Cerebral Homemaking, Part 1: Wrapping My Mind Around My Work

I’m a thinker – not necessarily a deep thinker, you understand – but I am a thinker. As I go about my life my mind is always working away at this or that idea or conundrum or situation. All of us want to improve ours and our loved ones’ lives, but at the risk of making a gross generalization, it seems to me that it is usually the woman in a family who feels the strongest urge to make things better, to see change as a good and progressive thing, and to spend the most time thinking about how the family can accomplish that.
Of course, that is not to say that husbands don’t care about family improvement – I see my husband thinking and implementing ideas to provide for us and increase our security and keep us safe from physical dangers all the time, but I don’t believe he often thinks things like this:
  •  I wonder if there is something we could do to make the whole laundry process more efficient?
  • That #3 kid seems to be developing a bit of an entitlement mentality. What do we need to do to nip that in the bud?
  • Should we change the dog’s flea medication?
  • Is couponing worth the bother? Should I try it? Would we really save money?
  •  Should we be eating organic food?
  •  How could we make the house a more peaceful place to be?
  •  It seems like all we do is react to household crises – out of underwear, out of toilet paper, disgusting bathroom, nasty kitchen floor. How could I get into a better routine with all the mundane chore stuff so things stay on a more even keel?
  • I think we need to be sitting down to meals together more often. Studies show ___________ and that makes sense to me. Maybe I need to plan meals better so we aren’t just getting takeout and eating frozen pizza so much.
  • Maybe if I were better at my job, the whole family would operate better and be happier. Is there a secret to all this homemaker stuff? What do I not understand?
Am I the only one who has thoughts like that whirling around in her mind as she runs errands, sorts laundry, and washes dishes? You, too? Do you also think that way when you are wiped out and vegging in front of the computer or TV and feeling guilty because you are so tired and it doesn’t seem like you accomplished much all day? Do you visit a friend and see her tidy house and cheerful family and wonder why she’s got it all together and you know your husband is wearing yesterday’s socks and at home your sink isn’t the only place dirty dishes are stashed and the Bible class you are supposed to teach starts in two days and you haven’t even begun to prepare and you have to bake five hundred cookies for the Boy Scout banquet tonight?
So, I have been thinking about all the thinking that is part of being a homemaker. I have been thinking about ways we women lie to ourselves, tell the truth to ourselves, and urge ourselves toward defeat or victory with our self-talk. In short, I’ve been thinking about how our homemaking actions follow our homemaking thinking and how when we change our minds we naturally change our behavior.
I plan to write a series of articles I hope will help us identify ways to nudge our thinking in better directions. Probably there will be some ideas for activities to “prove” to our cerebral selves that better thinking is the way to get to better action. We’ll see. This is a work in progress, just as I am a work in progress, and I assume you, Dear Reader, are, too.
For now, it would help me if you’d share areas in homemaking that you find challenging – both the thinking and the doing parts. What do you wish you didn’t have to do? What do you find yourself not doing that you think you ought to be doing? What do you wish could change?
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  1. Anonymous
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Wish I didn’t have to clean/maintain our appliances. Sounds so selfish. The washer, dryer, dishwasher…etc more or less does the work for me, but I hate how they get gunky and yucky in what seems like such a short time. They have self-cleaning ovens, why can’t they make self-cleaning washers, dryers…and so on. LOL

    Love your blog Lori!
    Martha Hollingsworth

    • Posted July 2, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      That would be wonderful, Martha, but it seems that all servants, human or mechanical, require maintenance. If I had an inventive nature, I might be able to do something about that, but so far a solution eludes me… 😉

  2. Anonymous
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    You are sooo right on the thinking … is it the maximizer or the female??? My productivity has declined so drastically in the last two years that I have more challenges than I have strengths. More things un-done than done. And many things to change. So write on …. and I will take it to heart.

    Sylvia Lewis

    • Posted July 2, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      I think being a maximizer is a real factor, Sylvia, but I can’t think off-hand of a woman I know who doesn’t do at least some of this. And I know several men who son’t *appear* to think that way at all, at least until their wives bring up some of their own thoughts! LOL!

  3. Posted July 2, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    I think we all struggle with making our lives more efficient. Women have a super computer mind we seem to be unable to shut off and men have a nice little dirt path they go down facing one obstacle at a time, and when they need it, they just stop and enjoy a nice nap. I would enjoy that frame of mind at times but, God gave us each a roll and we do our best to do it well. 🙂 I am a pile person. There I said it, in black and white, cus it’s true. I’d like to avoid the ‘pile mentality’ but, it seems I think I am going to look at magazines or email, ect.. so I save them for my ‘free time’ which I typically spend playing MahJong or some other mental game. 🙂 Something I struggle with is the basement. We use our basement as living space. The guys keep their computers there and we do ‘projects’ there and on occasion, we have guests sleep there. In the in-between times though, I get lazy and I drop stuff around the basement as I go down to do laundry until I find I am cutting a path to the laundry area or the back door. This week I am dusting and making more space on the shelves while cleaning it up in general. My youngest son cannot be around chemical smells so I try to do such deep cleaning when he is not here….he will be home Saturday so I have motivation. So don’t be too hard on your female-self… 🙂 We all struggle at times with what we feel is clean enough or organized enough and well-today-I-just-don’t-care-so-I-will-make-a-pile-for-when-I-do-care. 🙂

    • Posted July 3, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      “super computer mind” — love that! So apt!

      Good point about the basement and how it piles up in between uses. I always find that the spaces that get the most use stay the tidiest — it’s the out-of-the-way spots that get buried.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted July 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Please tell me that you didn’t take all of those oh-so-tidy pictures on the same day???

    • Posted July 3, 2012 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      Colleen, let me share a little secret with you — the key to photos of tidy-looking home spaces is CLOSE-UPS! I actually did take all those photos within about 2 minutes early in the morning. My mother told me later in the day, “I read your blog post. What did all those photos have to do with your text?” The answer is that really weren’t meant to “match” at all — I just wanted some photos of homey things. It didn’t even occur to me that anyone would think they meant my house is oh-so-tidy.

  5. Posted July 2, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Where do I start?! I hate paying the bills, filing, balancing accounts, doing taxes, etc. but alas, it falls to me. I hate it to the point of putting it off for months (well, not the bill paying) and then I end up with a mountain of work that takes days to manage. I am a strong believer in doing the work I hate the most, first, and rewarding myself with the less detestable jobs later. There are some things that I hate so much that I don’t even hold myself to my own “reward system”. Grrr! I have not found a system that makes my problem any better. As I write this out, in black and white (as Suze says), it occurs to me that I just need to buck up do it first. BUT it so easy to ignore it! Somethings the guilt of not doing these things affects things like my sleep (and I HATE it when my sleep is messed with), so why not just get it done?!

    Well, thanks for the platform to vent!

    Becky Speer

    • Posted July 3, 2012 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      Your dichotomy of believing in doing hated work first but not always following your beliefs is exactly what I want to write about, BeckyS! It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one…

  6. Posted July 3, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    On the differences between men and women… I got out of the shower this past weekend and said to my husband, “So I’ve been thinking about the bathroom…” He says, “Ok…”

    I say, “I’ve been thinking about how we are going to have to get to the bottom of this lead paint issue because we just can’t do anything about that peeling wallpaper and bubbling paint until we know what we are going to do about the lead paint in this house because the problem with lead paint occurs when you disturb the paint in some way, as we would need to do to peel off that awful, stain covered wallpaper, and I wouldn’t want to create a problem with lead dust in the house because it could be toxic for the children… etc…”

    He stares back at me with a sort of blank look.

    Then he actually came back and said that those kinds of home improvement things are not even on his radar, so he is glad when I keep him up to date one what I am thinking so he isn’t totally blindsided when I ask him to do something about it down the road.

    When he gets out of the shower, he’s generally thinking about food or bicycles. Yes. So different we two! 🙂

    Anyway, I think this is going to be a fabulous series and I look forward to reading it.

    • Posted July 4, 2012 at 7:40 am | Permalink

      That is a PERFECT example of the different thinking of many men/women. I’d never attempt to get us to think alike, so that’s not what we’ll be talking about, but I hope we can explore ways to help our thinking move us in positive directions.

  7. Posted July 5, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Just getting over here – wow! Very eager to see this series unfold. I so often absolutely sabotage whatever effort physically needs my attention in the moment, because my attention is so divided. Too-many-radio-stations-playing-at-once. Husband suggests I turn off the mind meanderings about w,x,y and z until I have enough information regarding wxy and z to have accurate, productive thought. Huh, well now that sounds like a reasonable suggestion. But even the idea – turn it off? Really? Can I even do that? And besides, too many things just need to be pondered and figured out and pronto…

    • Posted July 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      I think that has to be the main difference in man/woman brains — men are very linear and women are global. I can’t fix that, I am sure, but hopefully the series will be useful in other ways.

  8. Posted July 7, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    just getting to read these since i’ve been up since 4 had some time this morning 🙂 can’t wait to read all the series. Areas I struggle with is i’m a collector/clutterer/horder whatever you want to call it so I find i have just stuff all around, and it drives me crazy but when i go to throw it out I find myself thinking, well if I do this I could use it, or “I’m going to go through all these magazines and pull our the articles I like and keep them all together”, or I find myself seeing something on a really good sale and buying it “Just in Case” So because of that I find the clutter drives me crazy and makes it for areas I don’t love about our house. Another of the many areas I struggle with is getting everything done/staying organised just really need to find a system that works with getting all the “must do’s” done without neglecting the kids/others, guess that really falls down to time management.

  9. Posted August 13, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    I found you through April’s blog post today, and I have to say that this line, “Do you also think that way when you are wiped out and vegging in front of the computer or TV and feeling guilty because you are so tired and it doesn’t seem like you accomplished much all day?” is me all the way. Granted, we have two small children who contribute to the tired, and we are renovating our house so it is a constant out-of-the-ordinary mess, but there have been times when my husband has said, “Could you just clean something?” and I feel terrible because I feel like I’m ALWAYS busy. Thanks for writing about this. I’m off to read the other posts!

    • Posted August 31, 2012 at 5:54 am | Permalink

      Kristen, I’m sure anybody who has lived through mommy-ing little ones AND a renovation can understand how you feel, so don’t be too hard on yourself. On the other hand, the whole reason for this series is to help us wake up to the reality of our responsibilities and help us look at them in the light of a career, so I’m glad you find it worth reading.
      Lori recently posted..Savor Summer: 5 Ways, 5 Senses, 5 MinutesMy Profile

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  • In My Kitchen, In My Life is a place where women (and the odd male) can be encouraged, nudged, and occasionally kicked in the pants toward living their lives on a higher plane. Oh, and readers get plenty of chances to laugh at the author's foibles, which is always worth a click.

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