Feeling overwhelmed with your home? Do this.

Have you been feeling overwhelmed with your home lately?
I get it.
I have 6 kids… and all the stuff that goes along with them.
When I think back 15 years ago, I was in the thick of it all: The stuff, the dishes, the laundry, the school work, plus church commitments and school activities. I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water.
Our house was small (in U.S. standards – 1200 sq. ft) and our stuff was abundant.
Not to mention the depression that was a fairly constant companion.
Pulling myself out of the “Slough of Despond” was a struggle. But getting my home in order was a big part of that, the overwhelmed feeling decreased, one little bit at a time.

Here are my fall-back steps every time I feel overwhelmed:

Do the dishes

This is the number one fallback because it makes SUCH a huge difference so quickly.
It’s one of those tasks that seems bigger in our minds than it actually is. Why is it that we always make the task seem bigger and badder than it actually is? (More on this in a minute!)
Having the daily chores hanging over our heads is such a weight and out of all of the chores- dishes can be done fairly quickly. Even just one load makes the house feel a little more under control and gets rid of the nagging thought in the back of your mind of “I still need to do the dishes.”

Clear a surface

My two choices are either the table or a kitchen counter.
It honestly doesn’t matter what surface you clear, but having a place to “rest your eyes” makes one feel calmer.
I like clearing a kitchen counter, because then I have a clean workstation next time I head into the kitchen- and, let’s face it, with this many kids, I’m in the kitchen most of the time. 😅
Having a clear, clean counter in the kitchen feels like a big sigh of relief when I walk into the room. It means I can prepare the next meal without having to clean up first. Which means I’m already winning!

Do one thing you’ve been procrastinating about

Most of the time, when I’m feeling overwhelmed, it’s because I have something I need to deal with, that I really DON’T want to deal with.
Perhaps it’s calling the dentist’s office to make an appointment.
Maybe it’s driving to the post office to mail that one package.
It may even be filling out a form on the school website.
I don’t know what it is about all those things that seem so horrible. When I think of any of those things I’m filled with dread, and then when I actually do it? It takes minutes to complete the task.
Now, actually doing one thing that I’ve been procrastinating is actually very hard. BUT when I’m feeling overwhelmed and out of control, I have had to force myself to just do the thing.
Just pick up the phone and dial the dentist’s phone number.
Just drive to the post office and get the package sent.
Is it fun? No… but afterward, you’re brain can take a break.

If you’re struggling to take action- follow the 5-second-rule

I’ve talked about the 5-Second-Rule before on the blog, but it’s one of those tools that I come back to over and over.
The idea is: when you get a thought of something you need to take action on, you don’t allow yourself to think (when we think about it, we end up talking ourselves out of it- like, when my brain tells me how much of a pain it would be to go to the post office, how uncomfortable the conversation will be with the clerk, etc.) instead of thinking, you count down: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – and then GO!!
We know that when the countdown ends, some sort of action will take place.
When you think “I should take out the trash.” Don’t even let yourself think any more about it- count down right then and there: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and go take out that trash!

Allow yourself to be imperfect

We all get overwhelmed. Life is messy, houses get messy.
We can’t do it all, and we certainly can’t do it all perfectly.
And that’s ok.
When I am feeling the most overwhelmed? It’s because I’m requiring too much of myself.
For me, that was scrapbooking, sewing all my kid’s clothes from repurposed fabric, homeschooling kids, cooking from scratch, having a garden, preserving everything from the garden, teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, participating in Bible studies, selling my crafts on Etsy.
Yeah… no wonder I was overwhelmed.
We require so much of ourselves and then get frustrated when it’s too much.
You can’t be the perfect superwoman, and that’s ok. You can still accomplish so much, and be valuable, you don’t have to be perfect.

Lower your standards

If you were a clean and tidy person before you had kids, and now feel like having a clean house is simply impossible- you are no alone.
Kids take a lot of work.
And after you sweep the floor, they will run through the house with dirty shoes.
Will the house ever be spotless again? Maybe, when they’re older. But you know what? It doesn’t matter.
It’s ok if there is dust on the floor and you can’t see your vacuum lines.
Your cleaning goals can shift from what your home looks like (vacuum lines on the carpet) to simply knowing that you vacuumed that room once this week. And once is enough.
I reduced the amount of stuff in my home, so that my weekly cleaning tasks would be easier to do.
And I’ve accepted the fact that I’m going to see random cat hairs on my white floor throughout the week- and it’s ok, I’ll clean them up on Saturday when I do my weekly reset.
My goal is to clean each room weekly and then the rest of the time- simply live without thinking or stressing about cleaning.

Pulling myself out of the "Slough of Despond" was a struggle. But getting my home in order was a big part of that, the overwhelmed feeling decreased, one little bit at a time. Here are my fall-back steps every time I feel overwhelmed.

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey after I'd been doing a yearly decluttering challenge for 4 years and started to see a change in my home. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, please join our FREE Facebook Group: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group


  1. Grace Sim on 08/11/2020 at 6:59 pm

    Thank you! So much wisdom in this I take away.

  2. Janine on 08/13/2020 at 1:14 pm

    Ohhh Rachel,
    Thank you for this article. I just returned home after being stranded abroad for 6 months due coronavirus and the house got out of hand in my absence. I now struggle to get it under control again and it seems beyond overwhelming. Thank you so much for these encouraging thoughts.

    • Rachel Jones on 08/13/2020 at 3:20 pm

      I’m sorry Janine, that would be challenging! ❤️ One step at a time.

  3. TishANN on 11/05/2020 at 7:10 pm

    this is helpful but what do i dO when my anxiety is so bad i physically feel stiff and in freeze response and my mind goes blank and then i feel overwhelmed and powerless and have to take a break and then i never get it done. tHen comes the self defeat and depression from feeling inadequate and useless, i was not like this until i suffered from extreme stress and years of depression that triggered flashbacks from childhood trauma. ive been in therapy for 6 years steady and this is still my biggest FAIL…

    • Rachel Jones on 11/08/2020 at 8:46 pm

      That would be a good question to ask your counselor. ❤️

  4. Wendy Im on 10/09/2022 at 6:17 pm

    Why so u keep pets ? U have so much on ur plate already

  5. Janelle on 08/23/2023 at 3:29 pm

    I appreciated this article and its recommendations to do the task you’ve been putting off and also the 5 second rule. They’re practical and easily implemented. I’m reading this in the car (as a passenger) and on my way to a baseball game, but tomorrow morning I’m getting on a couple of tasks that I’ve been putting off, and if needed I’ll start with the countdown! Thank you Rachel.

  6. Dana Christie on 08/24/2023 at 5:39 pm

    I have been following Rachel’s awesome insight and experience on de-cluttering. She has made such a huge difference in my life. I have learned how to de clutter. I never received that “gene”. I STRONGLY recommend signing up for one of her courses. 😄💕

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