My Three Step Process for Tackling the Tough Stuff

Messy Room

I hate cleaning my house.  I wish I could have Mary Poppins’ snap cleaning powers.  That would be awesome.

I know there are plenty of people out there who enjoy cleaning.  Or who find the result of a clean house so motivating that they are willing to put forth the energy frequently enough to keep up with the housekeeping.

I am not one of those people.

I do have a level of cleanliness need- I absolutely hate crumbs under the table.  That is sufficiently motivating for me to sweep once, maybe twice a week.

Another highly motivating strategy is to invite someone over.  I definitely find myself in panic mode the night before company is due.  I’ll whip this house in shape then.  But other than that, I have a hard time getting up the energy and motivation to clean, de-clutter, pick up, and do all those household things I really should do.  I’d rather plan out my scope and sequence for my children’s schooling for the next 12 years.  Again.

Part of the problem is that three years ago, I birthed child number 4 and then I moved that summer and every summer since.  Around that same time, I began this homeschooling journey as my oldest entered Kindergarten.  Trying to clean and go through things to get rid of excess stuff when under time constraints with moving (while trying to manage four children and trying to stop them unpacking every box you pack and writing on every surface with the black permanent markers), and with homeschooling, and settling into to a new church and a new area is extremely challenging!

Another part of the problem is me.  I get overwhelmed by the mess and the clutter and then I berate myself and hate myself for my laziness and absolute failure to keep things tidy.  Not all that surprisingly, this does not lead to a more joyful, hard-working approach to my household tasks.  It ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.  When I tell myself I’m lazy and a failure, that is just what I become.  I know I need to have grace for myself (“Cleaning the house while the kids are growing is like shoveling snow while it’s snowing,” after all), but I also know I need to be faithful and hard-working in my God-given tasks.

In my ponderings on how to solve this motivation problem, I’ve been thinking about something Charlotte Mason quoted in her Original Homeschooling Series (Volume 2), “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

It starts with sowing a thought.  That’s all I can handle right now.

So here is my three step process to sow a thought (well, three thoughts I guess) to motivate myself to tackle my housekeeping.

#1:  “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Romans 8:1  I quote that to myself first, to remind myself that I do not do dishes to save myself.  God does not condemn me for my laziness or discouragement.  There is no condemnation.  I am free.

#2:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13    I admit to myself that I cannot do this.  I cannot face my dishes, my sweeping, the toys and the clutter.  But Christ, who lives in me, can.

#3:  “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”  

With these thoughts ringing through my mind, I find the strength to get up and get to work.

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3 thoughts on “My Three Step Process for Tackling the Tough Stuff

  1. That sounds exactly like my level of motivation to clean my home. Usually knowing that my mother-in-law is coming over is enough motivation to make me do the dishes and vacuum real quick. 🙂 whatever works I guess! Great ideas and encouragement you have here though. Definitely good things to keep in mind!

  2. Just read this entry, and I truly identify with you! I used to think I was organized, and people complimented me on my organization, but that was then and this is now. I have certain specific “minimum requirements” for the living room and bathroom, looser requirements for the kitchen, and no requirements for my office/girl cave space. Try as I might. Therein lies my frustration! My den is where I sit each morning to spend time with the Lord, but just walking into that small room gives me an emotional “ugh.” At some point in the week I end up sitting at the computer to do serious work, and shudder at the papers piled around it. Typically my Saturday to-do list (wish list, not plan) is to declutter my office. This morning I walked in, did one sweeping spin around to determine what to do first, then walked out and shut the door. I’m already overwhelmed. I have tried the thought of “just do something with one item,” anticipating in a year I would have processed 365 items, but I am frozen. I’ve tried the timer. Once. It’s as if my brain just doesn’t have the correct gear. But give me a task, like create a new spreadsheet for who-knows-what-unessential reason, and I’m on it! My husband is terrific, “just be happy, don’t stress over it.” My laptop is on my desk in the office, so I have to go back in there at some point today. At the moment I’m typing on Dave’s computer in the kitchen. I’ll think about it later. Especially the “no condemnation” verse! I think I’m open to suggestions, “but.” (dream on).
    Hugs to you and the family!

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