A new, sad film

mamasdaughterOctober 23, 2006

I have a major problem. I am a very messy person and I have a cluttered and dirty house, and I am so ashamed of it. I have tried the FlyLady and other methods of lists and charts to get my home organized and clean, but I just don't have the motivation I need to stay with it. I get sick of it. I absolutely lack the motivation I need and I have never been able to figure out why I'm this way till I started focusing on my upbringing. I get lazy and I come up with a zillion excuses why I can't or don't have to start working around my house, and I can fall asleep on the couch or relax watching TV with my home in total shambles, and I can do this without a bit of guilt or shame, thinking, "I'll get to it later." Yet, I hate myself for it, and want a clean house so badly. My own mother...I feel like I have become her. She was the sweetest, kindest thing, and the best cook, but she was totally disorganized and never cleaned house ever, and did me a great disservice as a child growing up around this kind of environment. I can truthfully say I never saw my mother mopping. She didn't give me regular chores or expect anything out of me. We only cleaned house once or twice a year when we were getting company from out of town. She would decide to wash the curtains, and take all the curtains down and make a huge mess that took her two days to get through. She would be sewing and mending the curtains and making a big production out of this chore, washing and pressing for hours. The housework ended up being my sister's and my responsibility, and we would split the rooms. I was only 9 or 10 years old so I was clueless as to what to do. Every surface was covered with odds and ends, every kind of thing from paper clips to gum wrappers, to unopened mail to coupons, to notes and broken pens, to toothpicks and small spills from last week's coffee mug. One time, a nice guy, the grandson of a family that belonged to our church, who was going to college in our town gave me a ride home from school when I was a senior. I had a crush on him and this was great, having him be so nice and attentive, but when we got to my home, he insisted on going in to say hello to my mom. I could have died. My mom could care less, like her red face nerves had been permanently severed. She always opened the door wide and took people through the path to the kitchen without a bit of shame over the condition of her house. This time with the cute guy, my parents had been to another auction sale a day or two earlier, and had bought a bunch of old pieces of furniture, some, I guess, were antiques. They were in the truck and out in the garage, but somehow that day, they decided to bring them all into the house. You could barely get in the front door. My mom had the house darkened so you could barely see. This old smelly furniture was everywhere, there wasn't even a pathway. We just stood inside the door talking to my mother who couldn't get to us either and just spoke to him from across all the furniture. I could have died from embarrassment. I always felt like something was wrong with my parents, they thought differently than the parents of my friends, and they were a lot older. They saved everything because they grew up in the depression and felt everything had a hidden value of some sort. Our garage was so full of junk, it was piled to the ceiling and we couldn't put our vehicles in there. When my sister and I cleaned house for this company that came once or twice a year, the one rule we had to abide by was not to throw anything out. The company rarely STAYED at our home, and sometimes we only visited elsewhere, so I always wondered what was the point of cleaning. I feel this way now, like what is the point, when I would rather do other things. I expect my 11 year old daughter to keep her room clean and picked up, but she never does it, and i get frustrated ad angry, but she is only following my example, and her room looks like the rest of the house. My room is a mess, and there is only a pathway to my bed, which is piled with "stuff". I would die if people, my friends, ever knew how I really live. What can I do? What is the answer, the motivator that makes a person get off their butts and do something? It seems that would be absolutely hating living like this, having this lifestyle, which I do, but I guess really don't mind in some ways. My problems is, I liked never having chores or responsibility when I was young, I enoyed sitting around in a messy house with my feet up, eating watermelon and talking with my mom. I learned to be relaxed in a huge mess and I can't seem to get over this. I really want a clean and neat home, I dream of it, but I can't stick with routines, the motivation seems to leave. Any ideas?

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Motivation: You have to REALLY want to improve the house, not just "half-want" to improve it because you feel guilty that you "SHOULD" be living differently. Anything worth having is worth working for.

How to start: Flylady says to start by shining your kitchen sink and keeping the dishes done. That's a no-brainer for me, so I'll suggest this: Flylady's "You can do anything for 15 minutes" really works. Set your timer for 15 minutes. Walk through a room with a trash bag. Pick up obvious garbage. You have Flylady's permission to throw stuff away, so forget whatever your mother told you about saving junk (you can designate separate bags for recyling and charity donations if that won't overwhelm you). Clear the walkways in every room, then the table tops and horizontal surfaces, then the closets and drawers. Do this EVERY DAY for 15 minutes until you're ready to move on. Yes, this could take a while. Be patient.

Another thing Flylady says is you can't organize clutter. Not only that, I find it hard to clean around clutter. Once all the clutter is gone, you'll be able to do "real" cleaning with less effort. For example, it's hard to mop the kitchen floor if it's covered in boxes of stuff. Once the boxes (or whatever) are gone, it's a simple thing to mop the floor real quick.

Your daughter is old enough to participate in the Timer Game, too.

Also, to look at routines another way, you DO have routines! Your routine is to sit and watch TV and ignore the mess. You need to CHANGE your routine. Make it your NEW routine to get the dishes done and shine the sink (it's a "pride" thing, just trust us on this). Then set the timer for 15 minutes and get rid of stuff that doesn't belong, THEN watch TV.

Here's a challenge: Do you remember Flylady's 5-minute Room Rescues? Set the timer for 5 minutes every day and work in the WORST room in your house. For only 5 minutes. Eventually you WILL see a difference. That's how I cleared out our basement. It would work in your bedroom, too. Getting rid of "stuff" is the more freeing than you'll ever imagine.

P.S. The first winter Flylady gave me "permission" not to save stuff, I was filling a 30-gallon Hefty bag PER DAY. FOR WEEKS. The Salvation Army loved me, and the trashmen probably thought we were moving. LOL

    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 6:33PM
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Welcome mamasdaughter (md for short.) We're glad you found us and hope you'll stay for a bit. Here's what I can tell you, based on my own experience.

"What is the answer, the motivator that makes a person get off their butts and do something?"

"You don't have to see the top of the staircase to take the first step." (Martin Luther King-Jr.) Flylady uses this quote and so do others. Will you believe us when we tell you that if you will just begin, you will achieve? There's an element of faith here. A person who runs a marathon doesn't just go sign up and run. They train for months and months and months. Just to run for a few hours. Life is a marathon. Those who do the training do better.

I'll bet when you've tried to do something around the house, you end up saying, "What's the point?" The point is, you are in training. You are training your brain to think differently. And one day you can go the course. But not without putting in all of those days of little steps. Most people will say you'll do "it" when you want "it" bad enough. I'll personally bet, that you really don't know what "it" is!

It's interesting that you mentioned your bedroom. This week is the bedroom week with Flylady. Go ahead and start there. Like Julie said, just 15 min. at a time.

We can hold your hand and cheer you on, but you have to run the race.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 9:16PM
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The first question I would ask is "how's your health?" And I mean both physically and mentally. If you are dealing with depression, you will not have the energy to tackle this job. If you are overweight, you will not have the energy to tackle this job. You need to get to the bottom of this soon, so your daughter doesn't have to relive your teen years as well.

What should motivate you is the fact that YOU deserve what you so dearly want: a clean, inviting home that you will allow you to open your door to anyone. You deserve a wonderful place to live. Start again with Flylady today. Don't wait. You deserve a better life, but no one can give it to you. You have to overcome fatigue, laziness and despair and just do this in fifteen minute blocks of time. Keep posting, even if just to tell us that you've washed all of your dishes. Go girl!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 1:39PM
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You *deserve* a clean, functional home.

To get one you need to REQUIRE more from yourself. Why do you let yourself just sit in squalor? Only you can answer that. If, as you suggested, it's your early upbringing and lack of knowledge in *how* to clean, then do some research and get some knowledge.

Flylady is a marvelous place to start. Personally, I wouldn't sign up for all the emails. There are so many that you may just sit and read all day. Just check the site daily, and work in the zone suggested.

It's like exercise - you don't have to like it, but you do have to do it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Flylady

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 2:32PM
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Mamasdaughter - Have you had a complete physical exam? Sounds like you may have low blood sugar, which can make you feel like that (no energy or interest in attacking any problem). Please have that checked, at least. It is easily correctible by lowering sugar/carbs and eating more protein, sort of modified Atkins. I speak from experience. I once thought 1/2 of a coffee cake was breakfast......Good luck.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 8:14AM
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