Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Quest for the Clean Organized Home

So, here we are in the middle of our summer school. A little math. A little reading. Wonderful read-alouds about Eli Whitney and the ship "Old Ironsides". We continue to read in the Psalms every morning, watch our Picture Proverbs, and study from our character training book,(the current trait being "contentment"). My big plans to begin our book on Botany have not happened yet. Instead, we have been watching "Forces of God's Creation" from Vision Forum covering topics on volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods. Library videos on Thomas Edison, raising sheep, and the ancient Inca culture have offered a nice variety as well. Better yet has been watching another caterpillar munching on leaves in a little home we prepared for him and then, making his chrysalis. We are hoping that we can witness the moment he comes out as a butterfly. It's a laid back schedule, but we are learning.

However, there is one very important task I've been putting off the entire summer and that has been to get my house back in order. With sick animals, the addition of a puppy, out of town company, day trips and the daily responsibilities, I have just not found the time or the motivation to do the extra cleaning and organizing that our home needs. And, honestly, when I think about it, I realize this job never ends. Just when I finish one room, another one is waiting to be cleaned and on my return to the "clean" room, I find it's in disarray again. Such is the home of a mom with young children. Lots of laughter, but lots of toys, books, papers, rocks, wrappers and let's not forget the fingerprints on the windows!

I do find myself claiming the martyr title from time to time, complaining about how the older kids and how even the husband just "doesn't get it". "Why does he leave his dirty clothes on the floor? The hamper is a few feet away!" How about that counter in the kitchen that we have named, "Daddy's Junk Counter?" The barn? I won't even touch that one, except when I go out there to look for my gloves or rose trimmers and I'm tripping on everything! And, then, I hear my thoughts and my words and realize that I'm not acting as his loving wife and being grateful for the hard worker he is. Now, really? Is it going to kill me to pick up his clothes? No. The junk counter? He'll get to it. It's not in my way. The barn? Have I forgotten just how many times, he has to make room in there to fix a car or the tractor? Have I forgotten the pressure he's under at work, the last minute business trips which require quite a bit of time away?

The kids? Well, yes, they do need to do their part. They need to be responsible with their chores. They need discipline. But, is it loving discipline to gripe about how many times I have to empty their bathroom trash or wash their clothes? Should they be thankful that their mom feeds them, makes sure they have clothes to wear and cleans the places where they sleep and play? Yes, but I cannot control their hearts. I will pray for attitudes of thankfulness and a willingness to help and to be of service. I will teach them, but I need to forgive them when they are neglectful, praise them when they do a good job and I should be a loving and Godly example to them in my words and actions.

"And, Dawne...what are you doing to clean up your little messes?", I ask myself. My bedroom has become the room where the home school books and papers get dumped when it's dinner time and I don't have time to sort them. Mail and toys with no homes get stashed there, too. How about that big bag of clothes that needs to be washed by hand? The school room? Yikes! I mostly use that room to store the kids' work and past and future curriculum and books. We like to use the chalkboard when it's required, but lately, that's impossible. We can't even walk in there! Now, granted, I did not make most of the mess, but I did allow it.

So now, I'm getting somewhere. "Admitting you have a problem is the first step"... Yes, I need to have more order in this home and I'm part of the problem. Last week, I had a very valid reason to be motivated to get busy. An old friend from my teenage years was coming for a visit! Unfortunately, I panicked. I began shouting orders to the kids right and left, heart pounding, the anger rising when they weren't quick enough. Some of it was good for them, well, not the shouting part, but when I had a precise plan of action and told them how important it was for everyone to pitch in, it was quite effective. The three oldest cleaned their bedrooms and the big playroom in the basement, picking up every piece of trash and even getting out the big Shop Vac to make it super clean. My friend was bringing her two children and my kids wanted it nice for them. I did get a lot done, but I still had so much more to do. I was tired from working hard for two solid days, trying to fit in some school and managing the house without David,(yes, he was on one of those long business trips). I just decided to relax with the kids during dinner and we'd finish the most important things the next morning before she arrived. Then, the phone rang. It was my friend having to cancel the visit. Her little boy was fighting a bad infection and needed some down time at home. "Well, there goes that! But, wait! Daddy will be home tomorrow night and look at what we've accomplished!", I told the kids. We were disappointed about the cancelled visit, but we planned to reschedule it and were sure happy that we cleaned up for Daddy!

I do have some very helpful resources to aid me in this "Quest for the Clean Organized Home". Now, if only I could find them...Oh wait. Here are a few:

"Help for the Harried Homeschooler" by Christine Field, specifically Chapter 2: "Chaos Control, Getting and Staying Organized". The entire book is so refreshing and encouraging, but I especially could relate to this chapter.

"101 Ways to Clean Out the Clutter" by Emilie Barnes. A very short, but practical book that I'm beginning to utilize.

"Managers of Their Homes-A Practical Guide to Daily Scheduling for Christian Homeschool Families" by Steven and Teri Maxwell. I really appreciate this book and plan to start working on our schedule for the coming year.

http://flylady.net/ This is a wonderful site. I don't read it everyday, but I have read some very helpful hints to help me on my quest.

Above all else, the Word of God is what I need. I am comforted in knowing that the Lord understands my hectic days and He continues to remind me what's important. Hearts turned toward Him.

Titus 2:3-4: "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the Word of God."

Proverbs 31:25-28, 30: "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her...Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

As a wife and home school mom, but more important as a child of God, I have decided to continue on this quest to organize our home. I desire for a home that runs smoother and with a little less bickering about lost items and things that trip us, but most of all, I desire to work hard at the job God has called me to. Every room I clean, every paper I file, every load of laundry I wash is for His glory. Who knows? He may have some work for me to do in my eternal home. This is the training ground. And, with that, it's time for bed. Another big day tomorrow!






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