8 ways to find motivation at home

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by Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and is currently traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

This post was first published on June 15, 2009.  I thought it a good one to republish for newer Simple Mom readers, though it’s ironically for the opposite reason I mention in the post — I’m incredibly busy getting ready for the baby to arrive and making other life decisions this week.  Nonetheless, I hope it’s a good reminder for us all…

I‘ve got several emails with a “to be answered in a post” tag that all ask this question–“How do I find the motivation to work at home when I just don’t feel like it?”

I’m responding to this question today because it’s a good one to address in my own life. It’s getting hot, life isn’t quite as hectic as last month, and there’s not much on the calendar for the next few weeks. It’s easy to get lazy at home.

Here are a few ideas to fight off the apathy, the lack of interest, or the plain ol’ annoyance at the cyclical nature of your job as home manager.

1. Remember that it’s a job.

When someone asks where you work, don’t answer, “I don’t work; I stay at home.” Instead, answer, “I work at home.” When you manage your home, plan the meals, handle the finances, juggle the calendar, and make sure that family members enter the world relatively groomed and sanitized, you work a lot. Think of yourself as the COO of the home. If your home was Home, Inc., how would you rate your performance in a quarterly review?

2. Start your day with a realistic morning routine.


Photo by Bill Israel

Seasons in life call for flexibility, change, and not doing what you want all the time — but do your best to write down a weekday morning routine for starting your day. Whether it be working out, reading your Bible and journaling, going on a walk, or simply showering and getting dressed before the family wakes up, do what you can to prepare yourself for a day of work.

3. Eat your frog.

After your morning routine, attack that one thing you dread the most. Is it laundry? Start a load of wash right away, and make it your goal to get clean clothes in their closets by lunchtime. Do you need to pay the bills but can’t stand the work involved? Jump on it right away — the weight will be off your shoulders for the rest of the day once they’re paid.

4. Find inspiration…

Spend a few minutes reading blogs that encourage you in your job as home manager. Flip through some home magazines you enjoy to motivate you to clean up the clutter. Set a timer as you do this, so that you know when it’s time to actually put your found inspiration to work.

5. …But, don’t let those blogs and magazines discourage you.

It’s easy to throw in the towel before you even start your work when you read about other moms that seem to do everything, or look at glossy pages with gorgeous, stain-free furniture. If you’re a perfectionist, like me, you might especially be prone to not doing anything at all if you think you can’t do it expertly. If this is you, make a point to not open your laptop or a magazine until a certain chunk of your checklist is crossed off.

6. Leave the house.


Photo by Rob

Are you frozen with discouragement as you trip over the carpeting of Lego and stare at the pile of lunch dishes? Are your kids restless with energy, full of wiggles needing release? Get a change of scenery. Go to the park. Go on a walk. Go to a friend’s house. Sometimes fresh air will do all of you a world of good.

7. Evaluate what you’re about.

Perhaps you feel lazy about starting your work because you feel like you have so much to do, with no sign of completion. Are you trying to do too much? Is the goal of your job to have a sparkling house, spotless kids, and a three-course meal every evening? Are you losing the love of your game? Maybe it’s time to sit down and create a family mission statement. Decide who you are as a family. Let that be your guide for what you prioritize during your working hours.

8. End your work day.

It’s hard to see the end in sight, and there are sleepless nights peppered in our work weeks because of sick kiddos, nursing infants, or willful toddlers. But do what you can to end your work at a reasonable hour in order to spend time with your spouse, recharge your batteries with some adult (or alone) time, and get adequate rest for tomorrow.

Everyone has valleys in life, when your spark has waned a bit, and you’ve forgotten what it’s like to love your calling. Your love is probably still there, somewhere. Do what you can to find it, instead of running your batteries on obligation. Everyone in your family will thank you.

How do you motivate yourself when you’re feeling blase about your home management work?

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Comments

  1. Wow, I really needed this post – so glad you reposted it!

    Working from home, with a home office and sick kids has made everyday a little challenging. And the overwhelm just leaves me frozen :)

    I think if I can get myself to do 3 and 8 consistently, I might start doing better real soon.

  2. avatar
    becky f says:

    Great great article. It’s hard when you go from working outside the home to SOLEY working inside the home (I had a 3 day a week job for a while & we moved & now I’m a SAHM). You point out things I think all new SAHM’s should know. I’m going to post a trackback on my blog. Thanks

  3. Wow, this is so perfect and exactly what I needed today. Thank you, thank you!

  4. Ditto to the above! I needed this, too. Thanks so much.

  5. I just love this post – very timely as I reflected on ‘professional’ motherhood just last week. I especially appreciated the ‘end your work day’ point – in a 9-5 job it’s more obvious when it’s quitting time. At home, you’re always surrounded by tasks that could be done. Having a time in mind to ‘end the day’ also motivates me to be a productive as possible during the daytime so there is less guilt about leaving things undone at the end of the day. ;)

    Blessings on the new addition coming your way!

  6. Oooo, I love the ‘eat the frog’ item. Actually 3-8 are things I need to incorporate into my working both inside and outside the home.
    .-= Tepary´s last blog ..Lota the Panther Woman =-.

  7. Thanks for the repost – I can pretty vividly remember reading this last year too… the “treat it as a job” is what stands out for me… and the rest all follows. I’m going to refocus based on that (and eat my frog).

  8. I loved your post. I totally agree with the “eat your frog!” It is amazing how much energy is zapped by unfinished projects or that one thing hanging over your head. Just walking by a mess can literally drain you.

    My frog is ALWAYS ironing. I make a list, put it at the top and then promptly do everything else first and then lack the motivation to iron, then lo and behold, more clothes come out of the dryer and I have more to iron and dread. If I just stay up on it, like three shirts at a time, life is wonderful. I do have a new trick, though. My precious husband just got me a laptop, so I set that on the dining room table and find a show from Home and Garden or a sermon or something that I want to listen to and do that while I am ironing. That has really improved the experience. Another thing I did a few years ago was call the dry cleaners and see how much they charge to launder and press a shirt (can you tell I have struggled with this for years?) and when they told me the price, that made me very happy to know that this one chore was that valuable.

    http://www.biblebb.com/files/mac/mac%20self-discipline.htm This sermon has helped me a lot in being a better homemaker.

  9. I needed to see this again. I remember when you posted this last year. It was great to read then and it’s timely again now.
    .-= Rana´s last blog ..Are you getting LOST tonite? =-.

  10. avatar
    Julie P says:

    Wow…this is so what I needed. I really like the “treat it as a job” idea. Reading that was an “aha” moment for me. It IS my job and I need to give myself credit for having a job that matters.
    I also am a perfectionist, so appreciated the advice to be careful how I let it affect me when I read blogs and magazines on people that appear perfect…of course they appear that way, that’s the goal they’re encouraging you to go for, but you have to be realistic and realize you aren’t going to hit the target every time.
    Thanks for sharing such encouraging advice and enjoy that little one coming along! They grow up so fast! You would know.

  11. This was my first time reading this and I think I needed it on this monday morning. I’ve definitely gotten lazy and overwhelmed simultaneously – I don’t know how that happens, but I guess it does. I think it’s very much about finding a structure for the day so I’m not just flailing around. Great post.
    .-= Beth – total mom haircut´s last blog ..In Which The Rhubarb Gives Me a Thorough Caning With Its Big, Stalky Self =-.

  12. Excellent list. It’s one that I “sometimes” followed for the past 38 years. At one time I was very organized, I think that was about 25 years ago. LOL. But, what motivated me was the red checkmarks beside the item that I had accomplished. And, one of the best routines I had was to do my errands in a circle. Start out at home with a list of errands arrange in a circle so that when I was finished, I was home again. I still try to do things that way.
    .-= Wyn´s last blog ..Five Ministry Killers and how to defeat them by Dr. Charles Stone =-.

  13. This is a great reminder about priorities. I’m a single mommy with two young boys and also a full-time law student. It’s very hard for me to get everything done for my two jobs. I really am trying to work on setting limits for student time and mommy time. That way I’m not neglected schoolwork for my babies, or ignoring them to get my school work done.
    .-= LaToya´s last blog ..Breaking Down my Mommy Mission Statement: A Writer =-.

  14. avatar
    Jennifer says:

    Thank you Tsh! I was literally I just sitting here moping about how tired I am (toddler with a fever… up a lot of the night), and how the house cleaning never seems to be done, and how I really just want to read a book or take a nap. Because of your encouraging words/helpful tips, I have a better outlook. You’re right: it helps to remember that this is my job. When I worked outside the home, there were always parts of my jobs that I didn’t explicitly enjoy, but that had to be done. The same is true of this, the best job I’ve ever had (or ever will). Off to clean bathrooms and mop the floor! (And reward myself this evening with time to read rather than folding that “one more load of laundry”) =0)

  15. I enjoyed reading your list. Parenting as well as maintaining a home is certainly an intentional endeavor. It doesn’t just happen!
    .-= Kristy´s last blog ..Take Five: A Family Travel Timetable =-.

  16. When my husband and I decided I would stay at home with our new twins (now 2) I said I needed an official title. We came up with MOS DEF (any aging hip hop fans like myself might get the reference :) Manager of Operating Systems and Director of Everyday Functions. I feel that pretty much accurately describes what we stay at home moms do. Plus it’s pretty cool to get to call myself the MOS DEF!

    Thanks for the post. Just the little push I needed to get up from the computer and accomplish something!
    .-= Diane´s last blog ..2 1/2 years later? You’ve got to be kidding me! =-.

  17. This is great advice! I have just starting working from home, including 12 hours per week of working remotely for my job and full time homemaking. It has been a challenge to find a balance so far, but I’m getting there. Thanks!
    .-= Greta @ Mom Living Healthy´s last blog ..This Week’s Menu Plan =-.

  18. This is an awesome post. I find that #3 is one of the most important things for me to do to keep me motivated. Getting that hard to do task out of the way is just a relief!
    .-= Tina@RideonToys´s last blog ..The Spray And Ride Rescue Truck For Little Firefighters =-.

  19. Great post. I found once I started my maternity leave I had to create routines to keep on top of things – especially dishes and laundry! I am trying to incorporate more routines into my day, and the reminder to have a quitting time is a great one!
    .-= Morgan´s last blog ..:: everything but the kitchen sink granola bars :: =-.

  20. I especially like the tip about avoiding perfectionism. It really makes you throw in the towel before you’ve even tried.
    .-= Bryony Boxer´s last blog ..How To Get More Sleep Even Though You Have a Newborn =-.

  21. I feel like this post was written for me. This is week three of my new job: Full-time Mom. I also joined a Mom’s group at my church and we are reading a book inspired by the 31st Proverb entitled “Graced and Gifted: Bibical Wisdom for the Homemaker’s Heart” by Kimberly Hahn.
    .-= Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith´s last blog ..Preview of Summer =-.

  22. I posted something similar this week on how to get motivated and stay that way. For me, getting inspired and putting that inspiration into action is a major motivator. Plus, like you recommend, I tackle the tough things and get them out of the way. The high of completing tasks motivates me further:-)
    Blessings and best wishes.
    .-= prerna´s last blog ..Five Simple Ways to Get Motivated and Stay Motivated =-.

  23. loved “eat your frog” and loved that you used laundry and bill-paying as examples…two things i never want to do.

    thank you very much for this!!

    ~erin
    .-= exhale. return to center.´s last blog ..sponsor giveaway :: mom evolve =-.

  24. Wow, great message! So glad you re-posted and someone retweeted it! Thanks for the pick-me-up and reminder!

  25. You could repost this every week and it would be timely in my life! Thanks.
    .-= Kim´s last blog ..175: Mending =-.

  26. Thanks for these valuable words! I made a link on facebook, so all the mothers I know could come and visit. It was very helpful. Come visit my blog also, it is on toddlers, I think all moms need encouragement every now and then. http://www.takingterribleoutoftoddler.blogspot.com

    Thanks a bunch! I feel better already.

  27. This was a great post! I am totally the same way about the perfection thing as well. I tend to just give up if it’s not perfect. I also enjoyed the tips about not blogging or etc on the computer until most of my other stuff is done! I can easily spend hours on the computer and not know where the time went! Thanks!

  28. I loved all of these, thanks!

    “Sometimes fresh air will do all of you a world of good.”

    That has turned out to be key for me, spending some time every day out in nature. I have grown very fond of our travel lifestyle where we spend so much time in nature every day and find it so healing. Even when we winter in Spain, sometimes it is the little things like walking my daughter home from school or even just hanging the clothes out to dry…even those bits of nature, birds sounds, sunshine etc refresh like nothing else.

    Good reminders!
    .-= soultravelers3´s last blog ..Travel = Organic Garden Homeschool? =-.

  29. I really needed to read this today. With the mountains of (non-home) work I’ve been doing lately, I’ve felt particularly overwhelmed and discouraged by my work in the home. Today was a really hard day, but reading this at the end of it was helpful.

    Thanks for the encouragement. I’m feeling a bit re-motivated and energized, so I’m off to do a quick once-over of the house to welcome hubby home :)
    .-= Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home´s last blog ..Cook More Real Food: Take Inventory of Your Pantry =-.

  30. What a great post!! Thank you!! I really needed to read this today as well. I definitely need to incorporate some of these principles and I’m going to start tomorrow. Thank you so much for the tips and the inspiration.

  31. Thank you so much for this re-post! It was so timely and just what I needed. I’m going to start with some of these tomorrow.
    .-= Sam´s last blog ..10:07pm =-.

  32. Hi Tsh,

    I posted a link to this article on Facebook, and the young mums I know are so encouraged! Your list has started some great discussions already. I think a few of my friends will be reading Simple Mom now. =) Thanks for keeping it real.

  33. Very timely…I was just thinking how well I am doing in my “job”. If I were up for an evaluation, would I be excited or anxious? And what kind of example am I setting for my “junior” co-workers; the six souls entrusted to my care? Thanks for the list.
    .-= Jenny´s last blog ..Sixty Seconds on Tuesday =-.

  34. I wanted to add one more thing, my kiddos are 17, 15 and 13, but there was a time when they were 3, 1 and ZERO. The days go slowly, but the years go quickly. The time for good habits and routines is today, tomorrow will not have more time or more sleep, now we have to wait up for them to come home or just to chat, or both, there is still not enough sleep. There is a lot more running now but also a lot more stimulating conversation. =) Enjoy EVERY moment, but don’t think that in 5 years, I will have time for exercise or morning devotions or cleaning or whatever. Start the good habits now, then enjoy them in the middle years (that is when you get the most sleep), and savor the benefits in the teen years. That is when those habits of prayer really come in handy. =)

    • Deb, thanks for sharing your experience from a little further down the road! I often have people tell me that I just need to hang on until the kids are a little older (I have 5 kiddos ages 1 to 11), that I will have more time when they are bigger. I always wonder how our lives can be meaningful if I am just trying to “survive” through this phase…I mean, this is a long phase for me! I have to learn how to get a reasonable amount done “well enough” so that we have a peaceful home, & I have to learn how to refresh in the midst of having many children home with me all the time. I can’t just run off for a weekend to recharge whenever I want to, & when I do get the opportunity I often find that I end up discontent instead of rejuvenated! I also can’t just escape into my computer or a book without having unpleasant consequences…the state of my house & the discord in my family right now testifies to that. So again, thanks for the encouragement to make important things a priority now, because it’s not going to be any more convenient later!
      SimpleMom, thanks for this post! It is exactly what I needed to read today….Now I need to get off the ‘net & apply it to my life! (Hmmm…I just thought how interesting it is that the WWW is also known as the “net”…I sure do feel like I get lured in & stuck in here sometimes!) =)

  35. My problem isn’t exactly finding motivation. It’s the constant interruptions of the kids (1 & 4) that thwart me from completing tasks. I really need to focus when I do bills–so that waits until they are in bed, the 1 year old trys to unfold the laundry I’ve just folded or maybe he just needs to be held for a while, the 4 year old is frequently asking “what can I do with myself?”, etc, etc. Life would be great if I had 2 hours of uninterrupted time to do chores…then I could focus on hanging with the kids the rest of the day. But that’s just not realistic.

  36. thanks so much for this post!!!! especially like the “eat your frog” one. i need to do that more.
    i discovered your site via a tweeted link from a friend. so timely….love it when that happens :)
    & i tried to “follow” you on twitter, but it is saying you have blocked me. ??? i promise i’m not a stalker! lol!! just a mom looking for inspo, info & ideas :)

    have a great week!
    gigi

  37. avatar
    Lindsay says:

    Wow, I REALLY needed this post tonight. Thank you!

  38. Thanks for re-posting this. I just posed the question of motivation in my last post, so I was delighted to find some answers!
    .-= Julia´s last blog ..Summertime Crossroads =-.

  39. I read posts like these! LOL. :)

  40. This is awesome! I needed this, as it is hard to be productive. I am a fairly new SAHM, with a 5-month-old baby girl. She is amazing! At the same time, I find it hard to have motivation to get things done. And there is a lot I want to do. Please check out my blog! Its a startup.

    God bless!
    Jennifer

  41. Very encouraging and realistic. Thanks!!

  42. Thank you for this very timely post which I linked to via ASTL :)
    I find myself frozen or in a frenzy about all that I want to get done at home! I try to knock- off one project at a time but I tend just to get overwhelmed and weepy. We are in a state of limbo right now waiting to find out if we need to move for my husband’s work, and that has added a new layer to things. I do appreciate your message and will try to take it to heart. Many thanks.

  43. LOVE it! Thank you so much for this! Thinking of your home as your job really just shed some light on the subject doesn’t it?!
    .-= Naomi Kilbreth´s last blog ..Be Kind To Your Doula =-.

  44. Thank you! I’m glad I’m not the only one-felt like I was! I needed that.

  45. Tsh,

    Thank you for the superb post on managing time. I myself am a work home mom and have two boys, one just stepping into teen-hood.

    I will try to practice all the tips that you have recommended.

  46. Great information, thanks so much for sharing. It is so helpful to have a plan when working at home. Otherwise the days blend together and you never get out of your PJs.
    Love the article!

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