I don’t know about you, but many times as I am planning out my goals and resolutions for the new year they often include something along the lines of,
“This will be the year that I get on top of my house cleaning and get everything organized!”
But, like many resolutions, within weeks the work becomes exhausting and seemingly unmanageable and my motivation wanes.
“Why do all this if people just tear it apart behind me?”
“I feel like a maid!”
“Eh, anything below hoarder status is good enough!”
And before you know it I’m right back where I began!
This year, however, I’m daring to think about things differently. Rather than focus solely on the cleaning and to-do list of what needs to be done, I want to reframe the entire idea of what it is I am trying to do with all that cleaning and effort. I want my focus to shift from performing cleaning tasks to creating atmosphere. I want the big picture to be the center of my resolve.
Instead of thinking, “If someone walks in my house I don’t want them to see one single dish in the sink!”
I want to turn my demanding thinking into a question, “If someone walks into my house, how will they feel? What will they not only see, but smell, hear, touch and even taste?”
Aww- it is at that point that I transform from a maid into a homemaker. I become a creator of things beautiful and peaceful and lovely. I decide to fully immerse myself in the lost art of truly making a home- a place of refuge where people enjoy being. That doesn’t mean it has to be spotless, but rather, tidy enough to be comfortable and soothing to the soul. It doesn’t make it any less work, in fact true homemaking will require even extra effort, but it is not frivolous effort of menial tasks with no purpose- it is the hard work of creating an environment that will forever be etched in my children’s memories of what home was and is and should be.
How do we do it though?
It’s lovely to talk about, but how do we actually make this happen throughout the spaces of our busy lives? Well, I don’t claim to be an expert by any means, but here is my plan-
Delegate! Don’t expect to be able to do it all yourself, unless you live alone! Hard work and responsibility is good for kids. Teach them the value now of helping clean and tidy things to create an overall more comfortable place to live. Help them find the joy in creating a lovely abode with you.
Be Reasonable! Expecting to get on top of everything in one day, one week, or maybe even one month, can cause you to give up quickly when it becomes impossible.
- Make a master list of organizing goals you want to accomplish in your home and schedule them all throughout the first quarter of the year.
- Divide up your house cleaning tasks so that you do a little each day and don’t become bogged down by the cleaning.
- Create solid “snatch and grab” times throughout your day when everyone stops what they are doing and quickly tidies things up before they get out of control.
It’s the 10 minutes here and there that keep it manageable, not the 3-day-long binge cleaning episodes.
Add beauty! It’s the little touches that make a house a home. Don’t get so caught up in the cleaning that you neglect this very important piece of the puzzle.
- Light a nice soy candle (ya know- something non-toxic) or diffuse some essential oils- create the scents that will trigger your children’s memories of home when they are older.
- Add a small bouquet of flowers to your kitchen table.
- Search for some fun, free word art printables on Pinterest that you can put in cheap frames and display around the house. You can even take this one a step farther and spraypaint the frames a cute, festive color for the season!
- Get a framed chalkboard, or even paint a whole wall with chalkboard paint, and write lovely sayings and encouragement to your family on it. It’s super simple and you can change it whenever you want!
- Rather then handing your children a quick snack in the afternoon, pull out some sweet little saucers (you could pick some up at a garage sale for pennies) with an assortment of cookies and maybe even a cup of tea.
Do little things to make regular moments special and meaningful. It really doesn’t take much more effort than you would otherwise put into things, but that little bit of extra forethought can transform how your family thinks of home and what they will remember into the future.
The goal here is not to land our homes on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens or become militant about our spaces. It is about reclaiming a lost art- one that women of the past proudly claimed as their own and went to great lengths for. Caroline, from Little House in the Big Woods, even dyed her butter with the juice from carrots in the winter time before setting it in a decorative mold so that it would have the proper hue and be desirable to the eye. She didn’t have much and her life was by no means extravagant, but what she did have she made beautiful just for the sake of being beautiful. It was how she blessed her family.
May we be like Caroline and graciously bless our families with joy as we do the little things to make home for them, and ourselves, this new year! Now go, and be blessed, you lovely homemakers, you!