November 11, 2013

Lesson 136: Do the Next Thing (Making Time at Home Matter)

There are days when I do not want to do anything.

I don't want to make my bed. Heck, I don't even want to get out of bed. I don't want to wash dishes. I don't want to fold laundry. I don't want to cross anything off my list. I simply do not want to do anything.

Typically, these days are the days when there is the most to be done.

There are random shoes, trucks, and books spread all over the house. There are half-filled cups on every imaginable surface. There is shredded cheese and cereal on the carpet under the kids' seats at the table. There are bills to be paid, phones calls to make, and emails to return. The fridge is empty, the diaper supply is on E, and the kids still need to be fed and changed.

It is on such days as these when I find myself sitting around feeling sorry for my lot in life. How could anyone expect me to get out of bed today, let alone tackle the rigors of running a household?

Honestly, some of these days get completely wasted. The sour mood triumphs, and the house remains a mess until Mark gets home. He swoops in like the hero he is, takes the sticky littles to the grocery store, buys dinner and diapers, cooks the meal, baths the babies, and cleans up the wreckage from the day. He usually rubs my feet as I fall asleep at 9 pm. I remember what a sweet man I married and resolve to wake up with more energy tomorrow.

It is ok if this is how the situation transgresses occasionally.

But, this cannot happen every day. Twinges of the "I don't want to" mindset occur almost every day, but I simply cannot collapse into a useless mess every single day. Taking care of this household is my job. I need to run it well, and I want to run it well.

Is there a way to break the cycle?

I have found that the most successful way to combat these pouty thoughts (while praying), is simply to do to the next thing. That's it. Do the next thing. What I mean is that I try to accomplish just one thing, no matter how small or insignificant. Whatever the next thing is, I do it.

I get up, and I put one toy away.

It sounds so elementary. How will returning one toy to its proper place make any difference whatsoever in the grand scheme of the household? Well, it won't, in and of itself. But I have found that often this simple movement serves as an motivation to keep going.

On the way back from the playroom, I pass an empty water cup. Might as well put that in the kitchen, you know, since I'm already standing.

In the kitchen, I notice a few pieces of junk mail. It's not too much effort, so I throw them out. A space has been cleared. All of the sudden I have the desire for a clean countertop, and I work towards that end.

As I'm clearing away, I spot my list and realize #2 is a simple bookkeeping detail that will not take more than three minutes. I open my computer, enter the data, and cross the item off my list.

Do you see what has happened? By simply making the decision to complete one, small task, I have become motivated enough to complete four more.

On really bad days, these four tasks may be the extent of my day's successes. However, usually the trend continues for a while longer. I may not finish everything (in fact, I rarely finish everything even on a good day), but I've put a dent in the work. I've made gains. I've accomplished something.

If you find yourself in a slump, with loads of laundry looming, stacks of unanswered correspondance, and scattered play things galore, I encourage you, not to do everything but to do the next thing!

Lesson Learned: Slow and steady.


  1. good good! I needed this today. You turned me into a machine.. onto the next thing!

    1. Thanks Lauren! But then, you need to rest ... b/c baby is coming SO soon!!!!!! Wahoo!

  2. Slow and steady, steady and slow, that's the way go...


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