While discipline and character are clearly what I need, recognizing my "patterns of failure" really help.
Example, I struggled with doing the dishes, pretty much all my married life. They would seemingly grow, just sprouting out of the sink, onto the counter. And stare at me, an hours job at least (we didn't have a dishwasher in our first appartment). And grow things. And it would take me so much emotional effort to face them...I would finally face them when we ran out of things to eat off of, which before the kids, was about 2-3 times a week. That mountain grew things. And I was always embarrassed, when people just dropped by (the kitchen area was the main area, there was no where to hide them).
After we moved in with my in-laws, things improved a lot. (One thing, because we take turns with the nightly dishes depending on the weekday, so that obviously helps)
But also, I learned tips they did which vastly cut down on the amount of emotional energy it took to face the dishes in the first place, which will last me after we move out.
- 1. Right after being doing with something, scrape the food off, and rinse it out, before putting it in the "dirty dishes" bin.
This made a HUGE difference for me. The dishes didn't grow things. The sink didn't have a slimy layer of sludge on the bottom. By throwing away/rinsing initially, there wasn't all this extra food for the bacteria to prey on in the first place. Also it made things so much easier to clean--food wasn't dried onto it.
- 2. Fill the dishes bin with REALLY HOT water and a little squirt of soap. Let sit for 2 minutes. Then scrub/wipe them all and put them into the "rinsing bin", and then rinse them all at once.
This was is SO MUCH FASTER. The initial soak of hot water made things so much easier to wipe down/scrub, vastly cutting down on the washing time. Doing the washing and rinsing one sinkload at a time made things much more efficient than hand washing and rinsing each individual piece.
- 3. Do as much of the dishes as possible BEFORE dinner. After dinner I will be exhausted and have the least amount of emotional energy left.
This was my biggest problem. I would let the dishes compile all day, expecting to do them "after dinner"---the time, when I would be most exhausted, most wanting to go lie down or finally do something relaxing or fun. And with the kids in the mix, there's the whole bedtime routine as well, giving me about an hour of free time after dinner is done and the kids are down, before its time to go to bed so I won't be a grumpy mom in the morning.
This is literally now, the difference between me being able to craft/sew and not being able to at all.
I find, what this means, is trying to get dishes done while the kids are eating one of their 4 meals before dinner. Every little bit helps. Often I fail at this...
AND, the prime dishwashing time, is when I am MAKING DINNER. Often you have to wait for water to boil, or stir something every now and then, or wait 15 minutes before pulling the tin foil off of something in the oven---or letting the pizza cool for 5 minutes after taking it out --- all those little 5 minute chunks of time, this is the time to stand near the oven/stove---which is the sink---and get as much of those dishes out of the way as possible. This has helped me so many nights when I wouldn't have had the energy to face ALL the dishes after dinner.
In all of this, my biggest problem is character. In doing things I don't want to, instead of putting them off till there's a crisis.
However, while this is the heart of the matter, I've found my lowering the "emotional energy threshold" of these tasks, I make it that much easier for myself to do. It's recognizing my patterns of failure, and replacing them with patterns of success.
Pattern of Failure:
letting dishes go till after dinner--->being too tired to face them-->they grow things in the sink--->being too grossed out to face them--->CRISIS--->mustering up vast amounts of emotional energy and doing very stinky dishes for 2 hours--->feeling tired after dinner, putting dishes off--->repeat
Patterns of Success:
--->rinsing most of the food off BEFORE it can get really gross, and thus take more out of me.
--->doing little bursts of dishes while have energy
--->doing dishes in a more efficient manner (sinkload wash, sinkload rinse, etc)