–By Rene Tyson–
“Girls, listen carefully,” my 90 year-old friend Norma was quoting her mother, “Being a mother is one of the hardest jobs you will ever have but it will also be the most rewarding.”
One of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks about being the mother of small children is the unearthly amount of housework! When Kate and I began writing for this blog, we had a disproportionate number of posts about cleaning and organizing: how to clean a kitchen, how to de-clutter a car, a table, how to clean if you are a working mom, a stay-at home mom, etc. The list keeps growing (I still have several unpublished posts on cleaning stuff). I started to ask myself, “WHY?” Why do we care so much? Why does having a nice environment even matter?
My experience is that when I was EXTREMELY messy, my whole life felt chaotic. When my home was disorganized, I was less personable, snippy with the children, and more rushed. I could never find my keys..shoes..jacket..etc and was constantly late to appointments. I am far from perfect now–(just pop in unannounced and you will see how “perfect” my home is), but I have made progress. With the change, I have noticed unexpected blessings. My children are not ashamed to invite their friends over (neither am I), my husband can relax after work because there isn’t a mountain of laundry on the couch, and best of all, my mind is free to be productive and to think about things other than how messy my house is!
Soon after we met, Kate and I both felt compelled to keep better homes–our husbands worked and we stayed home with the babies, so we determined to help one another and began to own the role of homemaker. We realized that we could make our homes what we wanted them to be! For me, that meant anyone could drop in any time unannounced and I would be perfectly at ease with the state of my home. I was a LONG way from that benchmark!
Kate and I liked to hang out and have coffee at one another’s houses. So we started to help each other with laundry, the kitchen, de-cluttering etc. We would make little rules- “You can’t come over until you do the dishes first!” We would phone in the morning, voice our list of chores, then race one another to see who could get finished first. Kate would often tell me, “You can do this Rene!” It was amazing and much needed.
For all the time I spent worrying about messes, the actual cleaning of them was not as horrible as I had imagined. In retrospect I sometimes think, “What was all the fuss about?” But truly those years were very very hard. I had five children, 7 and younger, an over abundance of clothes/hand-me-downs from relatives, and a natural inclination to be messy. I loved to cook and used every dish we owned every night. God was so good to me. He gently led me toward understanding the importance of keeping house, and how to do so with joy.
I often got discouraged and wondered if it was even possible to live an uncluttered life. In those moments, the Lord would remind me that it is possible. One such reminder happened when I delivered skincare products to a client’s house. I had never been to her home before–and what I saw shocked me. She had four children but her home was SPOTLESS. Their bedroom doors were all opened and their rooms were tidy. I simply could not believe what I saw. “How do you do it?!” I exclaimed. She shared with me that her children live by a few systems that promote tidiness. For example, they may not come to the table for breakfast until their beds are made every morning. At night before going to sleep, they do a quick pick-up of their rooms. This got me thinking. If I make little “rules” for myself as I go about the day, then maybe my home will stay neater too!
If you have it in your heart to maintain a clean home, be encouraged! It is possible! If maintaining a clean environment for your family is not a priority for you, I would respectfully encourage you to reconsider. Our society is very “Me” orientated–I’ve heard all kinds of reasons why moms shouldn’t have to maintain a nice space for their families–reasons ranging from, “We live in our house,” to, “Take me as I am or don’t take me at all!” I would propose that being a mom is all about creating a home which will launch your children into having the best possible life–and about creating an environment that enables them to be proud of their family, that is warm and welcoming to their friends and establishes good habits in themselves which will translate to easier relationships with future roommates and spouses.
One of my family’s goals is to be people who show love to others in tangible ways. It is hard for guests in my home to relax if they are afraid the glass they are drinking from has toddler slime on it! Maintaining a clean environment, or “setting up house,” as our grandmothers would say, can be one of the most rewarding efforts you ever make . The good news is that it doesn’t have to happen all at once and there is no cookie-cutter mold.
Believe me, whether it looks like a bomb just went off in your living room, or the kitchen drawers could use some attention, make the effort! It IS WORTH IT! YOU CAN DO IT!