Friday, March 1, 2013

Homeschooling and Housekeeping (The Clean Edition)

Is your home company ready?
There it is, the dreaded knock at the door. You look around and frantically yell at the kids to grab everything they can and shove it into a closet and shut the door. A friend dropped by unexpectedly and your house is a wreck. As you open the door you smile and say "I am sorry for the mess, it isn't usually like this", which you think to yourself, is actually a bit of a fib...

Your husband calls you 10 minutes before he arrives home to let you know that his boss is coming for dinner. Panic sets in and again the mad dash to get not only get some extra dinner together but to also get the house "company ready" and yourself cleaned up.

Do either of these sound familiar? As I was perusing Facebook this morning I came across an article entitled Top 10 Reasons Not to Organize Your Homeschool. While I do understand that she probably meant at least some of it to be tongue in cheek...or I hope she did...I couldn't help but think back to all of the memes and blog articles with sweet words reminding us of how quickly the years pass, how there is always work to be done, how we should put aside laundry and dusting in favor of enjoying our children. Really, how can you look at that poem and not nod in agreement?! No doubt there is a time for laying down the broom and just enjoying your children. There are moments when cleaning comes low on the priority list, but how often do we put off cleaning or organizing in the name of "spending quality time with the children" only to find our homes and mind so cluttered that we can't truly enjoy it. What fun is it to play with your children all day and look up to find yourself surrounded by a mess? Or to have your husband come home from an already busy and often stressful day to house buried in chaos? Or to have company unexpectedly show up and your home not be clean and inviting?

We have been convinced that it has to be one way or the other; that if we are keeping a clean house we must be neglecting our children. I am here to tell you it doesn't have to be an either/or! You can do both!

So why should we keep a clean and organized home?

Because we want to be Christ-like and God is not a God of chaos (1 Corinthians 14:33). If our goal is to be like Christ, which it should be, we should be practicing the characteristics of Him. The Bible is clear on how we are to conduct ourselves. We are to do things decently and in order (I Corinthians 14:40) and we are to care for our homes (Proverbs 31 and Titus 2). If we are not following these scriptures we are sinning.

Because a clean and organized home contributes to your child being healthier spiritually, mentally and physically.  We discussed the spiritual aspects up above, but there are other obvious reasons that an orderly home is a good thing. God knew what He was doing when He gave us instructions to be orderly. Cluttered homes make for cluttered minds. You would be surprised at the behavioral differences between a child living in a clean uncluttered home and one living in chaos. I know that when my house is cluttered, I feel flustered and am easily provoked. When my home is clean, I am calm and find it easier to be patient. Then of course there is the obvious, clean homes make for less sickness!

Because we don't want to have to make excuses every-time someone shows up unexpectedly!
After about the tenth time of telling the same friend "I'm sorry for the mess" I knew she had to be thinking that my house was always chaotic. She was right. Sure I had moments, when given plenty of notice, that the house was clean for company, but I was never ready for someone just to show up. Just think of how much more enjoyable a visit is when you aren't sitting on your couch staring at a huge pile of dishes while you wonder if your friend notices that you haven't vacuumed the floor or cleaned the toilets this week!

Books are easy to access
And there is plenty of extra room!
Because it makes homeschooling easier, cheaper and faster. I was shocked to read in the blog above that leaving the school area in chaos made things easier for the blogger. I was equally as shocked to hear her say that she found herself selling things only to repurchase them later and that organized books take up more room. I don't know if my experience is unique but that is the complete opposite of what happens here! When our school room is organized I can walk straight into the room and know exactly where the book I am looking for is. When it is messy and books are just thrown onto the shelf this is not so. I also find myself repurchasing things that I was sure I had, but can't find, so maybe I sold it. Of course as soon as I re-purchase it, I clean the school room and find the original. The money I have wasted this way is a great source of embarrassment for me. We are in the process of unpacking and in the process I am having to do some major downsizing, so our school room goes back and forth from being clean to having boxes here and there. Let me tell you, books stacked neatly on the shelf and categorized in sensible manner take up FAR less space than books strewn here and there on the shelves. We also don't have to worry about towers of books tumbling off the shelf when a child pulls a book off the bottom stack. I'm sorry you can't convince me that unorganized shelves make for better homeschooling.

Like anything you can go overboard. If you find yourself spending 4 hours a day scrubbing your kitchen, you probably need to rethink your cleaning habits. If your family is not allowed to relax for fear of making a mess that freaks mom out, you probably need to rethink. If you aren't flexible enough to let your children do some messy activities every now and then, you probably need to rethink. However, keeping a reasonably clean, organized and company ready home is not only healthier it is Biblical.

Stay tuned for my next post which will offer some practical ways to keep a clean house and enjoy your children all at the same time!

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Anonymous said...

I have heard this quite often from my husband's relatives and from a few friends. As if a mother who cleans somehow values that more than her children. However, living in a house like this (you know my situation) has done nothing but prove to me the opposite - that at least *some* attempt at cleanliness and organization can reap tons of benefits in terms of efficiency, peace of mind, and money saving. I try not to judge when I come across others because everyone's mess threshold and what they consider clean and organized are different, but I do view with suspicion (and I don't know if this is the wrong thing to do) when someone has completely cast aside the idea of orderliness being worth something. There is something to be said for knowing where things are most of the time, not letting food waste away in your fridge because it's too full of who knows what.

There are times in our lives where tidiness takes a backseat (recently for me, first trimester pregnancy blahs), but I found that I simply feel better about myself by having a simple list of chores, COMPLETING those chores, and overall increasing the priority of cleaning in my day to day life. I'm not missing out on time with my son, if anything, him seeing me clean more encourages him to clean more, and our nighttime clean up battles are going away. My husband picks up after himself in a tidier space, which saves us a good deal of tiny arguments or any resentment.

I think you can take it too far, but extremes in most cases are bad. You can value keeping your bright white carpet clean more than using it for what it's for - walking and playing. But I don't think that's what we are talking about here; just a livable, decently organized, non chaotic space.

The TL;DR version - preach it! :D

Rachel E. said...

I needed this today. I have learned to keep my comments to myself when it comes to the chaos in the house. But today, I just couldn't take it any more. I need more time. I don't have it. It seems my days are filled with other things and I can't seem to get the cleaning portion in. I get so exhausted, then frustrated that things aren't in order.

I do believe that a state of chaos in the house is not good. I also believe that not letting kids live is not good. Kids need to be kids, but they also need to learn a sizable amount of responsibility.

I am currently working on getting rid of stuff. I figure if it's been laying around or sitting in boxes, it won't be missed. Someone else can take it. In fact, I'll collect it in a box and I won't sort it. Someone else can at the thrift shop.