When House Work Drives You Crazy
Have you ever come home from work, taken a look around your house and just wanted to scream? Are you the stay at home mom, who feels like you clean one room and start on another area in the house, and by the time you come back to the first room, it is already a mess? How are you suppose to keep your house clean? What kind of mom or wife are you if you have a dirty house? I think that we have all felt this way at one time in our life, some more than others. Here is how I learned to deal with house work.
I have struggled for so long, with the obsessive need I have to keep my house clean. I wasn’t a mom that had to have everything just perfect, but I wanted my house to look organized, clean and like someone who had it all together. I think the idea of a clean house, lets other people know that I am a good mom and wife. It made me feel like someone who other people wanted to be around. I would get so frustrated at the mess that the kids would make with their toys in the living room. The dirty clothes they left on the floor. Their dishes that they didn’t put away. The dirty towels left on the bathroom floor. I just couldn’t understand how the people that I lived with weren’t bothered about the mess in the house, like I was.
There are times that I have blown a gasket about needing help around the house. I swear the end of the world was coming, because my dishes were not done, there was laundry to be washed, dinner to be made and there wasn’t enough time to do it all. I wanted it done my way and I wanted it done now. I remember times where I would scream and cry like a two year old. I wanted it done my way and I wanted it done now. My biggest mistake was thinking that everyone else should automatically be able to read my thoughts. They should get up like little robots (or big ones), and start cleaning, without me having to ask. It sure would make life easier. Boy was I ever wrong. I caused so much stress in my house. My teenager commented on how “crazy” I used to be about the house being clean. She told me how much she disliked that part of me. My marriage suffered even more. When I would lose control, I would blame my husband. It was easier to blame him, then to accept that my house was dirty. We would be mad at each other for a few days. The time that I missed, enjoying everyone’s company because of my need to clean.
It wasn’t as bad when I was working, because there was no one around to mess it up during the day. Now that I am home all day, homeschooling three kids, the house gets quite a bit dirtier than it did before. We do school from 8-3 everyday, except for the days that we have our homeschool co-op. I have one in kindergarten, one in second grade and a ninth grader. So when it is homeschooling time, I do not get a chance to do much of the housework. I might throw a load of laundry in or pick up a few toys but that is it. So I had to figure out a way to organize our family more, so that chores could get done. I also had to let my high standards of a clean house go.
Let It Go
The first thing that I had to do to keep my sanity, was back off. I was the biggest problem when it came to cleaning the house. It didn’t bother anyone else, (even my husband), if the dishes weren’t done, or laundry was piled high in the living room waiting to be folded and put away. I had to take a deep breath and say “What chores am I ok with if they are not done everyday?” I realized that I didn’t care if the toys were not picked up, if their rooms (including mine) were a little messy, or even if the dishes didn’t get done. The chores that had to be done were, the floors had to be clean, counters and tables clean and sanitized and any food made for a meal had to be put away. Besides that, I realized that all the rest of the chores that didn’t get done, were not hurting anyone. No one became sick because I left the laundry for another day. No one else threw a fit because I forgot to clean all of the dishes.
The next thing that I had to do was to make a chore chart. So I got out a piece of poster board and made a chore chart. It had all three kids down the left hand side and the days of the week along the top. I then, continued to fill in each day with chores that I wanted for the kids to do. My oldest child is in charge of keeping the floors swept and mopped, taking care of the dog and cat, cleaning the bathroom, scooping dog poop, washing and folding her own clothes, and keeping her room clean. My seven year old has to keep the living room clean and dusted, fold her own clothes, vacuum and keep her room clean. My four year old has to, help me empty the dish washer, pick up his toys and keep his room clean. If you need help coming up with chores for your kids, try this site: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/parenting-challenges/motivating-kids-to-clean-up/age-appropriate-chores.
This is how I make the chore chart work. For each day that the kids do their chores without being asked, they receive one dollar. Right now I give them $5 at the end of the week. I am going to change to this system this week, I would like to give them a fake dollar that they could put into a sandwich baggie that I will keep up high, except for my oldest child. I will make them put half of their money into their savings and some of their money will go to charity. To help me make sure that I remember to make them save, every Saturday they will take down their baggie, we will put half of it into an envelope to keep for when we go to the bank. It then goes into their savings account. Then they will put some aside to give to a charity. Sometimes we will give it to a family in need, a church or to a cause that they want to support. Then the rest will go into their piggie bank. Once they have enough saved for what they want to buy, then we can go shopping. They especially like going to Dunkin Donuts, or now that it is almost summer, a trip to the ice cream store is one of their favorites.
God did not create us, to become angered at the house chores. Actually, just the opposite. I know this sounds funny, but we are to find joy in everything that we do. “Always be joyful. Pray continually, and give thanks whatever happens. This is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). This verse seemed ridiculous when it came to cleaning my home. Find joy in doing the dishes, folding laundry or mopping my floors, yeah right! I wanted to laugh, but someone did that in the Bible (Sarah) and she was scolded for doing so. So, I figured I would listen to God and follow his words of wisdom. Now while I am washing the dishes, I turn up the radio and dance and sing. If I can’t turn on the music, I will pray and talk with God. I sometimes put on a podcast from Sound cloud on my phone. Either way I am enjoying doing the dishes. There are still days that doing housework joyfully is a stretch, but I try. “Be full of joy in the Lord always. I will say again, be full of joy.” (Phillipians 4:4). I am still working on this verse, but, in God I can do anything.
Dear Lord, help us to find joy in all that we do. We want to be joyful, gentle mothers and wives, but we can not do this without you. Help us to relax and have patience when it comes to doing the housework. Allow us the grace we need to falter, pick ourselves back up and try again. In you we can do anything. In you we will find our joy. In you, the house work will seem like nothing. Thank you Lord for all you do. Amen.