We walked through the door, 4 kids in tow, elementary age and younger. One was a guest, a special treat for my oldest daughter, a friend making a rare visit. She was raised by house-mama extraordinaire: good, clean, Christian home with financial security and the routine that only comes with experience and self-discipline. The first I was gaining, the second I deeply lacked. Our little friend stopped, smiling and gaping, almost visibly struggling between manors and the obvious statement she longed to say. Seeing her demeanor I mentally formed the words, 'This house is TRASHED'!
To be honest, I didn't see it clearly at first. It took the rustle and movement of something... something which wasn't a pet (we owned none at the time). "What was that?" she squealed and laughed. We all scattered to see as a large mouse darted from under a crumbled piece of paper on the floor and shot down our hallway. We could have tracked it better had we managed the clutter and junk of daily life with multiple small children. Instead, the floor was riddled with clothes, shoes, toys and paper.... paper seemed to be everywhere from drawing projects the kids left scrambled on the floor... even an empty Coke box which had doubled as a boot during a game of pretend earlier that day. Traps were set that night and the intruder was eventually dispatched.
I was appalled at myself though. How on earth did my house get so messy and, what was more, how did I not NOTICE it?! I wasn't raised that way. I grew up an only child until the age of 14. I had no concept of true MESS until I accumulated young children myself. I had no real understanding of balancing clean. Until then, cleaning was a routine I learned. Every Saturday we each did our part. Dust, vacuum, wash. The house stayed relatively neat between sessions. But that was before children. I was in uncharted territory. I was overwhelmed and I didn't know where to start.
Thankfully, one of my weaknesses at the time was women's household magazines. I liked the economical Woman's Day and Family Circle best. It was while browsing one of these publications, desperate for ideas to order my chaotic life (I couldn't afford fancy solutions, giant dry-erase calendars, storage contraptions and such) when I found her:
She saved me from myself!! An answer to prayer for help from above, God guided me with this REAL, down-to-earth lady (not the hard-to-obtain Martha Stewart type). She showed me I could be comfortable in my own skin while helping me to see the toys, crayons, discarded coloring papers, clothes and shoes as, yes, a part of life with wee ones but not a vice I must endure until they all grow older. She showed me how to balance the clean and still have plenty of time to rock my babies and play dolls and read books. Within weeks the embarrassment of a floor we couldn't even walk 2 feet on without stepping on something was just a distant bad dream! I began to gain confidence and drive to get-on-top of all that needed my attention.
Did or does my house always stay perfect now? No. But the balance I learned has become a core part of all I do as a housewife now... even if I don't still need a control journal... I do still keep my own version of one so life doesn't get as out of control again.
Are you struggling with the Art of Housewifery, balancing the clean? Save your money on books and magazines and check out FlyLady's website for FREE. Take baby steps (as she readily cautions), be patient, forgive yourself and embrace a balance of clean one.step.at.a.time!
This isn't a plug as part of a promotion. Rather, I considered sharing balance in clean on the blog today and many of my core practices generate from FlyLady, so why not plug? She and her ideas have been so profound in my life... perhaps someone out there is needing this profound change too!
Consequently, I tried to find an old dingy picture for the blog today, to show how bad it use to be.... but my computer files don't go back that far! Her method has lasted that long!