The Dangerous Comparison Game

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From a recent comment here on Home-Ec 101:
I have one child that lives at home and a teenager that moves in and moves out lol, and also another child that is with me every other weekend. When I get my house clean, it stays that way for a couple of days then it’s dirty again. I am also a single stay-at-home-mom and I homeschool my youngest child.

How can I organize the chaos? Sometimes I seem to have it together and there are times I want to pull my hair out!

I see so many moms that always look like their house is clean, and their make up is fresh, but not me! I’m the one you see in the store with my hair just tied up in a messy knot, and if you come to my home I have to move something so that you can sit down. lol


Don't compare every moment of your life with someone else's best foot forward. Here is encouragement to stop the comparison game and tips to move forward.

Heather says:

The first thing to do is STOP comparing yourself to other people.

You are only seeing the face they want you to see. They aren’t inviting you over when their house is a wreck, you aren’t seeing them when they first tumble out of bed in the morning, and you certainly aren’t seeing them when their kids have the flu and they’ve been under a deadline and and and and.

You cannot compare your life where you see every moment, good or bad, with someone else’s best foot forward.

It’s not a fair comparison and if you convince yourself it is, you will never measure up to your own expectations and you will be miserable.

To be perfectly honest, I stress myself out all the time with this stuff, because I have put myself out there as a resource on this subject. I feel as though my house has to be company ready at any moment. This also makes me feel like a hypocrite at times. It’s all just that internal critic having a field day.

People are more concerned about themselves than they are about you.

I know this on the rational level, I’m  still working on convincing that little voice to take a hike. Does it make you feel a little better to know you aren’t the only one?

I also have to say this. I am not a licensed therapist nor am I a doctor; if you constantly feel overwhelmed, you NEED to talk to a licensed professional about your feelings.

Still convinced you’re alone? Read this post: Feeling Desperate

My friend Angela England and I did a presentation at BlogWorld Expo in October on Professionalism and Productivity and while some of the tools and tips won’t apply to your situation, you may pick up a few nuggets and tools that will help you. Ang and I are also both homeschooling parents. And we both fully admit there are times that are rougher than others. If I ever tell you everything is absolutely hunky dory all the time, I’m lying, and I want you to call me on it.

As far as getting your house in order, understand that it’s not a sometimes thing, it’s a constant process. Once you adjust to the fact that maintaining a home requires constant, low-level upkeep, it will begin to feel a lot less work intensive.

There are many tips and tricks I have learned and tried in my book Home-Ec 101: Skills for Everyday Living – Cook it, Clean it, Fix it, Wash it.

It’s easier to quickly wipe down your bathroom every day than it is to give it a thorough scrubbing after the dirt and other nastiness has time to accumulate and adhere to the calcified toothpaste blobs.

As far as actually gaining a little control over the chaotic nature of your life, there are lots of things you can do to bring a little order into your home. Don’t attempt to do them all at once.

Finally some specific tools you may find useful:

See that yellow sticky note in the upper right of this post? (click through to the site if you’re reading via email) Click it, it’ll take you to a weekly chore chart, print it out and start following it.

Alternately, if you want LOTS of email reminders and encouragement, maybe FLYLady is more your style.

Cozi – calendar / organization, it has smart phone apps available

Google Calendar – calendar that can be synced between computer and phone

SayMmm – meal planning tools. You’ll find many Home-Ec 101 recipes on

house cleaning help
Click the picture for more cleaning help! – complete meal plans and grocery lists. I used Leanne’s mailer while I was adjusting to life outside the traditional workforce, back in ’03 or ’04 (long before I started Home-Ec 101) and I’m happy to see she’s still going strong.

Home-Eccers, what tools make your life easier? What do you recommend to Frustrated?

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5 thoughts on “The Dangerous Comparison Game”

  1. Heather’s right–the judging/comparing thing is key. I’m still working on it myself, trying to remember what my mother said: “Comparisons are odious.” As kids, we turned “odious” to “odorous” and came up with “comparisons stink,” which is also true. I recommend 15 minutes of meditation–even if it has to be when you are doing the dishes or hanging laundry. It helps put everything in perspective.

  2. Here is a blog that might help you: She starts out with one task to do everyday, does that for awhile, then adds one new daily thing. She also describes why keeping a clean house is hard for her (she has a slob-brain) and what she does to help herself with that. She is very open about her struggles, so you aren’t likely to feel overwhelmed comparing yourself to her.

  3. I’ve always found this most helpful – a quote to remember…”You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

  4. I’ve always found this most helpful – a quote to remember…”You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

  5. Good comments from the previous post. Couple things a friend told me years ago- pull out your vacuum cleaner so people will think if you didn’t get to it, at least you were going to:) then place a small jar of good smelling household cleaner in a hidden spot so the smell will permeate the air, your house will smell clean and thats half the battle. My mothers philosophy was, “Clean enough to be healthy, Dirty enough to be Happy” yes cleanis good but time with your family is more important while you have them with you.


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