Saturday, November 17, 2007

Like Butter Over Too Much Bread

I found a new system for keeping the house clean. It comes directly from Rockin' Granola's description of how she keeps hers clean.

Becoming a member of the blogging world has exposed me to women I want to emulate as a wife, as a mother, as a homemaker, as a child of God. I could never have predicted I would be so challenged to change my habits or humble my heart.

I made my own list, to fit my own home, and for the last seven days have been trying to keep up with it. I've done fairly well, and I LOVE how clean all over the house is. My goal for at least a year has been to keep my house in consistent orderliness and cleanliness so that when someone stops by unexpectedly, I'm not embarrassed to let them in. I've been slowly gaining ground in the area of clutter, which has been my major focus. The house almost always looks good by the end of the day after the kids are in bed, but stop by in the middle of most days and you won't believe that it was clean just a few hours ago. Whenever we have friends or family over, we clean thoroughly, and we generally have people over at least once a week. Over the years that we've been married and had our own place, having guests over is what keeps us on top of the clutters and messes. Go a few weeks without inviting anyone to come, and the place would be, well, like my bedroom when I was a child.

I guess I'm growing up. The thing I kept running into as life with two little boys keeps me busier than ever, is that I wouldn't have time in the hour or two before people arrived, to clean everything that had been neglected. Dusting, cleaning the front of the refrigerator, washing the kitchen floor, washing the windows, the sticky kitchen chairs, the grimy build-up in the kitchen sink, etc. There's not always time to do all those things before guests arrive, and My Hero, who generally helps me during that hour or two before people arrive, doesn't see most of the things listed above as critical anyway, and urges me to forget about them.

That's why the list of daily cleaning is such a great idea. Breaking the tasks up into a few each day keeps the house generally clean, each area being cleaned at least once a week keeps things from getting really grimy.

But, and it's just the first week, so I'm sure I'll get faster, but when I spend the time to do the cleaning on my list every day, I don't have much time left for anything else. In my head I visualize myself flitting quickly around the kitchen with a wipe in my hand doing a once-over to the front of the microwave, dishwasher, fridge, oven in about three minutes. Reality sees me getting a wipe and starting on the fridge, only to be interupted by Green Bean who would like me to get his puzzle for him. I get the puzzle down and resume wiping when I notice Peanut Butter has found a permanent marker. I take the marker away and hear the dryer buzz, so I bring Peanut Butter with me to the dryer to help me take the laundry out and distract him from wailing about the marker. After I finish folding laundry the kids are hungry and it's snack time. I get them their snacks, then grab the wipe and resume wiping the fridge. Peanut Butter needs milk, so I open the fridge, grab his sippy cup, and bring it to him. Then pour a small cup of milk for Green Bean. By this time Peanut Butter is done his snack and standing in his high chair, so I wipe him down, let him run and play, clean his tray, then wipe Green Bean's hands and face, clean up Green Bean's snack mess, put everything away, and if I'm still thinking about it, go back to my three minute job.

I look at my list and wonder why it's so hard to get it done, then I think about what life with two small boys is really like.

And a clean house is only one of my goals, and not necessarily the most important one.

I make time to read to the boys every day, but I'd love to read more, and I want to make reading poetry to them part of our daily routine. It just hasn't fit in yet. Somehow.

I want to spend time daily doing learning things, weekly activities from Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready and more with learning numbers and letters with Green Bean, which this spring I was doing with him daily, but summer hit and schedules changed and it no longer happens. I want to homeschool these little guys, and I can't imagine how I'll ever stay on top of everything when I'm dedicating whole sections of my days to education!

I just wonder what I'm doing wrong. How I can be the homemaker I want to be and the mother I want to be without becoming burned out and completely discouraged. I don't want to spend these precious days with my little boys as a stressed out, busy with her own things mother. But I do want to be an example to them of self-discipline and doing my job well. And I do want to educate them as well as I possibly can. I guess all of life will probably a struggle for balance. A struggle to fill my days with the best of things, and trying to weed out time wasters that detract from our overall quality of life. A struggle to put Jesus first and in the midst of all my goals and aspirations, to be flexible enough to hear His voice and respond when He calls me to meet a need.

I guess if prioritizing was easy, everyone would do it.

1 comment:

Nina said...

You are on the right track Marie! I can tell you it gets easier and less time consuming the older they get. You'll find that you do have time (if you schedule it) for educating them, in part because you'll be spending less time physically 'doing for them'.... dressing, feeding, bathing, etc. Your day will continue to stay full, and there's never enough time to get it all done, but in many ways substitutions get made as kid's physical needs change. I think you're right, there will always be a struggle for balance, at least there is with me, but it sounds like your'e doing a great job finding it.