Sunday, September 20, 2009

Messy Monday: Choose a Focus and Keep Your Focus

 So I think that in addition to Coffee Talk Thursdays, I'll also start a regular feature (at least for the time being) called Messy Monday, where I share tips I've learned about homemaking and how they can help keep the mess somewhat under control. (I don't think I'll be running out of material anytime soon!) :)
One of the keys to success in our homemaking efforts is having a clear focus as we go about each day's never-ending work. Maybe you, like me, remember stay-at-home moms you knew while growing up who would sit down in the afternoon and read a book, cross-stitch or do another leisure project while their kids played. Was their work truly done, or just done for that day? It is easy to look within our own homes and think "I could never sit down and read a book in the afternoon because there is so much more to do. I'm just not done. How can I relax?" But I think in hindsight, these moms weren't fully "done" either (we never are!), but they worked hard and then decided to be done for that day. I think that's the key.


In the old-fashioned housekeeping system, the tasks of maintaining a relatively clean home were divided up throughout the week. Here's the way Cheryl Mendelson describes the system in her thorough book, Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House:
  • Monday--laundry
  • Tuesday--ironing
  • Wednesday--sewing
  • Thursday--marketing (grocery shopping)
  • Friday--cleaning
  • Saturday--baking
  • Sunday--rest


If you don't need a day for ironing or sewing (as few people do nowadays) just substitute chores of your choice on those days. It doesn't matter what day you do what. There is probably no perfect day to mop...just get it done! Do the designated work you've designated for the day, and then you're done...for that day. Voila!

Now, here's the second key, on your day of focus, keep your focus! That sounds simple, doesn't it? But it never is that simple. In a household with children and other responsibilities, there are a million distractions each day. I can get so sidetracked so many times a day, that by the end of the day, it looks like a tornado blew through. For example, just yesterday, I opened the drawer to get out my address book, opened the address book, and then had to run into the other room to deal with some issue with my boys (don't remember what it was now). Then I got sidetracked again and again, and a while later when I finally returned to the kitchen, there was the drawer still open, with my address book open on top of the open drawer. (This was just one of the things like that in the room). Psseesh! 

So even in the little things, keep your focus. If you get called away, return to what you were doing. As a mom, you will get called away many times. As a homemaker, try your best to return to what you were doing, as often as you have to, until that job is done. Keep the focus. (And especially with little ones, keep the workload light each day). I think that will really help.



How does this translate into real life? Let's say you're following the system I described above, and you're setting out to do laundry on Monday. In addition to your routine daily tasks (sweep floor, wash dishes, whatever else is important to you each day), you're only going to do your laundry (unless your kids crush Goldfish crackers all over the floor. Then you're going to vacuum!). Try to do as little of the other chores as necessary so you can devote fully to your focus area for the day. That way, you have a much better chance of succeeding at getting your laundry washed, folded, and put away than if you're trying to do laundry and several other chores. That's a sure way to end up with baskets washed and folded but not put away. Or some baskets washed and dried but not folded. You get the point. Have a focus, keep your focus, and finish your focus. Just for the day. Then go relax like those moms we remember! You earned it!

(Oh, and don't's the last day for the signed copy of A Life That Says Welcome:Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others. Enter here. Winner will be announced in the morning!)


  1. If I only had to do laundry one day a week, then I WOULD be able to read books again!!!!!! Ha Ha. For me, a tidy kitchen/living area is crucial to mental well being. It doesn't mean spotless or deep cleaned, but uncluttered. This is an area we are in all the time, so I am constantly picking up, but the key is to NOT let things pile. Teaching our children to put things away -- right away, all the way, with a happy heart -- is also a good first step.

    My project for the day -- going through too small summer girl clothes to give to Carey and bring out the fall/winter boxes from the garage. Just don't ask me tomorrow if I completed the task :).

    Thanks for the post Cheryl. Hope to see you at Bible Study Tuesday.

  2. This is a great weekly series. I cannot wait for more! Your blog is a blog that I need so. Thanks for writing your thoughts!

  3. I like the idea of a day (or two) for everything. Thanks for the tips.

  4. I am new to your blog and loving it. It is truly one of those hidden treasures on the internet!