When “Tidy” Doesn’t Come Easily

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Dirty clothes littered the floor everywhere, stuffed toys were strewn in all corners, used Kleenex and broken pencils spoke of too much time having passed this summer and I desperately wanted to close the door again, pretending it wasn’t a problem.

But I couldn’t. It was a problem, and not just for me.

You see, I’ve read all the same “feel-good and lift-this-guilt-off-my-shoulder” posts you have – the ones about how it’s better to teach “Susie” to ride her bike rather than be caught up in housework, and the one about how we are stifling “Jimmy’s” creativity if we force him to clean his room, oh, and yes, I even know the one about how “Jenny” will pull it all together when she’s grown and want to keep a clean house.

But can I be honest? I just don’t think its true.

Seventeen years of parenting, a whole lot of reading and listening to others are telling me a completely different story.

You can teach your child to ride a bike like a racer and still keep a tidy house, your child can develop the art skills of Picasso and still pick up his room, and as for “Jenny”? I’ve talked to enough “Jenny’s” who are grown young women, and with salty tears filling their eyes, they have whispered their fears of not being able to keep up a one-bedroom flat or even get their bed made and the “WHY-DIDN’T-SOMEONE-TEACH-ME?” echoes with hurt in their words.

If I’m ruining your day or even your parenting philosophy, you can click the big “X” up in the right-hand corner and it honestly won’t insult me. But if you are brave enough to read a little further, you may be surprised how some pieces fit together in the bigger puzzle of life.

First, let’s lay a little groundwork…
1) I will always struggle with wanting to take the easy/lazy route
2) My kids will always struggle with the same thing
3) It’s never easy to keep a standard for anything long-term; we will ALL feel like giving up at some point but we have to choose our battles

So, now that you know the truth about me, let me tell you why the “keeping things tidy” (note, I will never say perfect, just tidy; because there is a world of difference) is a battle I continue to fight in our home with our prone-to-be-lazy children… It’s because all of life moves in a rhythm around the basic structure of our homes and we can’t bring beauty where there is chaos.

It doesn’t matter whether we work in the home or out of the home, whether we are raising our girls to be homemakers or lawyers, or our boys to be businessmen or garbage men – rivers of LIFE flow from our homes. The core of getting out the door on time, whether we can find what we need before that next appointment and even the joy of being together as a family ALL HAPPENS IN OUR HOMES!

I have never desired perfection at home, and now with 7 people sharing one shower and an even smaller home than in the past, I have given up all hope of being a Martha Stewart! BUT there are some basic life skills that I think all children deserve to be given.

- We do chores every week because everyone needs to know how to vacuum a floor and clean a toilet (oh and yes, to answer your question, I DO know that it takes twice as long to have young helpers than to do it myself).

- We ask that everyone makes their beds to their ability because everyone feels better about life when their bed is made (but we keep it age appropriate, i.e. a 2 year-old has very little to do than pull up a blanket but a 14 year-old can even change their own sheets).

- We remind over and over and over again that rooms need to be picked up, because someday a house is going to need to be picked up and that is a lot more work (and yes, it takes years to help a young one master this skill but eventually ALL personalities can get there).

Beauty at home is a rare gift these days – our children’s souls need to be refreshed and someday God will desire for our children to be refreshing other people’s souls. These few simple and basic goals are the battles I choose year after year, sometimes cheerfully and sometimes very tiredly, but always for the same reasons. God has called us to train up our children in the way they should go and they all will need some basic skills to take into their beautiful futures.

May you be blessed as you bring beauty home today!

P.S. PLEASE REMEMBER that, yes, sometimes life gets busy and, yes, sometimes everything slips and so it should. I am looking at the bigger picture of life and the way that our lives are characterized. No one can maintain everything through all stages – so if there is a new baby at home, or you are madly packing for a holiday, or someone is sick; ignore everything above…these words are for the day-to-day life that we can control. I love you all – praying you will be encouraged and not dismayed!

A Book That Brings Beauty- Beatrix Potter and Her Animal Friends

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What book do you think of when you desire to look at something beautiful? What stories come to mind when you want to read something wholesome and satisfying to your children? We've all heard of them, and a lot of us have read most if not all of them, but Beatrix Potter's animal stories are some of … [Continue reading]