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A couple of years ago, you might have called me a “hot mess mom”. I wouldn’t have, as I’ve never liked the term. But with a number of somewhat disheveled children, a disorderly house, a willingness to skip showers, and trouble getting places in time, even if I didn’t like the title, it fit me.

Who would blame me? Surely someone who’s never gone more than 9 months without getting pregnant has the right to be a bit of a mess!

Although I rejected the title, I didn’t reject the mess. I was flexible, fun, and busy, without placing too much emphasis on appearance. I embraced the verse, “where no oxen are, the stall is clean.”

If you search “hot mess mom” online, you can find a lot of people encouraging this attitude. And you don’t have to be a mom to be a hot mess. Being a mom merely makes it more obvious what you already are. Becoming a mom revealed that I didn’t think it was important if I cared well for the responsibilities God gave me. Learning the importance of an orderly home and appearance was a long, slow (and still ongoing) process. 

 

Fighting the Excuses

Now I seek not to be a hot mess, and I think you should too. Why?

Embracing my failures as part of my identity is not a godly attitude. The word of God says in 1 Corinthians 14:40, “Let everything be done decently and in order.” Does that sound compatible with a hot mess? And Titus 2:3-5 says:

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior,
not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,
so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands,
to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind,
being subject to their own husbands,
so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”

Have you ever seen someone who made you think of a hot mess and thought that she is someone you’d like to imitate- an honor to God? Throughout Scripture, and even in nature, we see the orderliness of God. Does God do anything indecently or out of order? We shouldn’t either.

But, you might say – as I have – that this is impossible! How can I possibly do everything in order?

Well, I’m learning something: excuses are the enemy of progress. There are always reasons why things happen. Don’t let reasons that something is hard become an excuse not to work hard to overcome it. 

Learning how to set things in order is usually a matter of what you value. Do you value being hard-working and productive? You will find a way to do it. I’ve learned to reject the idea that my options are either a child-friendly, flexible, serving home or one that is clean, sterile and self-absorbed. A busy home can be orderly. My house now is better kept than our small apartment was before we had any kids.

Hot Mess? Or just lazy…

It’s not your circumstances that make you a hot mess. It’s how you choose to deal with them. Are you a hot mess, or are you just lazy?

I sometimes find myself exhausted after lunch and unable to wait to get the kids to bed so I can chill. A 10-minute nap is helpful. But, can I discipline myself to no more than 15 minutes on the couch? If my afternoon is a mess, it’s not because I’m tired and pregnant- it’s because I wasted time on my phone instead of taking a nap, or didn’t discipline myself to get up afterward. We have to be honest with ourselves.

Perhaps your kids require your attention all day long. (Find a Titus 2 woman and ask her to teach you how to train them not to!) But do you then think you’ve earned a free evening and chill on your phone all evening when your house is a mess? Did your playdate and shopping take 6 hours when it should have taken 3, so dinner is late and your kids are fussy since they missed their naps? (Ask me how I came up with that scenario!).

I have to remind myself to fight excuses. Is there a reason I’m not running things well? Have you actually taken a minute to evaluate your problems and find a potential solution to try? If you think about your excuses, you can solve them. Start small. Figure out the areas you need to discipline yourself.

Of course, I’m not talking about when the whole house has the flu, or you just had a baby, or you moved last week. But if your house normally runs smoothly, you will be surprised how well you can manage even in harder situations.

Often when people find out I’m about to have 7 kids aged 7 and under, they’ll ask how I do it. I often reply that God gives them one at a time. He has taught me and given me what I need as each new baby comes. You don’t need a special gifting to care well for the responsibilities God gave you – you just need to be willing to learn how to do the work, and then do it. God will provide what you need.

Don’t measure yourself by the world. Look at capable, godly women and know you can be like them. Don’t settle. Push yourself to have high expectations for yourself and work hard. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, but do set your sights high. Use wisdom (and consult others) on what is reasonable.

 

Getting Out of the Mess

If you’re characterized by hot-mess-ness, you won’t change that in a week. Take one step at a time. When you get discouraged, you’re relying on yourself. Turn to God! He’s the one who will do the work. He has given us everything we need for life and godliness (1 Peter 1:3). Pray, get up, and try again.

A few things I’ve found helpful:

Find some good examples and ask for help.
Watch godly women you admire. Pick their brains. Ask her to come over every week to help you plan your way out of your mess. If personal hygiene or attire is difficult for you, ask a friend or your husband for some help. Have a friend come over and help declutter, or ask your husband to get a jump start by spending a month focusing on getting the house in order together.

Meditate on God.
See His wisdom and His ways, and seek to imitate Him. Consider your paths – how much more of a blessing to your family and church will you be when you are happy and unstressed, and your home in order and inviting? How much time will be lost in a home that is in disarray? Which will honor God?

Write down a plan. Review it and revise it.
Use helps. Has someone made a solution to the problem you’re having?  Use timers for cleaning, Google calendar, alarms on your phone, and digital to-do lists with reminders – keep trying things until you find what works. Keep a good grocery list you can easily add to on your phone. Plan backward from when you need to get somewhere. Time how long things take. You might think it takes 5 minutes to get everyone out the door when it takes 20. That alone will make you late. Don’t assume that the way things are is the way things have to be. Think and troubleshoot!

Remember and celebrate small victories.
I remember when going shopping with one baby was stressful. Now, I love getting out with just an infant in a car seat! If you are consistent, you will be able to do things you can’t imagine right now. Remember those victories to encourage you when the next task you need to conquer feels impossible.

Pray.
And ask others to pray for you. Don’t be shy about being specific. It’s amazing how many spiritual benefits can come from waking up half an hour earlier, or keeping the dishes in order.

Our homes should be places where God is glorified, places of order and peace. If you are a hot mess, that won’t change in a day. But you can make progress today, and tomorrow, until you’ve stopped excusing the hot mess and started keeping it in order.

Love,
Jeannette