Sunday, January 10, 2010

Messy Monday: Why Bother

The funny thing about chores is you actually have to do them.

I know, that's deep. :)

Good intentions will not get the job done. You can, however, go all day--even all week--intending to vacuum upstairs, mop the floor, put away the laundry, you name it. And those jobs will never get done unless you decide to actually do them.

I have always been great at procrastination. One time during college I even pulled an all-nighter at Denny's cramming for some big exam. I don't remember what it was for specifically; but I do remember the 15 cups of coffee I drank with the 30 packets of Sweet and Low, and how I felt neither sweet nor low in the morning.

While I no longer cram for exams and no longer drink 15 cups of coffee and no longer use Sweet and Low, I am still the queen of putting things off. Did I vacuum my upstairs last week? No. But I fully intended to. I will try for this week instead. Check with me next week to see if it got done. :)

Especially as mothers with little ones, we can grow weary as we strive to keep up with it all. As the saying goes, "Cleaning house while children are small is like shoveling snow while it's still snowing." It is tempting to look around at all that needs to be done--and all that has been undone--and think "Why bother? Really, why? If I pick up these toys, they'll just get all dumped out again a minute later, and then a minute after that if I pick them up again. If I mop this floor, it will just get spilled on in a few minutes. If I clean this glass, it will just get smudged again by dirty hands in a few minutes. So really, why bother?"

Why? That is a good question.

There are certainly some times when I would say don't bother. After the birth of a child, you need to recover and rest. During an illness, you need to recover and rest. When your children are sick, they need you more than you need your clean floor (unless it's been puked on). During those times, doing the bare minimum is more out of necessity than laziness.

But otherwise, why bother?

We should work hard to create a haven for our families in our homes. Generally most people feel more comfortable in clean and relatively tidy environments than in dirty and overly cluttered ones. My husband will feel much better if he walks after work and I have swept the floor, picked up the toys, and put away the paper clutter. Even for a moment, the house will create a nice image. Contrast that with walking in to find crumbs and toys all over the floor, laundry thrown around, and clutter all over the counter (which happens at my house more often than not). Which one would you prefer?

There are also sanitary considerations. Dust mites can trigger allergies (although our pediatrician has said you can't completely prevent and eliminate them even if you dust everything every day). Floors, countertops, and other surfaces that are not cleaned well allow germs to grow, which can make our families sick. (Is that why everyone is sick at my house right now?).

Additionally there are other factors to consider. If you don't care to bother about your house, will you care when someone stops by unexpectedly? If toys are laying around in a mangled mess, children are less likely to play well with them; their ensuing boredom will likely mean more misbehavior and whininess, which will translate into more work and stress for you.

I read this once. I think it was from here. I thought it was so lovely I want to share it with you as we ask ourselves, "Why bother?"

What I'm doing here in my home is too important. Order precedes beauty. Radiance is the goal. Our housekeeping routines are crucial to the smooth functioning of our days, our weeks. Life in a well-ordered home does shine. Radiance streams into our lives like the grace of God. Ordering a home isn't something you do once and it stays that way. Instead, it's a continual commitment. Nutritious meals served predictably and eaten together at a well set table lend a graciousness and civility to everyday life. It's nice to open a drawer and find clothing folded and ready regardless of the day of the week. It's a blessing to go to a closet, see freshly pressed shirts and inhale the sweet smell of herbal ironing spray. It's nice to settle to work at the learning room table and know where all the books are. My family deserves nothing less. Making it so requires all of me.
So this week, as I aim to live what I write, I'll try my hardest to replace "why bother" with "let's bother."

It will make a difference. If I actually do it, that is. :)


  1. Oh I am working on being disciplined as the keeper of my home. Thank you for this timely post :)

  2. Wonderful quote. I can definitely attest to the fact of increased serenity when the house is picked up.

    On another note, Allie's virtue for the week is 'work'. One of the key points we focused on yesterday was the attitude behind the work. It makes all the difference. I am hoping to teach her by my actions that while not all work is pleasant (laundry, bathrooms) there are SO many specific things to be thankful for in midst of this type of work. And when our attitude is gratitude, the work actually seems pleasant. Only the Holy Spirit could pull that one off.

    Look to Jesus today, Cheryl. Depend on the Holy Spirit's power. And then do all things (even vacumming) for the glory of God!!