Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Unrealistic Expectations - for homes

I think we Moms, especially homeschooling Moms, have unrealistic expectations for our homes. Now listen closely, I'm NOT saying we should abandon trying to make our house a welcoming home, but I AM saying we need to think this through.

When was the last time you vacuumed or swept? 

(Wait for it, wait for it...)

I can't remember, can you? It's NOT that my house isn't getting swept, but that sweeping is not one of MY chores. Now, not everything goes as planned around here... but we do have SOME routines that help us have a home that is cared for without stressing us out.

I often hear Moms complain about how they just can't "do it all!"

DUH- that's not your job. Your job is to love and nurture your family. God's job is to sustain the universe!

So how does this work out? How do we set practical, realistic expectations for our homes? 

Start early, start young, start often.

Start early: At whatever time on the clock your day begins, ask God for help! Ask for a clear mind, and ask for grace (for yourself and your family.) Ask God to help you see the small things that DO matter (like dirty toilets) and not focus on the small things that DON'T matter (like how many dust bunnies live behind the couch.)

You WILL need to set aside time each week to make sure the necessary housework gets done, but don't do housework at the expense of your relationships with your children or spouse. If my children just want to talk to me, they can do it while I'm ironing, or making my bed, or cooking dinner. (I'll probably give them something to work on in the same room so they'll stick around longer!) When they really need a heart-to-heart, I'll stop working, but I'm a Mom, I can listen to a Literature recap or science report while chopping vegetables!

Start young: This is the first day of the rest of your children's lives, so make it count. Train them early to pick up after themselves and to help with housework. They are small people, treat them as such. Give them small tasks to start with, and as they master those, add more... or give those tasks to younger siblings and teach them something new. Their first attempts are NOT going to impress you, but they will learn, and the time you invest will reap dividends for years!

Example? At age 2, each of our girls would 'help' fold the laundry. Their task was to fold the washcloths, and Daddy's handkerchiefs. Not always well done, but done. Then they moved up to towels, t-shirts, socks and jeans. See? Each item was a little bit more difficult, but they learned! Hallelujah, they learned!!! Each person in our house is responsible for their own 'hand-washables' but everything else gets washed, dried folded, and put away by the 13 yr old 'laundry girl.' Obviously there are times when she gets extra help, like after a week of vacation, but for the most part, she can spend a few minutes, 2 or 3 times a day, and the laundry gets done while she's working on schoolwork or reading a book, or tending her flowers.

Not convinced yet that it's worth your time to train your children? I wash dishes about 3 or 4 days each year. I'm nothing special, but my 15 year old dishwasher is AMAZING! She takes care of it all, and has, for many years. Occasionally one of us burns something to the pan & Daddy needs to help scrub, but for the most part, I only do dishes on her birthday & when they're spending a week at Grandma's house.

teaching kids to work

One day, that little girl who had a hard time folding washcloths might just ask to use 
the Dremel tool to work on the porch...

teens and housework

Or her sister might learn how to shear a sheep... because you taught them HOW to work!

Is the learning curve easy? No. Is it worth it? OH YES!!!

Start often: It doesn't matter if your children or husband do everything or nothing to help you around the house right now. What matters is that you have a plan, and some realistic expectations! If your child can get something out, they can put it away. If they can walk, they can help clean. (If they can't walk yet, just dress them in fuzzy jammies and let them loose under the furniture to dust for you!) YOU need to set some realistic expectations, and them follow through (with God's help.)

Pick the two or three things that irritate you the most when they don't get done and start with them. If they're "big-kid/ adult" items, like scrubbing the toilets, they DO them, then get on with your day. If they're "small-kid/ anyone" items, like picking up toys or taking out the trash, train someone how to do them if necessary (or require them to do them,) and then get on with your day!

Your house IS NOT going to look like the cover of "Better Homes and Gardens," but you WILL have a better home, and less stress, when you set REALISTIC expectations for your home.

chores, fun, responsibility

When your children start doing more of the housework... you  might have time to go to the fair together!

10 years ago our girls were 3 & 5, and I did 95% of the housework. Now they are 13 & 15, and they do 75% of the housework. I am not cruel, mean, or overbearing. I just learned. I learned to have realistic expectations. I learned my kids are great. I learned I couldn't "do it all" - nor did I want to! I learned that grace is an amazing thing. I learned that it is better to have a wrinkled shirt, than to not get enough sleep. I learned that a dish can be re-washed if necessary, and that a little dust is not the enemy. I learned to love my children enough to train them to become responsible adults. I learned that God sustains not only the universe, but our home as well.

sisters, camaraderie, work

Work can build some great camaraderie !

I'm praying you'll learn about grace, and set realistic expectations for your home. May God sustain you today!

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