The house is a mess. Dishes all over the counter tops (at least they’re cute ones), toys everywhere, papers askew, laundry piled up (yes, the above picture is my actual laundry) and overall “I’m-so-behind-on-life” disarray. It’s depressing just looking at it all. “Didn’t I just get this messed cleaned up?”

When I look around at the mess, I see Mount Everest. I get stuck, I feel depressed, and I have no idea where to begin…or if I even want to. I just feel so…overwhelmed sometimes.

After learning about the curse, I at least have a clearer perspective on my housework. I can see the eternal reasons for taking care of my home and family, and the immediate gratification of a well-kept home is like the cherry on top. But, I still struggle with being overwhelmed from time to time. So, what’s a girl to do?

Here are some things I’ve come across that have been helpful:

When the house is a mess, only work on one room at a time.

This little nugget of advice has helped me so much! I tend to just start cleaning, haphazardly moving from room to room, cleaning a little here and a little there. Then I started only doing one room at a time – what a difference! I stay focused on my task, and when I’m through with one room, I can look at it and see results.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Sally Berger

Be generous to your trash can.

Throw things out! The more things I realize I don’t need and can definitely live without, the less stress I create for myself. Just let it go!

Get rid of half the toys.

I’m serious. Okay fine, maybe for you half is too much (or not enough), but the point is, your kiddos don’t need 5000 things out. Grab the toys that the kiddos don’t play with all that much (or just won’t even notice there gone) and either get rid of them or send them to the attic. You can pull them out on a rainy day.

Do the 15 minute thing.

Fly lady says to put the timer on for 15 minutes and go to work, doing everything you can in that time frame. It is helpful, especially to those who like a challenge. Throw in some Pandora radio and you are set!

Just get moving!

I spend so much time fretting and being overwhelmed that I stay stagnant, which leads to me feeling worse, and then ultimately, I give in to laziness and a “why bother” attitude. Just get up! Force yourself to do SOMETHING.

“Action is the antidote to despair.” Joan Baez

Envision the big picture.

You know that warm and comfy feeling you get when you walk into a home that is well taken care of, clean, and inviting? It’s not sterile (I know people who actually put plastic coverings on their furniture – how uninviting) but tidy, warm, and peaceful. That’s the kind of home I want, and that motivates me to see the big picture instead of the piles. What’s your big picture?

Get off the computer.

This is probably the best advice I can give you. For me, the more I’m on the computer, the more depressed I get and the less I do. Shut it down friend. :)

Keep your eyes on the goal.

Getting our work done, pushing through the tough, I believe will reap eternal rewards. Your family (and yourself) will be more comfortable and less stressed – think on this as you persevere up the mountain. The view from the top will be exhilarating (or, at the very least, peaceful…and clean).

Get something new for your home that brings a smile to your face.

Buy or find something to put in your home that matches the vision you have for your space. Perhaps it will be something unique from a yard sale you go to this weekend, or something from the lovely and whimsical Life to the Full collection (that is 30% off this month!). Whatever it is, find it, place it, and enjoy it.

Challenge for Today:

Light a candle, find a cozy spot somewhere quiet (only for 10 minutes – send the kids outside, wait until naps, or pop in a DVD), sip on your favorite beverage, close your eyes, and envision your big picture. Think about your home and what you want it to be. Do you want it to be a place of refuge? Inviting? Warm? Fun? Picture your home in all its clean and organized glory, and then burn the image into your brain and heart. Now grab your journal (or notebook, or scrap of paper) and write down your big picture. Ask God to help you physically create your vision, and than thank Him for the ability to give life to your home.

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”Philippians 4:13

By Sarah Mae, Like a Warm Cup of Coffee

  • Pingback: I Bet My Laundry Pile is Bigger Than Yours « Like A Warm Cup of Coffee()

  • Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies

    This is a great post that hits on some things I have been thinking about (and blogging about) recently. I love a good 15 minute challenge and have been successful lately in tacking one task completely instead of flitting from thing to thing.

    • Sarah Mae

      I am SO easily distracted! I have to just focus, focus, focus if I am going to get ANYTHING done! :)

      • Gloria Shaffer

        Thank you for this…its exactly what I needed today. God bless you!

  • Becki

    Thanks for the tips, Sarah Mae! I love the one-room idea. I’m too easily distracted to *ever* finish anything when I’m running from room to room.

    And for the record, I think my laundry pile might be a tad larger. Pray for me! ;)

    • Sarah Mae

      Haha! We can pray for each other…my laundry room is a whole other ballgame! ;)

  • Anne

    With six kids and the energy of a woman five months pregnant, I think I may win on the laundry pile thing. But it will get done, and some times, a nap is more important. ;-)

    • Sarah Mae

      Anne, totally, naps and food trump all cleaning. ;)

  • rachel

    Yes! This post was written just for me today! (and everyone else too, of course!)

    • Sarah Mae

      Your welcome! :)

  • Far Above Rubies

    With a household of children and one teenager – I think I win on the laundry thing. However, the real reason I felt led to make a comment is b/c of the plastic coverings on furnitures.

    My mom and MIL still – after so many years – use plastic covers on their sofas. I use to hate those things, especially in summer when I was wearing shorts and I would get jp to leave – the plastic would stick onto me.

    Oh, the joys of plastic!!!

    • Sarah Mae

      I just don’t get the plastic – ick!

  • Crystal

    Just last night I was telling my husband that I just didn’t know how some moms get it all done! And I only have two boys (2 & 4). I honestly feel that sometimes in order to have a perfect home something has to be neglected! I don’t want to be the mom who says, “No boys, we can’t go outside. I need to finish laundry.” Or the wife who is tirelessly working on a spotless kitchen after the kids are in bed, neglecting my husband! (both of which I have been guilty of) Housekeeping is important… but there must be a balance. And I have a hard time with balance. I have an all or none personality, and it plagues me! I think I just need to re-focus on what my goal is for my home.. time to grab me some coffee, pen and paper…

  • Anna

    The timing of this post was strangely perfect. I was sitting on the couch nursing my 13-month-old, surveying my messy home and pondering how I need to get a load of laundry in, and how much I have to do… and how hard it is to get anything done while keeping a toddler out of trouble. I’m 13 weeks pregnant and was up for 2 hours last night, so it’s been a rough day so far.

    All that was to say… I’m glad I’m not the only one and your post encouraged me! Now he’s napping, so I better get busy.

  • Jessica

    Thanks for the tips! I completely agree that having a messy home is just stressful. We are getting ready to move this weekend and I feel completely stressed with boxes everywhere. The house we are moving to is much smaller than the one we are currently living in, but I am so excited to get rid of all the extra “stuff” that we have accumulated!

  • Michelle

    Wow, can I relate to feeling overwhelmed by the messiness at times. What a great read w/ some great tips for getting the mess under control. It’s so nice to know that I am not alone out here! :)

  • Erin

    Great post! I was just telling my husband last night, how the piles of clothes, toys and random papers seem to be never-ending…because they’re are. ;) I constantly have to remind myself of the importance of keeping a clean, comfortable home and NOT a perfectly spotless, everything-organized kind of home (which my perfectionist personality strongly favors). Always nice to know others feel the same way. Thanks for the helpful suggestions!

  • Kristi

    I can so identify with the laundry. It’s the chore I dislike the most (I actually like doing dishes!). On top of that our dryer was broke for 10 days and with only emergency loads at friend’s house, it is beyond out of control. Having 3 teens in the house will do that! :)
    Love your idea of just sitting in quiet, mediatating on my home, and asking God to guide me. I KNOW the feel I want….I’ve been there before…so I can do it. Just need his help getting out of Blog World! :)
    Thanks for the helpful post.
    Be blessed~

  • Melissa Lewis – Midwest Magnolia

    I love your tips. You are so right. The hardest thing for me to do is getting rid of the toys. Part of me thinks we need to save them ALL since who knows if we will have more. But I know it’s really just me holding onto things I don’t need to. Great post!

  • Cheryl @ finding the beauty

    Excellent post! This totally resonates with me. I like the idea/challenge of asking God to give me a vision for the Bigger Picture. That is so difficult to keep that in mind when the house gets out of whack. I have really struggled with ever since my third child was born actually blogged about these heart issues awhile back. I would love your feedback.

    Thanks again!

  • Christin

    My laundry pile is waaay bigger, I’m afraid! LOL

    But these are excellent tips! :) I have a hard time focusing, too, and just grab from here and grab from there and don’t see much improvement. Love taking the 15 minutes to work hard and love the idea of staying in one place at a time. :)

  • Tatum

    Love, LOVE this and so needed it today! As a working momma, I find myself quite overwhelmed as of late. I feel behind at work and at home. By the time I get home in the evenings I am exhausted and the last thing I want to do is clean, BUT I just love the feeling of a clean, tidy, and organized home. You have inspired me to tackle a couple rooms this weekend and maybe while I’m at it I’ll do a couple more. Love the idea of one room at a time and adding something new that brings a smile to your face!

    A little tip that helps me is cleaning up the kitchen before going to bed. Waking up to an empty sink and clean countertops make the world of difference for me. Have a great evening! :)

  • Heathahlee

    Ask God to help you physically create your vision, and than thank Him for the ability to give life to your home.

    Why is it that I forget to ask my Father for the things that I think are insignificant to Him, but so significant to me? Thank you for the reminder, Sarah Mae!

  • Janene

    I just hired help at least once a month–if that can help keep up with things like shutters and baseboards then maybe I can keep a step ahead of things. Actually I’d settle for just being in a mental place that feels like., “ahhhhhh….” a little more often than not.

    • Sarah Mae

      Janene, what a blessing to have someone help! You go girl! :)

  • Stacey B

    My laundry pile is at least as good as yours…lol. Thanks for your post. It was just what I needed this morning. I had myself a big cry last night on my hubby’s shoulder, I am completely overwhelmed,feeling like I am not doing anything properly at the moment. Not the housekeeping, not the teaching (we have just started homeschooling), and not the “mummying” (we have 5 kids under 8). Everything you shared resonated with me. And although those thoughts have occurred to me, hearing someone else express them as solutions too, is encouraging. I guess I need to pray more and “Just do it!!”
    God bless

  • Sarah Mae

    Stacey B, friend, you may need to pray more, but sometimes “just do it” because a shame and failure cycle (do I sense correctly in your writing?). I want to encourage you, listen, there is hope, keep walking by faith each day, lean on the Lord, and do what you can – He knows what you are capable of right now. You have five precious darlings under eight – that is hard! you are in a very special season, molding and training. Please please please keep your eyes on Him and on hope. He is working on you from the inside out, not the other way around.

    Might I suggest this:

    Love you!

    • Sarah Mae

      “just do it” *becomes* a…

  • dawn

    “I spend so much time fretting and being overwhelmed that I stay stagnant, which leads to me feeling worse, and then ultimately, I give in to laziness and a “why bother” attitude.”

    I could have written this! Thanks for this post reminding me what I already know…

    Another thought–my mom always points out that I used the word “behind” all the time. She said I need to give myself a break…I’m only behind by my own high standards. It’s worth a thought because “behind” makes me feel even more defeated and unmotivated.

    Time to JUST GET MOVING!

  • Charlotte Mason in the City

    Great tips! I also focus on doing just ONE thing. Usually, once I accomplish that one thing, it’s much, much easier to move on to the next thing.

  • Kristie

    Thank you so much for this! I was having a melt-down moment the other day looking at my house and the mess it has become. I have four children (3 of which I am currently homeschooling) who keep me busy! Between homeschooling and driving them to and from activities, I feel like I don’t have a lot of time to devote to my home. I really struggle with my friends who appear to have it all together. Their homes are always inviting and clean. I often wonder what I am doing wrong. It is so hard to find the time to really clean amongst all of the other pressing things that need to get done. It was so nice to know I am not alone and I am “normal” (whatever that is). ;o) Now time to get off this computer and start my day and somewhere in this day I will find 10 minutes for ME! ;o)

  • Jami

    Thank you for this post! Music is a must for chore time and I love the tip about working on one room at a time. That does work so much better! Blessings.

  • Beth Werner Lee

    Excellent post! Sympathetic, encouraging and practical. I needed all of that. If I could ask for one more thing it woud be the secret of remaining content in the face of others’ complaints! But focusing on what I can do and change (instead if how I wish I could change others), now that gives me hope.
    And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts, by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:5
    Don’t pick on me for quoting out of context (go ahead and read the context) but the Spirit brought that verse to mind and I’m bold enough to write it down.
    Praising God for his work through you (and I was crying out to him this morning!) with thanks.

  • Vontella

    Just want to let you know Mommies, it does get easier. But for now, try to relax and enjoy your children above all else. Let them help you fold laundry, and pick up. No it wont be perfect, but you are teaching them skills they will need and also spending time with them. Enjoy every moment you have with them. Live life, look at it anew through their eyes. Play with them, get down in the floor with them. Laugh and talk, LISTEN to them. And in a few years when they are all grown and moved on you will have an awesome relationship with some great adults and plenty of time for enjoying a clean house. UNLESS you are blessed enough to have grandbabies, then you do it all over again, only this time in spurts. ;)

  • Queen Bee

    Wonderful tips! Thanks for listing them out, I know how easy it is to get overwhelmed but it’s so important to get the big picture and move forward! Thanks for the reminder!

  • Pingback: Fleeces Workwear | bfreeworkwear()

  • Katie

    Overwhelmed is an understatement for me… you have some great advice here… now just to get going is huge. My home is not a place of refuge to relax in and it would be nice if it was. Thank you.

  • Rusheika

    needed that today! thanks for sharing.. now off I go.. step one: turn off the computer!!!

  • Angela Nazworth

    Ohhh girl….I needed this. This role reversal thing that is going on in my home is killing. me. I exaggerate…but not by much.

  • Stacy

    I love this! One, it makes me feel like I’m not the only one overwhelmed at times with keeping up the house. Two, you make it seem like it is actually doable.


  • Beth Huber

    Boy did I ever need to read this today!!!! Being on the computer too much does make me way depressed!! This morning being on it is a necessity since I need to finish a powerpoint for work, but once that is completed….I am out of there! Thank you for your words and encouragement.

  • Mika

    Thank you for posting your laundry basket as a proof. It was great to know that there is another laundry unfolded yet. I have the same situation, except that… I have four baskets full of clean laundry to be folded, one and a half basket full of dirty clothes, and one mountain sitting still inside our dryer. We have five children, and no matter how much I try to be efficient, I feel I can never finish anything done. I know I can finish “something” done, so I will focus on that mentality.

  • Lauren

    I can not thank you enough for this. As someone who has dealt with for years, motivation is a huge problem for me. My house is in a perpetual state of clutter and I find it so hard to start cleaning when the task seems so big. I’ve never thought about it in a heavenly perspective and I truly believe that will make a difference. Keeping my house in order is not only for me and my husband, but for the glory of God. Thanks again!

  • Lois

    I’m interested in the “curse” and “eternal reasons” for taking care of home and family links, but they don’t work anymore. Can you give me a new link to read those posts?
    I could use some eternal reasoning right now!

  • michael

    As a teacher, I find your words of advice comforting and accurate, However, when a person has done all those things and the house still looks like a disaster area because the problem is a partner who takes comfort in the mess. What then? No amount of talking, or cleaning, has done any good. I’m still overwhelmed.