Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Making a Home without Neglecting your Family {part 1}

A few days ago, a dear friend (fellow homemaker, and mother to three cute little boys ages 4 and under) sent me a message saying "Blog request: How does one create an orderly home for one's family without neglecting said family?"  I thought this was an excellent topic on the heels of my posts about creating a simple and intentional home environment.  Although blogging probably shouldn't be at the top of my list right now (we've got 5 rooms to strip of carpet, 6 to paint, and one drywall ceiling to finish before the carpet installers come next Monday), I'm allowing myself the opportunity to take a little mental break and spend a little time writing and share some of my thoughts on this topic.

(For those of you still holding out for the long-awaited painting post, I'm still working on it, I promise!  And, just think of how much more wisdom I'll have to offer after this week ;))

So, how DO you make a home for your family without neglecting said family?

I think the first - and very important - point to make is that making (or creating, as my friend put it)  home is much different than maintaining a home.  When you're in a state of disarray or a season of craziness, it's hard to imagine that you will ever reach a point of normalcy or stability, or that cleaning the playroom will ever be less than a two-hour archaeological dig.  It IS unrealistic in a messy and cluttered and overwhelming house (or construction site!) to think that you can do all of the necessary housework and simultaneously provide for all of the needs of the numerous tiny residents.  But don't throw in the towel yet.  Making a home can be a shorter, more intense period and a time of development of priorities, family routines, etc that can make way for an environment that is far more easily maintained.  I genuinely think it's possible to reach a state where at least the basic homemaking tasks can be completed without overwhelming yourself or neglecting any children.

For us, right now, that means that Justin and I are employing several mother's helpers and have strategically scheduled visits from both grandmas so that the girls are in good hands while we focus on the house.  I have also allowed a lot of other things to slide (the extent of home cooking I've done in the last 10 days was one omelet) so that we can focus right now on getting the house ready to move in.  It is essential for us that I play a period of Bob Vila so that I can be Betty Crocker this fall and beyond.

Of course, home"making" might not mean physically hanging ceilings for everyone ;)  I think it's totally reasonable, however, to spend some dedicated time doing some serious purging and organizing, or even just to spend some time making a list of what you want your home and family life to look like and writing some goals of how to reach that ideal.  A temporary neglecting of basic chores (or outsourcing of childcare) can be vital to reaching a place where you can maintain both house and family.

Once all possessions have a place and some basic routines are established, the actual cleaning is much easier - and possible with little kids.  If all you have to do to clean the sink is clean it (aka, spray it down and wipe) and not move 6 bath toys, a melted make-up sample, and the missing sippy cup off of the bathroom counter, that can be reasonably accomplished while you're waiting for the toddler to finish up on the potty.  Vacuuming is a quick job if there aren't toys in the way.  You can keep up with emptying the dishwasher every morning if putting things in cupboards doesn't start 4 different avalanches.

There will still be messes and spills and deviations from the daily plan (we're talking toddlers, after all), and with a bunch of littles underfoot it is still unlikely that you can ever reach a pristine or perfectly run household.  However, I've heard time and time again from friends and bloggers that the season of all littles (meaning, only having kids in preschool or younger) is very difficult but that there is a light at the end of the tunnel once one or two kids are able to reliably pick up their toys and help out with some basic chores, or at the very least wipe their own bottoms and put on their own shoes.  In that sense, too, I think that you can consider the season of young motherhood as a period of homemaking that is setting the foundation for the home and family life you want to have.  Cliche as it is, the days now are long, but the years are short.  Hard work now in creating routines and expectations will mean a lot for how your household will run when everyone is in elementary school or junior and high school.

I'm going to do the reasonable thing and pause here so that I can get some sleep, but I jotted down a list of 8 tips for maintaining a home without neglecting your family and I'll pop back in with that (and the painting post!) when I can.  Until then, I'd love to hear your thoughts - leave me some comments :)

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