Can people really change? Subtitle: Would you like some cheese with that whiiiiine?

And by people, I really mean me.

Yes I know that people can change, but do they? I was having a bit of a down moment last night and I thought to myself, “Am I ever going to change? Am I ever going to be someone who doesn’t put off a work out until the last possible moment? Will I ever get my house organized and learn to tidy up everyday? Will I ever get ahead of the laundry? Will I ever get consistent in teaching my kids how to be responsible adults?”

This went on and on and on until I was convinced that I am just one big lazy mess.

I feel so overwhelmed sometimes by all the things that are expected of me, that I just get paralyzed and can’t do anything. And when you combine that with someone (me) who has very little self discipline anyway, the results are often disastrous (okay maybe not disastrous, but messy and inconvenient at least).

I love the way I feel after a work out, but it takes me 3 or 4 hours to talk myself into it. I wait to do laundry until someone complains that they are out of underwear, and then I spend all weekend trying to play catch up. I don’t mop my floors until they are so dirty that even I can’t stand it (and I can tolerate a lot). I put off buying groceries until there is nothing but a can of cranberry sauce and an old granola bar in the pantry. I don’t make my kids help out until I just can’t deal with it anymore and then I wonder why they can’t do anything for themselves!

Since I went back to work almost 3 years ago, it’s just been getting steadily worse, and I don’t know how to turn things around. I know my kids could help out a lot more, but I am not sure how to get them motivated. We tried the Handipoints thing for awhile, but then they started charging to use the best parts of the service, so the kids lost interest because I am not paying $12 a month just so they can dress up a cartoon cat. I have a hard time paying them a regular allowance, because honestly sometimes I just don’t have the money to pay them every week. And I’m not sure what they should be paid for and what should just be expected. I feel like I’m really cheating them out of some good learning opportunities, but I just don’t know how to get started.

I’ve tried the Fly Lady thing – I even have all my routines set up for morning, afternoon, and evening, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually done them. I could hire a cleaning lady to come in once a week, but I don’t think we could afford it – it would be one more expense that would stress me out.

How do you turn a procrastinator into a productive go-getter? How do you go from unorganized, messy, and lazy to “she’s got it all together”? I don’t even need it ALL together, but some sort of “together” would be nice!

I feel like my attitude towards food and exercise is like my attitude towards everything else in my life – I’ll just do the bare minimum of what needs to be done and hope it’s enough. Although I’m starting to see that it isn’t enough. I don’t want just the bare minimum anymore – I want the peace that comes with knowing I did my absolute best to get the job done. And I want to be consistent enough for it to become habit, so that I won’t have to have this burden on my shoulders anymore. But how do I make that happen?

So how do you all do it? How do you handle everything on your plate? Do you have routines that you stick to or are you like me and just wing it and hope it all gets done?

8 thoughts on “Can people really change? Subtitle: Would you like some cheese with that whiiiiine?

  1. Ooh, I get what you’re saying. I take it you’re working full time? Then probably some degree of kindness/tolerance towards yourself is the right place to start. I work part time, have 3 kids and a biggish house and I have the same feelings you do. Maybe a modified Flylady– even if they are just the most basic routines, like clean for 1 hour on Saturday, shop on Sunday might help. Fitness and eating right take time too. I have cleaning help once a month. It is hard to justify the money sometimes but I realize it helps me so much mentally, I’m not giving that up. I getcha about the kid stuff. I pay for lawn mowing, but taking out the garbage, cleaning, picking up, setting the table etc are part of keeping the household going because Mom and Dad cannot possibly do it all. I sometimes have a “chore lottery” with tasks written on strips of paper, including some fun ones– play wii for ten minutes!– and set the timer. It helps. Best of luck, there’s a lot of us facing the challenges.

  2. You’re not alone, Jill. There always seems to be something slipping off the plate, or about to slip. I feel the same way about getting the kids to help out in a more organized fashion, because they’re pretty eager to help…when they want to help, that is, and when it’s not cleaning up their own toys. 🙂 I like your “chore lottery” idea, Larkspur!

    How do we get it all done? Well, we don’t…we just do our best. For the past few years, my husbadn has been the one at home with the kids and I’ve been the breadwinner. We’re each fairly well-organized people, with some routine (Monday is laundry day…although we have tried the “a load a day” approach, too; Wednesday is grocery day because that’s when the new sales begin, for example), but there’s also a lot of wing-it-and-hope-it-gets-done. (Helping the kids get their homework done, for example, sometimes gets put off until Mom gets home, because it can be mindnumbingly tedious when you’ve got a kid with attention issues.) Exercise wasn’t even ON my list until my health demanded that I do some. My minimum of 30 minutes, 5 days a week is non-negotiable. Of course, that usually means that it happens when I get up early and everyone else is sleeping (which helps avoid the “deciding to do it” conundrum), or at lunch time, or both if I can’t get all 30 in the morning. Believe it or not, I used to not be a morning person, but accomplishing that one thing first thing in the morning really sets a great tone for the rest of the day.

  3. Oh, one thing that really works well for groceries? My husband laughed when I did this, but now he loves it: Make a list of all the things you typically buy, and then take it to the store with you. Note which aisles have which things. Then at home, make a shopping list on your computer that is organized by where things are, leaving a few lines below each aisle for things you don’t usually buy (ingredients for a recipe you want to try, for example). Print out multiple copies. Tape it up in your kitchen, and when you notice that you’re out of something, write how many you want to buy on the list, next to the item. It takes a little getting used to, but it’s a great tool for getting through the grocery store a bit quicker. We also make notes on it from the grocery store flyer, noting which items are buy one-get one, for example.

  4. Ok, this is just me, but my 12 year old has chores. And if he doesn’t help out, he doesn’t get priviledges. He also mows the lawn on Saturday before he’s allowed to watch cartoons. And he empties the dishwasher or he doesn’t eat the next meal until he does.

    I’m sorry … I’m in a fog but I can’t remember your kids age. Can you have your kids do their own laundry? Consequence, no laundry, no clean underwear.

    When I feel bogged down, it takes a bull-dozer (I’m only half kidding) to get me moving. I have things that I put off too, and once I’m doing them, I feel great. I’m not sure what this mindset is. Procrastination? Laziness? Being overwhelmed?

    If you find the answer, let me know. Vee at

  5. LOVE Pubsgal’s grocery list idea!

    Jillie, Jillie, Jillie. I have no idea how young women work full time, AND have kids AND have a husband to take care of. I don’t even speak to my dogs when I get home from work, and everybody knows dogs are perfect.

    So I can’t advise you from personal experience in your particular situation. I know I have drastically reduced a lot of activity from my life, just to make it bearable. And that doesn’t mean that my house is free of clutter. I guess it means that no one comes over to my house to see the clutter anymore-ha!

    Of course, being the radical feminist that I am, I want to suggest that ‘the other woman’ might give up a few of her sparklies to help pay for a housekeeper once a week.

    Your first 3 or 4 paragraphs sounded like you were trying to describe me! But I do think we can change a little, Jill. And I don’t think I have to change as much as I used to. I don’t think its necessary any more to have a house like my friends’ perfect houses in order to have value myself (does that sentence make sense?)

    We are changing the way we eat, and the way we exercise. And I am trying to clear up spots of clutter in my house. The trouble is, I will concentrate on one spot, and then another gets neglected….

    I have a TINY kitchen. And last night, I looked in there and every single counter space, including the stove, was COMPLETELY covered with stuff. And its been that way for a while. Its actually amazing that I can cook as much as I do in there. So today, I tackled it. And once I started it really didn’t take that much time. And I cleaned it. But it was not ‘deep cleaned,’ as one of my perfect friends would say. It was cleaned good enough.

    Well, I believe it was a comment like this that made you ask me if I had my own blog. But I just love commenting on your blog, Jill!

  6. You are so right. It seems like the older I get, the more I wonder when I am going to grow up. Like tomorrow I am going to miraculously wake up and act like a responsible adult, parent, and wife.
    I look at my house now, and realize that it was much cleaner when my kids were babies. Did I fail in the raising of my offspring to be tidy and responsible for their belongings? There are days when I look around and ponder “would I let the firemen in my house if it were burning to the ground?” often my answer is “Hell no”.
    I think that there may exist women who keep a constant clean vigil of their homes…but I imagine that most women feel the same way we do. I’m sure that the things that get done consistently, are the things that we either can’t live with or we don’t mind doing. Everything else is up for grabs.
    As far as the kids, I agree that they should not be compensated for each and every thing they do. Kids need to understand that there are responsibilities that offer zero “rewards”, but have to be done anyway. What those items are, should be up to you. I think that keeping a bedroom from being condemned, is a no reward job. Cleaning up after pets, then a small monetary compensation is fair. Big jobs like mowing, weeding, edging, I also think are worth a reward. I try to keep in mind what the job is worth to me to get done. I don’t mind coughing up a little dough for something I freaking hate to do!

  7. Hi Jill!
    I’m a regular reader (and fan!) of your blog. I’m also a full time working mom, and I’ve just accepted the fact that I cannot do everything all the time. Nobody can! So, I pick my battles, and get the help of my son and husband whenever I can. My son’s room is a disater most of the time, it used to drive me crazy and I’d end up cleaning his room weekly. Finally, I just started shutting the door. He is responsible for cleaning it now, so it does not get as messy since he knows I will not be cleaning it.
    I guess I decided that I deserve to relax and enjoy life sometimes too. I’m easier on myself then I used to be. I laugh when I remember when I used to clean the house every week! Was that me?! My house, my diet, and my exercise are not always perfect at all times, but I’ve learned to let those guilty feelings go for the most part. And if someone is complaining about no clean underwear, I tell him to throw a load in the wash!:)

  8. Well it’s good to know we are all not alone in this. Your post pretty much described my life, too. I think it was Barbara Walters who said, you can be a great wife and a great mom, you can be a great wife and a great career woman, you can be a great career woman and a great mom, but it’s nearly impossible to be great at all three. That’s how life works for me. Usually my focus changes, from mom to wife to career woman, and depending on where that focus is, is what I’m doing well at. Which means something is ALWAYS falling through the cracks. But eventually I’ll dig out whatever fell through & fix it up right. Eventually.

    If only laundry & dishes weren’t like the mail…they. never. stop. Sigh.

    We gotta keep fighting the good fight. What else is there to do? (don’t say get in the car & drive South & never look back, becuase that sounds appealing some days but is way too Movie of the Week to actually go for it. 🙂

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