Time for keeping the home is an essential part of our rhythm.
I have learned the importance of building in times for cleaning the house as a family, instead of on my own.
Is it easier to clean something quickly by myself?
Today it is.
But slowing down and teaching a child to take on the task for himself today, yields a greater independence and self sufficiency tomorrow. We clean for the future, people!
Forget the magazine cover look we wish for. Truth is, we never “clean up.” We “practice cleaning up,” because the eventual goal stands firmly at shaping children into adults that are knowledgable in the arts of housekeeping and home repair. Do you personally know adults like that? Great people to know! I’m still working on becoming one!
So we slowly pick our way through chores and the house is rarely ever “all clean, all at once.”
We work side by side “practicing dishes” or “practicing floor sweeps” etc. It is the slow and steady work of someone who is learning to master a skill. My time table is not pleased with this concept, but the future me demands it.
This year we are starting each day with our morning five, which is tailored for each individual child. I have traced their Daddy’s handprint and on each finger is an item they must complete. When the work is done, they get to give Daddy a hi-five! (Many thanks to the incomparable Jill S. for showing me this trick last year).
Once our schoolwork is done we make sure the classroom is put to rights. The boys use the carpet sweeper under the table. We wipe down the desk and put away supplies, books. etc.
But the real work happens during our “Blessing Hour.” Blessing Hour is essential to my health. In the hour before dinner, our boys clean the home while I prepare our evening meal. They understand that their work blesses everyone in the family. Blessing Hour relieves the stress I feel as primary homemaker. Blessing Hour gives grace to Dad when he walks in through the door feeling tired and run down. Blessing Hour blesses our boys with a relaxed Mom and Dad that now have free time after dinner to join in games and read books and play music. In the seasons when Blessing Hour falls to the wayside, I feel its loss keenly. And by “feel its loss” I mean absolutely lose my marbles.
I am not a Martha, neither Biblically nor of the Stewart variety. I would love to be Martha—having the skill set and flawless time management needed to keep an immaculate home. In reality I am a Messy Martha. Someone who desperately longs for cleanliness and order, but who is led astray by a rather wild spirit, tendency for creative disasters and propensity for misbegotten adventures that leave the home looking less than clean at best and slightly catastrophic at worst.
I often have to talk my defeated Martha side away from the cliff of despair, which towers over the pit of endless laundry near the abyss of Legos and crushed cheerios. My husband repeats almost daily, “Have some grace for yourself!” It is hard to balance out my sporadic housekeeping tendencies—add in the four tornadoes I have in constant tow and let the picture complete itself. As I train the children, I am training myself to be consistent alongside them. As I teach them how to wash, sew, repair; I am also learning alongside them.
If you happen upon our schedule, don’t read “Blessing Hour” and interpret: Immaculate Familial Harmony.
It is likely the loudest volume level of our day. Its a frantic race to throw legos in bins, shove couch cushions in place and scrape whatever that mysterious purple mass of gelatinous quality is, off the wall and into the trash.
There is probably a heavily-armed toddler presiding over this activity, wooden hobbit sword in hand, readily leveling out swats on unsuspecting behinds. Thereby generating an ear piercing cacophony of indignant squalls and protests echoing throughout the farmhouse, while the toddler prances about with unrestrained glee.
And yet this time of day, carved out with the purpose of blessing, accomplishes just that. Despite the horrific noise level and dubious cleaning jobs, it blesses me bone deep.
It does what tending a home should do. It somehow, miraculously, gives me rest.