Looking to learn

Confession: I feel like I spend about 90% of my time and energy on a treadmill entitled Trying to Keep Up with This Household.

I’m not trying to whine (horrors) or brag (horrors), but seek some input.

Here is what was on my plate today:

  • Clean-up from an excursion to Lake Erie last night—think soggy, sandy
  • A mountain range of laundry, mounds of folding and ironing

(Side note: I had four loads on my clothesline when the thunderstorm hit.)

  • Organization of strewn toys, books, and games in every part of the house—my boys helped beautifully
  • Baking cookies for this hungry family
  • Preparation and clean-up of two good meals, besides breakfast which hardly counts b/c it was cold cereal
  • Vacuuming and mopping a filthy kitchen/dining room floor
  • Phone calls to schedule an outing, plan a dental visit, and get Kelly into the health clinic for shots
  • An errand to return 20 urgently-due library books; and helping my sons check out almost 30 more
  • A stop at a pharmacy for medicine, only they didn’t have it ready so I’ll have to stop by tomorrow…

This does not even sound like much, but I am pooped. And I’m not done.

I have a theory that when a mom is overwhelmed with housework, it’s time to harness the juvenile energy in the place. I try. But my boys are still only 6 and 4. My oldest helps beautifully, loves his chore cards, stays on task, just requires some checking to make sure he finished well. My second loves his chore cards too, but is four years old: easily distracted, especially when he faces a particularly unpleasant job; still at the stage where his ‘help’ creates work for me… but I’m investing, you see, and hope to reap rewards in a few years. He says washing dishes is more fun than it sounds.

An honest and heartfelt question: why does housework (particularly cleanup) occupy so much of my time? As I type, I am remembering the half-basket of laundry to finish folding, the books and miscellanea still strewn on my living room floor, the mop water cooling in its bucket, and the bags of garage sale finds still resting on my countertops.

What am I doing wrong?

Sometimes I come up with a really detailed plan of attack, and then stress myself out trying to keep up with it. Sometimes I give up and resign myself to living in a house of pigs.

If you are a mom or an organizer—or not!—I welcome your advice. (If you have something to say but don’t want to say it publicly, you know my email address.) Do I need to work harder? Or laugh and let it go? Get more people involved? Or give up on my dream of having a little rest in my day? You don’t have to be nice to me. I want your ideas.

On to the tasks…!

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Ruth Byler
11 years ago

How well I know the feeling…”Sometimes I give up and resign myself to living in a house of pigs”…that is what I do but than get so frustrated that we have to live in a pig stye. There has been many nights when there is dirty dishes in the sink, or baskets of laundry unfolded, and the floors covered with books and toys (because sometimes I don’t even have the energy to “harness the juvenile energy”)….but sleep overruled~and I go to bed or take some me time amidst all the clutter. After all a rested mama makes a happier mama and a happier mama makes a more peaceful home. Rest…relax…tomorrow is another day…and if it’s not the clutter won’t matter anymore. 🙂

11 years ago

Oh, how I so identify. I have six now, and I think my ideals of a spotless home change with the addition of each new baby. You’ll probably find some ideas/thoughts over on my blog if you care to browse through it, but for now I just wanted to say … you’re in good company!! =)

LaDonna Nice
11 years ago

When you figure it out let me know;-) For myself if I can keep on top of the laundry and dishes I feel better, today I felt I couldn’t hardly do that…One thing I struggle with is how much to expect from my boys. Today it was all I could do to just get them to read up and set and clean off the table. Jenson just turned 5 and doing a little better. Marcus is two almost three and he’s definitely at the “it takes longer to get him to do chores than to do it myself.”

11 years ago

Once I made a comment in Sunday School saying that I think other women must know something about household management that I don’t know because I can never stay on top of things. Cynthia H. came to me after church and said something about learning that mess is part of this stage of life and it’s important to remember what really is lasting.

That doesn’t answer the “how can I manage better” question in a practical way, but it does give me perspective. What will be most important 100 years from now when I am no longer around?

Thanks for writing about this! It is the kind of thing that needs talking about! If part my “business” is managing a household I want to be alert to how it can be improved, just as my husband is alert to the needs of his business.

11 years ago

sigh———-I’m sure that we could come up with a perfect solution, dear friend, if we just had more time together to hash it out.

Donna Rutt
11 years ago
Reply to  Shaunda

Shaunda, yours is a priceless reply!

Suzanna Weaver
11 years ago

That is the perfect and I’m sure it’s probably the age old struggle of every ‘mom’ of little ones…and I am in the same boat…you are not alone. And yet, (almost) everytime I feel like throwing my hands up in dispair I think of my friend who has 2 cute, adorable little girls who – will never walk, will never jabber non stop with every question under the sun – will never see the lovely face of their mother — never strew books n toys hither and yon, never dirty windows, doors, walls or even plates n cups——get the picture? And this mother struggles with the same things we do…laundry, errands, dishes, plus tube feedings, missing countless church services and other get togethers due to being afraid they will catch something that could make them sick, hours of therapy so they don’t get to stiff and she thinks alot of their big sister who is now ‘perfect’ in Heaven!

After I met this friend 3 yrs ago it changed how I feel about my cluttered, toy strewn house with dirty dishes and unfolded laundry everywhere… how can I complain about these things when my mess is ‘normal’???

Hey, overlook the mess and read every one of those libary books aloud with your children. Not long ago an older mother told me “enjoy the mess of toys and little golden books because it doesn’t last long”.

…and cookies? are those those round cake like things that disappear off the hot cookie sheet? 🙂

11 years ago

I have NO answers but lots of empathy! If it makes you feel better, know that I looked at your list and was amazed at everything you got accomplished in one day. 🙂

11 years ago

Have I commented here before? I don’t remember, but I have connected closely with almost every post you’ve written! How can I subscribe to your blog? I consider myself fairly tech-y, but I can’t find out how to subscribe to the RSS or by email.

This post…oh, my. I completely understand the question, and you certainly aren’t alone. I want to be okay with being okay with mess,:) but….I don’t quite understand how to do that. The thing is, I could live in a mess (to a point) and it wouldn’t bother me and I honestly would way rather play with the boys than do household chores. But….if I leave the mess that is here I get so far behind and things get worse and worse until I feel there is no way to recover. I’ll be waiting for an update with the solution to this dilemma. 🙂

11 years ago
Reply to  Christy

Christy, here’s Shari’s tech support responding to your question about subscribing. Shari’s RSS feed is at https://sharizook.com/feed, but you will need an RSS reader like Outlook, Google Reader, or Mozilla Firefox to get the updates. Right now her blog doesn’t support email subscriptions, but I got the formal request to add that this evening. So… stay tuned. You can subscribe to updates now. Use the widget on the right sidebar. Thanks for commenting.

11 years ago

Hi Shari,
I am enjoying following your blog and have been a quiet observer on here since you started. I decided to start joining in some of the conversations that happen here, and thought I’d start with this post. (Although I am still forming a response to your posts on beauty…) 🙂
I am not a mama and therefore I feel a little bit shy about replying to this post. There are a lot of things different about your life and mine!
I am an organizational freak and one of my lifetime goals is to learn the beauty and discipline of time managament. It is an ongoing journey for me!
A few things I would suggest…things that you could try and they may not work for you…but things that, nonetheless have worked for me…

– The beginning of every week, spend 1/2 hour writing a list of all the things you need to accomplish for the week. What are the “chores” you need to accomplish daily and extra “chores” you need/want to get done this week? What meals do you want to make and do you have all the ingredients for those meals?

I have found that planning a menu every week works for me (maybe for you it wouldn’t…or you need to plan a menu for two weeks or a month at a time…) I write down what I want to eat and the ingredients I need, then I go shopping with my list. Knowing what I need to make every week frees me up a lot!

I tend to be an overachiever. I like to try and take the whole to-do list and accomplish it in a single day. I end up being stressed and exhausted and grouchy. Some days will just wipe me out more than others, but I have found that planning my week intentionally and putting certain duties/chores for each day helps me to pace myself, enjoy life, and be purposeful all at the same time. 🙂


Wendy Zook
11 years ago

One thing I just did was pack away a bunch of toys for the summer. When much more time is spent outside most toys aren’t played with, but somehow they always seem to get spread everywhere.

I am waiting to hear more about this as well. I work so hard to keep this place from looking over run. I do know for me that minimizing helps so much. With an extremely fussy baby, this just didn’t happen in the last year. So now it is catch up time, thankfully, my husband is mostly home for the summer. 😉

11 years ago

This whole thing of how to be a more efficient housekeeper/mom has been something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I feel the struggle to know how to do it all well and only have two children. I’m sure it only grows with having more!

The one thing that came to my mind as I was reading your post seems almost too silly to even tell you. But since it helped me out I’ll pass it along for whatever it is worth. I’ve found that doing only a load or two of laundry a day helps me immensely in this whole area of keeping on top of things. For one, it makes me feel immediately like I got something accomplished. First thing in the morning I throw a load of laundry in the washer. It also helps me stay on top of getting things folded and put away because if the drying rack and/or laundry basket are still full from yesterday and I have another load needing to fill it I have to do something about it! Seems rather crazy that it would make a difference but it really has been something that has made my life go a little more smoothly. Oh that and freezer meals. Just thought of that. I have recently started doubling some of my recipes and putting half of it in the freezer for a quick meal another day. It’s been wonderful!

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