I am not sure if you have my problem or not, but my problem often tends to be an “all or nothing” type of attitude. If I can’t have a spotless house today, then why even try. I struggle with it!
I realize that I want things spotless – But.it.just.can’t.be.
There are days that I get so frustrated for not having this perfectly clean house all of the time like a “good wife and mother” would. So I get crazy wanting things spotless, and demand that everyone not make messes, not get things out, not have fun, not play…. all for the sake of a clean house.
But then I have to sit back and realize that my idea of a perfectly clean house is an imagination of media to make us feel bad about the states of our houses. Like we are some sort of homemaker failure if we cannot meet the standards dreamed up by non-realists. I have had to learn that a messy house is a sign of fun, action, love, play, creativity and a busy mom!
I cannot keep my house spotless without losing my sanity and my relationship with my kids and hubby. But trust me, there are many, many days that I “covet” a pristine home over these relationships and time that my family needs me.
I have concluded that a weakness is my desire for a complete model home. What a selfish person I am to desire this more than my family some days and that I become a “crazy” person by seeking perfection from everyone!
I have also realized that it is pride. I want to look good, I want others to look up to me, I want others to want to emulate me – HOW INCREDIBLY PRIDEFUL.
I have always thought the phrases like these:
was just a cutesy way for mom’s to have an excuse to have a messy house. I thought it was silly…… before I had kids and as a newlywed….. you know that time period when you are “an expert on child-rearing and homemaking.”
I was determined to be one of those mom’s whose house would be spotless. I was pretty successful with my first child, before she could walk and not too shabby when #2 came along. But then I really had a time of it once #3 got here….. and the rest is history with #4 and #5!
Even with five kids, there have been times that I have still tried the model home life. Those days are terrible! I was cranky, tired, yelling at every drop of anything, and stressed to the core. My kids were bored, irritable, fighting with each other more, and unhappy.
Well, as prideful and selfish as I get, God seems to knock me down a several notches and bring me back to reality. I was really struggling with trying to keep my home clean when #4 arrived and I acted as if this defined my motherhood. Then one day, a very wise man at church shared a Proverb with me:
“Where no oxen are, the trough is clean;
But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.”
Proverbs 14:4 (NKJV)
This really spoke volumes to me! My focus was on the completely WRONG thing! Why am I allowing society and even other selfish homemakers to define my motherhood based on the state of my home and nothing else?
So now, I strive for something more like this:
I also need to give myself a break…. We are busy! Our day starts between 4:30 – 5:30 am depending on when we make it to bed. Alex and I work on our home businesses for 2-3 hours in the morning before the kids get up and then once they are up, I try to commit to them, homeschooling five littles, exercising, personal Bible study, taking the time to be thrifty to stay in budget and go, go, go all day.
Yes, you may come to my home and see toys, books, crayons, dirty laundry that the kids took “half way” to the laundry room and I haven’t gotten it the rest of the way or even clean laundry piled on the couch strewn about my “stall.” But I would much rather have dirty and clean laundry, books, toys, crayons, the remains of art projects, dishes from lunch piled on counter and sinks and sit there until dinner, than not.
Some days, I barely touch the house! So with that, there are 4 things I try to do everyday to keep it orderly and make it clean without spending so much time to do so. It also means that days that I can devote more time, these 4 simple steps have kept things in order enough to make everything else much smoother and quicker!
I encourage you to implement these quick tasks into your home so no matter if it is “one of those days,” the task of homemaking isn’t so arduous when you finally have the time!
1. Make Your Bed Everyday
Just do it! It changes your attitude and outlook for the day! It propels you into a day of accomplishing more because you accomplished something significant to start, but it only took a few minutes. It’s a very simple task and for me it naturally leads to a few other things getting picked up. But even if it doesn’t, climbing into a made bed after a long, hard day is a reward and a reminder that everything is fine. It helps me to sleep better, literally. The last thing I see is completed and I can sleep in peace. Some days, this is all that is done in our rooms.
I don’t care if there is a pile of papers on the floor, dirty clothes strewn about, or more needing to be done in the room, and I can’t get to it then, but I will still make the bed.
I require our kids to do the same. Even today, I walked over piles of laundry (currently clean and still waiting to be put away – but I do have a pretty rigorous school schedule, so I lighten on chores on heavy school days), a pile of paper dolls, and a spilled craft bin in our girls’ room, but their bed still needed to be made and I was content with that for some days.
2. Keep your counters clean – especially in the bathrooms
I have learned that this is one of the #1 things that my husband notices. If the counters are messy, it doesn’t matter how clean everything else is, he won’t notice. Perhaps this is the same with guests too. Clean counters do AMAZING things for a room!
The kitchen is way more challenging for me to constantly keep cleaned off, but I do try. The bathrooms are a bit easier and it is so nice to walk into a bathroom, even if the hamper is overflowing, to have a clean counter.
I also learned this trick from a professional organizer who believes clean bathroom counters are inexcusable for any home and the most important task. I wouldn’t take it that far, but I can attest to the power of clean counters.
To help keep them clean, keep a rag in the bathrooms and kitchen that will allow every one to quickly “wipe” them down before they turn off the light and walk out. Its just a part of the routine. This keeps them dry and it also forces you to quickly remove unnecessary items too.
3. 20 Minute Quick Clean
Could you find an extra 20-minutes in your day somewhere? I am sure you could….. cut out some Pinterest or Facebook time if needed. Find just 20 minutes each day to complete a 20-minute quick clean.
We do this right before daddy comes home. It is CRAZY what myself, 3 older kids and 2 younger kids can do in 20 minutes. It completely transforms our main level. I just pray that if someone is going to stop by…. it is right after the quick clean, because before is a big, happy, creative mess that they will be walking into.
We make a game out of it, turn on music and all see how much we can do in 20-minutes. Anyone can work really hard and fast for 20-minutes!
Here’s an example of the results:
4. Develop A Nighttime Kitchen Routine
This makes for an absolutely amazing start to my day! If I walk down in the morning between my usual 4:30 – 5:30 time and see dishes completed, counters cleaned and floors swept….. It feels so good!
On the other hand, I have had days where last night’s dishes were still on the counter and sink, the counters were messy, etc. and I felt defeated before the day had even started. My motivation to have a productive day seems to instantly leave me. I am in a bad mood too!
I take about 15 minutes at night to clean the kitchen. Once my kids are in bed, it is actually a relaxing time. It is hard to do any cleaning with kids up and running around. It is also a time that Alex sits at the kitchen counter with his laptop and crunches numbers and gives me the days’ budget and the report as to how we are doing in meeting our financial goals and what things we need to change or look at closer. We also discuss schedules and more “family administrative” tasks. It is only 15-20 minutes tops but it literally adds to the day’s productivity to pay you more than 15-20 minutes the next day.
This also makes the time that we retreat to bed a nice relaxing time and we don’t have to discuss those stressful things in the bedroom
And now let me end with this:
Photo credits for the fun photos in this post: TrimbleCrafts.com, VoiceinRecovery.com, WallArtFromTheHeart.com, ComeTogetherKids.com, Pinterest.com