I hurriedly made my bed this morning, wishing there were more hours in the day.
Just a few minutes earlier, my five year old had asked me if I would teach him how to play the piano. I let out a longing sigh, wishing that it were possible for me to drop everything I was doing and go spend some time at the piano with my boy.
But I knew that wasn’t the thing that needed to be done at the moment.
For every homemaker, there’s a constant question of when to spend one’s time maintaining a clean and pleasant environment and when to forget about the to-do list and give undivided attention to the people who live in that environment.
Unfortunately, after we’ve made our decision, there’s usually a nagging in the back our mind as to whether or not we made the right one. If we spend our time cleaning, we feel guilty for not giving more one-on-one attention to our kids. If we spend our time playing with or reading to the kids, we feel guilty that some of the housework is left undone.
No matter how beautiful and clean one’s house is, and no matter how much loving attention one’s family receives, none of us will ever be a perfect homemaker.
We can make every effort known to man to improve our skills and to manage our time better, but the twenty-four hours allotted to each day will still never be enough to attain perfection in all areas of homemaking.
But as I made my bed this morning, frustrated by those limitations of time, I realized that I actually do know a perfect homemaker.
And that homemaker is not even a woman – not even a human actually. That’s what makes him so perfect.
The perfect homemaker is God.
Right now he is preparing a perfect home for his children.
He is not limited in time or resources. He possesses all the time necessary for maintaining a home of infinite beauty and order, while simultaneously giving his children unlimited love and attention.
I’ll admit that this analogy of God as a homemaker seemed a little cheesy at first, but the more I thought about it, the more encouraged I became in my own role as a homemaker.
I need not succumb to irritation at the limitations of the time-bound, sin-cursed earth on which I live. The impossibility of ever attaining perfection as a homemaker instead makes me turn my attention to my eternal home!
Just think! A home with no dirt on the floor, no legos to step on, and unlimited time to spend with the ones we love!
The reality of imperfect homemaking gives us endless opportunities to focus on the eternal and to teach our children to do the same.
When you are confronted with dirt, disorder, and a clock that moves far too quickly, remember the perfect home that awaits you some day.
Let’s get a fresh perspective of homemaking. Homemaking was never about “doing it all”. Homemaking is about creating an environment where CHRIST is the center of all that is done and said. And what better opportunity to turn the attention of our family onto things above than when we're confronted with reminders that this world is not our home?
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Maybe I'm weird (don't feel a need to voice your opinion on that), but I have a hard time getting to the deeper cleaning in my house.
My husband says it's because I'm a perfectionist (which also happens to be what Flylady says in her book.) You'd never know I'm a perfectionist by looking at my house, but I'm learning that it's probably true.
The reason perfectionists are often messier is because we (okay, I'm owning up to it) don't like to do a job unless we have time to do it perfectly.
The people with really clean houses are the people who are okay with “good enough”. They don't have time to scrub the bathroom top to bottom everyday, so they're okay with wiping out the sink really quickly.
Perfectionists, on the other hand, look around the bathroom and say, “Ugh! It's so dirty in here! I have got to get in here and scrub it!” And then we walk out, waiting to clean anything until we have half an hour free to polish every nook and cranny.
So when it comes to deep cleaning, I have a very hard time ever getting to things like dusting cobwebs, washing windows, or cleaning the oven (actually, let's not even talk about the oven. I don't have any idea when the last time I cleaned the oven was.)
I can't stand to clean the oven when the rest of the kitchen is dirty. But because lots of people live here, and most of us are home all day every day, there are always random dishes to be done. There are always crumbs on the floor that I just swept. So I can't ever do something extra because the regular stuff is never done.
I'm crazy either way. If the regular stuff is not done, I feel crazy. If the bigger stuff sits there and sits there and sits there, taunting me, I feel crazy too.
I love to mow the lawn because it's one thing I can do that actually feels finished when I'm done. When I walk outside, I can actually see that, “Hey! I did something!” I get to enjoy the results of my efforts for at least a week!
So, knowing my propensity toward perfectionism, and knowing just how badly I need that visual sense of accomplishment, I knew I needed more lawn mowing type experiences. I needed to be able to do a job and visually see that it was done, even if it became undone the very second I finished.
One of my Facebook friends recently linked to the Motivated Moms planner, and I took a peek at it. I immediately thought, “Gasp! That's exactly what I need!”
It tells me exactly what to do, every single day of the year, and I get to check the box off and tell myself, “This job is done! Good job!”
Here's what one week looks like:
On the left side, I have all the daily basics. (You know, those things that are never done? Thanks to those handy little check boxes, if I've done them once, they are considered done, and I have visual proof that they're done. )
On the right side, there are a few of the deeper cleaning chores listed for each day. It's enough to get the entire house cleaned from top to bottom every week, and once again, I can see that it's done. So even if my eyes can't enjoy the sight of the actually clean house for very long, I can still enjoy the visual sense of accomplishment by having a record of all the work I've done.
The planner has a paper version as well as an app, so you can use whichever format works better for you. I wanted the paper version because apps like this usually tend to get “lost” in the depths of my phone. I use it for a little bit and then it's “out of sight, out of mind.”
You could technically make something like this yourself for free too, if money is tight. I did when I was first married. I walked through every room in my house and made a list of every single chore that would ever need to be done and how often it needed to be done. Then I took a calendar and wrote down each chore on every single day of the year. If something needed to be done quarterly, I put it on the calendar once every three months, and so forth.
It took a long time, y'all! But it can be done, if that's what you're determined to do.
Over time, as kids came along, things got topsy turvy and that calendar got lost in the shuffle.
But I'm excited to try this system again and see if I can finally get to some of those other jobs that have been bothering me for too long!
I looked around at the kitchen counter that was covered in dirty dishes…again.
“Oh, how I hate waking up to this mess, but I just couldn't keep going last night,” I thought.
My heart rate rose as I glanced into the laundry room and saw the pile of dirty clothes that was growing impossibly large. Chances are that someone would need something in that pile today and I would feel even more frustrated and stressed that I can't even provide a clean pair of socks for my child.
When I am feeling well I work hard to keep the house as clean as I can. I know how stressed a messy house makes me feel, and I know that the stress will only make my health issues worse. But then when I am too weak to get out of bed and the kids are making their own food, they don't do such a great job at cleaning it up. (Okay, that is putting it lightly. It is a horrible mess that no one would ever want to see.)
I have help that comes once a week and that has made a big difference. Even if she doesn't have time to get to the bigger things, she can sweep through and clean up the dishes and laundry so that everyone can breathe again. The deeper cleaning is actually easier for my kids to do on their own anyway. I just give them a wet e-cloth and let them go to town scrubbing floors, walls, doors, and the older ones know how to clean the bathroom as well.
If you live with chronic illness, you know that one of the most frustrating things is not knowing what you'll be able to accomplish on any given day. You never know when you'll be up to housework and when you'll need to be in bed most of the day.
But no matter what:
Do all that you can in the strength of the Lord, asking for his wisdom day by day.
And then rejoice in the Lord, count your blessings, and stop focusing on the things that you wish were different.
I've always felt fairly organized when it comes to paper clutter (probably because my husband pays the bills, so I just put them in a basket for him and forget about it!)
But really, I have always read that you shouldn't check the mail until you are ready to sort it, so that's what I do. I bring it into the house, walk straight to the trash can, and throw away the junk mail. Then I put any bills in a basket by the computer so that my husband can pay them when he has a chance. Any other mail that needs to be dealt with goes into a basket on my nightstand. I usually look through the basket every morning and add things to my to-do list for the day based on what's in there.
But even with keeping paper clutter at bay, I still cringe when I walk into the house with a huge stack of mail and throw 99% of it into the garbage. What a waste! A waste of paper and ink, a waste of time and effort from the advertisers and postal service, and a waste of garbage bags that get filled up way too quickly.
I wish people would just stop sending this stuff!
Today I discovered a couple websites that I'm really excited about and wish I had known about a long time ago!
The first site, OptOutPrescreen, gets rid of pre-screened credit and insurance offers for five years or even permanently if you choose. In case you are concerned about needing these offers in the future should you want to comparison shop for new services, there is a way to opt back in.
The second site, DMAchoice, gets rid of catalogs, magazine subscription offers, “Current Resident” offers, etc. You can customize what you'd like to keep and what you'd like to opt out of.
While I was at it, I went ahead and put our phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. My husband has had a lot of trouble lately with unsolicited and automated calls to his phone.
I am excited to see how this will cut down on the amount of junk mail that is coming into our mailbox! I'm not expecting it to be a perfect solution, but I do think it will drastically reduce the number of things I have to throw away.
*I know some of you don't live in the U.S. – hopefully you can find similar services in your country!
Do you ever feel that way? Then you will definitely want to get in on this brand new course: Time Management for the Busy Homemaker
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It steals so much from us.
The more things we have, the more time it takes to maintain them. The more things we have to maintain and clean up, the less time we have for truly important things – our relationships with God and with others.
Over the past couple months we've been laser-focused in our home on removing clutter…and when we've removed a bunch, we go back through and remove some more.
But even more than removing clutter from my home, there is another, more important type of clutter that I must remove.
I must remove the clutter from my mind, heart, and schedule.
Time to love God
Time to love my husband
Time to love my children
When I ruthlessly purge unnecessary junk from my attic, I find forgotten treasures buried there. And when I ruthlessly purge clutter from my heart, my mind, and my schedule, I will find the treasure for which I long: TIME for the things that truly matter.
Once I've completed the initial purging, I must make regular decluttering a consistent habit, lest slowly and subtly I realize my treasure is once again buried in the recesses of the attic.
Friend, is your treasure in the attic?
It's time to dig it out. Haul out all the unnecessary items that are hiding the most valuable box you have. Get them out of your life! Find your treasure. Enjoy it. And when those gizmos and gadgets that look so appealing try to weasel their way through your front door, lock it! Don't let them in!
De-clutter your time. De-clutter your mind. De-clutter your heart.
Don't leave your treasure in the attic, unused and buried under piles of useless junk.
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