Why can't I get out of this mess?


The perpetually sidetracked may have Attention Deficit Disorder or may just seem a bit scattered. This is the person who tries everything once-but can't find any plan that works for more than a couple days. We get bored easily and move on to something different-even if what we were doing was working just fine. You never know what to expect from a sidetracked messy homemaker.

If you are easily sidetracked, you can work with that by dividing your work into small enough tasks that you won't get bored. Plan to do several things at once and feel free to move from one to another as the mood hits. As long as you stick to the tasks you had planned, things will get done!

Stop looking for the perfect plan and start adapting a plan to fit you. None of the writers has your family or schedule-the plans they propose are intended to get you started. Build on one. It takes about a month to really get into the habit of following a plan, so don't give up until you've given it enough time. If you do get sidetracked, try to decide what isn't working and change just that. Don't give up too easily.

The perfectionist will try to do everything alone rather than to allow one of the children to do it "wrong." The perfectionist sees the mess and is either too overwhelmed to even start or spends so much time doing one area perfectly that most of the clutter goes untouched. If all of your spices are in alphabetical order, but you're afraid to open the cupboard they are in because something may fall out at you, you are probably a perfectionist.


If you are a perfectionist, you can work with that by adjusting your focus. Don't focus on the final goal of perfection, but establish smaller goals that you can actually accomplish. Start with small tasks that have the big results. Get all of the paper in the house gathered up (plan to sort and file also, but keep that task separate), or get all the trash out of the room (take a trash bag and go to it!).

Try setting a timer and working for just 10 or 20 minutes at a time. No matter what you accomplish, the goal is to work those minutes. Concentrate on what you can do before the timer rings. Work at giving yourself realistic goals.

If no one else seems to do the job perfectly, delegate anyway! It will take a lot of the pressure off if you will allow someone else to do the tasks that don't always have to be done perfectly. Think! Would it be so bad if one of the kids mopped the kitchen every day and you did a proper job of it once a week or so? Would the world come crashing in if jeans weren't washed after every wearing? If towels were hung to drip dry? If the dishwasher weren't loaded just so? Decide which rules are most important (don't wash certain clothes together, watch what the silverware touches in the dishwasher, don't use too much water on the floor, etc.) and teach those to the person taking over some of your chores-then let them go! Children will be much more willing to help if you don't insist they do everything your way. They have their own ideas-let them use them.

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