We have been working our way through a 4 part series about the Messy and Mundane things in Motherhood. What are the daily tasks you dread doing or tend to put off…things like laundry, cooking, and cleaning? How can we find joy and glorify God in even the most unseen tasks in our days?
It had been quiet in our house for far too long. With a 4 year old, 2 year old, and 1 year old, I have learned that when the house grows quiet I need to check and see what the littles are up to. But in the process of cooking dinner I hadn’t noticed that 20 minutes had passed without a sound from the children. I took the skillet off the stove and walked to the living room. What I discovered were three very happy children who had found and opened every board game we owned, and were working together to build a little town with the thousands of various small game pieces they had come across.
I had spent so much time during their nap time cleaning the house.
This would take hours to sort and put back in order.
Even on days when a toddler tornado doesn’t sweep through the board games in the living room (the board games have since found a home high up on a shelf), cleaning can seem to me like a never-ending, daunting task. I know it is always only a matter of time before the tidying and cleaning I have done will need to be done again. Cleaning at times can seem mundane, pointless, and unseen, yet it is a necessary task as we steward the homes God has given us.
I’ve found there seems to be a wide spectrum when it comes to stewarding and caring for our homes. There have been seasons where I care too little about our home- where cleaning has been a very low priority. The result has been a home that feels chaotic and unorganized…which also makes me feel chaotic and unorganized! Then there have been seasons where I care too much about our home- where cleaning has been such a high priority that it takes up most of my free time and I feel reluctant to open up our home to others because I don’t want things to be out of place or get dirty again. What about you? Do you tend to be passive and apathetic about caring for your home or overprotective and overly particular about how your home looks?
We want our homes to be peaceful, clean, and orderly, but we don’t want to value a pristine, pretty home more than the people we bring into it. As I ask God to help me use our home as a tool to love people well, here are a few things I’ve found helpful in cleaning and working to make our home feel more peaceful and welcoming:
It truly is amazing how quickly objects seem to accumulate in our house. On those days where it feels like there is clutter everywhere I look, I take time to walk through our house with a trash bag and just throw things away- things we don’t use, things we don’t need, or things I’m just tired of always picking up or stepping on (looking at you, tiny plastic animals!). Not having to constantly be picking up or putting away objects we really don’t need saves me so much time and helps make our home feel more clean and peaceful.
Enlist your hardest workers
My three littles are all age 4 and under, but it is amazing how capable and helpful they can be! They have boundless energy and are already close to the ground, so picking things up off the floor is a breeze for them. Before naptime and bedtime, I will pick a room for them to help me clean. I give them each clear, specific directions (“put all of the dinosaurs in the dino bin,” “put all of the clothes in this laundry basket,” “put all of these cups in this cabinet” etc.) and we can tidy up a room in no time! It requires investing some time to teach them my expectations, but in the end has been such a help. After they finish their task I always thank them and share what a big help they are to me!
Make a system and prioritize
For the first few years of our marriage, tidying up our home looked a lot like me wandering aimlessly from room to room and feeling overwhelmed that the house still didn’t feel put together after an afternoon of “cleaning.” Because I didn’t have a system for cleaning our house, I often became distracted, spending an hour randomly cleaning the inside of the stove instead of tasks that were actually more urgent (although it is refreshing to have a clean stove!).
I’ve found it much more productive and efficient to have a system and method for cleaning. I start by cleaning the rooms we spend the most time in (kitchen, living room, and dining room)- picking up anything that isn’t in its home and tidying up all of the surfaces (a clear dining table and kitchen counters makes our whole house feel peaceful!). Then I’ll tackle the floors, and if there’s extra time I’ll do some deeper cleaning. What rooms in your home feel most peaceful when they are tidy and clean? Focus on those rooms first!
Whether you live in your forever home or a tiny apartment, we can be thankful for the homes God has provided for us. Our homes don’t need to be big, perfectly curated, or pinterest worthy to be peaceful and welcoming. Let’s be diligent to steward well the homes God has given us and use them as tools to love others well!