“Honestly My House is Always a Mess”

One afternoon, as I was working, a co-worker asked me how it was going.  She knew I had been home and was struggling with the transition. Everyone I worked with was great about understanding I was having a break down pretty much all the time.  This particular day as she asked how I was doing I was feeling a little overwhelmed.  And this woman had kids and had been working full time for years and didn’t seem to be about to fall apart all the time so I asked her, “how do you do it?”  I told her how overwhelmed I felt and how my house was always a mess and there wasn’t time to do anything.  She was really nice and encouraging but the only thing I remember her saying is, “honestly, my house is always a mess.”  I don’t know why but it was so comforting.  I didn’t get the impression from her that she lived in some episode of horders but simply that her house existed in the chaos of life.

You might not have been one of those homemakers with a perpetually clean house but whatever level of chaos you lived with before I bet it is worse now.  And my co-worker’s comment made me realize, that is OK.

When I was home full time my house got cleaned, I was organized, laundry got done, groceries bought and dinner served.  I am a list maker so I would make lists but honestly I didn’t need them.  I had a routine, a schedule and I just did it the way I had been doing it for years.  I didn’t have to think, “I need to do laundry”.  I just did it.  But now I wasn’t home to do laundry and it wasn’t on my radar and suddenly we had no clean clothes.  And no clean dishes and there is a ring around my toilet.  And I haven’t gotten around to cleaning up that spill from 3 days ago!  How does this happen???

Remember when you were a fresh new stay-at-home mom?  Remember that feeling of being overwhelmed as you juggled taking care of your children with taking care of your home?  You read all those books on how to clean, get organized and manage your schedule with a calendar system.   This is the place for you to re-learn all those tricks and get tips specific to your needs as a working mom.

Keep in mind that the same advice I give to new moms applies to new working moms, “Give yourself a year.”  It takes a year to loose the weight, a year for the baby to get to an age where you are really sleeping through the night (or more…), a year to re-discover your routine and how to do life with a new person in your home.  There may be many days before then when you think you are on top of your life but at the end of the day most parents agree, it takes a year.  And as you transition back to work trying to figure out how to maintain your home, keep your pantry organized and get to all your kids soccer games on time, just know, it takes a year.  Maybe more.  But in time you will find your new groove, your laundry will get done, your toilet will get cleaned and you will feel at peace in your home once again. 

But honestly, my house is always a mess.  And I am OK with that.

Finding Your Way in Faith

I really wasn’t sure I could do it.  I knew I had to.  We had commited to a path and we needed the money I was now making.  But, every day I wondered how much longer it would be before I would loose it and quit.  It took everything in me to keep my resolve.  I knew I had to work at least 5-6 years and so I kept getting up.  Because I really didn’t know what else to do.

Each morning after I got up I spent a few minutes with the Lord.  I prayed, I shared my fears, my doubts, my disagreements, my exhaustion.  And each morning I was strengthened for the task He had given me.  Each morning I was renewed.  It wasn’t perfect, it didn’t change the fact that I was working, that my family was struggling, that I really wanted to run away.  Until one day I began to relax, to trust, to see the blessings instead of just the problems.

This is the place to come for a weekly devotion.  A word of encouragement.  A prayer.  A place to be reminded that through this transition you are not alone.

And a place for prayer.  Many people prayed for me as I went back to work and know that you are being prayed for too.  This is the place to leave a prayer request in the comments if you feel comfortable or you can always send an email.  I would love to pray specificly for you.

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Phil 4:13

Burn Out

Once upon a time I was a homemaker.  While my life was busy, chaotic and full of things to do, I also had plenty of opportunities to refresh.  My life and time was largely my own.  I could always drop everything and ignore my family for a day while I dove into a good novel and then return to reality the next day.  I could take my kids to the pool and lay on the side with my favorite magazine.  I was doing it for the kids.  They love the pool so much.  I could meet a friend at the park for our kids to play, we would grab a Caribou on the way.  Again, for the kids. It is so good for them to play with other kids.  I never thought about how much time I had to nurture myself.  I always felt like I was squeezing in time to myself.  Sneaking away to Target alone after dinner.  Doing my nails after the kids were in bed.  My morning workouts.  I never thought about how much time I had to spend on myself.

And then I went back to work.

Everything I did during the day when I was home now had to be done in the evenings and weekends.  EVERYTHING.  You have no idea how much you accomplish during the day until you don’t do it.  I figured my house would be clean since nobody was home so that wouldn’t be too big a deal.  Yet somehow that didn’t turn out to be true at all.  Partly because my house didn’t end up being empty all day and partly because when we get home everything that would have happened and been dealt with throughout the day suddenly happens in one explostion as we walk through the door.

Forget evening manicures, that is when I am doing laundry, paying bills, grocery shopping, Target run, returning phone calls, cleaning, and frankly, passing out from exhaustion.  Weekends are a mad catch up combined with all the activities that you used to do during the day that you now have to schedule for evenigns and weekends.  Lessons for the kids, dentist appointments (my dentist has Saturday hours!  I would have thought that was weird before I got a job.  Now it is nothing short of miraculous.) Even spending time with family and friends, while you love doing it, can become yet another responsibility in your life.

I quickly realized how easy it is for a woman to put everyone and everything ahead of herself and in the midst of it all wake up one morning totally burned out and not knowing how it happened.

My nails, I think that is what kept my lack of “me” time in the front of my head.  I kept wondering when I would do my nails.  Before I worked I didn’t think I was particularly obsessed with doing my nails.  I just did it, once a week.  After I worked I kept waiting for that evening when I would just sit donw and grab my nail polish and do my nails.  It didn’t seem like a big deal, didn’t take that much time.  Yet, one day would fade into the next and still my nails were not done.  My nails grow, and eventually I would just have to cut them down to get them out of the way and keep moving because I didn’t have time to manage them.

Eventually you realize that this new schedule is probably not going to just drop a bunch of “me” time in your lap but instead you are going to need to intentionally carve it out.  And that is hard for us moms.  Hard to purposely let the laundry go one more day, when it may already be piling up, let the family eat dinner without you or ask your kids to spend even more time with a sitter than they do already, so that you can do something just for you.  But you can do it.  And you should do it.  And this is the section where we help you find that time and make the most of it.

Hi Ho Hi Ho Back To Work We Go

Finding a job after and extended time at home can be a challenge.  When I went back to work there was a gapping 17 year hole in my resume.  Yes I had done a little childcare at a local health club for a year but I wasn’t even sure I wanted to put that on the resume.  Truthfully in that 17 years I had done a lot.  I had headed ministries, fundraisers, planned events, been the treasurer of a few groups, sat on the church board.  But I knew, and experienced upon going back to work, that for women and men who haven’t been home and don’t know how much work and professional experience you are really getting, none of that counts.

In this section we will be talking about how to find work and begin rebuilding your career after being at home.

I also discovered that the rules for socializing at a mom’s group are not exactly the same as socializing during break time at work.  As one friend told me when I went back to work, “remember, these people are not your friends.”  She told me I could be friendly but not to think of them as friends.  It turned out to be very good advice but also very challenging after spending so many years hanging out with women, sharing my life and making friends. Not everyone at work wants to hear your life story and unfortunately not everyone can be trusted.

So in this section we will also be talking about the social rules and etiquite involved in being a working mom.

While I went back to work willingly I really did not want to be there. Initially I was just going to do a job for a few years, not build a career.  But the reality is I am back to work and am going to be for many years to come.  I quickly realized that if I was going to be out of the house working I might as well be doing something where I felt valued and challenged.  I wanted to feel like I was going somewhere and making a difference.  This is the section that will help you accomplish your work goals and make leaving the house worth the effort.

Keeping Your Marriage a Priority

Marriage is hard.

If you married your soul mate and your life is smooth sailing, marriage is hard.  But toss in a big transition, such as you going from being home and able to devote your time to taking care of your family and home to working til 6pm while the house does not clean itself or cook dinner for you, and you have a challenge.  So now your husband, who also works all day, has to start making dinner once in a while and put his own socks in the laundry to get them clean.  On top of that he also has to help get the kids ready and out the door for school or daycare and use his lunch hour to pick up supplies for a school project.

Yes, he is totally supportive of you going back to work and he knew it would be challenging, and he is willing to make changes.  Hurray!

Marriage is still hard.

Or maybe he thought it was going to be fun to take on a few more responsibilities but he actually anticipated you would still do most of the work.

Marriage is Hard.

The thing is you are exhausted trying to transition to this new life, new routine, new system, new everything!  And while there are still plenty of hours in the evening when you get home from work all you really want to do is pass out.  You are on overload.  And that overload, while it does get better each week, really last a good 6 months.

You can imagine how well your marriage will be going if you shut down for the next 6 months.

My husband and I have had a regular date night for years.  Every Thursday night we would go split a dessert at Perkins and drink coffee and tea til late at night.  We spend lots of time on our dates doing things you are not supposed to do, we talk household finances, I bring spreadsheets and budget updates, we talk business, we talk about our kids, problem solve parenting.  These are things in our life we need to talk about in order for it to go smoothly.  And date night is the time we have to catch up with these things.  But to keep it fresh we also talk about dreams, plan trips, discuss politics and religion, share thoughts and feelings, we listen to each other.

That first Thursday night after I started working is still so clear to me.  I was tired, no I was exhausted, I could barely keep my eyes open through dinner and then as we are getting ready to leave my daughter is crying and hanging on me and begging me not to leave.  I have barely seen her in 4 days and I really just want to stay on the couch cuddled up with her for the night.  I was about to tell my husband I needed to stay.  I knew he would understand.  And he would have.  But then I wondered, what message is this sending to him?  He needs me too.  My daughter might not understand the way my husband does why I am not home and available for her but his needs and desires for time and attention from me are still there.   I knew I could cuddle with my daughter for a few minutes in the morning or all the next evening but this was my night with my husband.  It always had been and if we were going to make it through this transition together date night would be more important than ever.

As the year progressed that turned out to be so true.  Our lives were running not toward each other but parallel.  Without those weekly date nights to update each other on what was happening it would have been easy for us to quickly begin leading separate lives.  Lives in which we had experiences and relationships the other knew nothing about.  We had always managed to have plenty to talk about before I went to work but now there was even more.  New people to talk about, new experiences to share, new problems to solve, new ideas to discuss.

So that first week we went out anyway.  I told him about the new people I met and what I was learning.  About an hour into the date I was struggling to keep my eyes open.  I didn’t say anything but he knew and took me home.  Each week I lasted a little longer until I was finally able to stay awake til we ran out of conversation.

Someday both my kids will be gone to college, someday I will retire and once again be at home, and through it all my husband will always be there.  My kids are important.  I spent all those years at home because of how important I believe it is to be present and involved in my children’s lives but in the end it will just be me and John and if I don’t put as much effort into him as I do into my children I will be rocking on that front porch alone.

So I encourage you to find a few minutes each week to connect with your husband.  Tell him your stories from the week, listen to his and go through this transition together.


Welcome to From Home to Work.  A new web site for women transitioning back to work after taking a few years off to be a homemaker, raise a family, and put career on the back burner.  Whether you return to work willingly, excited for a new challenge or, because the financial need has become too great for you to continue staying home full time, the transition is challenging.  After spending years developing systems for raising your family, getting dinner on the table each night, cleaning your bathroom on a regular basis and volunteering at your church, a return to work throws the whole system out of balance and you find yourself starting all over both professionally in your work as well as personally in your home and family.

This web site was created as a resource to help you through this transition.  We want to be an encouragement  to you as you wander through the first few months and a resource as you begin to find your balance and re-structure your life.  You will find stories of women who made the transition and lived to tell about it.  Like my story of returning to work after 17 years at home.  I learned to release the extras in my life and discover who and what the really important aspects of my life are.  You will also find articles about finding the balance in your home life while being gone 9-10 hours a day, keeping your marriage strong, finding a little “me” time, and so much more.

We also know that after so many years out of the work force your skills may be a little rusty.  And the workplace social dynamic is very different than your moms club.  So we will be sharing tips from professionals on how to navigate this new world, find the right position for you and become a valuable employee.

We also hope that this will be a place for you to turn to the Lord and be reminded of his goodness during this crazy season of your life, a place where you can receive prayer and discern God’s plan for this new season of your life, and a place to grow in your faith as you learn to trust Him.

As you go through this big transition in your life we want you to know you are not alone.  Come back often for new articles and encouragement and sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Thanks for visiting our web site.  Hope to see you again soon.