Through the different seasons in my life my focus, priorities or learning curves for how I do my housework change accordingly. When I first got married my main focus was homemaking and learning to be efficient in all that it meant to be a homemaker. I already had the skills but now it was my personal responsibility and I had to pull it all together. I set specific goals and worked towards improving in those areas.
From what I remember of those goals there were
- To have a routine so that regular chores were done routinely
- To have a repertoire of recipes that I was familiar with and could prepare easily.
As you know, effective goals have a deadline and my deadline was ‘by the time babies come along’. And for the most part I made this self-imposed deadline.
But seasons come and go. As my babies arrived my priorities shifted. I still needed to be a homemaker but my learning curve, my study, my priorities shifted from learning to be a homemaker to learning to be a parent (and yet still balance homemaking!)
This change is reflected in my bookcase – titles like “More Hours in your Day” by Emily Barnes and “The Family Manger” by Kathy Peel, moved over for books like “What to Expect in the First Year” by Murkoff, Hathaway, and Eisnberg and “What is a Family?” by Edith Schaeffer.
Then came homeschooling…. Another shift in the books I was reading (Cindy Rushton, Chris Davis, Sally Clarkson to name a few). But life doesn’t consist of one sphere of responsibility. I was still a wife, a homemaker and a parent – and these spheres aren’t static; life brings changes which affects the balance and requires new skills. My spheres were increasing and yet I still only had 24 hours!
I believe firmly that relationships come first – that is, my relationship with God, my husband, my children – then come my responsibilities. And yet, they are very closely intertwined. If I spend all day playing games and building my relationship with my children, what does that benefit them if there is no food in the house!
Finding that balance with homemaking comes down to:perspective, priorities and practices.
Finding Perspective with My Housework
What do you believe about housework? What do you think the purpose of housework is?
To me housework is about keeping our house, where we live, clean – for health and safety purposes. Homemaking is more than housework, though it includes housework. Homemaking goes deeper than surface spray and a scrubber!
As the saying goes – Home is where the Heart is – we need to create an environment where our husband’s heart and our children’s heart and even our own heart desire to be at home. Each person’s heart is looking for love, acceptance, peace, laughter etc …. Creating this atmosphere is what homemaking is all about.
When we have relationships first as a filter which we consider how, when, why we do our housework – our perspective, what we believe about housework changes.
What’s your perspective? What do you believe about housework?
Finding my Priorities
From our perspective will come our priorities; being able to put the housework aspect in a priority list of all the other aspects of homemaking means that I can let things go.
As my responsibilities grew I came to the realisation that I cannot do it all – my house cannot be spotless, decorated perfectly, I cannot keep cooking new and interesting meals, keep a flourishing veggie garden, show hospitality to people we meet, sew every garment my family wears and keep peace, joy and love in my home. Something has to give.
We need to identify our priorities. Some priorities are underlying – they never change – we build our life on these values. Some priorities need to be set for a season and some priorities need to be set for the day. We have to be able to let go of things – not to let our home go to rack and ruin, but to be realistic with the things we take on.
Considering the season of family life you are currently in – what is your priorities when it comes to keeping a house clean, and creating a home?
What things do you need to let go of because they don’t fit this season of family life?
Practices that Maintain Balance with my Housework
There are practices that can help us meet our priorities, and balance all the different responsibilities. This is where the rubber hits the road: if we start with all the things we have to do we will never see a way clear.
Instead when we start with getting the right perspective, identifying our priorities we are able to create balance with our practices.
Here are some practices and tips that have helped me
- Get the children involved – this is a long term perspective. Initially training a child to clean is painstaking, time consuming and at times frustrating! But… oh so rewarding. Initially it is rewarding as you see your child master a skill, then they master their attitude towards that skill, then they are truly helpful and you become a family team working together! Definitely worth the effort when they are young.
- A cleaning routine – Cleaning does need to happen. A time for everything and everything in its time! For our family we like to do a little every day rather than taking a whole day to do it all – but when/how we do it isn’t as important as the fact that it needs to be done. We enjoy music while we clean – sometimes rocky, sometimes jazzy, some times classical – but it lifts the soul and the fun factor!
- A daily routine – When the children know what activities are going to build their day, and they are required to pack up one activity before moving onto the next, we have less mess come 5.00pm. When our children have free play all day then not only do we have chaos as far as toys and craft supplies go – we also have chaos in their hearts and no-one wants to clean up! (Read more about how a routine helps our children’s behavioiur.)
- Menu Planning – knowing what food is planned helps balance nutrition, the budget, and often even more importantly that crazy hour from 5-6.00pm!
- Candles at the dinner table – there is nothing like candles to help us take a deep breath. Flowers do the same – take time to smell the roses.
- Do the important – limit the urgent. So often things build up and become urgent and they get done thanks to adrenaline! But the better way to live is to constantly do the important things – To learn to do the important thing for this moment in time has helped reduce the stress spots when things have to be done now!
One of the most important heart lessons I have learnt as I balance housework with all the other aspects of being a homemaker is the issue of Contentment – Realizing that true happiness is not dependent on external things. Can I be happy with my surroundings if they are not perfect, to ‘Pinterest’ standards’ or my expectations?
What makes me happy – my clean house or …..? To be honest, a clean house does make me happy but it is a surface happiness, a happiness that can be marred as soon as a cup of milk is spilt – this is not true happiness – true happiness comes from being in tune with our God and maker.
Jesus does not define me by how clean my house is, how well decorated it is, how good a cook, gardener or seamstress I am. He does though ask me to love my neighbour – and that starts with my family.
1 Corinthians 13:1… If I don’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
Sometimes our housework falls into that category. We go around doing our housework as a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal and we forget to love our family.
Over to you:
What you believe about housework and homemaking? And, how do you keep it all in perspective?
Finding Balance when there is so much to do: I am always working on getting balance in my life – where I have the right amount of time for work, relationships and rest.
5 Decision to Help me Live in the Moment: To live in the moment is an issue of contentment – and it becomes a day by day choice I have to make.
Why Housework is Important and When you Should do it: Housework often feels like a thankless task but when we know why it is important we change our motivation and heart.