Am I a Failure? (Organizing Woes)

November 16th 2010 / 2 minutes to read

I’ve struggled my entire life to be organized. To focus on the task at hand.

Generally, I don’t do so well. I would much rather stare at the sky than do laundry, dishes, or anything else “grown-up” in nature. I wasn’t raised to manage a household, was never given the tools to be financially responsible, and I suffer for it today. It also puts me in a position where I don’t know how to teach my own children, who will need those skills when they are adults.

When other mothers talk about how exhausted they are by the daily errands and house tasks, I simply don’t understand it. I feel like I must be missing some large “mommy” gene. Our days are far more relaxed than most. I think the only thing we do that is consistent are family dinners every single night and meal planning on Saturdays.

It really bothers me. I’ve read countless books on how to simplify my life, to gain control over the day, to not get so overwhelmed by everything, and yet here I am. Just as lost as ever.

We don’t get a chance to get out much simply because we are a one-vehicle household and I am a SAHM. It’s very hard for me because I tend to feel trapped if I’m in one place for too long. We try to go for walks but it’s getting colder and colder, which the boys don’t seem to appreciate.

So in turn, I get a “what’s the point” attitude. Why not let the laundry sit? We don’t get any visitors and we can easily reach into a basket for clean clothes. Why not put off sweeping the floor? The baby will make a mess of it anyway in a few short hours. It’s a fatalist attitude and I am aware of that, I just don’t know how to turn my pessimistic outlook into an optimistic one.

I want to provide routine and the tools to manage money and run a household to my children, but I don’t know how.

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You can try writing out “to-do” lists on the night before. Then go through the list almost like a robot. That is to say, don’t think or analyze your feelings too much about the list, just do it. Easier said than done of course.

Reply to Bob

MUCH easier said than done lol. It’s hard to do a task when I have both boys running all over the place, we’ve already nicknamed the little one “danger baby”!

Sarah, I can really relate to what you’re feeling. Since Hurricane Katrina upended my life, I work at home and share my car with my Mom, so I’m at home a lot more than I think is really healthy for me emotionally and psychologically. I totally recognize that “why bother” feeling… it’s easy for me to let tasks sit around undone when no one is pushing me to do them.

I do think a schedule can be helpful — assigning yourself specific tasks to do on specific days of the week. That helps me to make sure certain tasks are done regularly and helps me space out things, so I don’t get overwhelmed trying to clean/straighten everything in a single day, which inevitably leaves me worn out and cranky.

Have you ever been to the Real Simple website? I get their weekly newsletter and there’s always good advice in there about organizing your home & your life. They have tips about budgeting, recipe tips, all sorts of useful info!

re: getting out of the house — do you know any other SAHM’s in your area? Maybe you could arrange “play dates” and the other mom could provide transportation?

I hope some of these thoughts help — or at least that it’s helpful knowing you aren’t alone in feeling lost and sad.

The past two and a half years have completely turned my life upside down.

I used to be a single full time working mom. I was out and about constantly, my oldest son and I went EVERYWHERE together.

Now, I’m home ALL day long, in a super quiet neighborhood that doesn’t even have sidewalks or interaction amongst the neighbors. 95% of my friends dropped me when I became pregnant with the little one, so I am lonely a good part of the time too.

I LOVE Real Simple (the magazine). I will go sign up for their newsletter right now! I currently get Martha Stewart’s “daily” craft tip, cookie recipe, and so on.

I don’t know any other mother’s around here. When Dan was in public school here, I made a few attempts to get to know other woman but generally, we had ZERO in common.

Glad at least one of my suggestions was helpful! :-)


You’re not a failure. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I wish I had some suggestions for you, but besides drafting up a to-do list or chore chart of sorts, I don’t know what to suggest. I grew up in clutter and have watched my mom turn into a hoarder, and while she didn’t teach me much about cleaning and maintaining a household, the example my grandmother set with her home and the chaotic environment of my mother’s home have turned me into a bit of anal person when it comes to keeping my house clean and organized. :/

Reply to Jenn

I can understand the hoarding and dirt! EVERY place I lived in with Matt was like that. I get frustrated with my current house because there are a lot of repairs to be made, but no money to do them (kitchen floor, cabinets, stove, carpeting, paint, fix walls, etc). Which also don’t help my overall mood.

I am also lonely too, going from being VERY social and out all the time to being home ALLLLL day long with the kids and having lost all of my “friends” during my 2nd pregnancy, it’s hard.


I really have to have a reason to motivate myself. Example: I hadn’t vacuumed my apartment since moving in in AUGUST (I also don’t have mess-making kids, but still). So I scheduled a party, it set me a deadline, and my apartment was SPOTLESS that day.

I think some of us need a reason. Might be worth a try!

Reply to Sara

I totally need a reason, just hard to find one LOL!


I am not a mom yet so I can not really say that I understand that part. But you’ve voiced most of my own “what if..” fears. I want kids someday soon. But I too wonder how I would teach these things to them. It is not that my own mom lacks them. It’s more the fact that she just always did everything for me. She seems to have realized this now and makes me do things for myself but I so often feel lost. I can’t cook worth anything. I don’t know any of the basic home making skills I need to survive. But I figured the only way I am ever going to learn is just to teach myself. Trial and error I guess you could say. It scares me though. How am I going to teach my own kids things I feel I am severely lacking. But still think important enough to want to teach them. I just don’t know where to begin. Motivation I think is the number one thing. You gotta find the motivation.

Reply to Kirsten

I am lucky in that I LOVE to cook, and I am quite good at it. However until recently, it was a constant “what’s for dinner” battle. I finally have started menu planning and it’s working wonderfully!

When it comes to everything else… I KNOW HOW to do it, but to get the motivation to get it done? I lack that. I am very “what’s the point” when it’s just me, my two kids, and fiance. Who cares if it’s not tidy or if the laundry is backed up, etc.

Have you ever checked out ?

I have checked it out but the sheer amount of emails and advice that I find insane (like always wearing shoes, not going to happen!) really put me off.

I also feel like I spend SO MUCH time fighting with my oldest to do HIS chores, only for ME to end up doing them, that it makes me even more overwhelmed.

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