Editor’s note: This is Part 2 of Marcia Washburn’s article, “Getting a Handle on Housework.” For Part 1, click here.
Just as we seek out curriculum well-suited to each of our children’s needs and learning styles, our Father does the same for us. It has taken years for Him to get this far in revising my attitude — I’m a slow learner. But while He worked on my attitude, He graciously identified strategies for getting a handle on housework. He didn’t make my family suffer while I was getting straightened out.
Here are some tactics that worked for me.
Develop a strategy for maintenance.
Instead of only having a nice clean home when guests are coming and you’ve spent two weeks digging out, commit to doing a little each day to keep it that way. After all, aren’t those in your family worth it? Maintaining a clean orderly home takes less time than cleaning a dirty one. Why not do it a little at a time instead of in an all-in-one exhausting, emotion-wrenching session?
It is not necessary to have a magazine-perfect house.
Don’t be afraid to live in your home. Use the china, the living room, and the dining room for your own family. Get rid of things that don’t serve a purpose or that you don’t love. Art Buchwald reminds us, “The best things in life aren’t things.”
Let go of what doesn’t meet a physical or emotional need in your life.
You will be amazed at how liberating it is to store things at someone else’s house (in other words, to give them away). Most of us don’t even know what we own. We clean out a closet or the garage and find all kinds of surprises. Imagine how light and liberated you will feel when you know exactly what you own — when you own your stuff instead of it owning you.
If you are over-stuffed, realize that you didn’t get that way in a day. The Lord didn’t do it all in one day — what makes us think we can? Isn’t it funny how the less time we have to work with, the more we get done? Take the advice of Marla on www.flylady.net and set your timer for fifteen minutes to tackle a drawer or a corner or a tabletop. You will be amazed at how much housework you can get done in just a short time.
It may help to call your housework by a different name.
I tell myself that I am redecorating. As I dust, I try to find a different way to arrange the knickknacks, or I may change the accessories from season to season. A dish with some pretty rocks and a candle can change the atmosphere in a dreary corner. Edith Schaeffer’s book, The Hidden Art of Homemaking, transformed my thinking about being a homemaker — domestic tasks can be transformed into expressions of creativity, even if you don’t consider yourself to be very creative.
Develop a staging area for your family’s various projects.
We assigned one end of our sunroom as a place to hold county fair paraphernalia in August, hunting equipment in September, and golf clubs for six people during the summer. When planning a graduation party, we could stash bins of decorations, memory table mementos, and paper plates out of the way until the big day, adding items as we thought of them. My piano students never have to wonder what’s new at the Washburn house — the evidence is present when they enter to sit in the other end of the sunroom while waiting for their lessons. It has become a great conversation starter and they have learned that homeschoolers lead interesting lives.
My family and friends would agree that our house would still not pass the White Glove Test after all these years of attitude adjustments and organizational techniques. But I believe it would pass the Great Love Test. There is evidence that an active family lives, learns, works, and plays here. Our “stable” is seldom perfectly clean, but it gets regular “scooping” and has produced some great “horses.”