When Homemaking Makes You Feel Like a Failure

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I’m going to be honest with you. In my early years as a mom, I struggled with a lot of aspects of being a mom and with homemaking. I was a terrible housekeeper and I had a lot of shame associated with it. That’s why today I want to talk about what it’s like when homemaking makes you feel like a failure and what you can do to change things.

When Homemaking Makes You Feel Like a Failure @ AVirtuousWoman.org

It’s no secret that I was a teenage mom. I got pregnant when I was just fourteen years old and gave birth to my son when I was fifteen. I wanted to be a good mom. I really wanted to be a good mom. And looking back, I think I did the best I could at the time.

I breastfed, used cloth diapers, and read every book I could get my hands on about mothering and child rearing. I formed my own opinions about what it meant to be a good mom. Early on, one thing I lacked was patience. I also lacked consistency. But like with anything, if you work at it, pray about, read about it, and persevere, it gets easier.

The same thing is true for homemaking.

When Homemaking Makes You Feel Like a Failure

When homemaking makes you feel like a failure, you probably lack a few things like: consistency, knowledge, and self discipline. This is not a problem for just young moms. If you are older and still struggle, you are not alone. So let’s talk about how to change your reality if you are currently struggling with managing your home and family well.

So, over the years I struggled with different aspects of homemaking and being consistent in my homemaking efforts. This really boils down to self discipline. By nature, I gravitate toward being messy. I like to have fun. I enjoy writing more than I do cleaning.

Let’s be honest.

I enjoy most everything more than I do cleaning. At the end of the day, I tend to find it easier to ignore what I know to be true and toss my clothes over the back of the chair in my dressing room than following through with making a decision about the clothing.

Self discipline requires immediate action. 

It’s about procrastination versus self discipline. 

  • Do my jeans need washing? If so, put them in the laundry hamper. But I’ll do that later.
  • Should I hang my cardigan in the closet? Of course. But I’ll put off that decision until later.
  • Is the dishwasher loaded? Not yet… but I’d rather go watch that movie.
  • Did the kids put away their toys? No. But I’m tired. I’ll tell them tomorrow.

Does any of that sound familiar? Or similar?

Here’s the thing, it’s very easy – especially over the last few decades to become overwhelmed as a homemaker very fast. Why?


We have too much stuff. 

I saw a study this week that said Americans give birth to 3% of the world’s children, but we own 40% of the world’s toys. According to this same study:

  • Women who are bothered by their household clutter showed increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Men were unaffected.
  • In dual-income, middle-class American homes, only one in six meals is eaten with the entire family together.
  • While refrigerators and pantries of U.S. households are stuffed with convenience foods, studies show they save only about 12 minutes of preparation time per meal.
  • Fragmented dinners — those in which family members eat sequentially or in different rooms — threaten to undermine a sacrosanct American tradition: the family dinner.

This study followed 32 families and can be found in the book: Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 31 Families Open Their Doors.

According to the study above, women were more affected by visual clutter and that’s not surprising. But clutter can affect the entire family negatively. Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D. says, “Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed.”

She goes on to say that clutter bombards our minds, makes it difficult to relax, causes feelings of anxiety and guilt, and more. It’s no wonder we feel stressed out when our homes are messy!

The Past is the Past

So, as a young mom, I was a terrible housekeeper. I had no idea what I was doing. Honestly. I left home as a young woman and had to figure things out as I went. I can honestly say that those early years were very hard. But through God’s grace, hard things can teach us a whole lot.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6.

If you look around your home and you see clutter, messy piles, dirty dishes, and other unmade decisions, you may feel like a failure. You may feel like your present reality, you present grief, your very real messy life is the way it will always be. That your past failures represent a history of bad decisions that predict a future of more bad decisions.

I’ve talked about my story of shame before. How I spent years feeling like I would never measure up, that I was unworthy of love. Unworthy of God’s love.

And as a young mom, knowing how much I struggled to get even the most basic of chores done – things that should have been easy – I felt even worse about myself. I was messy, unorganized, distracted, lazy, and just plain bad at being a homemaker.

I longed for a different life. I wanted to be one of those moms who didn’t worry about people coming to my door.

Any time there was a knock at the door – whether it was the exterminator or my landlord or even a neighbor, panic would seize my heart and I would feel not just embarrassed but a deep sense of shame. Like I was a failure because my house was messy and I didn’t want anyone to know.

In my heart, I believed that being a good homemaker meant I was a good mom. And I knew that good moms didn’t neglect to keep their floors picked up or the bathrooms clean. But I could never find the motivation on a daily basis until things were bad enough I had to clean up.

I felt depressed. I was lonely. I didn’t have friends. It was so hard.

And maybe the depression played a big part in my inability to keep a neat house. I struggled so much! But regardless of the reason, homemaking made me feel like a failure in every sense of the word.

The sad thing about clutter and depression is that two seem to often go hand in hand. You feel depressed so clutter piles up. Clutter piles up and you feel depressed.

You fee depressed so you go buy more stuff thinking it will make you happy and it doesn’t so now you have even more clutter. And all that clutter weighs down your soul and you feel even more depressed.

Have you ever felt that way?

When You Feel Like a Failure

If homemaking makes you feel like a failure, I don’t want you to feel hopeless. You can change things around. I won’t say it will be easy. But those things worth fighting for rarely are.

And before I go any further, I want to remind you that regardless of your homemaking abilities, regardless of your failures, regardless of all the things you wish you could change about yourself, you are worthy of love.

And if you are doing your best, trying your hardest, and love your family, you have nothing to be ashamed of. It took me a long time to realize that when someone drops in on me and I’ve done my best to get through the day, feed my family, have clean clothes in everyone’s drawers that even if I’m having a bad day and the house is a disaster… I’m okay. Nothing to be ashamed of. I’m still a worthy of love.

God loves you and nothing can separate you from that love. 

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NIV.

See, the thing is, despite the fact that you struggle to put the laundry away or keep your kitchen clean or scrub the bathrooms every week, you are not the sum of your mistakes or your past or your failures. You are a beautiful, well loved child of God.

Unfortunately, sometimes our problems seem so great that even thinking about changing them is overwhelming.

But, I want you to know that anything is possible with God! 

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.

You can learn to be a better homemaker. You can simplify your life and find systems that work for you.

But I’ll be honest. You have to want it. Really bad. 

What are you willing to fight for?

Do you want a better life, a life that doesn’t feel so hard? The kind of life where you no longer feel overwhelmed at home?

What if the decision you make today could change your life?

The truth is, most people dream of a better life – whatever that looks like – but they never follow through. Deep down they are content to stay the same. To keep running the same race day after day after day.

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:18-19

When Homemaking Makes You Feel Like a Failure @ AVirtuousWoman.org

Definition of Self Discipline

self-discipline: (noun) the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.

I always say that self discipline is basically doing what you know needs to be done even when you don’t feel like doing it.

Self discipline is the difference between the woman who seems to have it all together and the one who feels like she’s sinking.

Now, let me be clear. No one has it all figured out. We all struggle with something. But that doesn’t mean we should just wallow in our struggles. We can work toward a better life by learning and then putting into practice what we have learned.

So, having said that, self discipline is something you can practice and learn. If you are currently struggling with self discipline, there is hope for change.

2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” NIV.

The Disciplined Homemaker

It’s easy when you feel overwhelmed to just ignore the problem – indefinitely. You walk into a room and the piles of clutter just seem too great. Or you open that closet door and you shudder at the thought of cleaning out the junk – even though you can barely push the door shut. It’s easy to close the door {even figuratively speaking} and simply walk away and do something more pleasant.

But, does that really make your life easier? Is life more simple and less stressful when we ignore the problem at hand in favor of doing something that brings us comfort and enjoyment?

Probably not. In fact, I’d dare say, very rarely will ignoring a problem ever make the problem better… and it might even make the problem grow even bigger.

The good news is that it is possible to cultivate a heart of discipline. The Bible says:

For the Spirit of God… gives us self discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

Establishing good habits is the key to overcoming messiness. And good habits begin with self-discipline.

Unfortunately, for many of us, instead of being disciplined we find ourselves procrastinating instead of doing chores – or we don’t manage our time efficiently.

But, the Spirit of God will give us self discipline if we just ask! Isn’t that good news? Of course, you have to be willing to do the work of changing. But the Bible also tells us that all things are possible with God!

3 Ways To Develop Self Discipline

1. Prayer. There have been many times in my life where I have prayed consistently that God would help me overcome a bad habit. Everything from being impatient with my kids to biting my nails. God is all about giving us the power to overcome bad habits.

2. Accountability. Ask a friend to help you stay accountable as you work to develop good habits. Let them come alongside you and cheer you on and remind you of your goals when you struggle.

3. Baby Steps. Instead of trying to add in too many good habits all at once, focus on one or two new habits until you’ve mastered those. Then you can work on another one.

I believe you can train yourself to be self disciplined at home. It takes work. But you can do it! 

The Disciplined Homemaker Course is open for enrollment!!

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  1. Your articles are so concise, practical and easy to implement, Melissa. Thank u! I really appreciate the Bible quotes you share too. I agree with making one decision and sticking to it. I used to be a very messy and dirty homemaker. I rarely vacuumed, my couch was perpetually covered in cleaned and unfold washing. I felt like my life was crisis management. I'd only clean the floor when the kids spilt their juice, or wash up when I ran out of dishes. Not a nice way to live. I had a lovely friend who came over one day and washed all of my dishes and then dried them all and put them away. I was astonished at how lovely the kitchen looked. She told me that she read an article about shining the kitchen sink with the tea towel after each lot of dishes, and always leaving the kitchen clean before heading to bed. She also swept under the table after every meal. These two changes made the world of difference to my feelings, the hygiene of my home and the overall happiness of my family. Decluttering our cupboards and rewearing clothes helped to reduce the amount of washing, as did folding straight from the clothes line, sorting and putting it away immediately, even if it was almost lunchtime or the baby was crying. It was one of the toughest habits for me to form, but it cleared up our lounge room and made me feel so much better.
  2. Hello, I was wondering if the dispclined homemaker course came with a tangible book or if I have to down load it and print it out? Thanks so much! Love Pammy

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