I feel like a maid. I spend my day just cleaning up after everyone and I feel lost in the to-do list. I’m on Pinterest yet again trying to get a clean, organized house with kids that live in it. I’m snappy and tired of feeling unseen and unappreciated. I can’t decide if it’s harder and more tiring to keep doing it all myself or to micromanage all the other humans in this house who seem to either not see all that has to be done or micromanaging them to freaking help, just a little.
Does that sound familiar? Does it feel like you have either said those very words or thought them a million times while rage cleaning the house or crying in your messy closet? Or the big deep sigh and low after the kids are finally down for the night and you are trying to decide if you should do the dishes or go rest and relax and have some time to yourself?
Moms are drowning in their tasks and housekeeping and forgetting that their home was meant to serve them, not the other way around.The Motherhood Mentor
First, let me be REAL honest and transparent here. It’s been one week since my last breakdown about my attempts at a clean house. It’s been a couple of days (or moments) since I snapped at my kids for not cleaning up after themselves or appreciating me for all I do for them. This isn’t just my story either, friend. I’ve heard it over and over from almost nearly EVERY client of mine. I’m a life coach and mentor to mommas and so I get to hear the secret life that happens outside our pretty social media feeds. The clean house and organized pretty home seem so often to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
But it’s Never the Mess We Take It Out On.
It’s our kids. Our spouses. Ourselves. We look around our not-so-clean homes and we don’t see a lived-in “normal home,” we see how much we are failing. We see to-do lists unchecked, dishes undone and instead of them just being tasks, we allow them to be a false reflection of our worth. What started as a dirty kitchen feels like a failure of life. A floor covered in play and imagination becomes overwhelm of never being good enough. You start doing all the things all the time and feel like there is no time or energy for you. You start drowning, trying to keep up with it all and it’s still not enough. It doesn’t matter how much you play the game- you can’t seem to win.
There is hope momma. Let’s talk about how to have a clean house in the completely OPPOSITE way that what you are trying now. If you are sick of being sick and tired of the mess- we are gonna start THERE.
Step 1: To Peace with Your House: What Do You Really Want From Your Home?
This question seems too obvious but I don’t want you to just think about what your home looks like. Sure think about what colors or styles make you happy and bring all the hygge or whatever. Figure out what you like and enjoy it in an environment but even more important is to think about the function and feel of your home. Ask yourself these questions: What does your house feel like? How do you WANT to feel in your home? What would you allow yourself to believe and feel when your house is organized and pretty and decorated? As a modern millennial women, we have tied our worth, identity, and value to having a Pinterest perfect home. We care for the people we love. You take care of and honor the THINGS we love- but those things do not reflect your value as a person.
It’s easy to get caught in the shoulds instead of focusing on what we want and need. What if, instead of just focusing on what your house looks like or what you DON’T want in your house- what if you thought of the function and FEELING of your home? Instead of living to serve your home, think of how your home and your environment serve you and your family. That simple shift makes the world of difference.
Step 2: To a Clean House: Realistic Expectations
We have made a never-ending, unrealistic list of expectations that NONE of us can actually do. And here is the other thing to really spend some time thinking about – what is your clean Pinterest worthy house costing you? Is it costing you your peace? Joy? Your budget or finances that you don’t have? Your relationship with your kids or spouse? The first step in having a house that you enjoy being in is cutting ties with the expectation of what you think it should be, and asking what you love about it.
Lower your expectations and raise your standards. Stop wasting your precious energy trying to have a perfect home so you can enjoy your REALLY good one. Perfect is the enemy of good. Ask yourself WHERE your expectations are coming from. If Pinterest or any other social media has you comparing your life it’s often helpful to either take a long extended break or look closely at the images and messages you are getting on a regular basis. If following a bunch of women with perfectly curated homes and feeds have you feeling sorry for yourself or beating yourself up, comparison could be the thing stopping you from enjoying and caring for your home well.
Nothing is worth more than your peace. Make intentional choices around what you are expecting from yourself and what those expectations are costing you. There is nothing wrong with having a clean or color-coordinated or Joanna Gaines like home- but is it stealing your joy from what you have?
Take a look around and lower your standards. Start where you are. Look around at your expectations and desires for your home. (Click here for the free challenge and workbook) Take inventory about where YOU are with your house. From there, create realistic standards around the level of a clean house you want. In the workbook, I give some examples of standards to start with depending on your season and where you are at right now. A clean house is a habit. It’s a skill set, not a personality trait. This means that you can learn it, as long as you don’t sabotage yourself and beat yourself up about it. It means that for you having a clean home may look different than mine. We may need different tools and skills or even expectations for what that means.
Step 3 : Gratitude and Deep Anger Go Hand in Hand. Is Your Home a Reflection of Something Deeper?
Before we get to the gratitude part: feel your emotions about your home. Stop lying to yourself and get some support (from yourself or a coach, group, or therapist) for the stress, the anger, the frustration you feel. But mostly, stop lying to yourself. Spend some time getting aware of the emotions around your home and to-do list so that you can figure out the REAL problem. Is it really the dishes in the sink or are you feeling unappreciated? Is it really the laundry that feels so heavy or is it the fact that you don’t feel like a person anymore? Homes often become a scapegoat for much heavier and deeper issues.
Take some time to acknowledge your relationship to your life and Self. To your tasks and to-do lists. The stuff you find there- that stuff needs support and love if you want to have peace with your environment. Emotional and mental health is a part of your home care. If they both feel off, reflect, and mirror one another. Use that to help and support you.
You know what happens when you are grateful for and love something? You care for it. So many moms have forgotten to be grateful for the little things. I’m not talking about faking smiles for the real burnout you have from trying to have a clean house while kids destroy the room you just cleaned. I’m talking about finding gratitude, not only for your house and family, but also having gratitude for you. When was the last time instead of looking around at everything you do, instead of being bitter that you thanked yourself? How about the last time you looked around at the workload and gave yourself some damn credit for being a badass mom who takes care of the home? When was the last time you admired or appreciated the small little tasks and appreciated and recognized yourself for doing them?
Moms are Vastly Underestimating Their Value and Worth.
If you feel unseen and unappreciated, the person you need that most from is yourself. Take some time to appreciate YOU and how you show up day after day. Appreciate the load you carry and ask how you can love and care for yourself better. The weight gets lighter when you feel good. When you don’t come last after the never-ending to-do lists. When you remember that you matter more than a kitchen sink. Remember, the house and to-do list are there to serve and support you. The person, the human being, is what matters. Not the things that need to get done.
What you think and believe will manifest itself. And yes, this applies to the home. You will always find what you look for. Start looking for all the GOOD in your home. Start affirming truth and grace and PEACE over your home. Teaching your kids to care for their environment won’t come from berating them. It comes from showing and teaching. It will come from hard work and intention. Make a giant list of all the spaces, things, and memories your home has.
Step 4: Baseline Standards for a Clean House
Could you imagine if you got frustrated every time you had to brush your teeth or pee? Do you think these easy tasks would start to feel heavy and hard? Start viewing your clean home as a CYCLE – not a destination. No before and after here. It’s more like baseline standards that keep up on the mess/not messes that STAY clean. Trying to always have a perfectly clean and organized home with kids is as effective as brushing your teeth while eating Oreos. Or yelling at Oreos for making the mouth dirty. Just enjoy the Oreos as you eat them and remember to brush twice a day. Expect mess to be a part of mom life and honor ways to keep your home feeling good and functioning how it needs to instead of trying to keep it perfect all the time.
Now I’m definitely not an organizational guru so let me say this: decluttering and organization and all that is FABULOUS. But the most effective thing I’ve seen is when you focus on the baseline behaviors and habits. For example, cleaning out and organizing my kitchen is great. But the baseline standard of spending 10 minutes doing dishes is what will keep it clean. How many times have you re-organized only to have it feel just as cluttered weeks later?
Decide on a simple baseline (the LEAST amount of effort needed for your home to be decently clean) and then focus on those tasks. Make a clean house as easy as possible for yourself by making it an enjoyable task. My favorite hack is to add music or an audiobook/podcast. Habits stack by adding a routine you aren’t great at to a habit you ARE good at.
Needing some practical help healing the relationship to your home so you can keep a clean house? Be sure to check out the free download for my favorite books, podcasts, chore charts and more!! Click here to join us
Other blogs to help moms from The We Spot – Mom Burnout: https://thewespot.com/mom-burnout/, Sobriety and Women: https://thewespot.com/buried-in-our-something-and-running-from-sobriety/ , Moms without a village: https://thewespot.com/to-the-village-less-mom-i-see-you-i-am-you/
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of The We Spot, it’s employees, sponsors, or affiliates.