Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Does Housework Make a Home?

I was thinking about housework the other day (cause that's more fun sometimes than doing housework!). I am trying to decide what the proper balance is. I mean, I want to have a neat, clean and tidy home, and that just plain takes work. But honestly, I don't really mind the work. There's something very satisfying about tidying up the house. One of my favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder quotes, from the Missouri Review article on farm wives, is "Our homes can be as pleasant as we care to make them." That really resonates with me. Just like everything else, how pleasant we make our homes is a choice we make. The problem I have is the sheer amount of things there is to do, so many details, all needing to be done over and over and over again, with no real end in sight. I am blessed to be a stay-at-home mom, which means I am pretty much my own boss. Sometimes I'm a slave driver! I tend to think of absolutely everything that could ever be done and think I must do it all at once. Sometimes, no matter what I'm doing I feel guilty, because I think of something else I should probably be doing more. Or no matter what I accomplish, it doesn't seem like enough because of all the things I have yet to accomplish. That's no way to live. My husband has been slowly teaching me a better way (well, he doesn't teach slow, but sometimes I'm a slow learner). I still have one of my monster "To-Do" lists that I left laying around one busy, busy day. When I went back to find it later, I saw that my husband had penciled in "**TAKE A NAP**!" right in the middle of it! It made me laugh, and I kept it to remind myself that sometimes I can get so busy doing things FOR my family that I have no time to spend WITH my family! Now that my kids are grown I can honestly say that when they reminisce, they never mention how super clean and neat the house was. Instead their fond memories are of things their father and I did with them - not for them.

So I am trying to find the balance. After all, as someone has said, "We are human beings, not human doings." And as the Bible says, whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. So I have decided to give myself permission to do just that. When I am washing dishes, I try to enjoy the feel of the warm water and the time to daydream or sing. When I am visiting with a friend, family member or neighbor, I try to concentrate on the conversation, not the undone work. If I am reading, I try to relax and take it in. If cleaning the bathroom, I think of how pleasant the bathroom will be when I am done. My home can be as pleasant as I care to make it. Part of what will make it pleasant is the little joys and freedoms I partake of, and part is the work I put in to cleaning and caring for it. I believe enjoying each equally is the balance I have been seeking.


Philigry said...

oh, i do the same thing. i like to be neat and clean, but i am getting really good at letting things go to spend time with my family.


Great post! I love the Laura Ingalls Wilder quote, so true. I am just like you, I like to keep my place spotless, but it is a relentless task, and needs to be kept up all day, every day! So many hours are lost doing mundane jobs around the home when one could be reading, crafting, doing outdoor pursuits etc. Then again I would feel so miserable to live in a messy, unclean home. It is so difficult to get a work/life balance, but on the whole I would rather be happy doing housework, than unhappy drowning in dross!

Ragged Roses said...

The hardest thing is finding the balance, it is always so tempting to make things nice for everybody that you then find you don't have the time to share it with them! A lovely post

thedailydish said...

Hi Tracie! Glad to finally be checking out your site. This post is great, and it reminds me of something I read or heard a long time ago. It's always stuck w/ me, and I think it's really good advice. When you are working - whatever you do - imagine you are reporting directly to the Big Guy. You may work for a real jerk, or be at home doing thankless chores all day long, but if you imagine that your performance is being monitored - and in essence, is a direct tribute TO God, you will always do your best.

I've tried to meditate on that when I am doing the daily grind. It really does enhance the meaning and significance of mundane tasks. I often volunteer to do things, for my daughter's school, for neighbors, for strangers. I know that the work I do is valuable not only to them, but to God. There is nothing better.

Rhondi said...

Hi "Rose"
I like your post about housework and th equote by Laura Inlges Wilder. I love to putter around the house rather than clean, and I like to have a clean house but I'm not too obsessed about it.
Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Hope you'll visit again really soon.

nikkipolani said...

Isn't it amazing the amount of things that need to be done even when we strive to streamline and simplify? And I'm not even married nor do I have children!

I like your Laura Ingalls quote. I have a friend who's the mother of seven children. She talks about how freeing it is to do chores as you go (i.e., make your bed as soon as you get out of it, hang up clothes or put in hamper as soon as you're done with them) as a way to avoid the too-long "to do" list. Her advice has stuck with me.

Sal said...

Hi there! What an excellent post!
Thanks for visiting my blog.Sal;-)

A Spoonful Of Sugar said...

I am with you on trying to find the balance! I like my home to be neat, clean and organised, but with a busy family life, part time work, and time for some sewing, it is sometimes difficult to fit it all in. I have started re-watching the "Little House on the Prairie" series on DVD with my daughter so love you reference to Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Sew Anyway said...

I love to "noodle" around my house too much to stick to any kind of "real" program. Although I do have a method for keeping things decent (and then I have my full-out-attack-mode marathon cleaning). I don't know where I picked this up from, but I call it the Mount Vernon method. I start in one spot in the room and move clockwise. By the end of the day I have at least one room tidy. I do this day by day and keep it maintained doing better through every go round. Of course, I have to be home to do this and it is easy for me to find things to do out side my home.

Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement to find that balance we should strive for.


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