How To: Motivate Yourself to Finish Tasks

Raise your hand if you look at your mountain of dishes or laundry or paperwork and just feel defeated before you begin.  Here’s some ideas about how to motivate yourself to tackle those chores.

(a cup of coffee next to a mountain of paperwork) Text: How To: Motivate Yourself to Finish Tasks

Get Dressed

I mean, I hope you’re wearing some kind of clothes, anyway.  Awkward.

But what I’m getting at is actually getting ready in the morning.  Whatever “ready” is for you.  Get out of your pajamas, clean up, fix your hair (whatever that means to you, again.)

For this momma, that means putting on the same level of real clothes every day, whether I’m leaving my house or not.  It usually means a little makeup – personal preference.  A washed face and brushed teeth and the same hairstyle I wear literally every day (my hair is its whole own saga.  Ha.)  I could fly out the house without doing anything but putting on shoes.

Looking put together helps you feel put together.  If that sounds shallow, try it.  Game-changer.


I enjoy my morning tea and afternoon coffee while working on my planner, writing up my shopping list, working on goal-setting, or other seated tasks.  Sometimes I use “sitting down with a hot beverage and doing nothing” as a self-imposed reward for accomplishing my chores, as well.

Speaking of Rewards

I don’t believe that every self care should be dependent upon you finishing some chore.  That’s a dangerous slope of self-induced guilt and stress.  But sometimes it can help to do something special, just for you, after completing something you’re particularly dreading.

For me, that looks like painting my nails if I get my nighttime routine done before 9 pm.  Going to the coffee shop on Sundays (have you seen my Instagram?!) if I do a sink of dishes first.  Things that are entirely extra, just for fun, occasional indulgences.


Playing music can be a great motivator and stress reducer.  I find I especially appreciate music while cooking dinner – it’s the witching hour when my antsy kids are waiting for Dad to come home, and I can’t carry them around because I’m using knives and stoves.  They are entertained by my ridiculous dancing (I’m a HORRIBLE dancer!) and my frantic waiting-for-backup feelings are kept at bay.


This one doesn’t work well for me, personally, because my dog barks at timers and my dog’s barking grates on my nerves.  But I’ve heard of people having great success with setting a timer for just 5 or 10 minutes and seeing how much they can pick up in that time, or how many dishes they can wash, or how many clothes they can fold.  It proves that the actual time commitment of completing your housekeeping is not as big as it sounds, and is a fun challenge.  Instead of using a timer, I do the next trick…

Finish something while waiting

There are lots of little pockets of waiting in my day.  I wait for a toddler to use the bathroom, my husband to get out of the shower, tea/coffee water to heat.  For the resulting tea/coffee to steep/brew.  I wait for the kids’ 15 minutes of playtime after lunch before nap, for the washer (which takes longer than the dryer) to finish, for the kids to get done with their baths (that’s a Dad duty).

I smash a task into each of those time slots, which has the effect of the task getting done quickly, and added benefit of saving bigger chunks of time for more enjoyable activities.

Specifically, I wipe down the bathroom while my toddler’s in there.  I pick up our bedroom and check the weather and pick out my clothes while my husband showers.  My phone comes out to check social media while my water is heating (it helps me keep that time in check!) I do as many dishes as I can while my kids play before naptime.  I fold some laundry while I’m waiting for the washer.  The house gets picked up and vacuumed while my kids are in the bathtub.

This method is doubly helpful when it comes to things I MUST do while the kids are awake (vacuuming, cleaning their Jack-and-Jill bathroom) because during many of these little pockets of time, they are otherwise occupied.

Your turn! Do you have any tricks to motivate yourself for your tasks?  Leave them in the comments!

Tired SAHM? The Physical Task of Mothering

Nobody tells you that mothering (especially full-time, professional mothering) is such a physical job.  That “tired stay-at-home mom” is redundant.

If you try to list physically tasking jobs, likely to make the list are vocations like construction work, power-lifting, professional housekeeping, high-rise window-washing, nursing.  I can’t claim to have any personal experience with any of those careers, and I certainly don’t downplay any of them.

It was just a surprise to me.

And I’m not just talking about the physical aspects of pregnancy, delivery, and those first “lost weeks” postpartum.  Of course those are a Herculean physical strain, but I think those are decently well-recognized.

I’m talking about the long term.  The sleep deprivation doesn’t stop, it just changes.  After you teach your child to sleep through the night, you start sacrificing sleep to things like housekeeping, hobbies, tea with yourself, and worrying.
Instead of enjoying your soft pillows at 9:30, you lie awake until midnight thinking about things like taking bread of out the freezer for tomorrow, whether your toddler’s room is warm enough, if your husband’s alarm clock is set properly, how your ill friend is feeling, what errands you need to run tomorrow, the new parenting theory you are planning to try.

Once you’re up for the day, the cooking and cleaning begins.  These are physical tasks in their nature, but please add to that effort a 20 pound toddler on your hip or in a carrier.
There is walking the dog and/or running errands.  Which sounds easy, but actually requires pushing a stroller/cart (maybe a double or triple) with somewhere between 20 and 80 pounds of child in it, and holding back an overly-enthusiastic pooch who wants to follow every pedestrian home.

The bending.  The stooping.  The heavy lifting and repetative motions and chasing and hoisting and bending into cribs.
The Legos.
Then the wrestling of a kicking screaming toddler to a timeout, or a bathroom, or an unwanted nap.  The holding and pacing and singing with the ever-growing baby, which may take up to an hour before he falls asleep.
You are a human jungle gym.  A toddler falling down will use a tiny portion of your arm or leg skin as a handle.  A baby wanting a kiss will slam his forehead into your teeth.  Someone learning about body parts will jam a jagged fingernail into your eye, nose, ear, or belly button.

All of that physical exertion and damage is separate from nursing a baby for weeks, months, or years.  If you choose to do that, you are quite literally sitting without moving for up to an hour at a time, 8 or more times a day.
You can bet your child will only sleep held in that position, some days, or will only nurse in certain ways that leave you with neck cricks and sleeping legs.  There might also be pumping, which is just as (if not more) uncomfortable, but without the perk of baby snuggles.  And if your baby happens to sleep extra long, you don’t!  You set yourself an alarm and get up to pump.  Or risk mastitis.  Y’know.

(This in no way is meant to discount the role of fathering.  Here is my sweet husband, falling-down exhausted with each of our infants.  Incidentally, two of my favorite photos of all time.)

I hope the cute factor of the photos to accompany this post help drive home my true objective:

Mothering will wreck you.  Hopefully, this is temporary.  (I haven’t yet come out the other side, so I can’t promise anything!) Your metabolism, hormones, physical appearance, eye bags, sleep, joints… these may never be the same.

But honestly, what better to give yourself for?  What more awesome task can there be, than to relinquish selfishness of your physical body in order to serve your family?  At the end of the day, you may be completely depleted, but all of that energy and effort went into your kids.  You’ve poured from what the Lord has given you into others.

Tiny, snuggly, adorable others.

It’s worth it.

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On Being Almost 30

Maybe that seems young to you.
Or maybe it seems old like a dinosaur.

I’ve enjoyed periods of self-reflection before most of my milestone birthdays… probably because I’m an introvert.  I tend towards existential quandaries.
But 30 seems different.

At 14, 16, 18, 21, I was just wildly excited.  You know, the way you’re excited for Christmas.  I figured something big and amazing was coming because of this age I was turning.  Somehow I would wake up that morning and suddenly be more mature, have extra privileges.  And of course, I did incur some of those extras when I turned those ages… but also they were a bit of a disappointment.  My life wasn’t much different when I woke up those ages.  I still yearned for another milestone.

At 25, I thought I’d really made it.  I could finally rent a car.  I was convinced that when I was 25, others would be able to see the adult in me.  I look young for my age, and have felt (as many do in my generation, I think, more on that later) that I wasn’t taken seriously as an adult.  I had been married for several years already, graduated college, had a full-time career, was expecting my first child.  But I felt like that number, 25, would signify that I was truly a “big girl” and people would take me more seriously.  Value my opinions.  Stop trying to help me and tell me what to do.

The thing is, once you’re in your 20s, nobody asks your age.  They might still think you look young for your age, but they’re not going to ask.  Adults don’t ask other adults how old they are.  So nobody ever asked, I never got to use that cool new number “25” that I thought sounded so mature, and nobody treated me as more of an adult.
Essentially, 25 was a big letdown.

Here I am, almost a decade of marriage and 2 kids later.  Almost 30.  And this year, everything will be different.

Because I’m not anticipating anything.
I’m not waiting for other people to treat me like an adult.
I’m not hoping someone asks my age rather than assuming I’m 17.
I’m not looking forward to the maturity I will gain, or the new experiences I can have, or the extra dose of privileges afforded me.

I am already content.
The big difference here is that I don’t mind if people assume I’m a teenager.
I don’t need to proclaim my age to feel validated.
My worth as an adult is not defined by how strangers (or even acquaintances… even family!) treat me.

I’m sure I will encounter the same patronizing that I did in my 20s.  I’m fairly certain it’s inescapable for my peers and I (again, more on that later) but that’s alright.  People can’t help their natures.

The difference as my 30s approach is that I know that I’m an adult.  I know how hard I work at having my life together, raising my kids, keeping my home, and helping others.  I have my own standards for adulthood, and I’m meeting them.  My life is organized around my own priorities, and the only validation I’m looking for is from my immediate family.
I’m not waiting for 30 like a momentous occasion, after which some kind of amazing changes will happen for me.
I’m welcoming 30 like an old friend.  I’m already comfortable in my own skin, and with my own life.  I have absolutely no qualms about being 30 (I do not feel at all “old” or like I’m missing out on some kind of crazy fun that my 20s supposedly should have been full of.)  I feel like my 30s, as a range of numbers, will finally be accurate to describe me.  Maybe I don’t look my age, yet, but inside I know that 30 is how I feel.

Accomplished.  In control.  Content, settled, level-headed, confident.  Caffeinated, to be sure, but not in a panicked frenzy chasing after someone else’s version of “grown up.”