Help With Your Mother's Rule

Help With Your Mother's Rule is a forum for women who want trouble-shooting help with their Mother's Rules or about any aspect of the 5 Ps of the married vocation.

Ask Holly: This blog is composed of your questions. Contact me at the address listed on Holly's Helpers page and I will respond. Please share your unique ideas as well. The more ideas and experience we share, the more successful every mother will be in designing her own unique Mother's Rule.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Am I a Failure?

Dear Holly,
I read your book at least 6-7 times over the past 5 years. It's one of my best books and I’ve learned a lot from it, thank you. Today I face a situation that confuses me and I would like to have your opinion.
My house is a big cluttered, messy warfield. Our finances are totally out of control. Gardening? It's not even worth thinking about I have so little time. I really, really want to clean and organize and declutter my house, but I can't seem to find a way! This week was a good opportunity for me to do so as my husband was away and I've finished the homeschool year (I have four children under 8 years old), but I just couldn’t seem to do it. We never invite my husband's colleagues to our house because I would never want them to see my home.
I really try to keep my priorities in a good order, keeping prayer first. I'm so busy, and I really don't understand how so many women can keep their house in order and not me. At every moment, I try to look for the will of God, to do what is the most important thing at that moment, and there's never a minute left to reorganize and store. I tried all your suggestions in the book. I’ve built my plans at least 20 times - failing every time to do everything. My children help a little, but not much, given their ages. I don't want to let myself fall into discouragement, but the temptation is so big.
Maybe I'm wrong, but for me, the mess of my home is the sign that I don't have good fruits in my life, or that I am completely failing.


  1. First of all, please know you are not a failure - just a normal mom! And even having things feel so mixed up that you don't have your husband's colleagues over is not abnormal either! I have felt the same way myself from time to time... Let's face it - It is not easy to juggle a big house, 4 small children, homeschooling and normal parenting. Yours is a challenging vocation. I think it is important to also understand that you can't compare yourself to others, no matter how tempting. Everyone is different, and not all mothers have the same workload regardless of appearing to share the same vocation. I am glad you are keeping prayer first. That will always be most important.

    A few things come to mind in response to your letter.

    The first thing is that your basic schedule should focus primarily on ensuring meals & kitchen clean up, and laundry and child schooling and family/personal prayer are in place daily. If you are doing these things, you've covered the basics. For weekly, ensuring you get the house dusted and vacuumed, garbage out and bathrooms cleaned, and you've covered your basics there. Making sure these things are done is your first step and for some people, could take months to establish as habits.

    The second thing that comes to mind is Aesop's tortoise... Not sure if you are familiar with the story, but the little tortoise, knowing he is incapable of running the race with the rabbit, does so anyway, with a very SLOW and persistent approach. Aesop's tortoise is my personal mascot! Not kidding (and my family buys me little turtle trinkets which I have positioned in key spots in my house to console me!) .... You will simply need to realize that there are times in our lives - after childbirth, during illness, later in life, or certain seasons and times, when we are not capable of running any faster than we are doing, and we have to content ourselves with this. We need to realize that God doesn't ask the impossible, and that He asks only what IS possible, and that we can only do our best, and we have to let the rest go. You say you are doing your best to keep your priorities. Good for you! You will have to offer up what you cannot do in union with Christ's cross and that will assist others spiritually, keeping in mind that this is a season in life and it shall pass...

    As a result, you need to tackle only one thing at a time - slowly, like a tortoise, and only move on to the next thing when you have made something a habit. This might slowly drive you crazy if you want perfect results right now, but it is part of our cross to bear that things take time. I have heard many people recommend The Fly Lady website because she focuses on small segments of time, getting done what you can. I would refer you to her to see if that assists you.

  2. Part II
    For myself also, I have found that a cluttered house usually means that I am trying to keep too much stuff. One way I have dealt with it, besides sorting and throwing things out or giving things away or storing things, is to simply promise I won't buy anything new for the next 6 weeks. That seems to help get control of bringing new things in, and can assist then in the spiritual discipline to begin sorting what we already have. The same hold true for our finances, and these two issues are very closely related. It would be a very good thing for you to look at tithing if you do not already do so. I have always found it begins to bring order to our finances when one tithes.

    And it is the same for food too. Unbridled financial purchases, out of control clutter and eating too much are all interconnected. And for this, I have always found confessing these excesses (often!) begins to bring Christ's grace into these very areas to assist us with control. And a daily rosary is also helpful - remember the promises of Our Lady - "You shall receive all you ask through the recitation of the rosary." The Blessed Mother will intervene if you ask her.

    I would also, lastly, recommend that you arrange for yourself some time out every week to breathe. We can't run on empty and expect to be effective. Ours is a busy vocation, and we need down time to refresh. Talk to hubby and see if you can arrange time out weekly - for at least a morning or whole afternoon - and if hubby can't accommodate, arrange to child-swap with another mom, or hire a babysitter, or enlist a relative or someone from your church - pray for this. It will do you a world of good, and help you get some personal-time which will help empower you to begin tackling that clutter. You need time out regularly.

  3. Hello,
    I am a french mother, from switzerland and i'm really happy too see this post ( It's really like me) and your comment Holly! I have read your book ( in french!!) and i try to follow your advices. This book is wonderful! But it's often arduous... I've 5 children's: 8, 7, 5 and twins of 1 years ago... This comment behind give me courage to continue... Because i don't yet success in organizing rules like you advice. And i have a cluttered house! And i always eat because i'm tired! But i'm happy with my children's and my husband! God is my "compass", i'll never let go of His hand! :-)
    Thank you for your book and for example of your life. I wish you a lot of peace and happiness with your family!

  4. HI Estelle! Your English is fine! Thankyou so much for your comments and all your hard work with your family. Carry on!! :-)