The Dirty “H” Word… Housework

I don’t know about you but every time that I set aside part of my day for housework it just doesn’t get done! I mean seriously. What is the deal with that? It seems to me that the only time the work really gets done is if I know that someone is coming over to my house and I am embarrassed by the squalor that they will find when they walk through the door. I once read a quote that people get more cleaning done in the 15 minutes before someone comes over than they do in an entire day. I cannot find a truer statement.
I don’t know why I can never muster the enthusiasm to clean. I absolutely without a doubt love my things to be neat and organized, but it is so hard to keep them that way. Housework has always been a dirty word in my mind. It implied having to get my hands dirty and picking up after myself. Not that I was catered to as a child, actually far from it. I, like my brothers, was expected to contribute to our household. This included but was not limited to: washing the dishes, cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen, laundry detail, dust, vacuum and all other aspects of housework. Like my brothers I complied, with all except my room. I hated to clean my room.

As a teen and even as a young adult having a clean room was never really a priority to me. I would toss my things off to the side and tell myself I would deal with it later. Maybe it came from the fact that I had an overabundance of clothing and stuff that I really didn’t care about, or maybe it was just the simple fact I was lazy. Whatever the reason was, I lived in a disorganized chaotic space with little to no adverse effect. No one seemed to care, and I didn’t care so what was the big deal… except for the fact chaos breeds chaos.
Now that I am older (and have gained wisdom in certain areas,) I find that there is tranquility to be found in a clean and organized space. I understand that the house is meant to be a sanctuary, a safe place to dwell. A home is a place to relax and rejuvenate away from the pandemonium of the outside world. As an adult I crave this peacefulness, and as a result I try to keep my house free of clutter and excess. Does this always happen… NO! In reality it happens less than it should but the fact of the matter is I try.

I feel the need to interject at this point that I am a mother of two school aged boys. I am the queen of my castle and I like things done a certain way. My husband and I agreed many years ago that we wanted our sons to grow up to be helpmates to their future wives. We hoped that they would see housework not through gender biased glasses but as a way to bless the people they live with. In other words that it is equally important for them to help around the house. As a result we try to model this in our marriage and in our house.

I wish by some great stretch of the imagination that my boys had OCD but alas they do not. On top of daily sweeping my hardwood floors I find myself dislodging dirty socks from every crack and crevice I can find. I regularly step on tiny LEGO pieces and find dirt and sand in the craziest places. I get it. I have allowed my sons to grow up at their pace, not the pace society has set. They are being raised the way I was in this area of housekeeping. Everyone participates in the cleaning of the house. The problem with this theory is that it is hard to motivate them into action, especially my oldest son who is on the brink of puberty. There never seems to be the proper incentive to get them moving and while it stresses me out sometimes, I cannot seem to fault them for it. I mean if I can’t find the motivation how can I expect them to be motivated. With that being said here are few of the things that we have tried. Some of them have worked (for a period of time), while others just plain failed. This is a learning curve for us as it is with everyone. I hope that you will be encouraged as you see that you are not alone.

1) The “Chore Chart”: Yes we have all seen them. They are all over the internet, stores like Lakeshore Learning have them in poster size, or of course my favorite Pinterest has thousands. Like others we have purchased the Large Chart and filled it out with age appropriate chores for our boys. We have used the star system, and the check system with the promise of a reward. Never once has it worked for more than a month. Unlike myself who is a list fiend, my kids were just not into it.

2) The “Dry Erase Board Calendar”: This is just a monthly calendar Dry erase board. The way I used it was to color coordinate every person and then add their weekly tasks. IE: I was pink and my tasks were to sweep and mop the floors on Monday and Wednesday, Vacuum on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Laundry daily, Fridays were reserved for bathroom detail. My husband was green. His tasks were to wash the car every Saturday, help with dishes Monday and Wednesday, Yard work was on Thursday, etc. Believe it or not this system worked the best for us. Everyone knew what was expected of them and followed the chart. We used it for about a year. Why we have not picked it back up since out move… I cannot say.

3) The “Allowance: It’s your job”: If you want to see kids motivated quickly, offer them money to do their chores. It is amazing how fast they are on board with this scheme. However, it is also amazing how entitlement plays a role in this area. After a short period my boys started to shirk responsibility and expect payment. I decided that if they did not do the job that they were expected to do they do not get paid… this was a fire that quickly died out at my house.

So, now that I have given you a few things that we have used, I will tell you what we are doing now and how I myself try to keep motivated to do the Dirty H and how I motivate my kids to do the same. Like I said before we are training our sons to be helpmates, we want them to see that this is a blessing not only for themselves but to those around them. We (my husband and I) have made it a point to state that we are all part of the household and that help is needed to keep our house clean and clutter free. (Free from LEGOS on the floor and dirty socks wedged in the couch.)
One of the best motivators for my family is music. I call it the “whistle while you work” scheme. If you all have a common music you love to listen to… put in on and crank it up LOUD! I have found that singing while I work helps me to take my mind off the task I am doing and adds the “fun factor” that most monotonous chores lack. My kids also seem to really work well with music. I try to change it up so that we do not clean to just one type of music. From Reggae to Techno, and everything in between, we love it!

Another awesome motivator is positive reinforcement. My boys, my husband, and I respond well to this. Whether it is just the simple phrase “thanks for doing the …” or really drawing attention to the chore they have completed (“I am so grateful that you took out the trash without being asked! That really shows initiative and lets me know that you are growing up.”) Something so small and easy to do like praise can yield amazing results.
Lastly, I want to say that my family is like everyone else. We have our ups and downs, and I personally struggle with this aspect of my life. I want a clean and organized home. I want to be able to enjoy that space and rest in its tranquility. As with every aspect of my life I tend to pray over this area. I pray that God will give the desire to clean my house. I pray for the energy and the time to get all the stuff I need to do completed. I pray that my example will be a positive on for my children. It is by God’s grace that I can do this and I know that you can too.

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