Dear Moms: You Are One Person. It’s Time to Give Yourself a Break.

Homemaking would be a piece of cake if it wasn’t for the messy home and the having to “make” something out of it. Oh, and if there was more cake, because that sounds delicious right now. On this day when laundry gathers everywhere, some clean, some folded, some is neither. On this day when I avoided a sink of dishes and cracker crumbs on the sofa and miscellaneous papers on the kitchen counter. When I’ve spent the morning working on the computer, the afternoon at the doctor’s office, and nearly every moment in between requesting in vain for my 18-month-old to please not cry at mommy for no reason (it’s a fun new phase he’s going through).

busy mom

Don’t get me wrong, I used to be a decent homemaker. Then I had kids. Here’s the one thing I should have been told more to help me adjust to “homemaking” with kids (it’s true for homemaking without kids, but it wasn’t as obvious to me then): You can only do so much.

I know, that doesn’t really mesh well with the “you can do anything you put your mind to” messages we’d rather hear. The little side note to those messages is that you are one person with one mind that can only focus on one thing at a time. So instead of thinking we can do everything we put our minds to, the truth is that we can do any ONE thing we put our minds to.

This one-mindedness happens every moment of everyday. I’m either looking at the road while driving or looking down at the new text on my phone. I’m either looking at my kid when she says “mom, watch this!” Or I’m staring into the computer screen mumbling “uh, huh, that’s nice honey” while I frantically try to finish one more task on a project. I’m either doing the dishes or I’m emptying out a closet getting lost in the emotional baggage of these things I forgot we even owned.

That makes sense then, that at the end of the day, I wasn’t able to give my kids 100% of my undivided attention while also completing a big work-at-home project while also keeping the house clean while also simplifying and organizing our clutter spots. It’s just not possible.

That single-tasking reality might sound discouraging when we’re all pumped up about reaching the moon if we just jump real high. But acknowledging that we can only do so much–and that “so much” is in fact one thing at a time–acknowledging that can really help us with all the things, whether related to our work, home, or life.

Knowing my limitations allows me to…

adjust priorities

I used to keep crazy long to-do lists, that of course never got done. Now, I might write a task down somewhere just to get it out of my mind. But on a daily basis I aim at most to get 3 tasks done. If I complete them all, I can move on down the list. More often than not, I’m doing good if I can get 1-2 bigger things done each day besides caring for kids. (Because kid-care is my top priority.)

let something go

If I’m only focusing on completing 1-3 bigger tasks each day, that means there’s likely lots more not being done. Sure, these can kind of passively fall to the bottom of the list. I’ve found it saves my sanity a little if I acknowledge some of those bottom priorities and give them a peace out. One of those is weekly deep cleaning–scrubbing showers and floors and toilets. Sure, our home needs it. I used to do great at it when I had only one kid. But, now, it’s more like a once-a-month deep cleaning if I’m lucky, and intentionally letting that go for this season of our busy little-kid-raising lives is a sanity saver and a peace-maker. Also, I used to think hiring a cleaning lady was pointless, but I am totally on board with that now.

celebrate progress

When my mentality is set on “reaching the moon,” I’m likely unsatisfied with anything less and discontent until that happens. When I can acknowledge that reaching the moon is a little unrealistic since I’m a stay-at-home-mom and not an astronaut, then I have the freedom to celebrate my actual progress from today. Which might be something small like folding the laundry and putting it away or writing a new blog post or cleaning out a drawer or actually looking at my kid when she said “hey mom, watch this!” I may not do all of those in one day, but when I do then I really know I’ve finally reached the moon of my little world.

get help

The best part of knowing I am one person that can do only one thing at a time is the permission to get help. I don’t have to be super woman, and while I sometimes feel like I’m trying, it can be freeing to reach out to others. Help might be involving my husband and kids in a quick family cleaning in the evening because I didn’t get to it during the day. Help might be using some of my freelance earnings to hire a sitter so I can focus on work for a couple hours without full-on kid-neglect. Help is also when I’ve gotten great ideas from other authors who encourage, support, and simplify a process for me.

All of that starts with acknowledging I can only do so much.

Today, that meant making my sick kid my priority, even though the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle went live today and my ebook Simplifying Home is included and I still had lots to do (like get this post up). It meant telling the dishes and laundry and crumbs and whatever else that gathered, “you’re not my problem right now.” It meant celebrating that we’re all alive and our house is still livable. It meant getting help from my husband and my mom who both got off work early to help with the kids (some days it feels like we just have so many kids).

And maybe I didn’t do everything on my list today, but I did some things and for today, that’s enough.

You are one person with one mind able to focus on one thing at a time. What gets top priority now? What does that leave to let go of? What does progress look like for you on a day like today? Where could you get help, whether it be physical, emotional, spiritual?


For more encouragement on simplifying, preview my ebook Simplifying Home >> here. And sign-up for my 8-part email series >> here to finally simplify your home this year.

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Trina Cress
Trina Cress is the author of Simplifying Home and the girl behind In between caring for her 3 kids and advocating simplicity, she also writes about simple faith and life on her personal blog