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Housework in Perspective - Issue 135
January 15, 2010
Hi there! ....

This week we have continued in decluttering and cleaning our house. Peter and the boys have scrubbed down the outside walls of the house and the girls and I have cleaned out a couple of rooms including the cupboards. It has been so rewarding to work together and see the fruit of our labour. We took the kids out for dinner last night just to say thank you and to celebrate being a family.

The other highlight that has happened is our family devotions. We are reading through the book of Galatians as the minister at church is doing a series on this over January. It has been great to tussle things of God out with our older children and to see our younger children sitting and listening. We’ve encouraged the younger two that though they may not fully understand everything that is being said, little deposits are being made as they listen and ask the occasional question – little deposits that will be built on as they grow older. It is delightful to study the Bible together as a family and a great way to start our day.

Live life with your kids!

Housework in Perspective

There have been various seasons in my life where my focus, learning curve and priorities have changed. When I first got married my main focus was homemaking and learning to be efficient in all that it meant to be a homemaker. I already had the skills but now it was my personal responsibility and I had to pull it all together. I set specific goals and worked towards improving in those areas. From what I remember of those goals there were

  1. To have a routine so that regular chores were done routinely
  2. To have a resume of recipes that I was familiar with and could prepare easily.

As you know, effective goals have a deadline and my deadline was ‘by the time babies come along’. And for the most part I made this self-imposed deadline.

But seasons come and go. As my babies arrived my priorities shifted. I still needed to be a homemaker but my learning curve, my study, my priorities shifted from learning to be a homemaker to learning to be a parent (and yet still balance homemaking!)

This change is reflected in my bookcase – titles like “More Hours in your Day” by Emily Barnes and “The Family Manger” by Kathy Peel, moved over for books like “What to Expect in the First Year” by Murkoff, Hathaway, and Eisnberg and “What is a Family?” by Edith Schaeffer.

Then came homeschooling…. Another shift in the books I was reading (Cindy Rushton, Chris Davis, Sally Clarkson to name a few). But life doesn’t consist of one sphere of responsibility. I was still a wife, a homemaker and a parent – and these spheres aren’t static; life brings changes which affects the balance and requires new skills. My spheres were increasing and yet I still only had 24 hours!

I believe firmly that relationships come first – that is, my relationship with God, my husband, my children – then come my responsibilities. And yet, they are very closely intertwined. If I spend all day playing games and building my relationship with my children, what does that benefit them if there is no food in the house! So finding that balance with homemaking is a matter of perspective, priorities and practices.

This is about how we perceive homemaking. Homemaking is more than housework. Yes, we need to keep our house clean (for health and safety purposes) but homemaking goes deeper than surface spray and a scrubber! As the saying goes – Home is where the Heart is – we need to create an environment where our husband’s and our children’s heart and even our own heart desire to be at home. Each person’s heart is looking for love, acceptance, peace, laughter etc …. Creating this atmosphere is what homemaking is all about.

How’s your perspective?

From our perspective will come our priorities; being able to put the housework aspect in a priority list of all the other aspects of homemaking means that I can let things go. As my responsibilities grew I came to the realisation that I cannot do it all – my house cannot be spotless, decorated perfectly, I cannot keep cooking new and exciting meals, keep a flourishing veggie garden, show hospitality to people we meet, sew every garment my family wears and keep peace, joy and love in my home. Something has to give.

We need to be able to assess our priorities. Some priorities are underlying – they never change – we build our life on these understandings. Some priorities need to be set for a season and some priorities need to be set for the day. We have to be able to let go of things – not to let our home go to rack and ruin, but to be realistic with the things we take on.

What can you realistically achieve in your home and maintain all the growing relationships therein?

There are practices that can help us meet our priorities, and balance all the different responsibilities. Here are some practices and tips that have helped me

  • Get the children involved – this is a long term perspective. Initially training a child to clean is painstaking, time consuming and at times frustrating! But… oh so rewarding. Initially it is rewarding as you see your child master a skill, then they master their attitude towards that skill, then they are truly helpful and you become a family team working together! Definitely worth the effort when they are young.
  • A cleaning routine – Cleaning does need to happen. A time for everything and everything in its time! For our family we like to do a little every day rather than taking a whole day to do it all – but when/how we do it isn’t as important as the fact that it needs to be done. We enjoy music while we clean – sometimes rocky, sometimes jazzy, some times classical – but it lifts the soul and the fun factor!
  • A daily routine – When the children know what activities are going to build their day, and they are required to pack up one activity before moving onto the next, we have less mess come 5.00pm. When our children have free play all day then not only do we have chaos as far as toys and craft supplies go – we also have chaos in their hearts and no-one wants to clean up!
  • Menu Planning – knowing what food is planned helps balance nutrition, the budget, and often even more importantly that crazy hour from 5-6.00pm!
  • Candles at the dinner table – there is nothing like candles to help us take a deep breath. Flowers do the same – take time to smell the roses.
  • Do the important – limit the urgent. So often things build up and become urgent and they get done thanks to adrenaline! But the better way to live is to constantly do the important things – To learn to do the important thing for this moment in time has helped reduce the stress spots when things have to be done now!

One of the most important heart lessons I have learnt as I balance housework with all the other aspects of being a homemaker is the issue of Contentment - Realizing that true happiness is not hindered by material conditions (Character First). Can I be happy with my surroundings if they are not perfect, to ‘man’s standards’ or my expectations? What makes me happy – my clean house or …..? To be honest, a clean house does make me happy but it is a surface happiness, a happiness that can be marred as soon as a cup of milk is spilt – this is not true happiness – true happiness comes from being in tune with our God and maker.

Jesus does not define me by how clean my house is, how well decorated it is, how good a cook, gardener or seamstress I am. He does though ask me to love my neighbour – and that starts with my family.

... If I don’t love others,
I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
1 Corinthians 13:1

Website Updates
While we are thinking homemaking you may be interested in reading the few articles I've written online:
Blending Homeschool and Housework

Not enough time!

Doing the Basics

Toy Organisation

NEW this week is another article on Sincerity - Where Heart and Actions are in Sync

My Sitemap is a quick reference to all you will find on Lifestyle-Homeschool. I encourage you to have a browse around!

Heart Focus Parenting - A heart focused parent will keep their attention on their child's heart for God, instead of on external behaviours.

Live life with your Kids Blog
Do you read my blog? Live life with your Kids Blog is where I jot my thoughts throughout the week and share things happening in our family. You are welcome to visit!

Back Issues
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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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About Live Life with your kids Newsletter I know homeschool mums are busy with lots to read, so I have divided my newsletter into four sections and you will receive one section a week; short but regular newsletters!
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