I'm reading a book called "Desperate: Hope for the Mom who Needs to Breathe", by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. It's renewing my calling as a mother. This morning I woke early to steal a few moments to myself with a cup of tea and this book. The chapter I read is called "Taming the Beast of Housework". I laughed to myself. It never ceases to amaze me how appropriate each chapter is for what I'm dealing with at the moment. You see, I have four crazy kiddos who have been on summer break since June 12. They won't go back to school until September 7. There are lots of messes and little schedule or rhythm to our days in the summer. The artist in me loves this kind of life: running around barefoot through sprinklers, playing cards in the treehouse, taking the dog on long walks (did I tell you we have a dog for a month? So fun!)...but after a few weeks of this my soul starts to feel a little crushed. The messes begin to take over and they take me with them. I start to scream loudly for all to hear and my children buckle under the weight of it all.
"When a mom complains and fusses as a regular way of life, it will inevitably go into the hearts of her children with great force." -Sally Clarkson, Desperate, p. 108.
This quote hit me hard with conviction. How often do I complain and fuss? I rant and cry when I feel overwhelmed. I forced myself to look 20 years into the future. My oldest daughter will most likely have children of her own by then. How will she see her responsibilities? How will she react to the messes her children make? My heart began to break when realizing that the attitude I choose will probably be the attitude she will take on. I don't want her to feel that way.
I sat with my children after they woke this morning and apologized. I told how even though I'm frustrated with the mess I'm taking it out on them and have the wrong attitude. They graciously forgave me.
I am thankful for the system we have in place. There are still six people living in this house (...where there are oxen the barns will be dirty!) but having a plan helps. Everyone is different so you have to find a plan that works for you. My oldest is 9 and this is the first summer I have found something that works for us. I have been through chore charts and cards, rewards, sticker charts...I'm just not organized enough to keep up with those. But this has been simple and gets everyone cleaning all at once. I would love to share it with you in case you would like to try it out.
FAMILY ZONE CLEAN:
FlyLady has been helpful to me in the past with how she divides her house into zones and focuses on cleaning one zone at a time. I decided to modify this method for our family, so we divided our house into 5 zones:
Zone 1: The entryway, garage and car
Zone 2: The Kitchen and patio
Zone 3: The Bathrooms
Zone 4: The Living and Dining Rooms
Zone 5: The upstairs landing and "book nook" reading area
At any given time, I give the children a five minute warning for zone work. At that point each child goes to their designated zone. My two older kids (ages 9 and 7 1/2) get two zones each. Adeline who is only 3 1/2 gets one zone she shares with me. Zoe (age 2) has no zone work (yet!) Each week the zones rotate, giving each family member an opportunity to clean each zone. On the doorpost or wall of each zone I put a list of expectations for cleaning that zone (i.e.: in the bathroom: straighten the rug, make sure there is toilet paper on the roll and the reserve container, make sure the sink is clean and the garbage isn't overflowing, etc) so they know what they should do. I have been amazed at how this system actually works when I remember to call for a daily zone clean! As I mentioned before, I'm not a consistent person when it comes to systems so we don't have a specific time of day we clean the zones, but I generally just go with my gut feeling: is the house overwhelming to me? Zone work will probably make it better. And it does. Miraculously! Do my kids love it? No. Do they whine and complain about it? You bet. But it keeps me from being the only one cleaning and developing a bad attitude.
There is one thing to remember when dealing with housework and little kids at the same time. Messes come with the package. It is part of the job of the season. It will get better! Remember, your goal is not to get rid of the housework, it is to tame it! Finding a system that works for you and your family is key to eliminating overwhelm.
What are ways you deal with the never-ending chores around the house? Please share in the comments!