Motivation In Motherhood

Today’s post was inspired by this question from a reader:

I would be very interested to know where you get the MOTIVATION to actually do what you write about. Being a mum of (only) one child, planning is not my challenge, but the ‘follow-thru’. Sometimes I just cannot be bothered, which often has consequences I see later, and get a little upset by (eg a quick dinner didn’t work, or I didn’t clean that yesterday and now it’s 10 times worse).

Even before receiving this email, I had been thinking a lot about motivation recently. What is it that drives me? What is it I want to do for me? What is it I want to do for the family?

Before I go into what does motivate me, I would like to start with an example list of things I have absolutely no motivation for:

  • dusting – can’t stand it. Just finish it and it comes straight back.
  • toilet cleaning – as above.
  • gardening – don’t know if it is a time thing, but have no driving force to get out and work with the earth. (I do want to change this one though.)
  • book keeping / tax related stuff – even thinking about it makes my head hurt.

This list could go on and on, but what I have realised in thinking about motivation is there is more to the driving force behind my behaviour than motivation. Some things I am motivated to do, but others I do out of necessity. These require discipline and sticking to task. Once I have done this long enough they they become habits. Part of my daily life that I do without even really thinking about them.

I think it is ok to not be motivated to do all aspects of home life, some of it is dreary, finding other ways to make sure these tasks get done is the trick though!



  1. the act or an instance of motivating
  2. desire to do; interest or drive
  3. incentive or inducement
  4. psychol the process that arouses, sustains and regulates human and animal behaviour. Source.

I do take a conscious approach to parenting and how I organise the home. My underlying motivation is to make our family a tight, cohesive and loving unit. To this extent I am motivated to:

  • read and learn more about each stage of childhood, so I am better equipped to meet the challenges they bring.
  • make sure we spend time together as a family
  • make sure I spend individual time with each child to strengthen my personal connection to them.
  • stay organised so I do not feel overwhelmed and get snappy with everyone.

It can be very hard to feel the motivation for this at 9.30pm at night when you are exhausted and bed is calling. This is where discipline comes into it.



  1. training to act in accordance with rules; drill: military discipline.
  2. activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training: A daily stint at the typewriter is excellent discipline for a writer. Source

Last week I referred to a post by Leo Babauta from Zen Habits who summed up how discipline often works for me in getting things done as opposed to motivation:

Do not rationalize.If you allow your brain to talk you out of getting up early, you’ll never do it. Don’t make getting back in bed an option.

In this instance he is talking about getting up early. This works for me to get up each morning and go to the gym, but it hasn’t always. I used to set my alarm at night, but I would often think if I went to bed late “I will see how I feel in the morning.” I had already created my rationalisation for not getting up when the alarm went off. Now I have a different mentality. I set the alarm, I get up.

I also use this disciplined approach for things like making the kids’ lunch boxes. A tedious repetitive task. (One of the reasons I love school holidays so much is because I don’t have to make the lunch boxes!) There is no choice, they need to be set up and partly made before I go to bed. No “I will get up early in the morning and do them.” They just need to get done.



  1. an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary: the habit of looking both ways before crossing the street.
  2. customary practice or use: Daily bathing is an American habit. Source

Once I started to be disciplined about doing things like going to the gym, menu plans, school lunches, tidying before going to bed, they actually become part of my daily routine – they have become a good habit. I do these tasks without really thinking about them – handy when you are tired, its like running on autopilot!

Motivation forms part of why I do what I do, but the bulk of the day to day stuff comes from being disciplined in my approach and creating good habits to get through the work load.

If you would like to read more about habits and how they can help you in the home and with the family explore these posts:

  • How to change a habit – examples and strategies on how you can change your habits to achieve your goals.
  • Why tracking your habits works – racking your habits takes the guess work out it and is a great way to keep motivation high in the initial stages when changing an old or starting a new habit.
  • When to keep or discard habits – Habits work because they take the thinking out of the minutia of the everyday activities you have to do. At some point you need to take stock and work out what habits you need to keep and what you need to discard or change.
  • My habits and changes over the last 9 years – I answer reader questions about my habits.