Still Plugging Away . . .

I’ve wanted to post an update, but I’ve been doing my best to stay focused on my work the past two days. I’ll try to sum up the highpoints.

The Good:

— I’ve gotten up every day this week at 5:30 and exercised. This is huge for me — not so much the exercising but the getting out of bed when my alarm sounds AND early.

— I’m caught up at work. Edits, reading, all the tasks that I put off while on vacation last week have been crossed off my list. I even called deep and had a hard conversation with one of Linda’s clients. Before vacation I was annoyed and felt somewhat misunderstood and attacked. Having an opportunity to sit with my frustration and view it from a logical place instead of just an emotional one proved very effective. I’m feeling more optimistic at work than I was two weeks ago.

— I did a LARGE grocery shop on Tuesday evening after Gil was home and the kids were in bed. I didn’t want to, but I pushed through and did it anyway. I may not have had meals prepared, but at least we had adequate food in the house, and I have eaten better this week. This is a big struggle of mine. More on that another time.

— I’ve managed to get a lot of other stuff done — beef for soup kitchen, it’s drug-free week at my kids’ school and they’ve had a theme EVERY SINGLE DAY so I’ve been pulling together various outfits each night. Shoot me now, please. I can get the homework checked and in the correct folder, sign all the miscellaneous stuff, turn in the school tshirt order so my kids aren’t the only students lacking spirit, get them to school on time (every day but one), sign up to bring something for the Halloween parties, but seriously, must we DRESS UP for drug-free week? I KNOW! I feel bad saying it, and I KNOW it’s important, but have mercy, they’re in kindergarten and first grade. This mama needs one less task this week. OH!!! And they have a special ribbon that they’re supposed to keep up with all week. Piers lost his on the first day. Okay, I’ll stop now. We certainly need early reinforcements/education to stay away from drugs with our family history. The point is: I haven’t done everythig i wanted, but I’ve hardly been lollygagging.

The Not-So-Good:

— Our house is STILL a wreck and now it’s to a point where I’m MAJORLY overwhelmed. I walk in the living area prepared to clean and put away stuff that has been dumped by the door, but I get frustrated and avoid it altogether.

Sherry gave me some amazing tips on making lists and breaking down tasks. I’ve done this with my job and somewhat with other things, and it is a highly effective strategy. The problem for me is that when I’m at work, I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I cross an item off my list. I feel nothing of the sort when it comes to domestic tasks and I think I’ve figured out why — in two days, they’ll all have to be done again, so where the hell is the sense of accomplishment in that? It just makes me feel defeated. My other realization is that I’m ticked off because I’m the only member of this family who feels that these tasks are important. Gil’s not going to do it when he gets home. The kids are too young to fully understand, and it’s a lot of work to teach them to clean and put things away, though I certainly realize the importance of teaching them these skills. BUT, after being out of town for a week, I just need order restored quickly. Sigh…

Other Observations:

— I’m motivated by tasks in which I’m genuinely interested — writing, researching, reading, discussing ideas and big picture concepts, helping others clarify where their energy should go and/or assist them with problem-solving. Why is it sometimes we can do for others the very things that we struggle with ourselves??!! My socializing isn’t typically strictly socializing. I’m listening and helping my friends/spouse strategize and come up with techniques/ideas in their lives and jobs that they often can’t see because the situation is too close to them. I’m less emotionally invested so I can help them get out of the weeds. This even goes with writing. I have a hard time editing and streamlining my own writing (have a look at this blog if you don’t believe me — I’m wordy and rarely edit much here) but I’m very good at slashing the unnecessary for others. I do some of this in my current job, but I’m often very uninterested in the work, so I get bored and lose focus. I helped two friends out this week on papers — one was on mental health stigma and the other was a sociology paper for an academic blog — two subjects I know a lot about. I loved helping them make their work better, and I’m good at it. I’m saying all this not to brag — ugh, I really value humility, but I’m trying to recognize my strengths in order to eventually do work that I love and have some passion about. At the same time, my current job requires me to read fiction that doesn’t always spark my interest. I help with plot flow and character development, but I struggle if I don’t like the book, and often I don’t.

— When it comes to tasks that I dislike (and sometimes even those i like), I procrastinate and not just a little bit. I put things off until the VERY last minute. This causes stress, but also gives me a rush of adrenaline and is kind of thrilling in a bizarre way — so when it’s crunch time I summon up this crazy, laser-like focus and get it done. I get another rush when I feel like I pull off the unthinkable — what’s worse is that I often perform extremely well under pressure and I’ve convinced myself that I’m incapable of doing good work if I plan ahead. It’s twisted. In grad school I once pulled an all-nighter and wrote a ten page paper that was 60% of my grade. It was hard and I was down to the wire. But I knocked it out of the park. I made an A+ and my professor nominated me for some research committee that was presenting at a conference — nice, but it reinforced my bad behavior (major procrastination).

— This brings me to some of the *why* I’m working on all of this right now. Since having children, I haveΒ to schedule my time better. I can’t afford to pull all-nighters anymore. I don’t have the luxury of catching up on rest the next day. I’m pretty sure Piers was conceived (unintentionally) the morning after I turned in that ten page paper. I strolled in at 6am, high on adrenaline and probably Red Bull, feeling amazing because the paper that had been hanging over me was done. I crawled into bed with Gil and roused him from a deep sleep. Most likely I had been a raging, cranky ass all week because I had so much work to do. I wanted to make it up to him, plus I needed a full body release after a roller coaster week. I was tired but strangely hyper at the same time, and my focus was on the hot man in my bed — NOT on the fact that I had forgotten to insert that damn NuvaRing earlier in the month. I wouldn’t trade sweet Piers for anything but we weren’t ready for a baby then and had we planned better perhaps I would have actually finished grad school and we would have been better prepared financially. Okay, I have to confess reading back over this, the live-in-the-moment part of me is saying — It happened exactly as it should have. Planning is totally overrated…

The plan going forward:Β 

— This will have to wait because this post is already crazy long. The short: I think I’ll be taking more money out of my vacation fund and hiring a housekeeper next week. I get overwhelmed when things feels dirty — bathrooms smell like urine, floors need sweeping and mopping, dishes, all that PLUS trying to get things in order to make things run better overall. I need backup in a bad way right now.

— I need accountability when it comes to household tasks even if I just announce to a friend or Gil something specific that I want to have done by the end of the day — for example, I’ll clean out my car by 5pm; I’ll fold and put away all the laundry that’s been on the chair in the den for a week. You get the idea.

— Gil and i talked last night and I shared some of my frustrations with him. He agreed to tackle some of the household stuff on Saturday — we’re still unpacking camping stuff. Dude… This is where my lists come in. I’m working on those, but right now I have SO many categories of lists and sublists — Store, Work Tasks, Household Tasks, Finances, Writing Projects, etc. Β I’m going to share the household task list with Gil and we’re going to each choose tasks to get done. This hasn’t worked well for us in the past, but I’m more motivated at the moment and need to run with it. More on this later.

— Oh, another thing that I have to remember. Timers are my friends. i HAVE to set a timer for certain tasks or I get distracted. For work I get overly focused and can’t make myself stop. For things like dishes, I get conveniently distracted because I’m bored off my rocker and also the act of resetting the time in ten minute increments creates some urgency and almost makes tasks I hate into a game — as in, how much can I accomplish in this nasty-ass kitchen in ten minutes. It sounds nutty, but it works for my scattered brain.

It’s a process, y’all. Thanks for enduring this if you made it through. And I appreciate all the kind words — more than you’ll ever know.

Feel free to chime in and offer tips on what works well for you. Any work-from-home folks reading? How do you prioritize household stuff and get your work done?

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20 thoughts on “Still Plugging Away . . .

  1. Pingback: I’m Not Even Close — Organized Peeps Do WHAT??!! | Grief Happens

  2. I could really relate to what you were writing here especially feeling overwhelmed with all that needs to be done. I generally don’t even know where to start to tackle the aftermath of the tornado that tears through our house every week. Oh well, someday things will slow down, or at least that is what I keep telling myself. I am learning to be content with a house that is not a major health code violation. We do get rid of the garbage and do the dishes at least once a day:) My son is fed and clean and we get his homework done. What more could I want? Thank you for making me smile and not feel alone in my overwhelmedness. (Terrible spelling but my made up word seemed to fit).

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    • You are so right and smart — “I’m learning to be content with a house that is not a major health code violation.” I’m still working on this. I try so hard to focus on the things that I feel are important like spending time with my kids, but I can’t help but feel like a failure when certain things fall through the cracks — like an important bill goes unpaid for FOUR months. How did I manage that?! Glad you could relate — it always helps to know we’re not alone in this crazy, beautiful life. Thanks so much for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. How is it that my life is happening in two geographic locations, simultaneously πŸ˜‰ ?

    Lots of recognition for me here in this post. The “school spirit” things that mean more work for parents make me bonkers. Do not burden families with children, with more “homework” bull**** please, schools!

    I will be working more in the near future and am thinking about getting a housekeeper but a) I don’t love the idea of a stranger cleaning my house. Because that means that they are IN my house. b) I used to be a housecleaner so I’m picky about how people clean things, and I know that most people don’t know how to clean. Seriously, most people don’t know the difference between a “degreaser” and a “sanitizer”. And most people things that mops actually clean floors. Sorry, cleaning tangent…I just wish I didn’t “know” about cleaning, you know? c) I know that you have to clean before they get there so they don’t have to clean around your stuff. Some days I literally don’t have time for that shit, lol. d) I kind of like my cleaning time because it makes me feel connected to my home. I think I’m the rare ADHDer who doesn’t really mind cleaning. I mean yes, we have a lot of it to do and we don’t have time…and sometimes I’m pretty non-linear about how I get it done…but I really need that time to land for a little while in my home and feel connected, even if it’s while I’m washing dished…so, I don’t really know how I feel about a housekeeper even though I’m pretty sure we are gonna need one once I’m working more.

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    • I could write an entire post about this housekeeper dilemma — maybe I will at some point, but I have to respond to some of what you said while it’s in my brain.

      It took me a long time to actually hire a housekeeper — mostly for ALL the same reasons you mentioned. Mine, more specifically, were 1) I’ll have to pre-clean 2) they won’t clean to my standards — I’m particular about how I want things done especially if I’m paying for it. 3) they’ll judge me — which goes along with they’ll be in my house, at least for me. 4) why am I spending this money on something I’m perfectly capable of doing myself — and probably better?

      Here’s how some of this has played out in the past. I’ve had a woman come off and on for the past two years. It worked best when she came at least every 2 wks and even better the few times I had her come every week. In the beginning it was great. It was lovely to know things were getting done regularly — especially the toilets and the floors, and btw, I KNOW what you mean about mops — they gross me out and I’m not convinced that this woman was doing it the right way. We had reached a point where no one was doing the basics regularly — vacuuming, dusting, floors, tubs, toilets. It was jacking with my anxiety but I was too worn down to actually do it myself and Gil just does not give a damn. He is always pleasantly surprised and happy when the house is clean, but he doesn’t have the same awareness that I do that we people with ADD actually function better when the house is clean. I think better, the kids are better behaved, calmer, all that when we make more of an effort.

      The problem arose when other expenses came up or priorities shifted and she stopped coming regularly. I’d get to a point (like I am now) where I just couldn’t take it and I’d call her up and she’d work us into her regular schedule for a one time deep clean. I’d call her if we had something specific — a party, or weekend guests, etc. But, because she wasn’t here regularly, she’d forget where certain items belonged (especially in the kitchen, omg — made me a crazy lady) and I also found that she’d rush through and not do a thorough enough job — which I found odd. I assumed she’d clean better not coming as often.

      Then there was the issue of her coming randomly and the entire family not pre-cleaning/straightening. Like when we knew she was coming on Thursday, I’d regularly make a point on Wednesday night to have us all tidy up together — it was more of a game or fun family activity and we’d turn on upbeat happy music and bust it together to get it done.

      Often when she was one-time cleaning, she’d work me in and I wouldn’t know until the last minute when she was coming so it was hard to pre-clean.

      In the beginning I moved past the fact that she didn’t clean quite to my standards — BUT she was also cleaning more thoroughly in the beginning. Sigh…

      There were a couple of other incidences where she brought a helper with her and didn’t monitor them as closely as I felt she should. Here’s my post about one of her helpers and misplaced items.

      https://griefhappens.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/its-a-blender-not-a-vibrator/

      After her last visit i decided that I needed to find a different housecleaner — it just wasn’t clean enough, but I don’t know anyone so this would involve a search…

      Anyway, this gives you an idea of some of the problems. I told myself initially that I’d be proactive when there was a problem and address it head-on. Lately, that feels like too much and I feel like an obsessive loon — she came a month or so ago and she had this annoyed look on her face as I tried to nicely explain that I’d like the bowls stacked a certain way instead of just thrown in the cabinet. I think her helper did this. I don’t know. I think I need to start fresh.

      This is long, but the main problem I had with a housekeeper was the main problem I have with everything — planning ahead. I can do it somewhat in my work, but housekeepers still require a bit of pre-labor and scheduling.

      Still, they are nice to have IF you can let go a bit and get more work done AND if it’s affordable. In other words if you taking more work means you’ll have move money and won’t be stretched thinner by paying a housekeeper, I can see that it would be better. I haven’t been to that point yet and it has always felt like a LOT to pay which added to my irritation when it wasn’t to my standards.

      Last thing, I also like a certain amount of cleaning/organizing and when I’m on, I’m on and do it well. However, I tend to micro-clean — I get way into the less necessary stuff like dusting off the top of the fridge or organizing the silverware drawer while the dishes are piled to the ceiling. I end up cleaning the fire out of the fridge top only to be frustrated after when I’d realize that I’d wasted my allotted cleaning time (say 30 mins) on a task that didn’t really show or matter all that much. AND the kitchen is still a mess. Timers have helped me with this.

      Well, good luck. Thanks for chiming in — and yes I think we’re living in a parallel universe in different regions. Glad I’m not the only one who gets annoyed at “spirit week” or rather “pile on more stuff for busy parents to be responsible for week.”

      I hope I haven’t scared you with the housekeeper stuff. It will likely be a WONDERFUL thing for you. I hope you’ll write about it. πŸ™‚

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  4. “Cleaning with children in the house is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos.” Every time I walk into my house I have to assure myself we haven’t been robbed. Unless you’re a cleaning Nazi, I don’t think it’s possible to have a clean house with kids. It sounds like you get a helluva lot accomplished, actually. I, like you, am a HUGE procrastinator. I love lists, but I have like 50 of them scattered around. The trick for me is to prioritize because I have a tendency to become scattered, or to start another thing before I finish what I’m doing.

    Keep posting about this stuff because I’d love to hear how others get anything accomplished. We all have the same 24 hours…and yet I only seem to effectively utilize 3 of them.

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    • Oreos while brushing your teeth — EXACTLY!! It’s tough, yes. I can deal with a little dust and a few dirty dishes, but the crap everywhere really starts to wear on me emotionally after a while. I’m not even remotely a cleaning Nazi — more of a clean enough to be healthy, dirty enough to be happy kind of housekeeper. I get that with kids it’s gonna be messy and I have no interest in being that parent who won’t let her kid experience and play because she needs a spotless house. I’ve had a productive week in some areas — not so much in others. You’re so right — prioritizing is key. I’ll keep posting on some of this. Glad you enjoyed the peak into my disarray. Makes me feel better for exposing myself. πŸ™‚

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  5. I LOVE the idea of a reward system for you, Gil and the kids! They’re old enough to do little things and you’ll be setting such a great example for them.

    Get the dang housekeeper. I was going to advise tackling one task at a time but I know how it feels when there’s SO MUCH and you’re just too overwhelmed to do any of it! Maybe your reward can be that if you guys can keep the house tidy then once a quarter you can get someone in to do some deep cleaning.

    Plus, and maybe this is just me, I always cleaned before my housekeeper arrived. I would straighten and tidy and put things away so she wouldn’t think we were slobs. It cut down on the clutter drastically.

    Keep going, you are doing GREAT!!!

    Sherry

    PS – and good on you for getting up at 5:30 every morning to exercise!!! That’s where you’ve totally got me beat my friend…I’ve always been a evening exerciser.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ya know, I find that I can focus better (one task at a time, as you said) on the setting up systems, organization, establishing places for things, if the basics are done — toilets scrubbed, floors vacuumed and mopped, counters wiped and dusted. Does that make sense? Otherwise, the “filth” is too distracting and I can’t get past it. So, hopefully, I can get the deep cleaning or basics done by the housekeeper which will allow me to focus on some of the tasks that are hard to hire out. I’ve reached a point now where I need to do some purging — donating clothes, throwing things away, all that. I actually enjoy those tasks — they make me feel productive. The exercise is really making me feel better. I am SO not normally a morning exerciser, but lately if I wait I don’t get it done, which has amounted to me not doing it at all — then I get depressed and I get overwhelmed and I starve myself. blah blah blah. I’m a complicated egg. Exercise for me is often the key to everything else in my life falling into place — my brain functions better, I eat better and more. Thanks for your help and for enduring my self-absorbed posts!! πŸ™‚

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      • Hey! That’s what a blog is! A series of self-absorbed posts. πŸ˜‰

        I think you are definitely on the right path. Just keep exercising and eating the elephant one bite a time. You’ll get there.

        Oh I so wish I lived next door so I could come over and coach you through this.

        Sherry

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  6. I am a complete mess when it comes to housework, and housework is supposed to be my job. Ugh.

    My therapist recommended a child-like chart, where my family and I agree on certain things to be done on certain days and if I get the week’s chores done I get a small prize (anything from my special ice cream to a movie date to a back rub, you get the idea). Something about me not growing up enough, but working with it. I think it sounds swell!

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  7. I think you are doing great. One step after the other! And re house being a mess: I so understand! I struggle with the motivation to do all those tasks too. And you know what: Every time all is clean and tidy again, the kids have friends over (I call it Hurricane season…) or one of the dogs throws up or has an accident… Or it’s raining and my girl forgets to take her shoes off… And so on. So I stand there and ask myself ‘why’? Why did I bother cleaning? But I guess, it’s what you have to do πŸ˜‰ Just keep going πŸ˜‰

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