Monday, December 6, 2010

When a Day's Work Is Never Done

Last week, I got behind in the house. We had a few rough days around here, and those days almost always leave me feeling discouraged. When I'm discouraged, I lose the pep in my step, and the house slides downhill too.

Take laundry, for instance. I had no problem doing it--running it through the washer and dryer. But then it sat, piled high in laundry baskets (either folded or laid flat so it doesn't wrinkle) for days.

Same thing with dishes. If I felt too drained from the day with multiple squabbles among children and behavior issues, I couldn't bring myself to wash all the dishes after dinner, dry them, and put them away. So if I went to bed with dishes in the sink, I awoke already behind for the new day.

After reflecting on why I got behind and how I could catch up, I came to realize it boiled down to this:
I wasn't finishing a day's work.

So before I started any laundry today, I took time this morning--with the kids' help--to put the laundry in baskets away. I actually didn't do any new laundry today. It can wait until tomorrow, because the second realization is:

Make your day's work realistic.

Maybe washing, drying, folding and putting away five loads of laundry in a day is too much for me right now at this stage of my life. But I can do one load (or two). If you are finding yourself getting behind, too, then maybe you are trying to do too much each day. Focus on a few things and do them well.

The other tip that helps me immensely (when I actually do it) is to sit down and plan out my day's work the night before. Even if I don't follow the schedule exactly, I still accomplish much more than if I only had a rough idea in my mind of what I wanted to do the next day. With the no-schedule approach, we all have lots of down-time where no one really knows what we should be doing. We wander around semi-aimlessly, and the boys seem to get into more fights with more free time.

A reasonable, manageable plan for the day can help so much to keep us productive and on track. Because we're not doing more (or less) than we're capable of, it is much easier to reach day's end and feel like our work for that day has been finished.


  1. I completly agree with you... my days always go better when i mae a to do list usually post it on the fridge.

  2. I agree that a plan is needed! I have those days too where I am so emotionally drained at the end of the day that I can't bring myself to finish cleaning the kitchen or putting away the laundry.

    My plan is pretty general and stays the same week to week.

    As an example, I work out of the home in the day so for laundry I put a load in before leaving for work in the morning. I then switch it to the dryer as soon as I get home and fold it after the kids are in bed (my three are 5, 2.5 and 1.5 so are in bed early). If I miss putting away a load I am behind the next day, if I don't put a load in in the morning I am sacrificing time with my kids to catch up that evening or I am behind the next day.

    Back when I just kept the chores in my head, I often got behind and overwhelmed. I now have a sheet on the fridge that tells me I need to put in a load of laundry, do a 5min pickup and empty the dishwasher before breakfast each day. It makes a big difference in keeping on track!