You are raising eternal souls and eternal souls have physical bodies which need feeding, bathing, clothing and care, thus, the hard work of mothering includes housework.
Contrary to popular belief, housework is not mindless. Only you know the ebb and flow of your life, the odd habits (or lack thereof) of your family, the areas of your house that don’t bother you and those that drive you crazy.
So, housework and caring for those little bodies takes some thought. It also takes time. Do you know a family whose house is welcoming and decently clean? Someone in that household has put a lot of thought into getting (and keeping) it that way.
I am here to testify that pretending the mess will go away does not work. Neither does closing your eyes and whispering, “Bibbilty, bobbilty, boo!” and waiting for your fairy godmother to magically take care of it (ask me how I know).
When most of our eight children were small, I realized that the house could be fairly clean but a cluttered kitchen counter made me feel as overwhelmed as if the entire house was a mess so I taught the kids that the housework wasn’t done until the counter was clean.
What is one area that is just as important to you? Own it! Teach your family to respect it!
Toys and possessions need to be constantly reevaluated. Constantly.
In our house, we have at least one bag ready to go to the thrift store all the time. Who says that children need lots of stuff? Book clutter is allowed in our home (within reason) and Lego clutter (sigh) but the rest of the toys are (and were) kept to a minimum.
We all have to make decisions on a regular basis in order to have space and peace in our home.
Some of the questions I think about before we (take note of that word, “we”) tackle the housework are, “What areas have to be addressed every day?” and, “What can I do to prevent messes and extra work?”
If you are a mother of young ones, keeping on top of two areas of the house are crucial. I bet you can guess what those are!
Dishes and laundry!
Pretending that they don’t exist doesn’t work too well. It is simply overwhelming to try to “catch-up” the dishes and the laundry (although, I have been known to take an entire carload of dirty clothes to the laundramat and get it all done in one fell swoop!).
If your laundry is truly out of control, take a good, hard look at how many clothes your family uses. Do you need to put a moratorium on your kids changing their clothes five times a day?
Are the dishes constantly piled in the sink and not getting done? Maybe you have too many of them or your children need to be taught how to care for their own (even toddlers can pull up a step-stool and wash plastic dishes!).
Simplify, simplify, simplify.
Don’t read those fancy/schmancy magazines that show gorgeous homes filled with cluttery beauty. Watch out for Pinterest! If cluttery nick-nacks fill your heart with joy but your home is filled with little people, choose a small area to decorate that is away from little hands; a mantle, a high shelf, the front door. Enjoy changing that to your hearts content while you keep the rest of the house as clutter-free as possible.
Feeling sorry for yourself and your family that you can’t manage to control a million things and keep your house under control? Read The Little House in the Big Woods or The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder to remind yourself that for most of history children had one or two toys to play with for their entire childhood. They also ate very simple meals (cornbread and beans, anyone?).
Drink plenty of water, take walks (even if it is just up and down the stairs inside the house!) and praise God throughout the day. You are the mother of young children and you are raising eternal souls!
“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness — just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder, Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder – Volume One: On Wisdom and Virtues
For more in-depth help, especially in the area of decluttering, read my guest post at The Grocery Shrink Decluttering Begins in Your Brain.