Note from Katie: Today's post by Phyllis may have you re-thinking your strategy for Spring Cleaning. I am excited to share this encouraging post with you.
This is a question often associated with traveling with young children. Almost before you leave the driveway they begin to ask, “Are we there yet?” But that isn’t the context for this article.
I think we as women have this hidden or not-so-hidden agenda that someday we will actually get everything on our to-do list done—we will arrive at that long-desired destination of being finished.
Our daughters grow up hearing us encouraging them to tick things off the list and finish up. I think this is an especially prevalent thought when it comes to housework or cleaning.
For Instance, Spring Cleaning.
I used to take several days off school. I would have unrealistic lists of what I expected myself and our daughters to accomplish within that time. Acting like a slave driver, I would have us fighting and crabby within hours of starting.
With each passing hour our work became less efficient and soon everyone was doing a sloppy job. As the quality of work slipped I became more and more frustrated, with the end result being we would just quit or I would do it myself.
Then, one year when I caught the dreaded spring cleaning bug, I sought the Lord’s advice—since my way wasn’t working very well.
The New Approach
I got the idea of doing one area at a time—a small area.
We didn’t take any days off school, but just took a short time during each day. I listed the areas we had to clean and presented the idea to my daughters.
They groaned and said, “You’ll never stop after just one area.”
I assured them we would, and we each headed off to clean up our closets. We prayed first, because we are all collectors and parting with anything often seems impossible.
The girls and I finished before Eric, so we offered to help him because he was feeling so overwhelmed. When we finished we stood back and admired our work and then took some free time to relax before going back to school.
Once everyone was assured that I really would stop after one small area the work went well and slowly but surely we made progress.
There were advantages and disadvantages to this new system.
First, the Main Disadvantage:
- It took a lot longer than two or three days.
Second, the Advantages:
- As I stuck to my word about doing one small area a day, everyone was less disappointed when they saw cleaning on the schedule.
- We were able to continue with school, since our cleaning only took about an hour a day.
- We did a much better job. Praying first helped us to make better choices when it came to passing along things we no longer needed.
- I had been working on teaching them to maintain areas and we discovered that some of the places where we had done well with maintenance just needed to be straightened and wiped down.
- We became a team. We began to see the progress we were making and became more creative in how we organized things—taking pleasure in how nice things looked when we finished. When we cleaned our attic—which hadn’t really happened for about 12 years—we realized we might have room up there for a Ping-Pong table.
- There was a lot less fighting and anger. There were some heated discussions, but mainly on how to do something, not over having to do something.
- We filled our van twice with things for Goodwill.
- We filled our truck with things for the church garage sale.
- We gave bags and bags of things to other families.
- We began to hear more and more, “Oh, so and so would just love this.” instead of talk about not being able to part with something.
- We all enjoyed our newfound spaces.
- Our home was easier to maintain, and we all have a better vision for maintaining.
- We are a team! When Dad mentioned the need to wash out the garage I heard our son tell him that if we all went out and worked together it wouldn’t take long at all, and we could have fun.
The Lord says that children are to obey their parents, but He also says parents are not to frustrate their children.
Ephesians 6:1 – “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” KJV
Ephesians 6:4 – “And, ye fathers provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” KJV
No ladies, we will never have it all done, but any time I can train our daughters to serve their family in a way that brings peace rather than frustration I am reminded how gently the Lord has trained me and I purpose to try to do things His way rather than my own.
Finding Joy in the Journey,
Phyllis is an ordinary woman serving an extraordinary God. She has been the joyful wife of her best friend Daniel for 30 years and became a stay at home mom 27 years ago after retiring from a management position. She home schooled their three children, Emily (27), Rebekah (25), and Eric (23), for the 22 years and is now working on “Home College”. She has published several books, including her favorite, Purposeful Planning. Visit her on her website at Phyllis-Sather.com or follow her on Pinterest.