I remember a few years ago, when Beth was very little (Luke may or may not have been born yet), I was loaned a copy of the book A Mother’sRule of Life by Holly Pierlot. I started to read it and thought it was sort of a joke- I didn’t need any sort of house cleaning help! I had a 1600 square foot house, a very helpful toddler (really- she actually helped me clean up!), and could get my entire house spic 'n span, top to bottom, within a few hours. Even laundry was no problem- I did maybe a 4 loads a week? Whatever the case, I didn’t need a schedule, I didn’t need to spend time thinking about when I’d have to clean.
Fast forward to a few years later: a new-to-me house nearly twice as big, three older (and bigger!) kids, play dates, homeschooling, dance class, gymnastics, a gym membership, and a part-time job, and I have a recipe for a disastrous house! Bigger kids require bigger clothing and bigger beds (hence larger bedsheets to wash if they’re wet at night), they require more food (LOTS more food), and bigger shoes all over the house. And I have only three children!
With our busier schedules, I picked up that old copy of A Mother’s Rule of Life and reread it, this time cover-to-cover, discussing it with other Moms in a similar stage of life as we read it in a bookclub-format. As it turns out, this time around it was a LOT more relevant, and made a lot more sense to me!
The author discusses prioritizing your life first, like making sure you have time for prayer and for taking care of yourself. But one of my favorite things about the book was learning that part of organization is having a place for every little thing in your house, and this is something that I don’t have. I have piles of papers everywhere since we don’t have a good desk space. My laptop computer doesn’t even have a real “home,” so it’s just sort of left out. Recently I reorganized one of my bookshelves, putting it in my closet because it’s the only place where I can utilize all of the shelves without having little kids pull stuff off the lower shelves! But now I have a place for all of my doula-related paperwork, and this little thing helps me so much!
As I take inventory of the rest of the house (as the author suggests), I’ve gone through room-by-room to figure out what other storage pieces I need so that everything can have a home. We’re hoping to buy a china cabinet-type piece for our dining room, where we can put mail and other paperwork. I want to build a small shoe bench with a coat rack for the kid's jackets. I need some sort of storage for all of Beth’s new embroidery/sewing supplies, which currently reside in a pile on my dresser!
I feel like, despite the schedules and methods I’ve created for myself, the countless books, blogs, and websites I’ve read, I just can’t stay on top of my chores. I feel like the kids are almost old enough to be a big help, but are not quite there yet. They also already whine and moan when I ask them to do something, so I think I need to figure out some sort of good motivator for them! (“Because I’m your mother and I said so!” isn’t working so well!) I feel like in the evening when they go to bed, the last thing I want to do is scrub floors or organize paperwork- I am ready to collapse if I don’t have a meeting or a workout! On the weeks when I can stay 100% faithful to my schedule, things look great, and the house is pretty darn close to perfect. But, who am I kidding, that’s happened maybe once!
I am left pondering the idea of hiring help, just to keep the house from becoming an infectious pit of germs and nasty things, especially now that we have a new little boy using the toilets! I feel like maybe once a month would help- twice a month would be heavenly! Is the feeling of cleanliness and sanity worth the money?
I do have high standards, and I’m at peace with that. I’m not going to try to change the person God made me to be by allowing myself to live in a house I’m not comfortable in- in fact I think that would make me depressed because I can’t stand it when everything is messy and cluttered! However, I am also realistic and constantly let things slide because I’d rather read books to my babies, take a nap during rest time, or crash on the couch with Ryan at the end of a long day to read or watch a tv show.
I’ve had an experienced home schooling mom tell me that when you homeschool, something usually gets left behind- school, housework, or yourself. If you manage to keep up in school and on keeping house, then you don’t take care of yourself. If you’re great at keeping up the house and taking care of yourself, then schooling falls behind. I can see how this happens- there are just not enough hours in my day, especially since I’m the sort of person who requires a lot of sleep in order to be a pleasant person! And since I’m not willing to let school fall through the cracks, that means if I’m good about going to the gym or if I have a lot of evening client meetings, then the house is a wreck. If I don’t go to the gym or have meetings, then the house is usually in better condition. I can’t win!
Right now my kitchen is clean but the play room and living room are covered in tent forts, with cowboy boots and baby dolls strewn about. That's a mess I'm not even going to tackle now because 1. They're having a blast with it and 2. It's only 2:00 pm and they still have a full afternoon of indoor playtime left since it's raining outside! I've been doing some research for a client while the kids are having their rest time, and I have 3 piles of clean laundry that will hopefully be folded and put away by the end of this week. *sigh*
How do you other mamas do it???