Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Situation Common to All

"Olivia's Place" available to purchase at Martin Lawrence Galleries online

This young woman feels that she is disorganized because she was once working outside the home and just never caught up. I can tell you it happens to everyone, even if staying home full time. Please write in your comments, and I will add my comment to the article when I have time.

Dear Mrs. Sherman,

I wanted to ask if you might address something I'm struggling with greatly. I have 3 children. I pulled my daughter out of public school in April. She's 8, and I'm now teaching her 3rd grade. I also have a 5 1/2 year old son whom I'm teaching some math and how to read. And, lastly, I have a 13-month old baby who is very demanding. My problem is I've worked most of my marriage, and I feel like I still have one foot out the door.

My husband and I struggle financially. We put ourselves in a tremendous amount of debt in our 20's, and we spent our 30's trying to figure out how to pay it down without changing our habits. The last 5 years, we've suffered some significant health issues, lengthy unemployment, and the birth of 2 of our 3 children. While we've paid off a lot of debt, we've also incurred more because of some of those issues.

Because my foot is still out the door wanting to go to an office and make money (I have very good earning potential), I'm not doing the things I need to do at home. I believe, especially after reading your blog for awhile, that, if I were able to commit to this 100%, my husband's health would improve, and the spirit in our home would improve.
I'm not organized, and my children have never seen our home tidy, much less company ready. I'm embarrassed to bring people over. It's all on me, and half the time I don't know where to start. I've managed to do some of those small things you mentioned in a recent post - laundry is usually caught up and the kitchens stays mostly picked up. But, we have piles of things everywhere that I can't seem to get to. I've got years of papers to be filed.

I have never decorated our home, and it looks like we just moved in a few weeks ago. Homeschooling truly doesn't take as much time as I thought it would, but it does take chunks out of my day. When I actually accomplish something, it seems to take me all day long, and I feel like I don't get to spend time with the children or relax with the baby. I also find myself totally exhausted, and it's just easier to let the mess lie.
My schedule is very disjointed. I'm actually a good example of a woman who should have stayed home from the get go, just enjoying the time at home, learning to live frugally, and working on routines before the family comes!!! Any advice is most welcome.
Thanks, Robin

Here are a few things that have helped me in the past.

1. When I first learned to take care of your appearance at the beginning of the day, it practically launched me into having a successful day at home. It helped me approach the job more professionally. Spending the day in pyjamas and slippers can give your mind the message that you are going to be casual, and your job suffers from a casual approach all day. Dressing up, and wearing shoes, gives it a professional approach.

Dressing up in pretty dresses was important to me, because I didn't want my family to have memories of me in the same old thing day after day, looking oppressed and tired. Today I have Miss Lillian and the boys around me a lot, and I want them to remember their grandmother wearing the enchanting little cotton prints and clear colors, with the trims and buttons and laces, my hair done up, and even pretty shoes.

If you have a baby to care for, I'd highly recommend that you let someone come over and fix your hair and give you a facial. Everyone seems to know of someone who does in-home demonstrations using a particular product they are selling, that they could invite over.

2. Having one wall decorated, or at least a portion of one wall, really motivated me when my children were little and the housework seemed insurmountable. Somehow, that little arrangement on the wall, with a mirror, a picture, a candle sconce and a shelf, gave me a starting place. I wanted to expand the area beneath it and clean the floor and put something there that was nice. When you have young children, wall decorating is the best because it won't get in the way and no one can touch it. Just hang a picture and put some complimentary accessories around it, whether it be a wreath or light of some sort. That one wall gave the tone for the rest of the house, and I kept going back to look at it. Then, I wanted to do the rest of the house in a similar way. That way, it was not all just cleaning and hard work, but a kind of crowning glory on top of all the labor.

3. Inviting someone over for a cup of tea and a scone is a great motivation to getting something done in a reasonable amount of time. I found if I made an appointment for someone to come over in a week, I looked forward to it all week and worked toward it.

4. Getting the front room or front entry way completely presentable, and maintaining it daily by swooping through it and picking up clutter, really gave me a lot more encouragement to keep working on other problem areas. The first room from the front door is what people will see when they enter the house and it can be an encouragement or a discouragement. Make sure the front porch represents what is on the inside of the house. Even if you have nothing, it can at least be swept clean and give people the impression that there is a "keeper" at home.

5. In Sidetracked Home Executives course, that went through the country about 30 years ago, we learned to begin at the front door and work clockwise through the house, leaving the kitchen til last. This is not necessarily deep cleaning, but picking up clutter and making everything at least look nice. We learned never to go anywhere until the kitchen was clean, the dishes washed, the bathroom clean, and the beds made.

6. Children can follow you around from room to room and see what you do and even help. You can give them things to put away. "Run to the bathroom and put this towel in there." "Take this to the kitchen and put it on the table." "Put this in the laundry." Kids love to be gophers and will save you a lot of time. They can put things in the trash, or hand you things while you are working in a room. They can unwind the cord on the vacuume cleaner and wind it back up again. They can save you a lot of time.

7. Having a daily tea time where you put out real china cups and serve just anything, even hot apple juice, makes a great reward, and the children just love it.

8. Reminding the children you are getting ready for Daddy to come home, puts the focus in the right place. Orderliness pleases God, as he, himself, put everything where it belonged, at the creation. Each day, he stood back and said, "It is good." You can look back at each corner of a room and say "This looks good." Check for a previous post that has more ideas in it.

Thanks to every person who so graciously gave her time to add helpful suggestions!


Kelly said...

One suggestion real quick. There are plenty of books, blogs etc. one how to put one'shome to gether and make it a peaceful haven for your man to come home to after slaying dragons for you and the children.

But I would also suugest that the home can be a place of industry and that once you have the basics covered, (home in order etc.) that a home-based business might also help lift the financial burden that you and your husband are carrying. Stress does effect us physically and so this might also help with health issues.

Consider things like how to make use of your household income to make income. There are creative ways to do this. Most families don't have extra money to invest. With technology being what it is today it is not difficult to make better use of the resources that you may already have there at home. Your computer, your household income or "anyway money" as we like to call it. It's money that you are spending anyway. Spend it in ways that you can earn money with it while purchasing your household goods.

Just a few thoughts, Hope that inspires some ideas and gives you hope that you can achieve what you are wanting to pursue. It will require being 100% sold out to your husband and family....

It's so worth it.

God Bless,

Ace said...

I understand totally. I am the same way. I grew up hearing that I should stay home with the kids, but I should also have a law degree or be a medical doctor. This wasn't any pressure, right? My DH, thank the Good Lord, wants me home. But we were married a good ten years before we had kids and I worked that whole time in male dominated fields. The stuff I used to do was much more exciting, sometimes. And I have still such a hard time submitting to my DH because I never had to really submit to anyone before and was very competitive with the men in my field. Usually, I would out do them.

Sigh, I wasted so much money and time when I could have been so much better set for what I really was going to do in my life.

Keep in mind that you are doing what the Good Lord wants you to. Would you live in poverty in Africa fighting off Lions for HIM? Then take that dedication, intelligence and industry and use it for what HE has for you to do now.

It is hard, the transition. It is almost a culture shock. It is sad because I have been so production and progress driven that I can make even cleaning day seem like a military invasion and my poor family just cannot rest around me when I get like this.

Maybe you could talk with your DH, ask him for the top Five things that are his priorities and work on just them.

Then, just get RID of anything you can. Don't hoard it, don't over think it, pass it on to someone who needs it.

And don't stop, don't give up. Ask God for help. This is what He called you to do and HE will help you.

Many Blessings :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Robin, two things that I think would help you immensely are 1. a weekly cleaning schedule and 2. getting the children involved with the housework.

With a weekly schedule, you're tackling at least one part of the house every day, and it's the same every week, so you can plan ahead. It is much, much less work to clean a room on a weekly basis than to wait until it's so dirty or messy that it demands your attention.

For a long time, I made the mistake of not having my children do many chores because it was just plain easier to do something myself than to teach them to do it. But no more! I finally realized that I can't do all the work all by myself and keep the house up to my standard. So now, at 8 and 4 years old, my children tidy and vacuum their bedrooms, clean their shared bathroom, clear their dishes from the table after meals, and my 8-year-old does the dusting. The jobs aren't always done perfectly or how I would do them, but the kids are learning and, most importantly, they are contributing to the upkeep of our family's home and getting a sense of satisfaction from doing important jobs.

Whatever you do, don't beat yourself up. Take it in steps and start working the things you need to do into your weekly routine. You can do it!


Anonymous said...

Hi Robin,

Congratulations on your resolve to remedy this issue! I applaud your willingness to share your struggle and ask for help.

One of the quickest ways to bring order to the home is a routine. Have a set of things you do in a specific time frame (of course you may have to leave a little wiggle room:) It is just amazing how comforting a routine is. Before you know it, you and the children will be on auto pilot and over time things will get more caught up.

Most importantly: Do you think your desire to go out and earn money stems from thoughts of feeling like your contribution at is not valuable? If it does, please do NOT think this way.

You are providing a soothing, restful haven for your husband and family -- a HOME if you will. And, very few things are more important than home.

My best to you,


A. said...

Well, my advice is a little different. We've moved A LOT so I know what living in chaos can do to you, your mood and your ambition.

Is there some place your husband and kids can go for a day? Maybe visit family? Can you send the kids to a friend for 8 hours? Then take that day and gather all those "piles." Put them away, donate them, whatever. Work like you've never worked before.

Speaking from experience, sometimes you have to get down and dirty. If you had two full days to just tackle the house and organization then the rest of it will come so much easier. It is HARD to catch up.

At the end of those two days you'll have so much more time to just plan menus, store lists, daily chores, sip a cup of tea or coffee and put your feet up. In my experience, once things are put away it is so much easier to go from there and if things have a place, it's much easier for the family to put them back there.

Also, it is hard to relax in chaos for you, your kids and your husband. Trust me, I'm not organized like some people. I'm more the toss it in a basket and the basket out of sight kind of person. I don't label things and tuck them into bins I can't afford to buy. I have a box for things that need filed. It is a very cute box but open the lid to find chaos. I tackle it when I have time in my day or maybe one evening when my husband is away for work. In the mean time, the filing isn't staring at me making me realize, daily, that I didn't get it done.

You have a lot of catching up to do at home. The sense of satisfaction of taking two days and digging in a getting dirty will be a HUGE boost to you. Then, you can work out the rest.

Good luck to you! Being home is the most rewarding career I could ever have imagined. Loving on my family, putting on an apron and digging into a full day in the kitchen, and the time we have to spend together make any amount of financial burden we've faced worth it. I, for one, can do far more to help my family by being supportive and just being available.

Rhonda in Chile said...!

Polly said...

I can understand! I am an attorney-turned-at-home mother and in the 16 months since my son was born sometimes find it rather overwhelming to try to figure out how to *do* it all while still corral-ing and caring for a baby.

The key for me has already been mentioned by the wise women who've commented before me: routines. Try to find a workable system--check out the Fly Lady book (her site is too confusing for my scattered brain)--Sink Reflections. It will help you start down the road to a bit more order. Don't expect 'perfection,' just try to get done what needs to be done in baby steps.

I think the suggestion a previous commenter made was also good--take a day or two, if possible, to really TACKLE some big areas. It will make you feel better. But if that seems too overwhelming or is not possible, check the fly lady's book for some practical tips and suggestions.

Good luck--you are doing the right thing!

Mom of Five said...

I've been writing a series of posts on my blog about creating a new routine and implementing a certain type of task each day. I will follow up will posts next week about chores for children.

Just Me said...

Wow, all of these comments are great advice! I worked out of the home before I had my children and it was difficult for me to transition into working in the home.

Part of my problem was that I looked at everything as a "To Do" list with deadlines. That's how I did things at work, so I took the same approach at home. It seemed overwhelming. My "To Do" list could easily have been a million bullet points long. There is a never-ending supply of work in the home. And to put a deadline on all this? Impossible.

Then I discovered a new outlook. In the home there are no deadlines, and the "To-Do" is a routine not a list. I love Lady Lydia's previous post talking about covering the necessities first: meals, laundry, etc. Everything after that is a bonus - an additional act of love for your family.

I don't have to feel overwhelmed by that pile of papers to be sorted and filed because I literally have my whole life to do this task. I can tackle it one paper a day or take all my free time during the day to work on it. I can choose what and when I work on things. And finishing the task does nothing but improve our home environment so it is joyful to do and finish.

Now I don't get overwhelmed because I know that there are no deadlines and no projects. Only those tasks I lovingly do for my family.

Anonymous said...

i really like what 'a' said and would second that. Also, do you have a good friend or sister/mom/aunt/cousin who could come help you? Or can you hire a cleaning service for one day? They could clean as you organize...or you organize one day and have them in the next (the pressure will make you work harder)? Two days absent from homeschooling won't hurt anyone...not at all.

i wish i lived near you-i'd help in a heartbeat! Truly. Because you will feel so much better, not only about life but about yourself..and in doing that, it will radiate towards the entire family.

lots of prayers and hugs

Mrs. U said...

Dear Robin,
I certainly "hear" the distress in your voice! Bless your heart!! I will pray for you!

I agree with Rhonda in Chile-!!! She gives "baby steps" to cleaning. When you look at the big picture- how much you need to clean and declutter- it seems mountainous and completely unattainable. FlyLady gives small steps and each step encourages you to move on to the next step. Slowly, but surely, you will get your home in order. It is not an overnight magic trick, but it didn't get that way overnight, either. :)

Also, as you are learning from FlyLady, I wholeheartedly think you need to teach your children, too, what you are learning. Let them learn cleaning/decluttering/tidying habits while they are young (and let them help you!!!) and they will carry them on for the rest of their lives- hopefully they will never be feeling the same way you are today.

And rest assured, Robin. NO ONE has the "perfect" house 100% of the time.

Pray and ask the Lord to help you. He can and He will!

Mrs. U

Thursday's Child said...

I second FlyLady! She's terrific!

I also had trouble getting the house in shape after I quit teaching to homeschool our oldest. It took moving to another country and starting from scratch in that house to get my act together. When we move back home I should be able to take what I've learned to get that house whipped back into shape.

I'm not suggesting you move overseas but I'm suggesting you get rid of as much stuff as you possible can. It's less to dust/organize and if you donate to Goodwill it's good for your taxes. ;)

Definitely talk to your husband and make sure your priorities are in line. You might be stressing about something he's not that concerned about while you're not so worried about something he places a higher priority on. It's much easier when you're on the same page.

Anonymous said...

Trying to be brief-

Eliminate possessions you don't need, use or love. Be ruthless.

Prepare simple meals and always clean up afterwards.

Do laundry.

Practice and study to be frugal. Don't consume. Pay off debt one step at a time. You can do this.

Decide once and for all, you ARE a keeper at home(and just don't entertain the tempting thoughts of working outside the home.)

Enjoy your children.

Take heart. Try not to be overwhelmed. Be encouraged. Rise to the challenge. It's so rewarding and delightful!

Kind regards, LML

Anonymous said...

All these comments are wonderful, I espcially would reccomend taking those full days and just working hard "down and dirty" as the writer said... you will feel so much better. I am planning to stay at home next week to get caught up, I would love not to leave my home for a whole week.... everyone has to sometimes.... Once you get in a routine it will be easier... and specifically you need to stay at home... running around town takes up so much time... Maybe just one day a week for errands...
I also would suggest a book by Helen Andelin "Fascinating Womanhood" she gives a lot of great homemaking tips...

Anonymous said...

Hey Robin,

I was once right where you are. I became a student learning one concept at a time. Here are some resources that have helped me over the past 11 years:

(1) The Tightwad Gazette books by Amy Dacyczyn. Here I put one idea into practice at a time. Each week I sat down with my notebook and reviewed how the past week went and what I ought to work on next. Look for it at your local library. There's three books but really I learned the most from the first.
I bought each of my daughters a copy. One daughter got The Complete Tightwad Gazette book at a yard sale for 50cents.

(2) Cindy's Porch at

(3) Flylady at
From her I learned:

(a)An empty pitcher can't fill empty glasses. I've learned to take care of myself by doing simple personal care, dressing up even though I am not going to a rat race home is my "work place"

(b) You can do anything for 15 minutes...and only 5 minutes every day can make a huge difference.

(c) Don't sweat the small stuff. And in the end it's all small stuff. So just start where you are...when you are at the bottom of the stairs you can only reach the top by taking one step...even if it's a baby a time.

(4) and are a couple more sites that are helpful.

God Bless,

Anonymous said...

I've been at this for 21 years, so I think I can help!

1. Get all the piles gathered into one room. Get some empty boxes and a package of new file folders. Label and start sorting. Set a timer and just do it for half an hour each day. Keep a giant black garbage bag in that room and toss stuff as you sort.

2. At least have your living room "company ready" and keep it that way. You need a room that is a haven. It will inspire you to get more rooms in shape.

3. Keep a box in each room and use the box to put items in that do not belong in that room. When it is full, carry the box out and place all the items in their proper places. Just keep doing this until every room is de-cluttered.

4. Keep telling yourself that you CAN and WILL do this for the happiness and health of your family.

5. Take a little time every day to pamper yourself. A bubble bath, a manicure, time to do a craft, etc. is a great way to reward yourself for a job well done.

6. Pray that God will give you the strength and inspiration to make your house a home. He will!

I will pray for you, Robin. You can do it!

Anonymous said...

I can't really add to much to all the other comments of good advice. But I would suggest doing school slower. You started alot of things at once. Do school maybe every other day or M-T w/F off like we do. That way you can tackle the piles that are laying around on the days you aren't doing school and easy into a routine better. On the days you aren't teaching pop a movie in that goes w/your schooling. I get movies from the library, which are free, that go w/our history or a story on tape while they play. My son does this all the time. Lego's are his fav. If you are worried that they aren't listening while they are playing don't worry. Ask them ? about the book at meal time. Great conversation at meal w/dad. Don't forget to use the crock pot. It will be a great time saver on busy days.

Best advice ever. Pray and give yourself time.

Anonymous said...

I have found that working hard for 15 min. a day at a task that seems like a mountain does get the job done. I learned this from Emilie Barnes 'More Hours In My Day' and from Fly lady. These ladies are fantastic in helping us break down tasks and actually feeling like and accomplishing them!
keep at it and you'll win!

Domestically Inclined said...

I guess I come from differnt stock. I've always wanted to be home. But even then there are things in life that can overwhelm us, we wake up in the middle of an unorganized mess. When I find myself slipping into this, the first thing I do is meet with Jesus. Open your Bible and start communing with the one who loves you. He will direct your heart. Then (I think someone else made this comment as well) Check with your husband and see which things are his priority for today, this week, and before you commit to anything outside the home, check with him. We are emotional creatures, God made us that way, but He gave you a husband that can help. Look to Jesus, then your husband, and see what God will do with your willing heart!
God Bless!

Anonymous said...

Dear One,

Ask God to give you a vision for how essential and crucial you are for your family. You say you have one foot out the door...really that means that you haven't yet decided to fully embrace where you are as a woman in the home.

Pray and seek God. Time alone with Him is wonderful but He hears you as you walk through your house and as you change your baby and as you scrub the floor!

Realize that housework is hard work! Come to terms with that. Take pride in it. Thank God audibly for it.

Realize that rearing children is hard and sometimes tedious work. They are demanding. What can God mean that they are blessings? Study and seek God about how to discipline them and teach them. Look them in their eyes and smile at them!

Realize that you can be a blessing or a burden to your husband. Put on a happy face for him even if you are worried or tired. Do a quick pick up of the room he walks into at the end of the day and make it your goal to have a yummy smelling dinner cooking for him when he comes in the door. Smile at him cheerfully.

You can call it a successful day!

Anonymous said...

Training your children to work with you is a great idea, not just for a clean house but for that time to be together. It is a time to love and disciple them as you work alongside them (Deut. 6:7).

Personally, I couldn't send my young children away for several hours while I did housework, but some things like paperwork you need to do alone. If you could schedule even an hour each day to tackle a job like that, perhaps during a quiet time for your children each day, you should make encouraging progress even over a week or so.

Above Rubies may give you some encouragement -


Anneatheart said...

I also didn't learn how to be a good housekeeper or be frugal until after I had two little ones. But, I did get things in order and have kept them that way for years. You will have to settle it in your mind that this is a job and that you have to work hard at it. Once you get things running smoothly, the work won't be as hard, especially after you've gotten your children used helping.

Flylady was great but I also recommend that you go to

She has a free yahoo group that gives daily reminders and inspiration about keeping on top of your home and homeschooling. She has a wealth of info about organization, cleaning, being a good wife and homeschooling on her blog.
The main way to be frugal is the do things the old way :) Such as, cooking from scratch, baking bread, making household cleaners, sewing etc. You may think that you could never do that, but I am telling you you can. If I can do it with three girls under age 5 with a special needs child mixed in, you can do it :) Pick certain parts of the day to just spend with the baby and put it on a schedule so that the baby won't be so demanding. If you have to put them in the highchair next to you with some toys so can do something else.
I would imagine your older children would be very involved if you made up chore charts or something and gave stickers as a reward etc. Or telling them if you do your chores everyday then we will bake cookies, or go to the park etc. at the end of the week.

Make daily routines and stick with them; then each week take a day to tackle some of the piles of stuff and do it gradually. For frugal meal ideas visit

I would be willing to answer more questions or be more of a help as well- you can find me at OR email at

Heritage of Home said...

Oh this sweet woman! Blessings to you and yours. I am a stay at home mom with six children that I homeschool. Things get crazy because my husband is a pastor to a mission area in our local community. The house gets crazy and messy sometimes. My children have routines and what I call "care" rooms. I assign a "care room" to each child to care for during the week. They take 5 to 15 minutes to clean in the morning and in the afternoons. I have tried flylady and enjoy the benefits of the tidy home. But life does still happen. And you can always start where you left off when you fall off the tidy wagon. Don't forget to ask the Lord to help you in all you do. He gives peace when there is chaos. Lady Lydia has been such a wonderful Godly example to so many of us women looking for a Titus 2 mentor and many times after reading her blog I am just so inspired I get up and go clean and pray and praise the Lord! May you be blessed in your efforts and remember do it "As Unto The Lord".

Susie said...

I think organization and scheduling is essential to keeping your home in order, especially if you work outside the home as well. I, myself, am in the situation where I cannot stay home full time (per husband's request). I find that meal planning and scheduled days/times for cleaning help so very much. My house isn't perfect and I don't have it together all of the time but by the grace of God, I try to make it comfortable and livable for my family. It just takes a few moments to plan. I think having a plan of action really is the first step of getting organized.

(By the way, just the fact that you are asking for guidence in this area is helping others like myself. It reminds me to stay on track with my routines)


candy said...

Hi, I would like to give some of my thoughts in hopes to encourage this lady..

I thought Lady Lydias reply was excellent advice. I especially love the advice about getting dressed up first thing in the morning because it makes you feel like your ready to "work". That is excellent advice and so true!

I also agree with those who said to have the children help with cleaning.

Regarding home schooling... I am home schooling my son..he's in grade 5. Its our first year. At first I thought it must be difficult and time consuming and even more work that Im now adding to my already busy home keeping schedule/life. But, I found a way to make home schooling super easy. We only home school Monday- Thursday and give ourselves Friday and the weekend off. And during Monday-Thursday, we only home school in the mornings...from 9am until lunch time. And...that includes bible study from 9-10 am. So really, we are only home schooling 2 hours per day. Yes, it can be done! but, thats because we only do math, language(writing, reading, spelling) as well as read tons of books in our free time on political stuff, geography, poetry and whatever we are interested in. Many people make home school just like school and do tons and tons of subjects that takes all day long. But it doesnt have to be that way. Especially when children are young. All you have to do is cover the basics or really important things. And then when they get to "grade 9-10" level, you can add more.
I know my way of home schooling is probably very different. But I would suggest only doing what is really this age.

Regarding cleaning your home.. I also liked the advice someone gave about being ruthless in purging things you really dont need (I like to bless others monthly by going thru my home and giving away STUFF). The less you have, the WAYYYY easier it is to keep your home clean! And..
I found that a pretty home is one that is simple. It will also save you money if you have a home that is modest and humble.

Regarding going back to work outside the home... I think if you ever did, it might make things way worse because you would have even less time to clean and spend with your loved ones.
Life is so short..

You can do it!!! All of us homemakers all over the world are cheering you on :)
Wish I could drop by your home and give you a hand.


Mrs. Anna T said...

Dear Lady Lydia, I just came back to comment, and I must say I'm inspired by this post. I believe it's important to make time each day to do something you love around the home - for example, decorating, baking something delicious-smelling, crafts, etc. It gives you something to look forward to and keeps you motivated!

ladyakofa said...

Hi Mrs. Sherman,
I was looking forward to your response... And clearly I wasn't disappointed by your EXCELLENT response. :)

I agree... dressing up even when you're staying at home gives you the needed boost to start your day.

And Robin, build up the routine suggested by our lovely homemakers step by step, little by little.

In my prayers. :)

Anonymous said...

Getting dressed, with shoes, IS a huge deal.

My mom always maintained that wearing shoes inside made the floors dirty faster, which is probably true, but if wearing shoes gives you the moral fortitude to vacuum and mop once a week, it's a net benefit. LOL.

Anyway, Flylady's website saved my sanity (and probably my marriage!!!) sometime after the birth of my second baby, because I really believed I was losing my mind.

I could barely even pry myself out of bed to feed the babies, let alone mop the kitchen floor or decorate the living room. I was a MESS.

You're already in far finer shape than I was!

I needed a formal system to help me prioritize. Housework is pretty easy; prioritizing is the part that is so agonizing about it.

You have to learn to establish routines that give you a good "bang" for your effort "buck."

Flylady was a really good thing for me-- there are other methods, too. Just pick something that works for you.

And Godspeed!

(As far as decorating goes, my favorite book is "Use What You Have Decorating" by Laurie Ward. Awesome book on how to organize the funishings and accessories you probably already have to make a room feel comfortable and inviting.)

Anonymous said...

SO many great suggestions here, the only one I would add is, if you are able, to cook ahead for the week. I actually don't have children yet, so this is probably easier for me to do, but I like to take one day of the week, usually on the weekend, and make a meal plan for the week, shop, and then do meal preparation for the whole week. Make a meal I can divide in two and freeze one half for the end of the week, make a soup we can eat a few times, prepare a salad bar in advance by pre-cutting all the ingredients, cooking a chicken and having the meat de-boned and ready to go (plus some chicken stock for the freezer or for that soup), etc.

This allows me a lot of flexibility, then in the evening, especially during the ministry year when we are out a few times a week in the evening and bible studies, kid's clubs, etc. Also, as someone with a small kitchen and no dishwasher, this really helps keep day to day cleanup to a minimum.

Hope that an be helpful!

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia,
Right now I am dealing with difficult teens, three of them, and an older young adult child.
The older likes to chime into the instruction I am giving to the younger ones, which made things worse today.
I ran into my bedroom to calm down and think. Really, today, I feel overwhelmed. I know somethings that I have made mistakes in allowing the younger ones a little too much freedom. I am making efforts to make changes. I am being met with quite a fight. This day seems like the consequenses for my lack in parenting are a bit too much.
The Lord speaks of hating a proud look, haughty eyes. I can see why.
Well, all this having been expressed, I just read your post, your eight points. Even though it isn't dealing directly with my particular issue at hand, after I am finished typing this comment, I am going back out there to the teens and I will pick myself up. Get them to finish the rest of the school work, and quickly finish organizing the home.
I will not give up.

Lydia said...

Dear Anonymous and anyone else who feels their children are not really helping but making things more chaotic and noisy: Please go to my parenting blog at I try to keep articles fresh with current problems people are having, and basically my theme never changes: God put you in charge. Your kids need for you to act like a parent. Don't listen to psychology and don't be intimidated by accusations of being "controlling." While you are raising children, you MUST be controlling, or they will be the ones in control, and they have no wisdom. Use your knowledge to develop their knowledge. Read through the articles. There might be something for you. Orderly homes are often a sign that something is in control. Make sure it is the right person!

Lydia said...

Lady Akofa,

I posted more pictures of the light on the water of the lake, at my new blog in your honor. I remembered your comment about the effect of the sun on the water, the day I posted it from Alaska.

Anonymous said...

Lydia, do you have any advice for wives whose husbands travel a lot for business? I am struggling with this right now as my husband's travel has increased over the past six months. I have two small children as well. Perhaps you have already written a piece on this topic?

~ Ann

ladyakofa said...

Oh, wow! Mrs. Sherman, I'm delighted. Clicking on the photos to view the large size... Awesome.

Thanks! :)

Lynn said...

I have finally come home (I am 45) and still tend to think "I'll go back to work if things get tough" but I know deep down that things would be even tougher - yes we'd have my money coming in but it would be spent on convenience meals, work clothes etc. I would be tired, the house a mess etc.

I would suggest a two day blitz if you can get hubby to have your children perhaps at a relatives to help him?
Flylady is a must!
And pray pray pray. Sometimes in the morning I ask the Lord for his help and I find myself whizzing through jobs I have felt overwhelmed by previously.
Also please look at "Laines's letters" she is so realistic and godly - I am sure she will inspire you.
Know that you are doing the right thing being home.
Ask your husband what he feels should be your priorities. Honestly men don't notice a bit of dust but they sure do notice a nice cooked dinner. I also make the area around my husband's chair comfortable - nice cushions a nice drink nearby, tv remote controls, his crossword (and a pen!) and he doesn't notice stuff I've yet to get to.
Also a nice smile, a kiss and a "welcome home" goes a long way!
Good luck and God bless you. You have a kind heart and the Good Lord so you are sure to win!

*~Tamara~* said...

I have not read all the other comments, so forgive me if this is redundant.

First and foremost, you need a plan. Jumping in willy nilly is not going to help much, if at all. So this is what I would do:

Get the book "Clutter's Last Stand." You can buy it on Amazon, or your library might have it also. (I think it's a good one to always have on hand, personally.) I can not tell you how much I recommend this book to overwhelmed, overcluttered people! Read the book (it's not a difficult read at's not even very long) and write down several ways you can begin to implement little changes that will make a big difference in the way your home looks and feels.

Now, this is going to offend an entire gaggle of homeschoolers, so look out for the rotten tomatoes that may come zooming in my direction after I say this:

Take a break from homeschooling. Just stop. Tell your child that you are taking an "in-home vacation" from school books so you can get some other things accomplished. Then, just stop. Decide how long it should be. For me, two weeks would be plenty to set my home in order, for you, it might be too much or not enough. Your child will fare much better if she returns to school work in a fresh environment, with a teacher who knows where all the supplies are, and can cook dinner AND teach math on the same day. (Believe me, I understand how easily things get out of hand.)

Then, I would take that time to work on one room at a time. Enlist your husband's help if you can, or a sister or friend whom you can explain your goal to and who will be supportive. Follow the ideas in the book.

Go to your main areas first. For me, that would be the kitchen. If the kitchen isn't clean and organized, chaos reigns in our home. It is where EVERYthing, including homeschooling, seems to get done. Therefore, I would tackle the kitchen first. For you it might be another room. But for me, I would start with the kitchen and no thing that I owned in that kitchen would go untouched! Now, you're obviously a very busy woman, and so you might not get to complete all the steps of decluttering and organizing before you simply have to move on to something else that real life demands. So I would say that whatever you aren't sure about or can't finish up just goes in a box and stays there till you either decide it's not worth it and pitch it (I've done that several times!) or have the time to go through it more thoroughly.

Then, don't leave your kitchen (or whatever room you started with) to move on to the next room until you have made it not just a clean/uncluttered but actually a pleasant place to be. Hang curtains, pictures, etc. Then, even if this is ALL you can accomplish this time around, then you have a pleasant place to go in your home. You will be energized and refreshed in that room, and it will inspire you to go on to the next one.

I would do this with all the main areas of the home first. The bedrooms, etc, will wait...and they have doors you can shut and pretend the problem isn't there for a while longer. ;-)

Another thing...I have one room in my house that is toy free and clutter free at all times. For us, that is the living room (which serves mainly as a library/music room). I have had some people raise their eyebrows and even look at me with disdain when I've said that. "You mean you don't let them play in here?" as though I'm somehow neglecting my children in this way.

The reason that I do this is because not only do I need a place where I can go and sit down at any time I wish or need to throughout the day, but because if someone knocks on my door I have a clean, pleasant place to offer them a chair. If someone should call me and say they're dropping by, I don't have to run around like a madwoman trying to make things presentable. And if our day has been chaotic and crazy, then at the end of the day I can relax (and so can my husband) for a while before going to bed, even though there may be craziness in every other room of the house.

I hope this helps in some way!

Marlaine said...

Something that Flylady helped me understand was the word "born organized". Which I am not. Growing up in an organized home with organized, structured parents, I left home not even realizing that I didn't know how to pull it off for myself! It took me years to figure out the answer to "Why was I so good at work and I can't seem to get it together at home?" FINALLY, after learning much about attention spans and lack thereof, the answer: Because the outer framework of daily structure was already in place at work, and I just stepped into it. At home, the framework of structure had to come from me, and I had no clue! Learning routines has been a lifesaver--it sets up the framework of structure for the household. Learning to use a timer at home has been HUGE, for everything from remembering to move a sprinkler to picking up a child from sports practice on time, to getting off the computer in time to get enough rest at night! I literally write on my grocery lists "look at watch" in between items because I don't have a good clock in my head and truly have no idea how long I've been in the store!

There is HOPE! Please realize that God our Father is NOT in heaven looking down at you in your heapy house shaking his head saying, "Tsk, tsk, when will that girl ever get her stuff together?" That's not what we did to our children when they were trying to learn to walk, and that's not what God is doing to us. What did we do with our beloved children? We were right there with arms outstretched, giving encouragement, saying "That's right, take another step! Oh, you fell down--let me help you dust off and get back up! You'll make it!" Doesn't it make sense that God, the perfect Father, is doing the same thing for us? Encouraging us to succeed, not rolling His eyes when we don't?

When, with God's help, I FINALLY realized that I was wrongly assigning my negative emotions about myself to God--assuming that He was saying the same negative things about me that I was saying to myself, I started climbing out of the pit! It IS a journey! Unlearning bad habits in the home and in our emotions and replacing them with good habits is a lot of work! But there is much grace to be found in God during the process, and it's so worth it!

Here is a VERY important habit to unlearn: negative self-talk.
The enemy of our soul comes in and tells us something that is true, "Your house is a mess", and we agree, and then he says, "Your kids don't have any clean socks", which is true and we agree. BUT, then he starts trying to define WHO we are: You are a failure, you ALWAYS drop the ball, you will NEVER have a clean house, you will Never measure up, etc. And those are LIES! He is the father of all lies! And, because the first few things are true, we just keep nodding and receiving the whole load of garbage as truth, when it is NOT! Pretty soon, we are repeating the negative so often that the enemy doesn't even have to stick around to accuse us--we're doing the job for him! And it becomes our conditioned emotional response to our surroundings--failure.

We have to re-program our minds, starting with the truth! Jesus promised us that we would know the truth and the truth would set us free! And the truth is that Christ defines who we are--Redeemed, Forgiven, Saved by Grace, Loved!

I realize I have shared a lot, and I hope it isn't too much, but I have great compassion for you because I have been where you are! My prayer is that what I have shared, along with the many encouraging voices on this blog, will be used by God to encourage you in your home!

Anonymous said...

Thank you all so much, and especially, thank you, Lady Lydia, for posting this and giving such great advice. I don't know if I can get a couple of days free from children, but I'm going to try to see if a neighbor can watch them for a few hours next week. My parents are coming to visit in a couple of weeks, and I just can't get any traction!

I really appreciate those who posted that they are praying for me. That means so much!

Thanks again,


Lydia said...


Maybe you can get friends to come over and help you get caught up in a hurry. That way, you will not have to put the children in the care of someone else for a long period of time.

Anonymous said...

Lots of great advice for keeping caught up. Here are a few that have helped me:
1. Flylady is a good site to learn how to set up a housework routine. Modify her system to fit your needs.(I personally do not receive the e-mails)
2. Declutter. Ruthlessly. Nothing wastes more time and energy than maintaining things you don't use or need. Doing this helped me the most. Clutter's Last Stand by Don Aslett is a life changer! I read it once a year to keep myself motivated. Also good is It's All Too Much, by Peter Walsh.
3. If you can afford it, buy paper plates for the week until you can get caught up.
4. I try to have these three things done: dinner, dishes, and laundry. My husband doesn't notice dust on furniture, but he does notice when dinner's not ready and when he has no clean underwear!

Elizabeth said...

Wow, great, great advice!! I think that we could all greatly benefit from those pointers. I sure hope this lady is helped to feel a little less overwhelmed.

I agree with everything that was said. I would also add that, when it comes to the piles of paperwork - been there, done that! What helped me was to set a timer, when I had a few extra minutes between things, for say 15 minutes. Then, dive in! Do as much as you can in those 15 minutes and then STOP. Next day, when there is a little bit more free time, set that timer again and dive in! You will be amazed at how quickly 15 min/day can get rid of clutter, piles of paperwork and even daily household chores!


Anonymous said...

I read your post this morning, Mrs. Sherman, & now have time to comment. Your questioner asks for help in a very important area....the most important, really, as it affects virtually everything else in the family's life. You have received so many good ideas here for Robin; I hope she's able to glean much from others' experience. My own suggestions may contain some repetition, as I may have missed a point or two while looking at the comments.

I would suggest tidying up nightly, before turning in.

It also helps to know what you're having for breakfast the next day, & you can prep some of this to give yourself a jump start in the morning. For example, if I'm planning to have muffins I'll get all the dry ingredients measured out in a bowl, & then have that on the countertop, covered with a towel, all ready for me when I get up.

If you don't have time to give the bathrooms a good cleaning, just wipe out the sinks, putting a shine on the fixtures, wipe off the toilet with an antibacterial wipe, & put out fresh towels.

When you're cooking, try to make extra & then freeze that. It makes no more mess to do a double batch of meatballs, or soup, or cookies.

A couple commenters have mentioned having your children help you with tasks. I second this wholeheartedly!! It may seem to take more time to teach them, but the investment of time is well worth it, & will save you aggravation later on.

Best of luck to you,

Anonymous said...

This is just a quick suggestion, because I'm in a rush I haven't read any comments so sorry if I double up on suggestions already made.

I am naturally disorganised and untidy, my husband and children are too so our home can get untidy very quickly and sometimes it's so overwhelming I just don't know where to start. I'm also a perfectionist (paradoxically) so I get distracted trying to make a room perfect and it takes me all day just to do one room- then I am disheartened because I have done so little in a day.

What I do when it gets to this situation is get a timer and spend 15 minutes in each room, no more, no less (if I have less time though - i.e. if I have sudden notice that visitors are on their way - I can make it even just 5 minutes in a room). Because I have a fixed time it focuses me, then I don't get sidetracked 'detailing' or distracted by a book or suchlike. If the room is untidy spend the 15 minutes tidying, if it is tidy spend the 15 minutes cleaning, if it is clean I spend the 15 minutes organising or decluttering.

At nighttime I get a box and working from the living room I put things into the box that shouldn't be in the living room and then move onto the next room. As I go about each room putting things in their rightful places from the box and putting things into the box that need to be in another room.

Also make your bed in the morning, wipe the sink (bathroom and kitchen - clear the dirty dishes) and toilet every morning too - you'd be amazed how good it makes you feel just to see these small things achieved.

I totally agree with Lady Lydia work on the public areas first too, then you won't be as worried about visitors.

Once you are more organised try to set up some kind of schedule (one that can be adjusted to circumstances like illness or changes in plans), just to keep on top of things. There are loads of suggestions on the web from blogs and flylady, etc.

I hope this helps in some small way.


Anonymous said...

As others have said if you have meals planned and started early in the day, laundry done and the kitchen straightened it goes a very long way to keeping things running smoothly. I keep a list of possible dinner and other meals of things I have around the house at the time. Not a strict Mon, Tues etc menue. Some of the meals are very quick and easy and some take more time even if that time is in getting the things in the crock pot in the morning for dinner that night ;-)That way if you have to change your dinner plans 'cause something comes up and that longer dinner plans don't work that night you have other options using the very quick meals. I feel so much more relaxed and unhurried when meals are taken care of already and are not a last minute hurried decision. I asked my husband what things he needed in our home to be his haven. What were his priorities? Besides meals on time and to his liking what else? Those few things then are kept at the top of the list...also ask if he needs a phone call or such done for him on any perticular day. Does he need it guiet for a few moments when he gets home or does he love you and the children to pile on him with smiles as soon as he enters the home? Daily I try to get up early and dressed nicely. Ususlly the night before I have put in a load of laundry to soak in the washer so I just push the button to finish the load that morning, get on with breakfast and then straighten Very Quickly each room if it had not been done the might before. That way if unexpected company comes or we have to quickly leave the house it looks presentable. If we are to stay home or I can do it before we leave, I try to start dinner and/or lunch. Cutting up the veggies, making the pudding or whatever can be done ahead. Then on to schooling and or deeper cleaning where it is needed that day. Hope someone gets a few ideas. Always of course keep yourself in prayer as you want to be doing what He wants and guided by Him. It might sound like you never have time to sit down but you will have time to sit and read and sew and play with the children etc. Once the clutter is out and some routines are set and easy to do 'cause they are routine, you will be able to take that nap etc. And even before then take it easy on yourself and do not over due and become too burdened. Learn as you go and take that nap when you can now too 'cause your family needs your energy and love and smiles. Anna O

Anonymous said...

Just about anything written by Emilie Barnes will help get you on the right track. I have picked up several copies of her books at thrift shops and am offering some in my monthly book give away at

Marcia Wilwerding

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Thank you!!! I am not the original poster but I could have asked her question almost verbatim.

The advice here has really opened my eyes to resources available but more importantly to the fact that I am not alone. I was literally close to a nervous breakdown, my house is in shambles, my family's diet is horrible, our finances are in disarray. I know I need to turn to God to ask him for strength and just keep plugging along. But truly the fact that I am not alone in this struggle is the biggest comfort.