If your parents never gave you any real work to do, expecting it to be done well and on time “or else,” you are at a distinct disadvantage. Learning how to work is your first task. You would be surprised how many business owners complain about first time employees, usually teenagers working after school or on weekends, who do not understand what it even means to work, and to keep working even when they are tired, kids who do not show up for work on a consistent basis simply because “I didn’t feel like it today.” The world doesn’t care how you feel today. Get used to it. “Work” means not just accomplishing what you have been told to do, but looking for more and doing “whatever your hand finds to do” Eccl 9:10. And when you are managing a home, you seldom get a sick day off, much less a mere “I don’t feel like it” day.
So what do you do if you feel like “a hot mess,” not just occasionally, but constantly? Do not use it as your excuse du jour. The young mother I quoted yesterday, Miranda Nerland, is absolutely correct in her assessment of the life God expects of us. From the moment of the first sin, toil and labor have been our lot. That is the reality of the situation. So work. Your mother got through it and so did mine. Our grandmothers survived and so has every generation for thousands of years. Stop acting like there is something special about you. In fact, those earlier generations than yours and mine got through it without all the convenience items we use every day. They washed diapers every day and hung them out to dry. And before that, they rinsed those dirty diapers out in wash tubs while you roll them up and throw them away. They worked on diapers for hours every day. If they hadn’t, their children would have been running around bare-bottomed. That task had to be completed no matter what else was going on that day or how tired they were, and that’s just one issue they had to deal with out of dozens of absolutely necessary things.
Second, know yourself. If you cannot talk and work, then be quiet. Do whatever it takes to have the quiet time you need to accomplish at least the necessary. When I see a young mother wondering why she cannot get things done and find five posts with her answering comments in 6 hours’ time, isn’t it obvious why she gets nothing done? Unplug the land line, turn off your cell, turn off the TV for however long you have determined you need to get the absolute minimum accomplished. It will all be there when you turn it back on. And be flexible about when that time is. For me, it was my children’s naptime. As I said yesterday, that old chestnut about resting when the baby does did not work for me. Do not be afraid to “break the rules.”
If you are one of those folks who is constantly making lists, it’s time to work on the list. Take that last list of “Things to Do” that has you in such a frenzy wondering how you will ever manage it, and just start doing those chores one at a time. Mark them off as you work.
I was one of those list makers. I would write it all down then sit there and become inordinately depressed just looking at it. No way was I going to accomplish all this, I kept thinking. Finally I learned to just start working and mark things off as I finished them. I had wasted more time sitting there stewing than it took to complete some of those tasks, and once I got to work I finished far more quickly than I thought possible. Even if you do not finish the list, seeing how much you have done will be encouraging rather than the opposite. I loved marking things off. Sometimes when I remembered a chore I did not have on the list, I wrote it in just so I could mark it off! Wow! I got ten things done today, not just the nine I had originally written down.
If your children are old enough—which is not as old as you think need be--get them involved. If they think they are helping you or doing a “grown-up” thing—call it whatever you need to keep them smiling--they will not view it as a chore. Yes, you sometimes have to be creative and a little less picky about how things are done, but just the fact that they are busy gives you both more work time and more time with them.
If you find just five or ten minutes free some time during the day, use it for another chore—a five or ten minute one. My kitchen was swept far more often and more laundry put up because of that one little trick than if I had just sat down for those same five or ten minutes. They usually happened for me when we were getting ready to walk out the door. With just a little practice you will find those few extra minutes in your day. Sometimes little things make a huge difference.
Will this make you any less tired at the end of the day? Not really, but you will be less stressed because you accomplished more and can see the difference. But more than that, you will know that you are “working at home,” “managing your home” (I Tim 5:14), exactly the way God expects you to. He does not expect you to do more than you are capable of, but most of us are capable of far more than we realize, especially when we quit whining and get to work!
God did not call any of us to be a “hot mess.”
She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Prov 31:13,15,17-19,27