Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Five-Minute Fix: Joy and Work

A positive attitude may not

solve every problem

but it makes solving any problem

a more pleasant experience.

- Grant Fairley

After yesterday's post, some of you may be wondering how in the world you are supposed to have five-minute joy breaks and five-minute cleaning sprees at the same time in the midst of your crazy life. You may be wondering just what I had in my coffee yesterday morning.

It is a dilemma, I admit, to sort out how you will find space for rest and for making progress. But it can be done. This is why it matters: busy moms need three things to keep from burning out.

1. Supportive relationships which they allow themselves to enjoy.

2. A sense of progress, with the kids, on the house, and on personal goals.

3. Regular refreshment for body and soul.

That's it. If you are getting these three, and you do not have any serious issues from your personal history that are weighing you down, you will not burn out. (If you do have serious issues from your personal history, you will also need to get some help and support for those. We can talk about that later.)

Some of you would add faith, Bible study, and prayer. I put that under "regular refreshment for body and soul," because that is exactly what happens when we connect with God -- we are refreshed.

As moms, we are under a lot of pressure to do a lot of things. That's why it's important for us to:

  • set realistic, achievable goals that aren't overwhelming
  • take care of ourselves
  • walk through it all with a proper balance.

The point is not to be all that is expected of us. It took me a really long time to figure this out. When all the expectations from all the corners of your life are added together, the result will be unattainable. If you would live a meaningful life in which you thrive and grow while caring deeply for your family, you will have to disappoint people some of the time. Even the people you love.

Let that soak in for a minute.

So I am not going to tell you how to "get it all done" here on Apple Pie, because I don't think it's possible. I don't think it's what God intended. But I am going to share with you, day after day, how to live a life you can love and how to attend to what matters.


Now, to answer the practical question of the day, how can we combine work and joy in the midst of our crazy lives?

Here are three ways I have combined my need for refreshment with my need for progress and achieved both with small intervals of time:

1. Do five-minute cleaning spree and follow it with a five minute joy break to reward myself for doing that yucky work I didn't like. I love rewards. I love to treat myself. So this works like a charm for me.

2. Put the joy breaks and cleaning together. Light a candle, put on some music, start the coffee or tea. While the tea or coffee is brewing, clean something as fast as I can! This gives me 5-10 minutes of cleaning time. Once the coffee or tea is ready, I enjoy it with a treat and something lovely -- the view out my window, birds at my feeders, flowers, a favorite magazine. If I do this two or three times a day, it's amazing what I can accomplish over a week. This makes my work more satisfying, too.

3. Do the cleaning sprees around meal times while directing the kids to clean the kitchen. I schedule a longer refreshment period right after school is done, for 30-45 minutes. I can also schedule this for the evening, but by then I am so tired that I do not get the same benefit from it. I use that time to do something I truly enjoy, something that refreshes me and lifts my spirits.

A side note: since our morning reading hour was reserved for my own quiet time with the Lord, I didn't usually try to clean anything around breakfast.

Do you have any ideas to share with the rest of us? Thoughts? Reflections? I 'd love to hear from you on this.

The Five-Minute Fix, copyright 2009 by Cassandra Frear.


  1. I love this!! You should speak at young Moms have so much to offer them.

    I refuse to get myself too busy - refuse to have unness. stress in my life...and I feel very sad for people who feel like they have to 'do it all'. Too many wannabe superwomen out there. And I can't help but feel a lot of them bring it on themselves....mean of me huh?

  2. I love #1! Five minute cleaning followed by 5 minute joy break! I might have to give that a try. Of course, #2 is good too! And for that matter, #3 is good as well! Three wonderful ideas that I might just have to give a try at one time or another. :)

    I so agree that we need refreshment. I have a pretty heavy load right now between being a stay-at-home mom and all that entails, homeschooling, writing on my blog, writing for a magazine, and getting ready to teach a Bible study for women online. I admit, I have felt overwhelmed at times. But just recently, I think I've finally found a routine that looks like it's going to work extremely well, allowing me to fit in all that's important and needs to be done. It's a schedule that's not penciled out into 15 minute increments, but in blocks of time. It allows me plenty of time to spend with my family but also get school done, housework, cooking, blogging, writing, and personal quiet time as well as personal time for me just to read a book, relax, etc. It went really well today. So I'm giving this new routine a try and see how it works on the long haul.

    BTW, I enjoyed the Madagascar Vanilla Red Tea this morning in my quiet time. :)

    Hope you're having a great week!


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