Friday, 12 February 2016

Clean House (A Confession)

I have a confession to make: my house is usually clean. And usually tidy.

Not showroom tidy - that would be weird; if you arrive in the middle of the day, there will be books over the table, toys out, cooking happening, piles of washing, but by the end of every day, things will be where they should be.

I say confession, because I sometimes feel a bit awkward about this (oddly). I worry that some people may think that I judge others who have different approach (I don't!) or that sometime there is a general feeling that a messy house means more fun is being had. That may be true, but I wouldn't be happy!

I fairly frequently get asked how I get my housework done. This is a good question, as we have a busy home. This means that our home is used much more heavily as we are all here, and that I have no time during the week when I don't have children around when I can get cleaning done. Evenings are out too as we have a number of evenings in the week when we have church meetings here, though I usually manage to find one evening when I can do the ironing.

So, how do I do it?

1) Hard work. There's no getting around it; if I want to clean my kitchen every week, then the slot I have is between children's bedtime and the prayer meeting in our house. Sitting down would be more fun, but less productive. Bathrooms are cleaned while the children play on Wednesday afternoons -and so on.

2) Routine. I have a mental plan of which bits are cleaned on which days every week. It is spread out evenly, and there is nothing planned for the weekend (though I do sometimes catch up on Saturday).

3) Children. The children help - with daily tasks (from feeding the guinea pigs to opening curtains), and regular responsibilities (from putting their clean clothes away to cleaning their own rooms). They are also expected to do odd tasks, such as quickly hoover the hall, when asked to. 

The most significant expectation on them in terms of the difference it makes, though, is that they tidy up after themselves. So coats are hung up, and shoes put away neatly; banana skins go in the bin; toys go away in the right boxes; clothes are sorted into the washing basket or folded for the next day. They don't even see these as jobs, but it helps a huge amount in terms of keeping the chaos at bay.

4) Sabbath Rest. I don't do housework on Sundays, beyond preparing for meals. I find this very freeing; however big my washing pile, it will wait until Monday (unless it is a genuine child-has-vomited-everywhere type emergency).

Perhaps the other question is why do I do it?

1) Personal Preference. We find it easier to cope if we feel ordered - all of us! My husband and I are both happier if we are in a tidy environment. Either by nature or nurture, our children are similar. They like tidying up the displays in shops. Though less enthusiastic about putting their own toys away, they do prefer to keep things ordered.

2) Hospitality. We don't tidy up for guests - we tidy up anyway. However, I find that this means that when considering having people round, I don't need to think about getting the house ready. It will be good enough anyway - which is all I'd ever aim for! It frees me up to have people round. Also, we won't tidy/clean around guests, and we really don't mind if people make a mess. We clean to free us to serve, not so we have a pristine house that must be preserved at all cost.

3) Rest. Oddly, I find that running our home in this way actually means I can rest better. I am not constantly worrying about when I will clean different bits of the house. If the kitchen is looking less than spotless (as it does when you have a houseful), I don't worry about it. I know when it will get done, and I only think about it then.

Having said all this, there are plenty of days when the right decision is to leave a particular task for another day, or even to miss it out for that week. This could be because I am genuinely exhausted, and need to rest a little if I am to be able to keep going. It could be because we have extra visitors who we want to spend time with, or because a child is ill or unhappy and needs my attention. I actually find that keeping the house is fairly good order helps me to do this, as I know that I am on top of things enough to let it go a little without it being awful.

In addition, I genuinely don't do it because I care about appearances - though I realise that this would be a problem. I don't mind if people turn up at whatever point - I just need to know that I am serving our family well by keeping our house in a functioning state.


  1. Thank you for sharing your view of keeping a tidy home. It resonates with me and what my family try to do in serving our little church and visitors to our home. I love the section about hospitality; keeping a clean home to serve others, having people drop by anytime, not tidying because of expected visitors.

    1. Thank you - glad that you can identify with this!