Cleaning house is a drag. And the more you live in your house, the more you have to clean. And who lives in their house more than a homeschooling family?
In my reading of productivity materials, there is a lot said for working in your passion, for delegating what is not one of your “core competencies.”
That boils down to: “No one who is successful cleans their own house.” After all, anyone can do it, right? So clearly you are too important to do it yourself – you should do something more useful in the world and pay someone else to do the mundane work around the house.
A couple years ago one thing on one of my lists was to find out how much a weekly housecleaner was and make that amount a blog-income goal: Because clearly blogging is a better use of my time than cleaning my house.
As soon as it was written down on my list, I started realizing what a messed up mentality it demonstrated I had. It’s almost (not quite) as bad as “Get a job so I can afford daycare.” If I need a cleaner house, how about I cut back instead of increase blog time and actually – gasp – clean something. I didn’t want to do that because I didn’t value cleaning.
So, of course, I read a book. In fact, Willa did a book club on the book: Keeping House. In that book I became intellectually convinced that housework – not only the results, but even the work itself – was worthwhile and valuable on a number of levels.
So I began seeking the elusive goal of finding satisfaction in housework. And I am still seeking.
Good thing my life is not short on practice material.
So, as I continue to work this out in my own life, I’ll be writing about it weekly through May. Then in June and July on Mondays I want to help us use the summer to get our housecleaning habits – including the children’s – ship shape so we can start a new school year with some traction. Focusing on the daily habits in June will be a lot more helpful come October than a one-time thorough cleaning done in July.
Household Chores as Self-Improvement
So why spend all this time and energy on housekeeping? Because, though I’ve tried denying it in the past, the state of the house affects us, affects our families, affects our effectiveness.
Yes, order is foundational. God works with order. God commends order. But I think sometimes we think of this as God blessing us achieving an end-goal of a perfectly orderly house. But what does God Himself do? Bring order out of chaos. Transform. He doesn’t seem to be a fan of a static state in creation.
You know the Martin Luther quote about clean floors?
The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays — not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors.
Now, he was commenting on vocations, but it’s easy for us housewives to see the statement and think, “God loves clean floors? Then He almost never loves my home.”
After all, even when I do clean the floors daily, they never stay clean for long.
I think we need to think about it a little differently. We need to say not that God loves clean floors, but that God loves us making dirty floors clean.
See the trick? Suddenly those little footprints, the crumbs, the blowing dust, the fingerprints are not ruining our clean floor which we wanted to please God with. Rather, they are creating another opportunity to please God by working transformation from dirty to clean yet again.
It is when we bring order out of chaos, when we make dirty things clean, that we are imaging God’s work in this world, not when we accomplish ever-so-briefly a moment of attaining our ends.
My own thinking along these lines has been brought on not only by the books I’ve read, but also Rachel Jankovic’s articles at Femina and Desiring God. Specifically, “Motherhood is Application” and “The Oxen Are In” helped me immensely.
I’ve also written on this theme before in the series Poetic Housekeeping.
Next Monday I’ll develop more on how to be not only content but perhaps even joyful amidst the daily grind of never-ending housework.