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How did you let it get so bad? (Cleaning when overwhelmed)

My mother-in-law has always had an immaculate home. There's never any dust, misplaced items, smudges on glass, or table crumbs. My home is not immaculate, a fact I'm always keenly aware of when she visits.

As I prepared for her to stay with us for a few days, I imagined her entering our kitchen, locking eyes with the toaster oven, and asking,

Dirty toaster oven

"How did you let it get this bad?" I started to feel angry- how dare she question the state of my toaster when I have five kids and a job? But I took a deep breath and realized it wasn't her voice I was anticipating. It was the old me in my ear, the one who bullied me when I wasn't on top of every little thing.

This voice that shames me pops up every once in a while, and the best thing I can do is to remind her of the truth. Here are a few of the legit reasons I locked eyes with the dirty toaster and wanted to clean it, but:

  1. A fight broke out with two of my kids. I would rather have cleaned the toaster than search for the patience necessary to coach my kids through an argument, but by the time I was finished with them, it was time to start dinner.

  2. I brought all the groceries in and decided that cleaning out the fridge would be more functional than cleaning the toaster.

  3. I was extremely irritable that day and needed to go on a walk for my sanity.

  4. I realized that cleaning the toaster was a procrastination technique for avoiding a work deadline.

  5. My oldest child facetimed me, and I chose to give her my full face and attention.

  6. The dog truly needed a bath.

  7. The school called and asked me to pick up my vomiting child.

  8. I got the stomach flu.

  9. The pipes burst, and we didn't have running water for four days.

  10. I ran out of capacity that day.

  11. I was feeling extra productive and planned to clean the toaster before 5:00 p.m. when my energy plummets every day. I couldn't get to it until 4:55, so that was a no-go.

  12. The school called and asked me to pick up my feverish child.

  13. I got a random cold that dragged on for three weeks.

  14. I chose to do nothing that day, and I don't regret it.

Cleaning the toaster oven

Cleaning when you're overwhelmed is very difficult. It's perfectly reasonable and smart to prioritize the tasks that help keep you and your home more functional. The low-priority "toaster oven" tasks will just have to wait!

P.S. If you want to see the video of me cleaning the toaster oven, you can click on the videos tab of my website or click here:

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