- Practice cleaning one area completely before a meal or snack, even if you might come back to it later. This accomplishes two things in our house. 1 - It reinforces the idea of good work ethic. You don't work, you don't eat. 2 - It gets one area of your house tidy. Again, assign the children a task while you do a task.
- Invite people over often. Let's face it. Most people tidy up before guests arrive. So...invite someone over weekly. It can be for dinner, coffee or a just a play date. You will be motivated to have your house cleaned up (not perfection, but inviting) so that you can relax and enjoy yourself when guests are there. The more often you invite others over, the tidier it stays! Trust me.
- Keep it clean. Cleaning shouldn't be a major overhaul. Doing a little bit, all of the time, is what my day consists of. This is not a burden any more than other "professional" jobs are. I am thrilled to be a stay-at-home mom and my husband will believe me if I delight in my children and my home! One other tidbit - I like to check email and blogs so I discipline myself in this area and make sure dishes and floors are done before I enjoy this pleasure.
- Be scheduled. You know this would be a big one for me. Everything from naps, meals, outings, chores. Kids need boundaries, they delight in boundaries. This is not an elimination of freedom or fun, but parameters around it. Training is my job as a parent, and I have seen wonderful, happy results in eating, sleeping and playing by putting my children on eating and sleeping schedules from infancy. (Most of the frazzled mommies begging for relief are the ones that demand feed and have very light to no schedules. On the other hand, the ones that have scheduled naps and feedings seem much more relaxed, efficient and able to be involved in activities and ministry outside the home. I know this is not absolute, and trust me, I know there are always exceptions to the rule, but for the most part it is what I have consistently observed.) You know the old saying, "If momma ain't happy, ain't no one happy!" How true is that. If I am fatigued because I have been up all night with kids, the next day is probably not going to go as well as a well-rested mommy! [Moms In Need of Mercy here--Jodi and I approach this a bit differently. I tend to have more of a general routine, and more flexible feeding times. But I asked her to share the habits that work best for her (and her family), and this is one of them. If you think it could help your family, you can prayerfully consider becoming more scheduled. If you do not agree with a more formal schedule, that's fine too! God has created us all differently. We are to do that which we feel He is calling us to.]
- Be willing to work hard! Some people ask, "What's your secret?" It's no secret. It's hard work, especially in the beginning, but I believe it is foundational to the training of children and letting them know from early on the roles of parents and children. And....it's worth it!!
If, like me, you are working to improve your housekeeping habits, I encourage you to pick one area to concentrate the bulk of your efforts. As you see improvement, you can work on adding a new habit. Don't try to do everything all at once, or you--like someone begin to train for a triathlon--will burn out quickly.
I'm continuing to train my mental responses to do something immediately that I see needs to be done. I'm seeing improvement! I am also working on inviting people over regularly (at least once every couple of weeks). Jodi's right--it provides a benchmark for making sure your house is relatively tidy. Plus it's a great way to bless a friend, or even a stranger! The more comfortable you become with having people over, the more you realize it doesn't have to be perfect--just inviting (your spirit of hospitality has more to do with that than your home!).
Last week, I said we'd start link-ups for Messy Monday. So here we are! If you have a housekeeping tip that has helped you get it together, please link up a past or present post to encourage us all!
(I am having some problems getting the links to display properly. Please check back later).