When You Feel Like a Frustrated Mom in an Out-Of-Control Home

When your home feels out-of-control, it’s easy to become frustrated. But what if the answer to your frustration has nothing to do with the perfect plan or routine?

The nightly sigh. It sometimes feels like part of your bedtime routine, doesn’t it?

You look around the house you just spent all day in and marvel that you felt busy every moment, but seem to have so little to show for it.

There are still messes left in untended corners. Clutter that got moved from one spot to another. Toys and clothes and dishes that seem to migrate with very little human intervention to the strangest of places in your home.

How in the world did this dirty sock get here?

Motherhood has this uncanny way of making us feel quite out-of-control many days, doesn’t it? The brightest new planners, the most strategically placed white boards, the smartest reminder apps, and more have all succumbed to the crazy unpredictability of motherhood and homemaking.

What mom hasn’t felt some frustration when her schedule looked perfectly reasonable on paper in the morning, but she ends the day with only a small fraction of her tasks accomplished because little people needed something else?

I’ve been there, and I know you have, too.

And while it might feel too simplistic, I have an easy answer that can help you take that frustration and toss it out of your heart and mind for good.

You see, the problem has nothing to do with the fact that we aren’t able to fully control our days.

The problem is that we expect to.

When Baby Magazines and Real Life Collide

Like most new moms, I devoured the free baby magazines that arrived in my mailbox every month. They promised me that if I just kept a consistent bedtime routine of bath time, quiet time, and lights out at 8 pm, my sweet little cherub would sooth herself to sleep in her crib without breastfeeding and stay asleep for hours.

Hours.

And I faithfully followed their directions for months.

Months.

I was determined to control when my baby would go to sleep and how long she’d sleep for. I assumed these experts had the magic formula, and if I just followed their plan, I’d get their results.

Do you know what all that work led to? I’ll tell you right now that it didn’t lead to a baby who slept through the night.

It led to a frustrated, angry young momma who couldn’t understand why this perfect system that she clung to so faithfully was failing so miserably and draining two hours of her life away every. single. night.

Can you guess what happened when I dropped that bedtime routine like the bad habit it was and quit expecting my baby to conform to some imaginary, sleep-through-the-night mold?

Things magically changed. Because that whole time, my baby never had the problem.

The Irrefutable Law of Crazy

You know how challenging motherhood can feel when your life seems to be at the mercy of very small people who are born with no concept of time, order, or schedules.

You want to run an orderly home, and you should! God has called you to be the keeper of your home, and it’s a good, godly thing to want to keep it well.

But if you’re going to enjoy these short years of motherhood, you have to accept the fact that these long days are going to be filled with all kinds of unpredictable, messy, and crazy.

You can either resent that, or learn to work with it.

When the Wright brothers were trying to get an aircraft to fly, they had to accept an inconvenient law called gravity. It tended to ruin their best of plans and continually brought their goals crashing down in the most literal sense.

But accepting gravity never turned the Wright brothers into failures. They learned to work with it and stuck with their long-term vision enough to see it become an amazing, unexpected reality.

You are not failing if it feels like things are out of control in your home some days. You are simply working with one of the irrefutable laws of motherhood called Crazy.

Sure, there are good habits you should put in place to maintain order. But control? Not likely.

Motherhood and homemaking can never be done well when control is the driving force, because control and love will never walk hand in hand.

You cannot serve your family with a heart of love and a heart of control at the same time.

So tonight, when you look around your home at the end of the day, take a deep breath and remember:

God isn’t asking you to control the messy unpredictability in your home. He is asking you to lovingly serve despite it.

And you’re probably doing a better job of that than you think.


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    22 Comments

    1. I needed this SO badly. It just brought me to tears! You have a way with words & I just want to send u a huge cyber hug & Mom fist bump right now. With a 1yr old, a 2yr old & a 7yr old with ADHD, you had me nodding my head from the start. Thank u4 reminding me that I’m not alone & 4 what’s truly important! I will reread this often.. Thank u, thank u, thank u! Xoxo

      1. I’m so glad this was helpful, Jenny. I think many of us need this kind of reassurance from time to time. Sending a cyber hug and mom fist-bump right back. πŸ˜‰

    2. As a toddler mama on pregnancy bedrest, I needed this article today. “God isn’t asking you to control the messy unpredictability in your home. He is asking you to lovingly serve despite it.” Right now I am not capable of serving my family in a physical sense, but my attitude is just as important . Each unpredictability in my life is a wakeup call to cling to the One who has everything under His control and allow him to grow and change me through the difficulty. So. Hard. To. Let. Go. Right now I am trying to make the most of my current season by starting a blog to write about what I am learning.

      1. I’m so glad this was encouraging, Charity Lynn! It is terrible difficult to let go of control. I admire you for wanting to make the most of a difficult season! I can only imagine the challenges of bedrest with a toddler. πŸ˜‰ Praying for a safe remainder of your pregnancy!

    3. Easier said than done, right? Especially for this first-born Type A mama. My first two girls were angels and had me fooled into thinking I had more control than I did; then my third was born. The last picture I took on my phone is of her standing naked on the bathroom counter and fishing through the medicine cabinet that I thought was child-proof. This kid. I have way less control over my kids’ behavior than I like to think!

      A fantastic book that just came out on this is Control Girl by Shannon Popkin. Check it out!

      1. Oh, Kay… that mental picture! Reminds me of a similar experience I had with an unclothed toddler who got into a potted plant in our bathroom. Those little ones are SO good at reminding us that we can’t control it all!

        Thank you for the book suggestion! Sounds like an encouraging read.

        P.S. I’m a first-born learning-to-not-be-so Type A momma, too. πŸ˜‰

    4. I agree! When I focus on trying to “have it all together” I end up stressed out and less loving toward my family. When I focus on making every task (even the mundane) an act of service to Christ, I find that I can be joyful even in the days that feel a little chaotic.

    5. Very helpful and encouraging post, Kristen. Life seems so crazy these days with having our 9th 4 months ago, getting a tooth pulled and having a dry socket that hurt for 2 months, and now helping my mom who just got out of the hospital after a scary episode with ulceritive colitis. Those things, and the “behind” they put us in, on top of our already overwhelming schedule were driving me into a frantic, stressed, and hopeless state. This is timely. I appreciate it. Part of it reminded me of a repeated quote by Mystie Winckler that goes something like: “The only control the Bible says we should have is self-control.” Very true, but how often I forget and how much contention and tension it breeds when I do.

      1. That is such a great quote, Cecilia! It’s really hard to keep that in mind when going through a lot of big changes or dealing with some difficult situations. You’ve had both going on. I’m glad this was an encouragement for you and hope it continues to give you a little boost for this phase you’re in.

    6. This is a great post! I have a hard time figuring out how to have an orderly house without being controlling. My personality/faults are such that it’s hard for me to get the discipline to get into a routine – it takes a while for me to get into a rhythm- and with our current (and probably future) lifestyle I feel like I hardly have the time to figure out a rhythm that works and there is a major change. In the past twelve months my three year old was diagnosed with a major food allergy, I got pregnant and had a baby, my husband quit his job in the summer and we moved across the world, we traveled more than 3600 miles in country, and we’ve lived in two different states. We are now preparing to move back across the world. I needed the reminder that crazy is a fact of life and we need to pray for help to deal with it gracefully. Thanks.

      1. Wow, Beth, those are not small challenges! Any time a baby joins the family, transition takes a while, but you just did it with other very big things going on. Yes, you definitely need lots of grace right now. When we hit those big times of crazy, I will envision our family like a boat on waves. When a big wave hits, things kind of rock back and forth for a time until life settles down. Your boat is really rocking right now, so definitely be gentle on yourself if it seems hard to fall into a good routine. You’ll get there once your boat stops rocking. πŸ˜‰

    7. Such a great post from one so young! As an older mom whose youngest are about to graduate from high school your words are worse wise. You can’t control crazy and God never intended for us to. Every day I tried to wake up and ask God what HIS plans were for my day because I knew MY plans would go astray pretty quickly! Homeschooling 5 kids, 2 bio and 3 adopted with many emotional/abuse issues, the heart was more important than a perfect home.

      Love your first back! (fellow blog smarter grad!

      1. Thanks so much for popping in to read, Marty! And calling me young… bless you for that! πŸ˜‰ Hitting 34 next week, I’ll gladly take that label!

        Your comment reminds me of the many, many mornings I wake up and just start praying immediately for God’s help, even with my eyes still closed. Only He knows what this new day might bring with a house full of six adorable “variables”. It sounds like you have lots of experience with that in your home, too!

    8. Life seemed much simpler and peaceful when my kids were younger and more loving. I didn’t feel the frustrations and anxiety of our overly hectic lives, as I do now that they’re teenagers. They’re wannabe know-it-alls, condescending, angry 95% of the time, hormonal messes. I used to look forward to spending time with my kids, but these days not so much. Ever since my dad passed away a year and a half ago things at home have seemed to spiral out of control in every aspect. I used to panic and try to grasp control over what I could but felt like I was getting nowhere. These days I don’t even have the drive to want to put anything together. Instead I do what I feel will get me through the day then enjoy the rest of the day with my dogs and thinking about being on the beach. I guess it’s become my way of coping with life and unhappiness.

      1. Wow, Marie, sounds like this last year has been really hard. I’m so sorry about that! I will be quick to say that my oldest child is 12, so I haven’t yet hit the stage of motherhood where there are multiple teenagers and pretend to understand or have the solution. I’m just wondering, with these last 18 months being so challenging, if you’ve talked with a pastor or trusted friend about all you’re feeling? You’re in a difficult phase right now, and perhaps some time out of the house with someone who really cares about you might help things become clearer? I’ll pray for you now.

    9. Right now I feel pretty good, because we canned a deer yesterday and today I put away the Christmas decor and went through my boys’ room organized and pitched old broken toys. We’re getting behind on home schooling though because we’ve all been sick lately, and my oldest is struggling with Lyme’s. What helps me the most is to make a list of what I HAVE to get done and focus on that. Not easy for me since I’m a disorganized type. Having devotions first thing helps too. It also helps to just breathe and ask what will matter 50 years from now. Thanks for the reminder:)

      1. Bravo to you, Trisha, for learning to prioritize even if it isn’t a natural strength of yours! And canned venison… yummy!

        I’m sorry to hear your son has Lyme’s, though. How is treatment going for him?

    10. Yes, I second your comment Sara. This is what I needed to hear also. Feeling out of control has definitely been a struggle for me also. Thank you Kristen!

    11. Thanks again for your encouraging words!! They are exactly what this Mama needed to hear!! As I sat down to read this I let out a deep sigh thinking about all the things I didn’t get to today! 😁