Inspirational Thought

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 7:13 NIV

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goals for 2009

I don't know about you, but every New Year's Eve I reflect on the year gone by and examine what I would like to see in the coming year. I have addressed my writing challenges on my other blog ( Here, I wanted to address my mothering challenges.

I have always struggled with housecleaning. When my husband and I first got married we lived with my MIL. Not a bad living arrangement except when it came to how she ran her house and how I'd been trained to run mine. Not that I saw her house mine - she had worked hard to pay for it and is the only woman in her family to have owned her own house. No, it was more how I was raised to take care of it. Not that her way was wrong, it was just different.

I'm a borderline obsessive compulsive personality. I had been trained that things are put away a certain way, all the time. If a space belonging to something is empty, it doesn't get filled with something else. This didn't work in my MIL's house. I was taught that Saturday was cleaning day. Not in my MIL's house.

When we moved into our own home, I still had my upbringing ingrained in me, but I had added to it working outside the home. For a while I was able to schedule my time so that I was home just as my husband left for work. But, that only lasted about a year because my workload continued to increase.

(I should explain that my husband worked shiftwork - still does - and had arranged his schedule to be home with Chris as much as possible, but this meant that we didn't see each other for days. Two ships passing in the night, one person called it.)

I soon realized that I couldn't keep up with all the housecleaning and spend the time with Chris that I wanted to. I'm also one of these people that is in bed by 9:30, so staying up until 10 or 11 to finish tidying up isn't possible if I'm to be functional the next day. During this time I felt like a single mother (and still do). While my husband is working, I'm responsible for caring for everything and I must admit I can't seem to take care of everything. I can do the laundry, go grocery shopping, run Chris to his various activities...

Since I let go of my "perfectionism", though, I have found it very hard to keep house and very hard to get back to what I had been taught. I like that I'm not stressed out keeping things tidy - except now I'm stressed out because I have a hard time keeping things in any semblance of order. It doesn't help that my husband and oldest son - I have yet to see if our baby will turn out the same - are the exact polar opposite to me in terms of organization and cleanliness. I just can't keep up with them. Add to that a fledgling freelance writing/editing career replacing the 9-5 job and I still struggle.

I have tried Flylady and couldn't keep up with it. I had thought that having a baby would focus my life on taking care of the house more. That working from home would provide me the extra time I needed to take care of the house. That hasn't quite materialized.

So, in 2009, I'm taking on the challenge of my house - the dustbunnies, the clutter, the unwashed dishes. Although I still find the prospect overwhelming and struggle with the scheduling of enough time, I am determined to get my house to a state where I can invite people in without wondering what they're thinking. I'm tired of walking into somebody else's house where you can see the floors and countertops and have them tell me, "It's okay. You are so busy." So are they, so what makes me so special. I want to have the ladies' Bible study over and friends, without the whirlwind clean up that usually entails.

This is the year I reclaim some semblance of OCD because without it I will never stay on top of all these things that have taken over the house since I gave it up.

What do you see as your greatest challenge this year in the home?


Kelly W said...

My youngest daughter (5) is exhibiting symptoms of OCD in relation to cleaning. While my husband thinks it's funny, I have concerns. Why can't there be a BALANCE between slob and OCD??!!!

DOakley said...

LOL! I don't know. Chris shows some signs. I can pick up an object off the floor and he knows precisely what it belongs to and where it is whereas I just sit there scratching my head.

I wouldn't necessarily call my husband a slob, he's just not as organized and his idea of organized is different than mine...and hard to keep up with.

Kat said...

Oh, I'm so glad to see other moms dealing with this. I am borderline OCD when it comes to organizing more than cleaning. I can completely ignore the disbunnies most of the time, so long as they're lined up in a neat little row :). I can spend hours organizing a closet or, like I did today, my entertainment center, and then six months later it's getting redone. My husband has given up on expecting things to stay in the same place all the time.

My biggest challenge is not feeling like I should always be doing something else, no matter what it is I choose to do. If I'm writing I feel like I'm neglecting the kids, if I'm playing with the kids I feel like I should be cleaning, if I'm cleaning I feel like I should be working on my book! My space is perfectly organized, but my calendar needs work--and my ability to go with the flow and just relax.

Kelly--what are the symptoms your daughter is showing? My son started showing signs of OCD, germ-related (hand-washing, etc), at the age of six. We've managed to control it with diet and supplements. He's a completely different child than he was two years ago thanks to zinc and cod liver oil. I'm just amazed by the number of moms I'm running into whose kids are exhibiting OCD symtpoms.

KRP said...

Yes- balancing housework, mothering, writing is a big challenge for me too. Just like Kat, I can ignore the dustbunnies but when I do that it also zaps my creativity. Somehow I cannot focus on writing and being creative when a mountain of laundry is screaming at me from the basement! So far, I have usually succumbed to the screams and reduced my writing time. In 2009 I want to change that. At the end of each day I do not feel satisfied, fulfilled, or particularily happy whenever I did not write on that particular day. My goal for 2009 is to increase my writing time and shut the basement door!

I liked your comment, Darlene, about being a "single" mother. I feel the same. My husband is gone very often; therefore, childrearing, homework, after school activities, play time, and just about anything else that comes to mind is usually left to me. I am not complaining, though. The flip side is that my husband misses some precious moments at home.

I wonder: is it really possible (for an average human, not supergirl/man) to have it all on every single day: a clean, organized house, a career/self-employed business AND having the time to play with your child?

DOakley said...

Kat, I'm OCD when it comes to organizing. My closet is organized according to item, then color (similar to what you would see in a store). My drawers are organized in neat piles...each item of clothing having its own specific space.

In my office, I get annoyed when people move so much as a paper clip or elastic band (and I can tell). A used staple sitting on the desk will scream at me until I dispose of it.

Perhaps the funniest thing is that I can't stand eggs out of order. We used to have a fridge with one of those egg holder things (where you can take the eggs out of the carton and line them up in the fridge). My husband would get great joy out of taking eggs out of their rows unevenly or mixing up the order, just because it drove me nuts.

I, too, struggle with a guilt complex. I'm not so sure that's an OCD thing, so much as it is a natural mom thing.

I tried to explain to my husband why I feel this weight on my shoulders. When people see Chris (my 12-year-old) misbehaving, they don't say "What kind of parents does he have", they say "what kind of mother is she". (I know because I think the same things - although with compassion) If they see a house full of dustbunnies and dirty dished piled in the sink, they don't think "Why doesn't her husband help", they think "she's not a very good housekeeper".

There's a whole other social class to those who are moms. It's taken me a while to get over this to where I don't obsess any more...although that doesn't mean that I don't still get annoyed.

DOakley said...


I believe it is, but not without some compromises.

What I've come to discover for me is I've had to decide what is ultimately most important to me housekeeping-wise, what annoys me the most.

I would have to say:
1) the dustbunnies: we have all hardwood floors so these are very obvious
2) dishes piled endlessly in the sink - I hate washing dishes even more than I hate cleaning bathrooms.
3) laundry that's not put away - I hate doing this, but it also drives me nuts, especially with a baby. By the time I get them washed and put away he's outgrown them. LOL!
4) cluttered kitchen countertops (since our kitchen is what people see first)

Decide what's most important to you to have done on a regular basis. Once you get a handle on the basics - it took me an entire day, whenever I had five minutes or so, to get one countertop clean - then you can start adding other things to it (one more to go).

From a spiritual side, someone once said that God gives us all the hours in the day that we need. (Can you imagine if we were given all the hours in a day that we say we need - I don't think we'd ever sleep.) So, it comes down to prioritization.

Every morning and with every new project, I will pray over before saying, yes, right away. Whenever an opportunity presents itself for getting something done I will do it 'now' - something my pastor was talking about last Sunday about procrastinating. In his case he was talking about those people who keep putting off getting involved in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I did this ages ago, but I took this as a challenge to do more Bible study and to those other things that I keep saying, "Some day, I'll..."

I will use my new-found resolve to finally tackle these things so I don't have a layer of guilt chasing me around the house.

On a practical side, I've explained my plan to my husband and son (12-year-old) and have them on-side although with my 12-year-old it's going to be hard to keep him on task. But, I'm going to create a list of things that need to be done a daily basis, every couple of days, weekly basis, monthly basis, bi-monthly basis...not sure where I'm going to put the lists...but it's just as much for me as it is for them - kind of like a to-do list.

But, even I end up being the only that sticks to it - I will not give up, like I did the last time thinking that because I was the only one that it didn't make sense to continue. I've come to discover that this just "enables" the mess.

The reality is we can't do everything, but we can address the things that annoy us the most and keep up with those, at least. Anything else is a bonus. I hope over time the basics will just come naturally, again, and the extra things will not always seem out of reach.

krp said...

LOL - I organize my closet too according to color but had not thought of that (as of now) as being OCD.
I've finished our New Year's Plan on Dec 31 together with husband and son. We'll see if it works out and if the daily chores get done. Maybe in the end I'll also be the only one who sticks to the plan.
Yes, I believe that God gives us indeed all the hours we need. Sometimes, however, I know that I am not making good use of my time such as when I watch another BBC comedy (I love those!) or work on a puzzle. Guilt is nagging at me too whenever I cannot balance all the demands. Throw in a sick kid (our son has strep throat right now, yikes) and everything falls out of place in a hurry.

Darlene, you were asking for ideas on future discussion. What do think of something along the lines of "fitting exercise into a mother's busy schedule."
I have to confess that another one of my goals for 2009 is to get in better physical shape. Unfortunately, I despise jogging/running, weight lifting, team sports. You can see this is going to be a hard goal to reach for me :)

DOakley said...


I struggle with the exercise thing, too. I'm trying to get rid of a baby belly and know that soccer season is too far away - that is usually my only form of exercise.

In February, the planned topic is stress. I think that would fit in well there.

Remember this is your blog, as well. If you want to post something about your experience trying to get to it, it's not important that you haven't worked it out, yet, certainly send me a post and I will use it as a feature.

Good suggestion.

As for the closet, I don't think it has so much to do with how it's organize as far as it has to do with what happens to my psyche if something is out of place! I look at my husband's side of the closet and it is painful. I go out of my way to not look.

But, I know I can't control him and how he keeps things - this is why I don't think I'm full-blown OCD. I can walk away from his closet, many can't. They are - as the name implies - obsessed with order and not one thing can be out of place.

With an ADD husband and a Aspergers (high-performing autism) older son, I had to learn to compromise or go mad with frustration and be eternally grumpy and critical - not a good family atmosphere.