Happy First Friday! Today we wrap our Homemaking Series with a podcast geared at shifting your thinking from merely cleaning. Why do you need a mind-shift?
Yes, cleaning is part of it.
Yes, cleaning is probably the worst part of being an adult.
But homemaking? It’s so much more, and it’s for all of us, from stay-at-homers to working ladies.
So join our conversation on making the mind-shift in your home. We’d love to have you discuss your thoughts about it with us!
Let us know what you think in the comments!
Kristi & Rachel
House to Home
As seasoned readers will know, we recently bought a new house. It’s bigger than our last one, with plenty of room to grow our family in it. It’s a one-story building that’s a mostly open concept. We all love it.
We had it blessed by our parish priest after closing and prior to moving in all our belongings. Even with all of our things in the house, though, it wasn’t a home. It takes more than stuff to journey from house to home.
Today, as the second post in our Homemaking Series, I’m going to tell you about our approach to one aspect of that journey: cleaning. If you want to check out the first post in the series which details Rachel’s approach to cleaning, click here.
My Ideal Home
I want a home that’s inviting. One that truly goes from a house, where people sleep, eat and shower, to a home, where memories are made and comfort is found. I want my girls to play and laugh and look back fondly on what we do here. I want my husband (and me, too!) to recall sweet moments in the kitchen years from now.
That is totally attainable.
But we cannot do those things if the house is dirty or cluttered or filled with chaos.
From Cleaning House to Home Cultivating
Simply cleaning a house is impersonal. It’s literally the task of cleaning the floors and items within the structure called “house.” I live in a home. The first thing that I did when we moved in was approach cleaning our house with a mind shift: it isn’t so much cleaning the house as it is cultivating the home I want to have.
Cultivating is extremely personal. It’s taking something from infancy and nurturing it as it grows. For me, that necessitates a schedule. I’m a list-maker and a planner. Thus, I turned to the comfort of my old friend, Microsoft Excel.
Here I’ve uploaded my example from this week. It’s a read-only Excel spreadsheet with two parts: our daily schedule by person for this week and all of the cleaning tasks that my home requires. There’s also an editable version that you can download here if you wish to use my same template.
Some tasks on the overall list will occur daily or weekly, but others are seasonal or bi-weekly. That’s the beauty of it: you can choose, because you’re cultivating your own home! For us, that’s key.
It’s OUR Home
This isn’t my home. It’s mine, Superman’s, and my kiddos’ home. We all live here; thus, we all participate (except, obviously, for the little one who’s yet to make her debut) in this cultivation. Because of this, we approach this as a team, dividing responsibilities among us. For this, we look at tasks we don’t mind doing, tasks we dislike, and our weekly schedules as well as who uses what.
Little Miss is a natural-born helper. She happens to love (and be very skilled at) doing the furniture dusting. Seriously, it’s her favorite. She also love to vacuum. Since that’s the case, she’s been tasked with dusting and vacuuming her room, her sister’s room, and their playroom (which we call the Imagination Station). She’d also really like it if I allowed her to dust the dining table and all other furniture. At age eight, she’s also more than capable of making her bed.
Superman and I both work outside of the home; therefore, we divide the remaining tasks.
I don’t mind washing and drying laundry, but I just really dislike the act of folding. I don’t know why. It’s kind of crazy, I know. He doesn’t love doing the dishes, but he dislikes a sink of dirty ones even more. Usually, this means that I do the dishes and he does the laundry, but it doesn’t always work out that way. In our bathroom, we each have our own space for the most part, so we clean our own.
When it comes to the outside of our house, we all pitch in together and make it a fun family experience.
House to Home: a Work in Progress
This is something that evolves as our family dynamics change. A new baby’s arrival is sure to shake some things up. As the girls age, their responsibilities increase. Extracurricular activities and schedules will vary over time, too. It’s a work in progress, but we’re committed to it as a family.
Want more of our thoughts on organization and doing chores as acts of love? Be sure to check out last year’s series on organization: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV and our favorite Season 1 podcast episode, Finding God in the Bubbles. Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s post in this Homemaking Series for her thoughts and all kinds of great freebies (including a to-do list, a chore chart, a cheat sheet, and labels to organize!).
Join us in the conversation!
We’d love to hear from you about how you manage homemaking as well as what you think about our approach. Chime in below in the comments or visit with us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. You can also find some great resources for homemaking and more on our Pinterest page. Lastly, we also have a great closed group on Facebook where we have conversations about our vocations, lift one another in prayer, and give you bonus freebies throughout the year called the Hail Marry Hangout. We hope to see you there and hear from you soon!
The first year of my marriage was by far the roughest year. Trying to set up a home and make it feel like home, I felt that I was in a pressure cooker to make it perfect. The Scientist was very kind and gentle with handling the hurricane of my stress while I was killing my energy, budget, and peace of mind trying to provide that feeling of warmth. Finally, the day arrived when The Scientist came home and found me crying in the bathroom, all over mix-matched hand towels. We had a very long conversation about how we needed to make our home our heart. I had to come to the realization that my constant worrying, overwhelming emotions, and insane intense focus were the cause of my downfall.
That conversation was tough and it was a recurring one. We were both trying all different ideas on getting our house together. There was a ton of paper with to-do lists, budget forms, talking points, reminders…the list went on. The thought occurred to us that instead of trying to control and cater to our individual need, we needed to cater to God and his needs for our family. With that in mind, we stopped the madness and prayed.
God was there the entire time giving us the tools to make our home a place to welcome all of the people he sends our way. He revealed to us that our home was really our heart. When we received others into our home, we received him; which in my mind is huge. That thought made us both rethink our methods for homemaking and our vocations.
My husband, who is the head of our household, really led me to come up with this theory on homemaking.
Homemaking is not just cleaning; it is making your home your ministry. The Scientist encouraged me to really sit down and discern how I was serving God. When I did that, I concluded that I was not living or doing what God needed or wanted me to do.
Once I realized that, I started making a list of what I thought the priorities were in my home. I showed my hubby, who then suggested a system. Together, we came up with a five-step system for each room in the house. This system really helps me focus on my vocation as a wife—an everyday missionary, friend, sister, and daughter. Having these five steps for my home makes me better in every sense and I have more time to focus on God, my marriage, and all of my other relationships.
These five steps will be different for everyone because our needs in our own individual families are different. We have the system so each room can serve a purpose and bring peace and order to our home.
For example, our purpose for our kitchen is to provide nourishment to our family, but it also provides a neutral place for others to gather and hash out disagreements or emotions. We both noticed that our kitchen was perfect for our disagreements, because there was wine and really no place to shut each other out. We set up our kitchen to be functional to cook in as well as to have calmed discussions and be comfortable for long talks.
I suggest you think about what each room does for your family and then use these five steps to organize and make it a place of warmth, peace, comfort, stress-free zone for each member.
1. Assign each family member with a responsibility to contribute to the peaceful order to the home.
This is vital in making any plan/system work. You need to sit down with your family and really discuss what their responsibilities are and why it is vital to do them. I find that if you talk and get your family’s input, they are more likely to help with the system, especially when asking questions about how they would feel less stress or anxiety in the home.
I also stress that members of a family should invest in themselves by taking personal responsibility to pick up after themselves. It teaches self-esteem and a feeling of accomplishment, which in turn will build their confidence in being independent. The more they invest with their input, the more they will care about making their house their heart.
2. Find a home for all material things in each room.
This is harder than you think. Every loose material that is in the room must have a home in that room. Keys, papers, toys—all of it. If you cannot find a home for it in that room, then it does not belong and you will have to find it a home in another room. If you still cannot find a place or a reason to keep it, then you need to release it to Goodwill, Craig’s List, Let Go, Facebook Marketplace, or the recycle bin. Get it out because it is likely to be causing you stress.
3. Is the room functional for our family?
Really think about the room and what you want its function to be. If you have a dining room, but you only use it once a year to eat in and use it for a schoolroom or office most often, then you need to transform and organize it as an office/school room. You will not get annoyed when there is a folder on the table or the laptop is charging in the corner because you changed the room to function properly for your family. This will cause you to have less stress and kiss that overwhelming feeling when trying to pick it up and clean goodbye. Do this with every room. Once the rooms function the way your family functions, then the freedom of time and peace will come.
4. Can we clean and pick up in 10-20 minutes?
This is a biggie for my hubby and me. We come from two different cleaning backgrounds. We decided that for the sake of our marriage (and for our downtime) we need to spend our time on people rather than having a museum for a house.
If I am spending an hour to two doing a basic clean up routine, then I have too much stuff or the room is not being utilized correctly. If your everyday cleaning routine in that room is taking more than 20 minutes, re-evaluate why it is taking that long.
I’m not talking deep cleaning like detailing baseboards or defrosting freezers. I am talking basic vacuuming, dusting, wiping, and picking up. We are firm believers if someone is going to stop by we can run through our home in about 20 minutes and have everything in tip-top shape. All of our loose material things are in their homes, the floors are easily vacuumed, steamed mop, or swept quickly, and surfaces are easily wiped down.
5. Do we have all the tools to clean and have fun with your family?
Each room in my house has a cleaning kit nearby to clean and sanitize. I also have all of my cleaning appliances and buckets in one place, so everyone knows where they are. If you hang chore lists, make sure they’re visible in the room so everyone can read them and complete their tasks.
Make sure in each room there is a fun element so it does make your family relax and have fun. As an example, I have books in my bathrooms for all those who need a little reading material while they relax and do their business. I try to have fun and thought-provoking material. Having that fun element will make memories for your family and help bring that warmth to your home.
There is so much more to homemaking but I believe this is the most important step to build that strong foundation in your home. Please leave us any questions or in the comments or email us. You can also join us on Facebook in the Hail Marry Hangout for freebies and fun conversation or hang out with us on social media.
We have some pintables to help your family come up with a system that will make your home your heart, including my five steps, two chore charts, a to-do list, and some labels for cleaning supplies, organization bins, or drawers. We hope that you can utilize them to make your home your heart. Click on the titles below to download.