I used to divide up my weekly chores between days - I would vacuum on Wednesday, clean the bathrooms on Friday, and wash the floors on Saturday mornings. Over a year ago, I found a much more gratifying system that allows me one evening to relax in the luxury of a clean home. Besides accomplishing the week's major tasks in a half day's work, Friday cleaning also ensures that our home is ready for weekend guests (a quick tidy of toys and dishes is much easier than attempting to polish every room in a last minute scramble). And on the weekends we spend visiting family, I know that I will return to a peaceful place of reasonably sanitary rest.
My routine begins during Friday morning chore time, when Donny helps me pick up toys, baskets, and small furniture off the floor. Then I roll out my Kenmore Progressive, plug in to the kitchen outlet, and commence vacuuming. One advantage to living in 850 square feet is the ability to vacuum every corner of our home without changing power outlets! The boys like to help me use the floor tool in the bathrooms and kitchen. (They also like to operate the powerhead on the rug, but safety concerns and my own impatience with the inefficiency of toddler vacuuming usually prevent this from happening.)
I tend to save the dining room, with its abundance of crumbs, for last. I am convinced that the genius who invented carpeted dining rooms never had children. Any parent would surely realize that even shabby schoolhouse linoleum - that wipes clean with a damp rag - would be preferable to scrubbing spilled milk, spaghetti sauce, and pureed sweet potatoes out of chocolate mousse colored carpet. And on that note, I must say that I am very thankful, especially since I have no choice in the matter, to have brown - or "chocolate mousse" - carpets rather than white, beige, or any other easily stained color. Should I happen to spill tea or, say, apple pie filling, on this rug, no one will be the wiser.
Later, during naptime, I listen to Grace to You online while I wipe down our two bathrooms with vinegar and rags. I then move on to scrubbing the floors (again with vinegar, water, and rags), though if I dawdle too much I may end up with two helpers who think my bucket of water is their sensory table. Then I hang fresh towels (the dirty ones having been washed in that morning's laundry) and step back for a few minutes to enjoy the atmosphere. Within minutes, of course, the boys will splash soapy water all over the bathroom counter or dump their Cheerios on the aforementioned chocolatey rug, but the cleanliness is nice while it lasts.
Please understand, despite this and a previous post on a similar subject, I am not your typical clean freak. You won't find me washing windows, dusting bookshelves, or scrubbing cupboard doors unless - about once a year or so - I notice that something looks dirty. However, I do have an appreciation for order and the peace that comes from knowing that I am not going to step in something sticky. In some ways, cleaning is something I do for myself, because I can reap the rewards directly - short lived though they may be. At the same time, I see it a job that I do for the Lord.
Even if my messy boys do not see the charm in a shiny faucet or crumb-free carpet, I know that my work at home is blessing them. I am doing what I can to promote their health and hygiene, and at the same, I can teach them a valuable work ethic as they work alongside me. Can I honestly say that scrubbing toilets is fun? No way. But do I look forward to scrubbing the toilets so that they can be a little cleaner for the coming week? Absolutely. The outcome makes the task worthwhile.
The other tidbit you should know is that I was not born a clean fanatic. I grew up with the idea that vacuuming and bed making were the things one does right before company arrives. And while I was in charge of cleaning my own bathroom since the age of nine, I certainly never relished the task the way I do now. Loving cleanliness is a trait I have developed, and along with it, I have found a joy in the work that brings about such rewards.
This is one of the many (many!) reasons that I thank God and my hardworking husband for allowing me to be a homemaker. I am privileged to do a job that I love. It's not that I love cleaning per se; if I were forced to go out into the working world, I would not be applying with the Merry Maids. But I love doing exactly what my job title says: making home. I love making home a clean, comfortable place for my family to live and laugh and dream together. I love creating an environment where we can welcome guests or have a pretend picnic on the freshly vacuumed rug. I delight in doing this job that my Lord has called me to, because it is my privilege to take the house, apartment, or basement bedroom that we live in, and turn it into a home.
My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.