Monday, May 30, 2016

Mothering Monday: Reframing the Mess

When Monday rolls around, I survey the weekend damage with anger and frustration. I often mutter under my breath about lazy kids and an ungrateful family. Sometimes I deliver scathing lectures about feeling unappreciated and the need for everyone to pitch in and help. I very often feel like a martyr as I frantically try to tidy messes, mop floors, fold laundry, and scrub toilets.

As I cleaned my bedroom this morning, I was listening to the Freakonomics podcast about Productivity and a guest said something very profound.

DUBNER: OK, so the implication is that there’s a certain kind of compliment or praise that is more powerful or that leads to higher productivity, yes?DUHIGG: That’s exactly right. What we know is that you can train people to believe that they’re in control of their own life, and more importantly, to get them addicted to that kind of pleasant sensation that kind of comes from being in control. 
I have been viewing the household mess as something I cannot control. That out-of-control feeling is extremely stressful and negative.  It impacts how quickly I clean, interactions with my family, and my general mood.

So what if I chose to reframe the mess and my control of it? Perhaps my thought process would look something like this.

My husband and I have chosen certain specialized roles within our marriage. While he is working, I maintain the house and cook. We both share parenting responsibilities. He helps when he gets home, but I can manage the bulk of the cleaning. On weekends, we make the choice to work on bigger projects as a family that include: gardening, home improvement and repairs, and family activities. We include our children in these projects so they can learn how to work together in a group, spend time with my husband and I, and learn skills. Our family also needs downtime to play and relax. I choose to take that time as well. My kids are learning how to help and maintain cleaning zones most of the time. During this busy time of year, there are a lot of extra events that we attend. They haven't finished their work because they were doing homework, babysitting while I attended school concerts and symposiums, or busy finishing up big projects.

When I clean, I can celebrate the fun things we did, the things we are learning as a family, and the opportunity to learn via podcasts and audiobooks. I'm choosing to clean because I appreciate order, cleanliness, and structure.

I choose not to clean obsessively or worry about some of the minor details such as smudges on the windows or dirty walls because I also want to devote time to developing my talents. I'm also doing a lot of work during the day to maintain and develop habits that will lead to mastery of valuable skills such as writing, blogging, scrapbooking, Swedish, and scripture study. I am also working on family history and that is an important endeavor.

I have also committed my time, effort, and talents to serving as Relief Society President in my ward. That means I am simplifying my housework so I can minister to those in emotional, physical, and spiritual need. Consecrating myself to this work means there is less time for an immaculate house but the benefits of my work override what I get out of a clean house.

I am in control here. I am making choices that make sense for my situation and circumstances. I haven't been trading an immaculate house for unimportant or wasteful activities and so I am going to be OK with where I'm at right now.

Do you struggle with something similar? Have you ever faced a situation that you reframed? What happened when you did that? 


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