Family Matters: 5 tips for keeping a tidy home
Housekeeping is serious business. I’m not trying to chain anybody to a vacuum cleaner here, but I believe, to the best of our abilities, we should try to maintain a clean and orderly home. We should seek to make it a haven of rest for our entire family.
Whatever chores we do, whether the lion’s share or an even split with our spouse, should be done consistently, cheerfully, and as unto the Lord. And since God has created us in His own image, we should make it our goal to reflect the orderly aspect of His character in our daily lives — including the way we keep house.
So, in honor of “National Housewife’s Day” (Nov. 3), here are my five best tips for keeping a tidy home:
First, come up with a reliable method for dealing with clutter.
Don’t let junk mail pile up on your desk or kitchen counter for days or weeks at a time. Instead, toss it straight in the trash or recycle bin as soon as it enters the house.
We should deal with broken toys, outgrown clothes, leftover food, and anything else that has outlived its usefulness in similar fashion, purging our homes of worthless junk and keeping everything in it in good working order.
Second, designate a place for everything and keep everything in place.
You’ll never need to spend precious minutes hunting car keys or purses or shoes when you’re in a hurry to go somewhere, because each of those items can be found exactly where it belongs.
Store the most frequently used items in the most easily accessible space, making it a simple matter to return anything to its proper home. It’s also smart to keep things as near their point of use as possible: coffee mugs close to the coffee maker, garbage bags beside the trash can, copy paper next to the printer.
Third, put your problem-solving skills to good use. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
If one approach isn’t working, try another. If dirty shoes keep tracking mud onto clean floors, put a shelf or basket by the door so kids can shed their shoes before coming inside. If the rod in the coat closet is too high for little ones to reach, install hooks at their level so they can hang up their jackets that way instead of dropping them on the floor.
Fourth, make sure you enlist the help of others.
Stop trying to do everything yourself. This is especially important when children are part of the picture. The greater the number of children in a household, the more frazzled the homemaker will become unless those children are trained to pitch in and help.
Of course, some mess is to be expected when sharing a home with little ones, but if you are always inside the house working while your children are outside playing, then something is amiss. Not only are you missing out on the opportunity to make precious memories with them, both at work and at play, but you’re forfeiting an opportunity to teach them important life skills.
Fifth and finally, you’ll want to make wise use of whatever time is available.
You needn’t wait until you have a full day to devote to house cleaning to get started. Little by little adds up over time.
Learn to see the value of a job half-done. If you don’t have time to deep clean, spot clean. If you don’t have time to spot clean, then use what time you do have to tidy things up.
No matter how thoroughly you scour a cluttered house — washing windows and vacuuming rugs and polishing doorknobs — it will still seem dirty if the beds aren’t made or there’s paper strewn all over the floor.
Conversely, an uncluttered house, one where everything’s picked up and put away, will look clean, even if the furniture still needs dusting and the floor hasn’t been mopped.
Good homemaking calls for balance. Keeping a tidy house should be a means to an end, not the end goal itself.
I view housekeeping as a way to serve God by being a good steward over what He has given me, to care for my family by creating a pleasant place for us all to live, to show gratitude to my husband for the home he has provided, to train my children to be conscientious and competent workers, and to reach out to others by extending hospitality.
Yet if our desire for a clean house makes us irritable and impatient with the people inside it, then our priorities are misplaced and that clean house has become an idol.
Keeping an immaculate house (in the strictest sense of the word) is not really possible this side of heaven, so it’s futile to make that our goal. Keeping a tidy house, on the other hand, is entirely achievable — even while maintaining a proper and loving attitude toward everyone who lives there.
If you ever visit Jennifer Flanders at home, you may spot a few surfaces in need of dusting in an otherwise tidy abode, but you’ll also find a family who loves one another, works well together, and enjoys showing hospitality to those around them. To read more from this author, check out her books on http://amazon.com/author/jenniferflanders .