|How I like the library books to be arranged.|
|How Joseph likes the library books to be arranged.|
On the one hand, there is a neurotic impulse towards perfection - an uptight or even resentful attitude of heart that places things above people. I can become impatient with my kids because I want the house to look just so and they ruin it! Or I can be tense and controlling simply because of the way they are interacting (or might interact) with things. That unhospitable determination to keep a nice, pleasant home can instead make it really unpleasant to live in my home. Rather than using things to make people comfortable, I can sometimes make people uncomfortable on account of things. That's exactly the opposite of good stewardship, good hospitality, good homemaking and good motherhood.
On the other hand....I'm busy. Too busy with more important things to waste my life mopping a floor that will need to be mopped again in approximately 32 minutes. Or I'm tempted at times to write myself a pass for the next - oh, ten years - because I've got a lot of little kids! No one could keep a neat house with four little kids!
|Keeping up with this particular area is a losing battle.|
|These trucks have a wicker basket "home" but my boys prefer to park them around |
(and on top of....and inside of) the fish tank.
Virtue, being the middle of two extremes, finds a balance. Kelly, being in need of a Plan, found Fly Lady. I liked the idea of Fly Lady - you don't try to clean the whole house on one set day; instead she sends you an email every day giving you marching orders for the day's housework. Housework is broken up in little pieces that follow a repeating cycle. I tried it in New Zealand, but her system did not work in my house, for many reasons. So I created a baby version - Maggot Lady, if you will.
I wrote out my normal weekly routines (grocery day, tutoring day, errands day, etc....) and distinguished between days that tended to be less demanding versus those that tend to be more demanding. On the "easier" days, I assigned myself housekeeping tasks that would be more involved. On the busier days, I assigned fewer, faster or more flexible tasks. The result: a manageable weekly routine that allows me to keep the house liveable with minimal effort.
Monday: dust, sweep, mop & vacuum - entire house
1 hour maximum
Tuesday: deep clean kitchen
Wednesday: tidy up a "random area"
(alternates between car, garage,
basement, mudroom/laundry area)
Thursday: pay bills & sort paperwork.
Friday: declutter. tackle piles and put things where they really belong.
throw out stuff and add stuff to the give-away bags.
also, organize something (a closet, a shelf, a room)
15 - 60 minutes
Saturday: deep clean bathrooms, change bedlinens & towels
45 - 60 minutes
Sunday: Sabbath rest
|8 am, right after breakfast|
Two years later, the house is pretty consistently "good enough". There are days and weeks when it is really bad, but most of the time, it's just a matter of keeping on top of the daily crisis areas, the things that spiral completely out of control without daily attention: laundry, dishes, toys and crumbs. These tasks add about another 60 minutes of work per day, but it's spread evenly throughout the day in small bits - and these tasks are also very generously shared with the little people who help create the need for them:)
|Less than two hours later....|
I share this post not because I have it all together, but because I do not, and I have found the concept of routines to be a great tool for creating order out of the chaos. For me, one of the most stubborn areas of "not growing much" in my vocation is finding balance -for example, between being extravagantly present to my children during the day while also attending to the tasks that need to be done to foster a sense of order, well-being and peace in the home. Slowly establishing routines has been an immense help in growing in discipline, in making sure that certain goals are met and in making sure that other goals do not completely take over. And that's something that anyone can benefit from, regardless of gender or vocation.