I am a wife and the mother of five children. I love my family. We live on a farm…no pavement in sight. You know what that means, right? Dirt. Dirt, dirt, and more dirt. Then it rains. Then comes the LAUNDRY! Loads and loads and loads of it. But, that’s just the tip of the iceburg.
Let’s not forget the dishes. My youngest doesn’t eat solid food yet, and is exclusively breastfed. She doesn’t contribute to Dish Mountain. So, that makes six plates, six cups, six forks, six spoons, six knives…plus all the pots and pans to cook in…for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Doesn’t my life sound glamorous?
Housekeeping is NOT one of my gifts. Yes, I said it. I don’t enjoy housework…I’m really not very good at it. I don’t see all those little tasks that need to be done to keep a house truly clean and comfortable. I’m generally happy if I manage to keep the dishes clean and enough clean clothes in my kids’ drawers. I’m very lucky that my husband is an enormous help in this department, too! He can often be found washing dishes with the kids (like, every night after dinner while I’m putting the baby to bed), folding laundry, or sweeping and mopping the floors. But, there are always so many more things to be done…and with a two month old infant, even the basics often seem to slip. Alas, I fall further and further behind. There’s not enough time or energy to tackle that growing pile of clothes waiting to be folded…much less that big project that needs to be done!
But, I knew what I was signing up for eight years ago when I quit my job to stay home with my oldest…I thought. Of course, the load has gotten a little heavier with each addition to the family, but that’s to be expected. My biggest problem is that I tend to look at the housework all wrong.
I’ve always measured myself, and my personal success, on what I can complete. What I can finish. What I can check off that good ole’ to-do list. With my housework, I always felt like such a failure.
“I found the bottom of the dirty clothes hamper! Yay me! I did such a great job today!”
Ten minutes later, I visit the bathroom and the hamper (OK, I’ll be honest, it’s usually the floor in front of the hamper) is already full again! “All that time spent, and nothing to show for it.” Sigh.
“Yay! The dishes are done and put away. The counters are clean and disinfected. My husband’s coffeepot is sparkling!”
But then, “Mom! Can I have a snack?” And of course, if one person is hungry, everyone else realizes they’re famished too. They find and finish their snacks, leaving dish carnage in their wake. It’s not enough to justify a whole new sink full of dish water (No, we don’t have a dishwasher), but if I don’t do it now, after dinner it will look like a dish sculpture of Mount Everest.
I looked at the housework as something to be accomplished. Completed. Defeated! But I got so discouraged because it just simply cannot happen. It isn’t possible. Even if I were to get every single article of clothing in the house clean, folded, and put away, we’re still wearing something while it’s getting done. So it isn’t done.
If I can help my kids learn the right attitude about it all, they’ll be so far ahead of me. My way isn’t the right way to think about all the housework. Now that I have daughters who are getting old enough to actually help, I have to do my best to make sure they don’t get this attitude about work, and about life in general. Because honestly, that’s what housework really is…LIFE! If I can help my kids learn the right attitude about it all, they’ll be so far ahead of me.
So, now, for that all important question. How should I try to teach myself to think about housework? How should I teach my kids? I already know how NOT to do it. But how SHOULD I do it? Well, I’ve got to look at it as an on-going process, not something to be completed. We can’t stop living because I just swept and mopped the floors. I have to learn to accept that life happens. There’s going to be a dog (or 3) who just took a nice swim in the pond trailing my husband who’s carrying a big pile of still mud-caked turnips inside from the garden the day after a good rain. That’s ok. So what? I’ll try again tomorrow (and make my husband sweep again after he’s done washing the turnips!).
I also have to learn (and teach!) that if I’m doing my job right (which I rarely am), no one is going to notice. But, that shouldn’t be why I do it anyway. Housework is my act of service to care for my family, to make my guests feel welcome and comfortable…whether they called first or not! This is one (of many) ways I should be showing love for others. I should expect nothing in return…not even praise for a job well-done.
If I can impart this hard life-lesson early on in my daughters’ lives (and my sons’ too), that’s just another way to help them live happier, healthier, more satisfying lives than have I. One way I’ve started is by making sure we do ourZone Cleaning twice a day, every day! This program really helps them break down each cleaning task into manageable chunks. It also helps us all remember that keeping our home neat and clean is an ongoing process…not something to do that stays done forever. We have to come back to it many times every day!
It’s a work in progress, but someday, maybe I’ll figure it all out!
I linked up this week with: