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Where to Begin When You’re Overwhelmed


Let me walk you through some basics of where to begin when you don't even know where to begin: @mferrell


I want to address those readers out there that are overwhelmed.

Maybe you’re the reader who is drowning in clutter and chaos.

Maybe you’re the reader who has some semblance of order but just can’t seem to get anything productive done from day to day to keep the clutter and chaos under control, so you have to spend days at a time trying to gain order back.

You may be the reader who never had the care and keeping of your home modeled for you by your mother or an older woman.

Most of my home keeping has been self-taught from books and websites that I have gleaned and learned much from over the years. My grandmother was a beautiful example to me of how to keep a home but most of my time was spent with her when I was little.

When my husband and I first got married, we moved away from family for his job, so I was on my own in figuring out cleaning, shopping, laundry, meal planning and caring for my children and husband.  Before we were believers, I read a lot of Alexandra Stoddard’s books. They were lovely and taught me how to work beauty into the everyday moments of life. I still refer back to Living a Beautiful Life often.

I know there are many of you feeling drowned in chaos and not doing anything about it because you don’t know where to start. Let me help you by telling you just to begin. You have to do something. The dishes won’t magically disappear; laundry doesn’t jump into the washer by itself and meals don’t automatically appear at mealtime without some thought, planning, and preparation.

The Lord desires for you to care for your family and your home. (See How Well Do You Manage Your Home.)  This is your domain and the area He has given you to care and keep. So many times we can find ourselves sitting there in self-pity (I’ve been there) and isn’t getting anything accomplished.

Related: Podcast Ep 39 – Where to Begin When You’re Overwhelmed in Caring for Your Home

There are many days that I don’t feel like doing dishes, cleaning the bathroom or putting laundry away. Let’s face it, it’s not that exciting, and there aren’t any awards given for how many times you do it or how well you do it.

The dishes won't magically disappear; laundry doesn't jump into the washer by itself and meals don't automatically appear at mealtime without some thought, planning, and preparation. Click to Tweet

Listen I understand there are hard days and the task can seem like too much. My dear ladies, we can spend all our time grumbling and complaining about the tasks before us or we can honor the Lord and do our work as unto Him. God is ultimately the One we are working for and our calling as Christian women is to honor Him in all we do. 

The reality is it has to be done and Mama it is your job to do it. This is your calling as a wife and mother (Titus 2:3-5). So I’m not going to give you any excuses here but encourage you to “Do the next thing.” You can enlist the help of your children who are old enough to help with the household chores – this is a good thing. My husband is a huge help around the house for me and is always ready to help where needed.

It doesn’t mean you’re going at it alone but someone has to get things started and this usually does fall on us women as keepers of our homes. But let me state, if you find yourself having to go it alone, can you offer it up to the Lord as a sweet sacrifice and do as we talked above, doing all your work as unto the Lord rejoicing and giving thanks in all things? If you’re in Christ I know you can because it is the Lord at work in you and He has not left us alone but put His Spirit within us so we are not without help but given the Ulitmate Helper. 

3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. ~Titus 2:3-5


Let me walk you through some basics of where to begin when you don’t even know where to begin:

(This is just a place to start – take it one step at a time, maybe one step a day but please begin)

Start by taking care of all the dirty dishes in the sink. Next, wipe down and tidy the kitchen counters. Put out some clean dish towels when you are all finished and try to go to bed without any dishes in the sink.

Throw a load of laundry in the washer (or re-wash that load that’s been in there a few days) and finish it all the way through. That means dry, fold, and put away.  Yes, doing a load of laundry entails all those steps. If you can only get through one load a day and get it put away – then only do one load a day!

-Take a peek in that bathroom and make sure it is stocked with necessary supplies. Give it a good clean and put out fresh towels. (See Deep Cleaning Your Bathroom or Five Minute Bathroom Tidy)

-What does your front entry look like where company comes in? Can you tidy it by dusting, sweeping the floor, making sure the entry rug is clean, and there is a place for visitors to put their coats?

-What about your family room? Can you find a place to sit? Only keep in the room what needs to be in the room. Make sure family members take their belongings to their rooms every evening before bed. Give it a quick pick up, dusting and vacuum. Don’t even deal with decluttering at this stage.

Could you take it one room at a time and just clean the surface areas that are visible?  Take the time to tidy the bedrooms and make sure there are clean sheets on the beds. Does your family have clean towels to use?

It Takes Hard Work:

You cannot even begin to organize if you have lots of clutter. Don’t worry about the cupboards until you can manage the day-to-day clean-up, laundry, and meals.  When you begin to have a routine and some sense of order, make a list of areas you would like to declutter.

Always declutter before you even start to organize. So many people go out and buy all these fancy containers and storage bins when they may not need for them once they determine what they are keeping, throwing away or giving away. Those are your three categories when you declutter – Keep, Throw Away & Giveaway. (See Bringing Order to Our Homes – or Podcast Ep. 14: Simple Tips for a Clutter-Free Home.)

Keeping a home is work, there is no way around it. It is not going to happen if you just sit around on the computer all day or sit around making lists of what needs to be done but never doing it. Listen, I love to make lists, and I can find myself making them and never acting on them.

It takes discipline.  There are no unique skills required to wash dishes or do laundry. You just have to do it.  Every day you put these tasks off, the piles just build, and it gets harder and harder to begin.

You have to start somewhere, and I hope to encourage you to start.

Having a home with a sense of order and cleanliness will be a blessing to your family.  It is teaching your children how to be good stewards of the house and belongings the Lord has blessed you with. It is showing your husband you are thankful for the home he has provided for you. It will save you money by being organized, so you know what you have on hand and not buy duplicates. You will spend less time running all over trying to find items you’ve lost – eventually you’ll have a place for everything. You will see yourself practicing biblical hospitality by inviting others over. These are just a few benefits.

I genuinely work and function better in my home when there is a sense of order.
Will you ponder and pray and ask the Lord to help you begin to care for and manage your home well?



Help in Getting Started:

I have several posts that may be a help to you. My Morning and Evening Routine posts are great places to start. Read How Well Do You Manage Your Home and spend some time in my Homemaking 101 Series posts.

Listen to my podcasts on, Cleaning Schedules, Decluttering, Benefits of Habits in Your Homemaking and The Routines of the Day. You can subscribe to the weekly podcast here.

Subscribe to the blog for weekly encouragement in your inbox, a monthly newsletter and receive two free eBooks.


Menu Planning Made Easy 

“The way to do a great deal is to keep on doing a little. The way to do nothing at all, is to be continually resolving that you will do everything.” ~ Charles Spurgeon


“One expression in Titus 2 deserves special notice. It is the word homemakers. The Greek word is oikourgous, which literally means “workers at home.” Oikos is the Greek word for “home,” and ergon means “work, employment.” It suggests that a married woman’s first duty is to her own family, in her own household. Managing her own home should be her primary employment, her first task, her most important job, and her true career.”

~ John MacArthur


Related Links:

Podcast Ep. 16: Simplify Your Housekeeping with a Cleaning Schedule 

Podcast Ep. 14: Simple Tips for a Clutter-Free Home

Podcast Ep. 2: Delighting in Being a Worker at Home

Podcast Ep 12: Simple Menu Planning Tips









  1. I read only the beginning and I liked what I read. I am a widow with no children but have 2 cats.
    Ok, I am also a nurse so I work 12 hour shifts, although not every day. I am tired and, at times,
    very achy because I am so tired. My house is one hot mess. Your suggestions of starting with
    cleaning the kitchen; doing one load of laundry are great beginnings. I do multiple loads, then
    take the clothes out of the dryer and they sit in the laundry basket for days. I plan to start
    following your suggestions, modify as applicable to me. Keep the suggestions coming.

  2. Don’t worry, Marci. The truth is never outdated. I found your article very encouraging . . . particularly the part about not worrying about decluttering until I’ve got the everyday basics down. That is very helpful for this all or nothing cleaner.

  3. Unfortunately, this didn’t help me with feeling overwhelmed. I found your concepts terribly outdated (you assume I have a male partner and that he provided a home). I clicked on this because I thought it would be compassionate and perhaps even humoress. I never thought I’d be subject to bible lessons and preaching. Again, you assume your readers are Christian it seems. These assumptions will narrow your readership immensely. Helping others means requires inclusion and open mindedness.

    1. This is a frustrating comment, my mother says the same thing.

      “You don’t understand” “you have a husband” you have help”

      Well the truth is, I do have a husband, 3 kids, and a job that requires traveling. I was a room mom, my kids were in sports, and my husband did not help me with any of that! I did all the grocery shopping, sent out all the bills, drove my kids to and from school, was an asst. coach for my daughters softball team, worked, and it was still my responsibility to clean my home. I can’t say I did all of those things perfectly all of the time but I did do my very best!!! And now that children are grown I have 2 dogs 3 cats 4 goats and 13 chickens and I take much pride in my home:) it’s hard I have acreage now and so weeds need cut and sprayed and on and on and on. I not easy! But it’s necessary and I feel good when I accomplish my tasks:) not being a Christian and not being married makes no difference those are excuses that unfortunately you have to reconcile with yourself. I read this because I’m looking for help for my mother, who has no kids at home no animals at home and no husband. She is only responsible for herself which seems would make it SO much easier!

  4. Not sure I agree with the comment that as a wife and mother it’s your job to keep the house clean and look after the family…that’s a bit old fashioned. I am the sole provider for my family while my husband is a stay at home dad. We have lived this way for 6 years. I’m out of the house for about 12 hours a day, 5 days a week and don’t have the time to make my house spotless. All your post did was to make me feel inadequate.

    1. Marci Ferrell says:

      Danni maybe this post was not for you if you’re not dealing with being overwhelmed or even know where to begin with your homekeeping. It sounds like your home has it figured out with what works for your family. It is meant to be an encouragement for women who don’t know where to begin and just encourage them to start to do the next thing. It may seem old-fashioned but I hold to God’s role in calling me to be a “keeper of my home”. It doesn’t mean I don’t work outside the home or ever leave my home but it is part of my ministry to my family and to the Lord. I do hold a full-time job, blog and keep my home and my husband does help me but this is not the case for every home. I always encourage all women to do an in-depth study of Titus 2:3-5 using

  5. I work from home, and now my son is getting to an age where we are on the go… a LOT!! Sadly, because of both of these (plus some unexpected travel for family emergencies) my poor house is nowhere near the state it once was… I imagine it’s what the beginning stages of these houses you see on “Extreme Hoarders” would look like. I seriously needed just a jumping point of where to start! Now, I’m going to go throw that load of towels in the wash and get these dishes taken care of… I might even fold the rest of this laundry today. Thank you so much for this article! I look forward to following your blog in the future! <3

  6. I really needed this right now. I’ve been dealing w/ health issues in the midst of trying to be wife, mama to 2.. homeschooling & trying to keep our home in order. Thank you so much for taking the time to share. Huggs & Blessings, SK.

  7. Thanks for sharing! It does take hard work and it is a lot of responsibility. It is not a job you can take too many days off from!

  8. WOW, this has made my whole day in a different mood I started out in! I just want to say thank you for sharing your wisdom in a Christian way! I can’t wait to start reading everything you have! Thank you & God bless you sister… Jana

  9. And if you are still overwhelmed, then come to my house. I have to do all those things while working 40+ hours a week. Providing and cleaning are way easier if you assign chores for your family. And if you do not work you should be able to get it done if your kids go to school or are in daycare. And yes I did all those things while I was working with a newborn.

    1. Agree! My family works together. These jobs should not solely fall on the mother/wife. I am also a firm Christian and do not see any reason why the family cannot work as a team. I have two daughters and I plan to raise them as people who can make a difference in this world inside and outside of the home.

      I won’t assume I (or any of us) know what God intended. However, I must question how you can be a messenger for God if you are simply intended to be in the home. It is a true question I have, not an offensive one.

      1. Marci Ferrell says:

        Ash, it would be wonderful for the family to work as a team. It’s not always the case in every home. I am blessed to have a husband who does help with the chores. We taught our kids to help with chores. Not every husband may help with chores. The children may be too young to help. If you read the post it was guiding the mama who doesn’t know where to begin. This may not be a post needed for you or Erika. It’s meant for the woman who hasn’t had the model of a Titus 2 relationship to walk her through caring for her home and family. The church is to function as a family. The ideal situation would be for the older women to form relationships with the younger women and live out Titus 2 in person. I never stated that I was a “messenger from God” but we are all His ambassadors and Titus 2:3-5 reminds us of our calling as women and it is a calling we should desire to live out to the unbelieving world and Titus 2 verse 5 ends with why – “that the word of God may not be reviled.” Just a quick note, I work part-time for my husband, blog part-time, keep my home and love and care for my family. I worked outside the home some when my kiddos were little to so I’ve experienced various seasons of my 52 years.

  10. Kathey Garcia says:

    I am very encouraged to see a truly biblical approach to being a wife and a mother! I am a firm Christian believer as well as is my family. These days the role of a woman is turned backwards, and the woman’s place in the home has been made into something else entirely. I don’t think God intended for women to be trampled on, but I also don’t believe He intended for us to be independent of the family. I encourage every woman to read in God’s Word what the woman should be. I appreciate you and all this material you’ve written. As a wife and a mother of 5 (I also worked fulltime throughout my children’s young lives) I understand the feeling of being overwhelmed! And honestly, all the things I just read that you wrote here is exactly how I handled my home and I can tell you this definitely works perfectly. Thank you for this as I am sure there are a lot of women both young and old who could benefit from your very useful advice. ☺️☺️

    1. Marci Ferrell says:

      Kathey you are a busy woman! So appreciate you sharing this with me – it’s a blessing to me, my friend.

  11. I’m sorry, but I don’t see how this post helps someone who is overwhelmed. I’m pretty sure they already know they need to “just do it.” I found this article to be condescending to those who do feel overwhelmed. The links you gave and info on how to set a routine would have been a good start, but you ended with that instead. It all boiled down to get your lazy butt off the computer and clean your house.

    1. Marci Ferrell says:

      Mary thank you for taking the time to comment. My purpose was not to be condescending but the hope is to give them some direction. I chat with many women and they just need a focus on where to start and that was the purpose of this post. It has been an encouragement to many women. We need to pray to the Lord for help but we also need to act. I’m so reminded of the book of Nehemiah where they prayed to the Lord for protection but they strapped on their weapons.

  12. Pingback: Saturday Salutes ~ Family Culture and a New Potato Recipe - Girls To Grow
  13. Demetra Hillman says:

    Thank you for this beautiful post. This is where I am and I’ve been trying to “research” my way out of a rut. Thank you for just coming out and saying what needed to be said. God bless you! Now let me get up and get to work!

  14. Thanks for the post Marci:)

    “I know there are many of you feeling drowned in chaos and not doing anything about it because you don’t know where to start. Let me help you by telling you to just begin. You have to do something. “

    That helped me a lot on a day I felt overwhelmed, and is still helping! Thank you for your encouragement and advice.

  15. The Mama Behind the Story says:

    Hey, Marci!!! Just wanted to let you know that your post is among this week’s featured!!! It’ll be shared among social media and has been pinned to pinterest. Thanks for linking up at A Mama’s Story.

  16. Amanda Roach says:

    Love this, it seems like few ppl where I live feel this way about….your job(s) as a wife & mother, its refreshing to see someone share my values as far as family & homemaking!!:)

  17. Jennifer Ross says:

    Thanks for sharing our DVD Marci!! You had such good, practical advice in this post. Starting with the dishes and laundry is a great way to get the house looking better and for Mom to not feel so overwhelmed!
    Blessings sister!

  18. Charlotte Parker says:

    Thanks so much for this linkup, Marci! I am really loving it, even though I am just a teenager! I am getting started doing the FlyLady program (one Babystep at a time) and I would definitely recommend it! Anyway, I am so glad that you are addressing this issue first before you jump into anything else, as it is SO important for young mothers to grasp the clean house issue before they try to do anything else. A clean house makes everything else better, doesn’t it?

    Looking forward to this series!


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