When is lazy really lazy?

mommabirdAugust 8, 2009

Hi organizing friends,

Those of you who have been around for a few years know I'm super disorganized & my mom is Born Orgnized. For 45 years my mom has been telling me I'm lazy. I was ruminating on this today and realized - I'm not really lazy. I expend VAST amounts of energy on trying to keep things organized and clean, almost all the time! I almost never sit and watch TV, spend maybe 1-2 hours a week surfing the Web, etc.

So - when is lazy lazy? Is it about results - or effort? To me, lazy means you lay around and watch TV and don't do anything - it's about effort. I have realized to my mom, lazy is about results. Lazy to her means things are messy and disorganized, no matter how much time and effort you put into trying to make it better.

Actually mom spends WAY more time than me just doing nothing, reading a book or watching TV. She has 50x more inactive time than I do, beacuse she's BO and it takes her very little time and effort to have a magazine layout perfect home!

When I was a teen, if I sat down to watch a TV show my mom would say I was lazy. I think this set me up to always have to be in motion & always have to be doing something to prove I'm not lazy. BUT - I have such a cluttered disorganized house, I don't see much results from all the activity! My office at work is very organized and my co-workers would say I'm anything but lazy - but I completely control my office. At home I have DH and 3 kids - and all their STUFF! I think that's why I don't get much done with all the trying!

Can you tell I didn't sleep much all night! It was a ruminating type night!

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Dear Mommabird,

Sounds like you had a rough night. Hope you can de-stress and get some restorative sleep tonight.

Seems like you have been trying your whole life to prove that you're not "lazy." You don't need to prove it to anyone else! Believe in yourself, lady. Don't let those voices echo in your head. It'll make ya crazy.

I am going to confess to you that I did a little mental exercise one day. Maybe I repeated it a couple more times. I imagined my ex-husband, who I had not seen in over a decade, who had been psychologically but not physically cruel. I remembered all the pressure I felt from him. Then I imagined myself telling him that he could not live inside my head any longer. I went into great detail to explain exactly why he was no longer welcome in my head, and I tried very hard to imagine him somewhat reluctantly but peacefully leaving. Ya know what? It seemed to do the trick. So I did the same with my own mother, who is still alive and well. Then my mother-in-law, who I actually see more often than my own mother. I used to feel their influence even when they weren't around. Even when I had not spoken with them for several days. After that exercise, the feeling of being pressured by others is significantly diminished.

I'm no psychologist, but I don't think it matters whether you are "lazy" or not. What matters is how happy you are about your living situation. And it sounds like you're not happy with the way things are.

I'm going to guess that the disorder in your life is not due to laziness, but due to lack of communication and cooperation and coordination with the rest of your family. You need to get them to do all the tiny actions that keep the house neat and organized and clean. I'm not saying that YOU have to change THEM. It's not easy to do it that way. But maybe if you tell them how you feel, and ask for a bit of help, just MAYBE they will want to help you out, by making small changes in their everyday habits.

Perhaps changing things around to make it easier to put away stuff might be all it takes. I can't say. I don't know everything you know.

This is just my two cents, and I hope it helps you find a solution. May you find peace.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 9:23AM
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maryliz is so right. The answer to your question is that you're not lazy. But you're trying to ask one question--an important one, since you may have been brought up to FEEL you're lazy--while maryliz has identified other underlying questions--how do you want to spend your at-home time and what results do YOU want to see from your efforts?

I suspect your actual situation is very common--I know I feel I never quite got my family "on board" with enough shared responsibilities and tasks, and so I kind of vaccilate between 1) I don't clean or straighten, but spend time doing things I like such as read a book, watch a movie, garden, and then feel bad about my messy house, or 2) clean up and feel other family members are reading the books, watching the movies, etc. while I'm doing chores. Not good for inner peace!

I've said this before, but in addition to trying to develop some better communication with family, another approach is to force yourself to simplify, simplify--that is, be very intentional limiting the amount of clutter, decor, complex cooking projects, complex hobbies or activities, etc that YOU can see are under your direct control but that may not be things that, on reflection, are the most important to you--and to a lesser extent those of small children, over whom you have some control (I would say total, but many people struggle with stuff from relatives, or parenting-style issues with spouse, and so forth).

So for me, I ackowledge my inner hate-housework person and that I love to read and garden and will do that for hours after work or on weekends and let the house go, and accept a messier house, but there's a lot I can do to keep from sabotaging myself.

The whole point is, a normal human being is supposed to have time to sit and read, take a walk, do something goofy with the kids, talk on phone with a friend, go to lunch!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 3:53PM
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Frankie - I have simplified, simplified, simplified over the past 5-10 years. I have given away VAST amounts of craft supplies, thrown away 1/2 done projects, etc. Last weekend I bagged up 2/3 of my clothes to give to the Boy Scouts garage sale this week. All of that has helped! Especially getting rid of the craft stuff. I love doing arts & crafts and used to jump on board with every new fad and buy all the cr*p that goes along with it. I realized about 3 years ago that all that craft stuff was brining negative enery into my house. It was "undone stuff" hanging over my head. I gave away almost all my craft, sewing, and scrapbooking supplies. I just kept the basic sewing tools and a very small tote of scrapbook supplies to make cards. I realized I don't even LIKE to do the scrapbooking, and that I love to sew but now is not the season of my life for sewing (3 boys, ages 15, 13 and 9). I'll get back to sewing when the boys are grown.

Maryliz - you are SOOOO right! My mom "lives" in my head. She was hyper-critical when I was growing up, and nothing was every good enough for her (or is to this day). I need to "evict" her! For my mom, it's all about how things look and how she looks (vanity). For me, it's about how things feel and I feel. My counsins and I have discussed this a lot. Her 2 sisters & 2 brothers are warm, loving, accepting people. My cousins say they can't believe my mom came out of the same family! So - to live according to MY values, I need to evict her voice!


    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 8:14AM
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I think age comes into play at some time. People who work very hard when they are young often find themselves winding down at a certain time in life. It just takes longer and more effort to do as much as you used to do.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 1:39AM
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MaryLiz has great advice-perform an "Exorcism" and get rid of that negative person from inside your head. You Are Not Lazy!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 2:24PM
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I think your mom set you up.

And so you bustle around w/ little effectiveness.

She just nagged you; she never taught you what it was, specifically, that she was doing, and WHY.

When something is lost in my house, I walk rapidly through every room scanning every piece of furniture. I usually find it.

Then i realized my DD was trying to find things by walking through the house looking wildly everywhere. And as I watched her closely, I realized that while she THINKS she is following my example, she isn't actually focusing on ANYthing.

So I started telling her what I did and why--it looks like I'm just casting glances wildly around, but I am in reality carefully looking at every item on every (crowded) piece of furniture, and in every corner. Is that IT, could it possibly be covering IT up, how long has that stack been undisturbed or could IT have ended up inside.

Kids don't really just learn by example--because they may take completely the wrong idea away with them.

i bet you did--you haven't learned how to cut your losses, how to eliminate stuff, how to device storage, how to tidy in a way that reduces the effort. (Or something)

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 10:56PM
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Are you lazy? I have no idea. I suspect not, but that is just listening to your side of the story. Lazy people don't make legitimate efforts to get things done. (Unfortunately, many lazy people never learned the difference between making an effort and going through the motions, but that is another story.)

You sound like you are making an effort but the effort is ineffective. If that is the case, then you need to learn some skills that make your efforts more effective - not just work harder.

You may not want to hear this, but if you have 3 able bodied boys and "their stuff" is making your home a disaster, you need to get them to clean up "their stuff." To do that, you are going to have to work on your organizational skills together. They are probably as set in their disorganized ways as you are, so it will take quite the effort on your part.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 9:10AM
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Grrrr! I hate it when parents label kids. Do people not realize that those labels follow there kids all their lives. It is abuse that leaves no visible scars but the scars are there all the same.

You are not lazy you are just different from your mom and that is all right. It is allowed. I have never seen it written on any tombstone that the deceased was a perfect housekeeper. I have heard kids relate things they did with their mother, but I've never heard them say with pride--my mother was a perfect housekeeper

As long as a house is reasonably clean the mess doesn't matter. Much better to have a happy husband and kids who spend time with their mother than a perfectly kept house.

You need to tell your mother that you won't tolerate that word any more. You are an adult and as an adult you have the right to do things your way and your mother has no right to call you names. Then I want you to stand in front of the mirror every day and rell your self you are a worthwhile person and mean it.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 5:59PM
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Some parents project their fears on to their children, they don't know better but oh what damage that can cause..... possibly this would be the right time to express to your mom how you feel; stop the guilt cycle you seem to be in.

As an adult, you can darn well pick and choose the level of effort you want to put into your everyday life ; there's a smart way of doing things that can allow you to have leisure time galore. You decide what that is.

this forum can help you find ways to be better organized so that you do have the time to hang out and not feel guilty about it.

If someone spends a whole day reading a novel amidst filth and clutter, that would be lazy to me. But then again, if that person knew that she would spend the next day cleaning it thoroughly, that would be a question of choices and priorities, I would not question that.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 7:02AM
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