Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Keeping It Clean - The Attitudes

...carrying on from The Charts (part 1) and The Cleaners (part 2)...

My husband has an attitude. It greatly effects the environment in our home. It impacts our ability to function.

You see, Joshua is the heaviest hitter in my cleaning artillery. He comes in the door in the evenings and, after greeting us all, he offers to assist as needed with dinner preparations. Sometimes that means he gathers up the kids and takes them outside to play or to the couch for reading time or to the living room for some 'rasslin'. Sometimes that means he takes over so I can sit on the couch. Sometimes it means he directs the children in setting the table. But he never flinches. He walks in and pitches in.

On the flip side, if he walks in at the end of his work day and the living room is in shambles, dinner is but a far-off-idea, the kids are going haywire, and I am curled up in a corner sucking down chocolate as fast as I can get it out of the wrapper, he doesn't flinch (much) either. He still walks in, helps to put things to rights, never accuses, and we just do what we need to do.

We decided early on in our marriage that there wouldn't be quibbling about who does what, so long as it gets done. His willingness to just help get things done so that we have more time to enjoy life impacts the entire family. I'm not prone to get resentful because I feel like my day never ends. The kids really believe us when we say it takes the whole family to care for our home.

Now that we have established my nomination for his sainthood...

The fact is, there are four (soon to be five!!!) children aged six and under living in this house. Independence is just blossoming, dependence on Mommy is still high, and love must rule. While I would love to have a magazine worthy home at all times, it's just not practical. We live here, we school here, we play here, we are infirm here. The place gets trashed.

I had to learn that 'clutter' does not equate 'dirty'. It's a pretty recent discovery. And it changed my attitude towards housekeeping. I learned to send up arrow prayers when things were overwhelming me. I learned to prioritize, covering the most necessary bases with the house, releasing the rest, and making more time for my kids. I learned that some days you just have to throw the household to do list out the window and restore fellowship with the kids.

Because relationships are so much more important than having to step over the blocks scattered about the floor or having to move a pile of books off a chair in order to sit down.

I blow it. Regularly. My attitude falls apart some days when I look around and can't see anything but messy floors and piles on the couch and color pencils scattered here and yon. There are several things I have learned to help me cope with these attacks.

I try to remember to breath deeply and call to mind Scripture.

I frequently go to my list of phrases (I literally have a notebook of wisdom I have gleaned and am still gleaning!) that mentors have shared with me concerning parenting. (Two of my favorites are "What is the most right thing, the most God honoring thing I can do in this moment?" and "If you know what you know, then you have to live what you know." I know. They say the same thing. God's way, not your way!)

I call a Total Time Out. Everyone is assigned a seat, given a Bible of some sort, and the kids read or look at pictures while Mommy concentrates on her Source of All Peace.

I reach for the CD player. There's nothing like a few rounds of dancing to "I'm Walking On Sunshine" or "Cotton Eye Joe" to help find your sense of humor and re-engage the kids in a positive way.

The point here is to shift focus. From 'stuff' to 'relationship'. To be the kind and loving voice in a hateful world, to make your home a refuge from the crazy world.

Even if it has to be a less than neat home.

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