*This article was originally written in June of 2017 and has been updated for reposting.
Before I had kids, I would scrub my house down every Saturday, just because that’s what I was taught to do. It didn’t matter that the house wasn’t dirty, it had to be scrubbed because, well – it was Saturday! I never went to bed with a messy house. I never once left the house with dirty dishes in the sink, or the floors unswept. Even dirty laundry had its proper place, and that was never the floor.
Over the years, children changed my routine to some degree, but I was still able to manage control over the condition of my home.
However, in January of 2016, my husband’s journey with cancer began, and our lives exploded into crazy! Doctor’s visits, tests, surgeries, and treatments were added on to the already crazy school and sports schedules we were trying to keep up with.
My house began to suffer. For the first time in my life, I left dirty dishes in the sink, floors unswept, and dirty laundry stayed wherever it landed. There were days when I felt so overwhelmed by my house that I determined I was going to call Molly Maid.
One day during all that crazy, I realized I had a day with no appointments scheduled. I began to focus on all the cleaning that needed to be caught up. I was very overwhelmed by my to-do list. While sipping my coffee (still in my pajamas), I added a few more things to my list, when my husband came out of his office.
“Pastor Jon and Jess just called. They will be in our area and want to stop by. They should be here in 15 minutes.”
My heart stopped. I began to panic.
“What???!! Look at this house! I can’t have our pastor over with it like this!”
The dishwasher was stuffed with clean dishes and the sink was piled with dirty ones. Mountains of laundry sat in my living room, waiting to be folded. I needed to vacuum badly. I wasn’t even dressed!!
Somehow, I managed to drag the laundry to my bedroom, where I promptly shut the door. I was able to vacuum, and instead of doing the dishes, I put them in hot soapy water. I hoped my pastor and his wife wouldn’t notice I hadn’t polished in over a week or that the kitchen floor needed to be mopped. Somehow I managed to get dressed, and do my hair, too!
After that day, I realized the only person that really cared about my house being perfectly clean, was me. I began to change the way I thought about my house, and change how I kept up with it, too. Yes, I still like a clean house, and if I have a day I can devote to cleaning, I gladly clean (it’s actually good therapy)! But if I have a week of crazy schedules, and no time to devote to my weekly cleaning, then I don’t sweat it. It’s not important enough to stress about!
5 ways you need to change how you think about your house cleaning:
#1 – Relax! If seeing your to-do list hanging on the fridge stresses you out, throw it away. Realize that the laundry will still be around tomorrow, and the carpet will need to be vacuumed tomorrow, too. You are doing the most important thing right now – taking care of your family! Your house is lived in, so it’s going to look like it sometimes!
#2 – “Surface” cleaning is still cleaning. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to get out a bucket and scrub brush every Saturday to keep your house clean. If all you can do is sweep the kitchen and grab a damp paper towel to wipe up spills, then that’s still cleaning!
#3 – Set small goals. If you have a super tight schedule this week, then it is not the time to dig out the bucket and scrub brush. Making beds, vacuuming carpets, and washing dishes are small goals you can focus on.
Keeping up on smaller tasks on a daily basis can make your home appear clean no matter who drops by unexpectedly.
#4 – Let the kids help. I have older kids who are easily inspired by a little cash. If it’s been over a month since my floors have been mopped, then it’s time for me to call in reinforcements. My 17-year-old daughter can get my house scrubbed and sparkling in just a couple hours. My 15-year-old son can get our yard looking pretty good in about as much time! Not only are they happy to have accomplished something, but they are also thrilled to have some extra cash to put in their wallets! Don’t feel bad when delegating large cleaning tasks to your children. Parents today who don’t teach their children to complete large tasks are doing their children a great disservice. Not only does it prepare them for a real job someday, but it also builds character and confidence!
#5 – Don’t put your house before your relationship with God. In years past, I would allow sleepless nights with babies, crazy early mornings with toddlers, and my cleaning routine to keep me from having daily devotions with God. Once I began to make daily devotions a priority, I realized I didn’t handle life as well without them. I was more irritable and impatient with my husband, kids, and even house chores. When I become more irritable, I started getting clumsy, and when I was clumsy, it took me longer to accomplish a task. Not worth it! I need my time with God every morning!
If you are going through an exceptionally crazy time in your life and you don’t already spend mornings with the Lord, I strongly encourage you to make this your first goal!
I am in no way an expert when it comes to cleaning the house, and I am certainly no expert when it comes to keeping calm, but my husband’s cancer taught me that I had to change how I was thinking about my house cleaning. I’ve learned how to do better at little goals and to not go crazy over the things I just don’t have time for. My house might not be scrubbed, but it is still “together”. My life might still be crazy, but I am much calmer and happier!
“Let all things be done decently and in order.” – 1 Corinthians 14:40