Monday, February 6, 2012

On Housekeeping.

I have been really challenged (read: convicted) lately, by the upkeep of the home and my role in it. It all started a couple of weeks ago when I purged each room of it's junk and had a total organizational overhaul. My house needed it desperately, and when I finally did it, I wondered how it ever got that out of control and why it had taken me so long to fix it. Now, don't get me wrong - some of you would not have considered it "bad", but for me it felt that way. For the most part, there was junk thrown in closets, no order in most hidden spaces and lots of unnecessary stuff lurking around each corner. It just wasn't "good".

I don't know if it is the upcoming arrival of a new bundle of joy that got me in such a panic about getting the house good and clean, or if it was just high time for it. Probably a mixture of both, but all I know is that I needed that boost. I needed to get my act together and stay on top of things. The laundry piles up too often. The toys are strung about what seems like always. The dust settles. The crumbs multiply. And then I have mini-anxiety attacks.

Something I have realized over the past month is that the more I get rid of, the more space that I have, the more on top of things I stay, the more effort I put forth - ultimately, the more at peace I am. There is something so soothing and relaxing about a clean, clutter-free home. To walk in a closet and see empty spaces ... to open a pantry and actually see the floor ... to walk in a little boys room and see toys in their proper spots - such peace.

My family has made sacrifices for me to stay at home. And my role in staying at home is to keep on top of it and to create a peaceful, warm environment for my family to dwell. It's my job. I was both convicted and encouraged when I ran across this a couple of weeks ago:

"This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I make to my God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God's way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness." Elisabeth Elliot

Hmmm. Faithfulness. Faithfulness in waking up and starting a load of laundry. Faithfulness in scrubbing the spots that people don't see. Faithfulness in getting the tasks done every single day as if I were doing them for Him. And let me tell you, if I knew the Lord was dropping in for a Friday night dinner, I can guarantee you my house would be sparkling like a mountain of jewels.

And then, a few days later, I read this - (do you think God was trying to tell me something?)

"The best way to make homemaking a joyous task is to offer it as unto the Lord; the only way to avoid the drudgery in such mundane tasks is to bathe the tasks with prayer and catch a vision of the divine challenge in making and nutruring a home." Dorothy Patterson

In my morning prayer, I have begun to give my tasks over to the Lord - asking Him to give me diligence, wise time management between balancing the home and my little boy, and endurance for when I become weary (which comes even quicker being pregnant). My whole outlook on my responsibilities has changed and on days when I do not cover myself in this prayer, I can tell a huge difference in my entire demeanor and attitude concerning the home.

I gained a new perspective a couple of weeks ago. A perspective I once had, but had begun to fog over as children and life busied around me. I am blessed in this life, being able to stay home with my babies and create a secure, sweet place for them to grow. It's important for my husband to come home to a nice place of refuge after a stressful day at work. And as the main caregiver for our children and the keeper of the home, I have a lot to juggle and these things are not always so easy to create. It seems simple to keep up the home if you're there all the time, and to spend ample time with the children if they are always at your side, and to always have warm dinners and a smile on your face at the end of the day - but oh ... if only things were as they seemed! Sometimes it seems impossible to stay on top of. And sometimes it is.

And other times, it's easy to catch a case of the lazies when you do the same things every single day (eh, I'll fold those piles of clothes later), and that is a dangerous place to fall (7 loads of laundry later). I often see quotes about letting the dishes pile up so you can play with your baby and how your kids won't remember if the house was messy. I saw those quotes as excuses. "See? I'm not the only one. I would much rather read to Levi and play a game with him than vacuum and dust!" Yes, spending time with my child is extremely important. But, I learned not to use it as an excuse to let other things go. There is time for both. And spending all your time on just one side of the spectrum is not beneficial. It's important to be a living example to our children and to let them SEE us work. How else will they learn the importance of responsibility?

Now, I know my house won't smell of candy coated roses every day and be perfect all the time - that's not life. And there are days when I do let things pile up to spend extra time doing other things I deem important. But, it is my responsibility to give all of myself to my duties and chores, just like with any other job. There is time for work. There is time for play. It's finding that balance within myself and my home that is key.

And the secret door that key fits into is doing it to the glory of God. On the other side? Such peace!

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

And yes, that even means scrubbing the shower floor!

I hope this could encourage some of you out there who may be dealing with some of the same things. Being a stay-at-home parent is not always the easiest thing in the world, and I think it's important to be honest with our struggles and encourage one another in the life the Lord has called us to. Just know that even though my tagline says it, I do not always find the "charm in chores", and the busier and fuller my life becomes, the harder it is to find any charm in them. But, with the help of the Lord and asking each day for His vision for my purpose, it gets easier and easier.

Take courage, and clean on, my friends!

25 comments:

  1. I love everything you've shared in this post! I've been going through the same thing lately. For me, it just feels like I can never get things cleaned up, and I've been so frustrated with the toys everywhere. We all go through phases, and phases are good. We have days, weeks when we are more lax about our home. Life throws many different things at us. It is NEVER okay to be lazy or neglectful of our homes and our families! Sometimes we will feel like cleaning all the grime out of the corners...go with it! Other days we'll feel more like organizing papers OR cooking up a storm...go with it! Somedays you just need to go have fun with the kids. I think we're much more effective when we're in the mood. So that's my two bits, JUST GO WITH IT!!!

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  2. Have you ever looked into the FlyLady system (www.FlyLady.net). It is a loosely faith-based system that is designed to help women develop routines to keep things tidy, and to break the cleaning into small pieces - the point is that then it doesn't feel so much like work (and thus it is much easier to do joyously if it doesn't feel like something you have to suffer through. I have used the system for the better part of the last 4 years, and my home never runs smoother than when I am on the "flylady wagon". Flylady also has a great book called Sink Reflections, available in the home organization section of most major bookstores.

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  3. Thank you so much for addressing those quotes! They drive me crazy! Sticky floors aren't a sign of a good mom - they're just plain gross! It's one thing to have a little dust because you'd rather play with your kid, but there's no excuse for slovenliness.

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  4. Thank you for the encouragement, I too have been going through all the closets & drawers and de-cluttering. It is a wonderful feeling to have everything in its place. But even in doing that it feels like I am neglecting so many other chores I should be doing (it really is a never ending cycle). But thank you for reminding me what a blessing it is to GET to be here, doing this, with my babies by my side. I am very, very blessed. :)

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  5. I have been struggling lately with keeping up the home and I was greatly encouraged by your post. Like you, I get anxious and stressed when my home is disordered and I am definitely not the mum I should be when I'm feeling like that. I need to have the discipline to get back on top of things for the sake of my family and my own sanity! I love the idea that we can use our lives as homemakers as a way of honouring God.

    I completely agree with your 'excuses' statement. Not only would I disagree that children won't remember the mess (I have a long memory myself!), I believe that neglecting our homes sets a terrible example to our children. We are basically telling them that it is okay to neglect your work if there if there is something more fun we want to do.

    Loved this post. Thank you so much.

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  6. What a great post! I am thinking similar things as I prepare to have (and stay home with) my first baby in June. This post was inspiring and uplifting to me.

    Ps I also recommend Flylady! She has changed my life.

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  7. Amen! I have been convicted to meet mundane, cheerless tasks with thanksgiving and joy lately as well. Thanks for posting! You can do it! :)

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  8. Thank you for posting this. Keeping house has been my struggle since becoming a SAHM a little over a year ago. I have been trying to see being a mom and wife as my mission field, but it's still a struggle. The quotes you shared are quite motivational!

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  9. This is wonderful for SAHMs and working moms(that would be me). It's so hard to do it all and so easy to get caught up in the lazies when we feel overwhelmed. Thanks for the encouragement.

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  10. I am also much happier, peaceful, and calm when our home is clean. The last time we moved, it was awful - we had accumulated so much junk. Over the past year, I started picking one day a month to deep clean one room. Just one. It doesn't take much time and it's not overwhelming, and it gives me a "clean space" to admire. We are in a rental house right now, so it is really helping me continuously purge and keep things organized until we buy a place and have to move out. But I think this is something I will continue doing - it really makes me so much happier to have a clean home :)

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  11. I've been fighting this recently too......I think it got worse because we are living in a tiny rent house while we are building our house. No excuses though right? We should be moving in a couple weeks anyway and then I will do a better job!

    I often have thought of the poems as excuses haha......also toddlers LOVE helping folding laundry or other things we can give them while we work to feel like they are helping. Many times I've even played peek-a-boo with the baby while folding laundry just to keep him happy AND productive done at the same time.

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  12. I'm mixed on this post. I mostly agree with you. I do see keeping up the house as my job. And sometimes it is laziness that gets in my way. Those quotes are great and really will give me a lot to reflect on. But the bottom line is - some moms truly can't do it all. My hubby is also a resident, so as you probably know too well, I do just about everything for the home and kids. (We are in a very different situation currently) but usually there is no family in town. I choose to let the housework go when things are busy and we are busy most of the time. For me being an attentive wife and involved mom rank WAY above being a superb housekeeper. Sometimes I think those poems can be good reminders of priority. It's easy to turn the TV on so you can get that kitchen scrubbed. But I also see the other side on how those poems could be used as excuses. Don't get me wrong - there's never an excuse for having a disgusting house, but on a normal basis in my life there is usually something that is not clean. I have to be okay with that to stay sane even though I wish it could be different.

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  13. Thanks,Whitney! I needed that! God's timing is perfect as usual.

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  14. Really enjoyed reading....I have been convicted to purge and rid myself of un-needed items so overall maintenance is low and I can focus more times on kiddos and husband:). Our house is always somewhat is disarray...4 kids under four will do that :). But I had found myself lazy, so I felt in my heart to get in gear for the Lord...it is all His anyway:).

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  15. Thanks for sharing this! It served as a great reminder to me as a stay-at-home mom, that this is my "job" (and one I'm SO thankful for!), and instead of making excuses and letting laziness creep in, I should take on the chores and tasks little by little everyday... as if unto the Lord. Things won't ever be perfect or spotless or "caught up", but it is possible for our home to be somewhat neat and orderly. And I'll be checking out Fly Lady today too. =)

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  16. Such an inspiring post! I want to go throw away a bunch of stuff and begin a more simple lifestyle =)

    I struggle so much with how to divide my time between housework and the children. I, too, feel those "sticky floor" housework quotes can be an excuse. Our kids ultimately are more important than a perfect home, but there does need to be peace and order. And like you said, it's good for them to see us work hard!

    Plus, a clean home tells my husband that I respect him (he's a very neat and tidy person), so when I let the housework go to the pigs, my husband isn't able to relax after a long day's work, and I certainly don't want that.

    God is a God of order, so we should certainly try to reflect that in our homes.

    Thanks for this post! Loved it!

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  17. What a great post!

    Seriously could write a novel on this topic because it strikes such a chord.
    I do not feel at peace when my home is chaotic (Chaos to me can be a blanket unfolded just flung on the couch - it can drive me nuts!). I've learned to refine the art of keeping a clean home. I've not always been this good at it, but it HAS TO BE a balancing act because I can get a little out of control on both ends of the spectrum...basically because I give myself a guilt trip.

    The MAIN THING I've done is put away the thought, "I'll get to that later." (to a degree, I'm not a nut about it) It is SO MUCH easier to keep my house picked up and organized because when I see something out of place, it takes just a second to put it up. (Toys excluded).

    The balancing act between play time with the kids and keeping up my home used to be a war in my head. I sometimes felt a bit of guilt mopping the kitchen floor on a pretty day. Or playing in the yard with a sink of dishes.

    BUT for me, what I've learned about my personality and the structure of my home over the three years of being a Mom to two little ones - I am a better Mom when the home is minimally cluttered and minimally dirty. But if we go outside on a pretty day and track in mud and leaves...so be it. I don't think perfection is key...I think the key is refinement.

    And balance...balance, balance, balance.

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  18. What an awesome post! I struggle with the same things, and am pregnant as well. It gets tiring. Thank you for the encouragement!

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  19. I've been growing in that area over the last few weeks (which goes along with the post I wrote on getting up before my boys) and it is amazing the change it is bringing about in me and our home! My biggest lesson has been that if I am diligent in the basic routines of maintaining my home, the huge messes/cleaning overhauls don't happen, and then I have more time to be fully present with my family! There is freedom in the discipline, for sure!

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  20. I stay at home with my three year old and I watch her best friend every day and I'm 29 weeks pregnant too! What works best for me is that I take one day a week to clean everything. I keep things tidy every day so that all I have to do is dust, vacuum and take out the trash. Mondays are our grocery shopping day, Tuesdays and Wednesdays the girls have activities, Thursday is laundry/stay at home day and Friday mornings we hav gymnastics then I come home and clean the house so I can enjoy th weekend.

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  21. I love that you wrote a post on this subject, because keeping up with my housework on the days that I am home is something I struggle with! I love how you focused it back on work that we do "unto the Lord" as well. Thanks for this!

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  22. Man, this post kinda convicted me... I haven't been on top of things lately, and have been getting lazy... I really need to figure out a system for myself. =)

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  23. I always chuckle to myself when I get the question from my non-parent friends: "What do you do at home all day?" It was definitely easier in the beginning when I just had my daughter to care for, rather than now with three small children and one on the way. My trick to keeping things running is this: work first, play later. So I do my chores in the morning. Things like dishes, cooking, tidying up, and laundry have to happen every day of course. But things like dusting and mopping are scheduled.

    Also, it helps if I restrict myself to getting on the internet only a couple times a day :) Amazing how much time that frees up!

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  24. Thanks for posting this - I have really been struggling with my to-do lists and time management lately, and this really helped!

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May the Lord bless you and keep you safe today! Thanks for the comment, friends! :)

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