Taking care of your home - it is part of the job. It is life. It can be a struggle! Home, the house you live in, is a gift. I truly believe that each gift from God is ours to steward. God wants us to use every tool we have to be a blessing to others.
“When God’s children are in need, be the one to help them out. And get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner or, if they need lodging for the night.” Romans 12:13
Growing up, we always had a house full of people. My mom was an entertainer. She loved inviting a crowd over after church or for dinner through the week. My dad had a thing for “strays” because we always had someone staying in our guest room. It was a great way to grow up. A home full of people, food and laughter. And while that was fun, the prep work wasn’t always easy. Because as every woman knows, if you are planning on guests, your home should be welcoming – meaning clean. It doesn’t have to be perfect but it should be comfortable. And so if we wanted to have guests, we had to get the house ready as well as the food. It took work on my mom’s part to be the hostess and as kids we helped out too. It was a life style I greatly enjoyed growing up and I wanted the same for my family.
When I started my own family, I found out just how much work it really was! Having three kids, working and trying to get the house visitor ready wasn’t always easy. But it was super important to me. I loved (and still love) having a house full of people. So I had to get a routine down. I played with it for a while to make it work with my house, and my family’s needs. But eventually we found a routine that worked. And as time passed, we had to change that routine, because life is always changing and you have to be flexible!
The reality is that when I am an old woman looking back on my life, I do not think it will matter that I had the cleanest kitchen in the county. What will matter are the memories I made with my children in that kitchen.
I used to work part time and many days not at all out side of my home and so I felt (for some ridiculous reason) that if I was going to be home all day then the house should be perfect. I wasted countless hours making certain that our home was sparkling clean. I loved it when someone would stop by and complement by saying, “I can’t believe how clean your house is with three kids.” Wide eyed as they gaze around at my remarkably organized home. I had a sense of pride about keeping my home clean. But one great day I heard a woman, who I greatly admired speak about this very topic. She’d had a similar problem, believing that her house needed to be spotless in order to earn her place as a stay at home mom. I hadn’t realized prior to her speaking that was exactly what I was doing as well. Her children were grown now, and she was sharing memories from her time as a young mother and how she felt she had wasted precious time cleaning instead of cuddling.
As she spoke I went through an array of emotions.
First, conviction, because I was doing the same thing, followed by the need to defend my actions… “well I have to keep the house clean, we like having people over..” I began to ponder this for myself. And though I was wrestling with it I resolved that I was spending too much time cleaning and not enough time cuddling. It was one line she shared in her own story. Someday when I stand before God, he will not say to me “well done, you had the cleanest grout ever.” She was referring to how she would scrub the grout in the kitchen floor. It was an eye opening moment for her. One that changed my life course as well. Because the reality is that when I am an old woman looking back on my life, I do not think it will matter that I had the cleanest kitchen in the county. What will matter are the memories I made with my children in that kitchen.
This revelation made me realize I needed a routine. I needed something I could commit to, because, while I didn’t want to spend more time cleaning than necessary, it was still necessary. I still wanted to have friends over and I still liked a clean house, but now I needed to find a balance and a routine and so I began to pray.
I will be forever grateful to the woman who spoke that evening for opening my eyes to the precious time I was wasting. I think she spoke directly to the part of me that felt it was part of my job requirement to spend too many hours cleaning. But now I needed to make some changes.
I had no idea where to start, which ironically is always the best place to be. Because when I don’t know what to do, that is when I remember to go to God first. And so I went to God with my concerns. I asked for wisdom in running my household. I asked what He expected of me. As I asked for His help. Then something wonderful happened in my life. He began to help me. It was as if a light bulb came on! All this time I had been trying to do everything the way I thought it had to be or was supposed to be. I never imagined there was a better way. I never thought to pray about such a simple thing. But prayer changes things and God does care about the details.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6
God set a great example for us. He didn’t do it all in one day. He accomplished a goal He could be proud of each day. And even God took a break when He was finished, looked back and took pride in his work, knowing it was good. This was the model. In our overloaded lives we try to do too much and enjoy too little. I think God set the example from the very beginning and so I began to simplify and organize my cleaning routine.
This week’s challenge is to create a cleaning routine for your family. The previous challenges were very important and are helping to give you peace of mind and begin focusing on the goals you have for your family. You now have some much needed time for yourself and also a fresh perspective on getting things done. Remember you have goals to accomplish, not a list of “have tos”.
Routines are a big part of being a Joyful Mommy. Routines are all about having a plan, and simplifying life. This challenge is to come up with a cleaning routine that fits your life while keeping your home running smoothly and on track. A regular routine will help you to stay on top of your duties without going overboard and allowing the chore of household work to consume all of your time.
Planning your routines
1. No more than 1 hour a day.
Chores will always be there. Sure you may need to do a quick pick up throughout the day depending on your child’s age and the activities you do together. But the “chore of the day”, such as vacuuming, dusting, etcetera should be limited to one hour. The exception to this is errands because getting groceries and putting them away will definitely take more than one hour.
2. Include the kids.
Give everyone a chore to help out. It is so important and beneficial for kids to know that they are a contributing part of the family.
*Give the kids a chore you can handle them doing. Show them how to do and let them at it. DO NOT re-do! The worse thing would be for your child to see you re-doing a job they had completed. It sends the message that “you are not good enough”. Build your kids up by letting them help and letting them learn.
3. Post the list.
Once you have thought about, decided on and created the list, print it and stick it. Hang on the refrigerator or tape it in the hallway. Post it someplace where it is sure to be noticed. Talk to your family about what you are doing and let them know how they can help.
4. Stick to the schedule!
In the beginning it may be difficult to stick to the cleaning routine. You will be tempted to “double up” on one day or put things off to another. That may be okay in the future, but for now it is important to give this new idea a chance to take effect. You will see the positive difference it makes in your family in no time. Whatever cleaning routine you decide on, stick to that schedule for 3 weeks. You can make any necessary changes in week four. But it is very important to give this a chance, it is new, it is a change, but it will make life so much simpler if you give it a chance!
Things to think about:
Your current schedules.
Sports or activities you or the kids may be committed to.
What may need to be accomplished on certain days?
Tips for every day:
Make your bed each morning. It only takes a minute but you come home to that clean, ready room feeling. You will be surprised what a difference it makes.
Clean as you go. When cooking, crafting, or whatever else you may be doing, complete one task before traveling on to the next. Pick up after yourself as well as the kids as you go. This will really help you stay on top of your household chores and cleanliness.
Doing a quick pick up of toys and whatnot should be a part of your going to bed routine, every night. That way you wake up to a clean house each morning and start the day off right. You may even get a basket for miscellaneous misplaced items to do a quick pick up each night. The kids can put their own items away from the basket the next day.
Try using a fabric refresher or any good smelling spray as part of your nightly quick pick up routine. It will help keep your home smelling fresh.
Plan ahead. If mornings are a particularly rushed time for you, make laying out the clothes for tomorrow a part of your bedtime routine. Pick out your clothes. Lay out your kids’. Have a designated place so they can hop up and get dressed themselves in the morning. You already have a mom-approved outfit waiting for them. (this can also help avoid the battle some moms face when your kids want to pick their own mix-matched clothes). Also make sure to have an everyday location for shoes and backpacks. There is no bigger frustration than missing the bus because of a lost shoe.