any large project, getting started is usually the hardest part, but action leads to more action. It’s the housekeeping snowball effect.
Set a timer
I think that many of us (me) put off projects because it seems like they’ll take forever, and we just don’t have time, but is this really true? Usually not. The lack of time defense is a common and convenient excuse for procrastinators, who build things up in their minds to be bigger than they actually are, as a method of avoidance (and how do I know this? Because I do it myself). However, if I time myself when I do some unpleasant task, such as cleaning off my desk, I often discover that it takes only 15 minutes or so. And who doesn’t have 15 minutes? The next time you’re facing a messy house, set a timer for 15 minutes, and see what you can accomplish. When the timer goes off, you can quit if you want to, but I bet you’ll want to set it for another 15 minutes, and maybe another, and before you know it your entire house will be clean.
Ask for help.
You don’t have to do it all. Really. I hear women complain about how their husbands don’t help them, but I always say, “Have you asked? Nicely?” It’s amazing how often they admit that no…. they haven’t. They’ve stomped around, huffed and puffed, complained and moaned, but they haven’t actually asked for help, because they feel that their husbands should be able to see the work that needs to be done, and just do it. But men, God love ’em, don’t really work that way. At least mine doesn’t. He’s always more than willing to help me when I ask him, but he needs to be told specifically what to do, and he responds much more positively when – instead of throwing a fit about how “I have to do everything around here!” and dissolving into a hysterical mess – I just ask him politely. An added bonus is that when we work on projects together, they go so much faster, because we enjoy each other’s company, and time flies when you’re having fun.
Make a small change.
Rearranging a room, or even just the china in the cabinet, or the books on the shelf, often motivates me to clean, because I think changes – even small ones – are refreshing and invigorating. In that same vein…
Buy something new.
It doesn’t have to be big or expensive. It can be a scented candle, or new throw pillows, or even a garage sale picture frame. For example, this weekend I asked my husband to spray paint a plain wooden frame that I found at a garage sale – for $1. He used some black paint leftover from another project, and when the frame was dry, I matted an adorable photo of The Boy with a black photo mat that I found in a garage sale free box last summer (I actually found about a half dozen, in various sizes and colors!). I polished the glass, and hung the framed photo in the hallway.
This refurbished frame made me so happy, because it allowed me to display a photo that makes me smile every time I see it. I got great satisfaction from hanging it, and then I noticed that the other framed artwork in the hall needed to be dusted. This led to dusting the bookshelf, and the art in the living room…
Which led to reorganizing and dusting the china cabinet.
I decided to just tidy up a bit too, and then I noticed that the rug needed to be vacuumed. Before I knew it, I had a completely clean living room! See what I mean?
Bring out “The Hoarders Defense.”
When I need to motivate my children to clean their room, or let go of excess stuff, I use what I call the “Hoarders Defense.” I remind them that we’re happier and calmer when we don’t live in chaos, and we have limited space to store stuff. If we keep more than we have room for, and don’t stay on top of clutter, we could end up like the people on Hoarders. It works with them…and me. When I’m REALLY lacking in motivation, watching an episode of Hoarders online often results in a cleaning frenzy. Whatever works.
Imagine how good you’ll feel when you’re done!
I’ve said before that feeling good about myself is the best motivation, and I don’t feel good about myself when my house is a pigsty. I feel like a lazy slob, and then I get depressed, and even less motivated.
Promise yourself a reward, and follow through.
All work and no play makes Mommy a dull girl. And also a big crab. So promise yourself a hot bath when you’re done scouring the tub with Comet. Or a nap, when you’re done changing the sheets. Or whatever makes you feel good!
Don’t forget that your desire for cleanliness and order is no accident – you crave it because you were made in God’s image. HE is an orderly God, and he cares about all the little details of your life. Ask Him to help you with this area of your life, to give you a positive mindset, and the right heart attitude toward housework. He won’t let you down (He’s faithful like that).
SO! I’m going to go admire my nice clean living room for awhile, in the hope that it will motivate me to tackle the mess which has accumulated in my craft room, where I dump everything to be dealt with “later.”
The crap in the laundry baskets goes to the consignment store and/or Goodwill, but I need a box for it. I have one in the back shed. I just need to walk on out there and get it, but that will involve finding my keys so I can unlock the door, plus I’ll have to put shoes on! And probably a coat! And it’s just so much work, and it will take forever.
While you’re praying for motivation for yourself, if you think of it, send up a little prayer for me too. Obviously, I need it.