Wednesday, December 31, 2008

House Cleaning For Non Neat Freaks

OK. I admit it. I am not a neat freak. Not even close. Yet, I try to be a good keeper of my home. In my quest to fulfill that calling on my life, I have to be careful to walk a tight line and not be critical of myself for my shortcomings, yet make progress towards getting it all done.

I can't do it all

Now, the first thing that I have to remember, which would probably be helpful for most of us to remember, is that I can't do everything. No, I am not all powerful. I am not omnipresent. Despite what my sweet husband likes to tell me, I do not have unending energy. So, the first thing I have to remember when it comes to house cleaning, is that I've got to make choices.

I can't do work, ballet, homeschooling, housekeeping, exercising, prayer, bible reading, gardening, keeping up with yard work, hiking, photography, cooking, sewing, co-op, violin, soccer, have a social life, and spend quality time with my children and my husband, all at the same time.

I'm constantly in need of re-evaluating what I'm spending time on right now. Maybe, I can't do co-op and soccer, I've got to let go of the yard, choose easier meals, and not do as much sewing and photography as I'd like. Maybe I even need to set a realistic goal for bible reading time and prayer time - and simply set a goal to make them a regular part of my day - by starting the day with prayer and reading the bible with my husband before bed.

Break It Down

Break down your tasks. Don't get bogged down by how much you have to do. I'm always surprised how things don't pile up, if I just give myself a few minutes to take out a load of laundry, put laundry in the dryer and washer, and fold the laundry right when it comes out. Or, if I just give myself a couple of minutes to straighten the living room. Or, if I give myself a goal to unload and load the dishwasher and clear off the table. Then, when I'm done with that task, I'm glad, because I've crossed something off. I'm not looking at EVERYTHING that has to be done, just what is in front of me.

Get Your Kids Involved

I think the lack of getting kids involved is a big problem in our society. Society tells us that kids jobs are play, play, and more play. I don't disagree that free play is a very important part of kids development. Homeschooling provides ample opportunities for this free play, especially if you restrict or eliminiate television and video games.

Yet, if we don't train our children to work, how shocking is that when they grow up and have a household to look after? "Whoa, this is hard!" Why? It is hard because they haven't been given the tools, the practice, and the discipline.

What's more than this, we really underestimate our children. They are much more capable tha we give them credit for. My seven year old for instance can load dishes, unload dishes, sweep the kitchen floor, clean the kid's bathroom, get clothes out of the dryer, and even fold clothes given enough encouragement. She also gets our egss every day and lets the chickens out in the morning. My ten year old step-daughter is great at clearing the floors and vacuuming in rows. And she likes to do it. My five year old can get clothes out of the dryer, she can unload dishes that are low, she can wipe off the kitchen table.

This really helps when your kids are getting stir crazy and starting to make a mess. The kids don't know what to do? Give them a job. LET them help you.

Do It Fast

I used to work at a busy restaurant bussing tables and hostessing. On a Friday and Saturday night, I can assure you that we didn't move slow. More customers were coming in and the tables needed to be turned. You grabbed as much off the table at once as you could and took it quickly back to the dishwasher. Back you went to your table after this, wiping the table, cleaning the floor, setting and straightening the table and chairs. Do your chores like this! There is no need to spend more time than you need to doing tedious chores. Teach your children to do their work quickly as well. I try and teach my Natalie (7), you don't have to do every step perfectly, but do your job quickly and make sure it is done correctly in the end.

Do It All The Way The First Time

I have to remember this. I also have to remind the children of this. Do your job all the way. If you do laundry and get it folded, but you don't put it away, it will haunt you. It will slow you down later, because nagging at your mind is an unfinished task.

When Involving Your Husband Make Clear Request

It took me a long time to learn to make clear requests of my husband. I still need to remind myself of this so I don't slip into what comes naturally. Men process differently than women. And, as stay at home moms, we naturally have to do more of the housework than our husbands. Yet, that doesn't mean that we don't sometimes need or want our husband's help. But, telling my husband, "I want help!" does not help. Maybe, at this point, he's learned to figure out what this mean. But, naturally, to him this means I'm disappointed in him. Go figure?! If I asked you women for help wouldn't you just chip in and also ask me if I felt overwhelmed or something? But, to my husband, I need to say, "Honey, could you unload the dishwasher, clean up the baby, and tuck the kids in bed?" He likes that. Then, he can check it off. LOL. I imagine you would need to approach boys in a similar manner, but since I don't have any boys of my own, I really have no idea.

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