Monday, October 6, 2008

At the Well - Keepers at Home

After you are done here, please join the other ladies
at the well over at the Joyfully Living for His Glory blog.

Chelsey asks, Do you keep a neat and tidy home? If so, what do you do to keep on top of this? Schedules? Routines? If you have children at home, do they get involved?

I would have to say that I do not keep our house as neat and tidy as I would like it to be. There is order to a great extent, and our older children who still live at home have assigned areas which they keep moderately clean. However, I have become aware that I have not taught them to be thorough enough. Also, the youngest still needs direction in forming a regular routine for his duties. His older sister and I should not have to constantly remind him of them.

When the children were small, I made a chart out of two pieces of round cardboard. One was larger than the other, and I put them together with a paper fastener stuck through the middle, the larger one on the bottom. I then divided the overlapping larger piece into four sections and labeled them: hallway, living room, dining room, kitchen. The smaller disk was divided into the names of our four children. Each week, the disk would be turned clockwise so each child took turns picking up the different areas. I used clear tape to tape the larger disk to the refrigerator and left the smaller disk free so it could be turned.

There were rules, however, so that no one took advantage of the one picking up a certain area. Each was responsible for his/her coat and footwear. Also, if someone got out a big mess of tiny toys such as Legos, blocks, or a puzzle, he/she would be responsible to pick them up himself/herself. There was also a basket at the foot of the stairs for things which went upstairs. When it was time to go to bed, each child recovered his/her own things from the basket and took them up to be put away.

Looking back, however, I see that by this method I was teaching our children to only pick up their assigned area. They grew up being oblivious to personal responsibility because "it wasn't their job." Thankfully, I was able to make them aware of this fault before any of them left our home.

Ideally, we had three pick-up times:
  • Once in the morning before school
  • Just before Dad came home in the afternoon
  • After devotions before going up to bed
I say "ideally," because real life doesn't work like clockwork. Real life happens and often gets in the way of our ideal home keeping. Our children were, and still are, more important than a spic and span home.

One of my favorite poems goes something like this:

Babies Don’t Keep
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

If you are lacking in this area, why do you think that is?

I must admit that this area of home management is something I have always struggled with. The home I grew up in was usually a disaster area. Our poor mother thought it was her duty to do all the housework herself, but was either very ill (several bouts with cancer) or working full-time to make ends meet as a single mother, all the while we were growing up. The shame is that she had five daughters who could have and should have helped her keep it neat and clean. It wasn't until I went to Bible college and lived in the dormitory that I learned to scrub down a commode and to thoroughly clean a kitchen for the first time. I speak this to my shame.

I will be the first to admit that it was hard to keep the house clean while schooling our children at home. Yet, when I see the beautiful relationship my dear husband and I were able to develop with them, I don't regret one cobweb or grody shower stall.

Babies don't keep.