When we came home from church Sunday night we sat the boys down at the table for a snack and an episode or two of Fireman Sam and I started what I call my ‘house attack.’ I folded a load of clothes, put more clothes in the washer and dryer. I cleaned the bathroom. (Really, I did, even though it still smells like pee.) I got out pajamas and diapers and towels for bedtime showers. I picked up our bedroom and watered my succulent.
That’s a lot of how cleaning and laundry go around here anymore. A few years ago, that would have been a failure; now it’s just a manageable way of life.
We attempt to keep our house fairly clean and neat. I have a weekly cleaning schedule. The boys and I regularly pick up toys through the day. My husband pitches in with whatever needs to be done. We’re throwing out clutter.
But five people live in this house and three of them are little boys under the age of seven. To keep our home managed and livable, three things have to happen. We have to cook. We have to clean. We have to do laundry. Did I mention we also homeschool our oldest?
Not counting my outside-the-home work, that’s four solid categories for a day’s work. You know what I’ve found? I can only do three with any semblance of what they should be. And, honestly, unless the day is going 100%, it’s probably only going to be two.
We can cook and do school in one day. Three solid meals, three solid snacks, made much easier if it’s a day we are actually home and not traveling to ball practice. We can get through a whole day of kindergarten work this way. Or we can complete three loads of laundry and do school, but what about dinner? And cleaning? Well, if I start cleaning I can get one room done but it’ll take up a whole hour of school time between helping kids in the bathroom and sorting out poor behavior.
School is a must. We have to do school, legally and morally. Our children need a good education and we signed up to do that ourselves. We also have to eat. We have different nutritional needs and meals get complicated fast but we still have to eat on the regular. That means that laundry and cleaning get cobbled together in an odd sort of pattern. I am teaching the boys to help so I think this will shift over the next few years but often there’s a load of clean laundry on the couch waiting to be folded. And it stays there through breakfast, Awana verse reviews, letter sounds, lunch, a walk outside. Often it’s there until the boys are getting ready for bed. The same goes for cleaning the bathrooms or vacuuming the rugs.
I’m finding ten minutes here or there where I’m not scrolling social media (because I deleted my apps) and I’m dragging out the vacuum or cleaning the french doors.
The work is never finished and I’m becoming more and more ok with that. Nobody is going to remember if a load of laundry waits on the couch all morning for me to make time to fold it. Instead we’re going to remember learning our Bible and taking walks to the cemetery and reading stacks of library books.
I could quit all the outside things I do to clean my house more. I could stop coaching volleyball and stop recording podcasts. I could mop at naptime instead of writing. But in the long run, what will those things matter? I hope that the work encourages other women. That my volleyball players are influenced to pursue knowing Christ and learn how to pass a ball. That women are encouraged in their Christian walk through the writing and the podcast. And really all I would get if my house were cleaner would be a gold star in my mental book of accomplishments.
Of course I don’t mean that we should live in a pigpen. I don’t mean that there’s not a place to scrub the toilets or fold the towels or throw some food in the freezer. There absolutely is. But what’s my motivation for aiming for a high level of white-glove-clean, magazine-worthy home management? Who does that bless?
Some things matter more than others and I should give those higher place. So I’ll teach my boys to work and help take of what they’ve been given and we’ll make do with good-enough when it comes to the laundry and the house.
And should you find some free time there’s probably some laundry on my couch that you could fold. Thanks.