I've been a wife for 11 years, a mother for 10 years, and a an unorganized hot mess for my ENTIRE LIFE.

There was a time that I was proud of my easy-going housekeeping style...but I think it's finally catching up with me and I am just not happy.

I lack discipline and motivation.  Yet, when I DO take the time to clean and organize, I feel SO MUCH BETTER.  I feel happy.  I feel like I accomplished something.  I feel like I've done something that shows my family how much I love them.

Sometime within the last few weeks, we sang a hymn at church that pierced my soul..and I've repeatedly gone back to the phrases in the first verse for inspiration...

Today, while the sun shines, work with a will;
Today all your duties with patience fulfill.
Today, while the birds sing, harbor no care;
Call life a good gift;  call the world fair.

It's always the small, simple messages that hit me the hardest.  It's like a DUH moment, right when you need it, but in a nice way because it's from the Lord.  

I have been known to complain endlessly about the messes at my house...yet hardly ever DO anything to eliminate said messes -- by eliminate I don't just mean clean or tidy up, I mean TEACH my children how to keep things clean and how to MAINTAIN cleanliness.  

Maintenance is my true weakness.  Lack of maintenance is what makes cleaning so overwhelming.  EVERYTHING is a project... not just a 15-20 minute tidy-up job...  

So, my question friends, is HOW do I learn better habits?  I have been lazy and angry about cleaning for so long that I just avoid it and it's definitely NOT something I am proud of.  

I have over 100 pins on Pinterest in my "Cleaning/organizing" board -- it's pathetic.  I find inspiration and examples of great ideas all over the place - yet can't seem to execute them!

Is there such thing as a cleaning therapist?  I mean, sometimes when I watch Hoarders, I secretly wish that those therapists would come to my house -- even though I am not a hoarder...  

Ultimately my guilt and shame about this comes down to the fact that at my core, I truly believe that one of the biggest acts of love and service I can show my husband and children is by making our home a clean and comfortable place to be...a place that they LOVE to be.  And when I don't LOVE to be in my home, I am betting that they don't either.  

Part of this dilemma stems from the fact that we are perpetual renters.  I daydream about decorating, renovating, and putting my own personal stamp on our home - yet, because I'm renting, I am extremely limited in what I can do.  

I am surrounded by gross flat-paint dirty walls (I have a house full of BOYS - do you think white walls stay clean very long here?  NO!) that I ache to paint, but I don't because "who knows how much longer we'll be here" and "why waste the money on decorating a rental?"   

Am I a total mental case?  Maybe.

Am I the only wife/mom/homemaker out there who struggles with this?  No.

So, I am asking for help - yes, I am SOLICITING your advice, tips, experiences, etc.  I know many of you are great at organizing and keeping your homes running smoothly...  This (and many others!) is an area that I want so badly to change in my life, PERMANENTLY.  

Thanks for listening to my rambling!


Q said...

While I was growing up, we had chores to do every Saturday morning. Every week, we tidied the house––picked up stray toys and so on––and would have a rotation of other chores as well. For instance, every twoish weeks we'd do a deeper clean of the bathrooms. In the summer we'd do yard work. Sometimes we'd vacuum and my mom would mop the wood floors.

Taking out the trash was our job until my brothers got old enough to do it, and Aubrey and I (at least) learned how to clean bathrooms fairly early. It definitely helped that my mom was so proactive about it.

When Aubrey and I were in the last couple of years of elementary school, the dishes were our job on the weekends. Once we got into junior high (I think), the dishes were our job after dinner every night (unless we cooked dinner by ourselves, which was probably the main reason I know how to cook today).

Oh! And my mom required us to put away our toys when we were done playing with them. I am not sure how she managed that but I know she did it. We were also never allowed to invite friends over to play unless we'd cleaned our rooms beforehand.

I think the biggest thing is to be consistent. You don't have to have sticker charts or anything super structured like that, but just knowing exactly what my parents expected of me, and them being consistent about it, was instrumental in actually getting the work done. The second biggest thing was doing the work with my parents.

Good luck!! I hope something here has been helpful.

The Titmi said...

I was a slob til we had been married and I realized how much a clean house meant to my hubby. Now I keep it cleaned for my sanity. I also feel like so many people show up unannounced and I can NOT handle my house being a mess. You just have to find the right motivation. As much as I feel like I am either cleaning or having my kids cleaning all the time I am okay with that because it is a top priority. In actuality we are not cleaning all the time because it is rarely a big project. It is quick clean ups all day with a bigger cleaning on Friday afternoon.

Jennifer B. said...

Shari, I totally relate. Have you ever checked out flylady.com? A few of her ideas, like "babysteps" and some basic tips have been helpful for me. We should talk!

allypally said...

Jen beat me to flylady.... I couldn't handle her system, it was too many emails hitting my inbox every day. But I learned to always have my shoes on and always have a clean sink before bedtime!

I am not a great organizer either; I think we rumble along at somewhere just below acceptable most days. Nothing is ever perfect but nothing is ever a true pigsty for too many days either. It's as much as I can do for now!

Melissa said...

I love Fly Lady. I will say that no one person's style will necessarily work for you unless you understand your organization style, time management style and the underlying reasons that keep you from your goals. The best organization book EVER is Julie Morgenstern's Organizing From the Inside Out. She helps you organize and work to maintain your space by getting to the root of the hows and whys. Her companion book Time Management From The Inside Out is great for after you work through the organizing book. These books changed my life, I taught a couple of classes at RS meetings about them and got some friends hooked too. The library has them, but you may want your own. They are about $10 on Amazon. It works. If/When you read them, I am happy to discuss. I LOVE this subject. :D

Hanson Family said...

What has worked for me is, one day a week for cleaning (bathrooms, kitchen, vacuum, dust, sweep and mop) and then everyday the kids have to pick up their toys before bedtime and I also make sure the kitchen is completely clean before I go to bed every night (I hate waking up to a dirty kitchen). Also everything has a place or a home, there are no papers allowed on the kitchen counter, I have basket for those. If I take a few minutes every day just to do those things my house seems to stay fairly organized. Every 4-6 months I clean and organize the closets, it does not take me long because I do it often. I know I have the opposite problem that you have though, I think at times I over do it when it comes to organizing and cleaning!

Evaly said...

I can totally relate (so no awesome advice here!) Every time I think I finally have it figured out, I get pregnant or it's tax season and I get out of my maintenance habits. Then it is SO hard to get back into what I know I need to do. It's a vicious cycle! I know for me it helps if I stop whining and JUST DO IT. I KNOW what needs to be done, and how to to do it, I just need to GET TO WORK. And I agree with Maria, life is easier if you get the kitchen done each night. It's sucks because you are tired and it's the last thing you want to do, but I'm always glad once it's done! :) Oh, one more thing I learned from my grandma, she would set a timer for like 15 minutes and work as hard she could. When the timer went off she "rewarded" herself with a little fun time (also with the timer). Then work again for another 15 minutes, etc. You can get a lot done in a short time if you are focused. This really helps me when I'm having trouble motivating myself to work- which is pretty much all the time!