I look around this house and it’s messy…..again. I spent hours cleaning, folding washing and feeling organised on the weekend only to turn around and find it messy again. In fact yesterday I cleaned up again, but you wouldn’t know it today.
There’s popcorn, paper, clothes and towels all over the floor and dishes to be done (I just spent 40 minutes doing them last night, how did they all get dirty again?). I have bed wetting washing to do…..again (when will that ever end). I really don’t want to do any of it and am feeling quite overwhelmed by the constant chores that seem to invade my life.
I can feel the annoyance kicking in and these feelings simmer within me as I attempt to clean it up and are continually met by extra demands of the boys. I am desperately trying to stay calm and not take my annoyance out on the kids, but I feel my attempts becoming very strained. This anger and annoyance is sitting in my throat, just waiting to escape by way of yelling, slamming something down, or simply falling apart momentarily.
I’m hormonal (that’s not helping), I’m annoyed, I couldn’t be bothered and all I want to do is sit down with a cup of tea and watch a movie in the comfort of a nice clean house and no interruptions.
So what do I do?
Firstly, stop. Right now, stop in my tracks, take a few deep breaths and reflect on what I’ve been thinking. Look at this opening paragraph. It is full of conversation that is in conflict with the reality of what is presently going on and the reality of life as a parent.
It is this resistance of reality that is causing my stress and the simmering emotion of anger. Anger is caused because we enter into these conversations in our minds about how something shouldn’t be the way it is. We are in conflict between what is and what we believe it ‘should’ be.
The house is messy right now! This is reality. As part of the agreement made between me and my partner and how we share the workload, I am responsible for the upkeep of the house. This is reality. The kids need me to help them with things. This is reality. As a mum there are lots of tasks I need to do. This is reality. This is not the only part of my life. It is just part of the goods and bads that come with everything in life. That is also reality.
There is no point allowing myself to enter into conversations in my mind about how it should be different to the way it is and how I don’t want to do it, because this is only going to cause me to feel angry and resentful.
Do I really want to feel angry or resentful? Do I enjoy having these feeling?
Of course not. So if the reality is that you have to do the housework and are regularly interrupted, how are you going to stop feeling angry or resentful?
Change the way I think about it.
The first thing we need to do when we start to notice how bad we feel, is to shift your focus from what isn’t happening, to the reality of the situation, and then on to what you’re going to do about this new reality.
So how can I look at this situation differently? What are the good aspects to my life that I can focus on? I get to work from home. I have a husband who doesn’t care about a bit of mess here and there and doesn’t pressure me to keep it pristine clean. I have two healthy, happy boys. I am grateful that I even have so many things that it can make a house messy. I have a roof over my head.
This is good. I can feel that heavy feeling in my body starting to lift.
This part of my life is not the only part of my life. I went to the movies the other night, I met up with friends for coffee, I had a bath the other night and relaxed, last night the kids were in bed early and I got to watch Masterchef and the biggest loser finale, sometimes my house is clean, sometimes I am up to date with the washing, I get quiet time three days a week when the kids are at school/daycare and I work from home.
So what am I now going to do?
Well because I changed my thinking to being back in alignment with reality and have consciously decided to look at the situation from a different more expanded perspective, I am now ready to tackle the reality of the messy house again.
Do I like it? No. Am I going to all of a sudden love doing housework and chores? No. But I’m not feeling angry and overwhelmed by it and if I start to again, I need to repeat what I’ve done above, because it is NEVER the events in your life that cause you stress, it’s because you get sucked into that conversation that is in conflict with reality and only focus on the small picture.
When you get into the practice of recognising those thoughts, changing them to be in alignment with reality and expanding your mindset to seeing this situation in the context of the bigger picture of your life (this situation is not the be all and end all of life – it is part of the ups AND downs of it – then you stop your negative emotions from escalating to breaking point.
Now, time to stop writing and start cleaning!