Recently a friend emailed me with this question:
"Please! Share some wisdom with me. Obviously with 6 children a spotless home isn’t your priority. So, what are your priorities?"
I’ve been trying to answer this question all week but this week has been crazy! I can’t seem to get to anything. I did good exercising for 3 weeks but not this week. I usually get to bed early (try to be asleep by 10 p.m.) and wake up early (by 6 a.m.), but not this week! I haven’t cooked a single meal. I’m way behind in laundry. I’ve only done half the homeschooling work I had planned. My kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom is a mess. So, I don’t feel like it’s the best time to answer it!
Or, maybe it is.
My husband has come up with the following as our family motto:
Priority #1: Train the Children.
Priority #2: Get it all done.
I often get to the point where I forget this. I like my house neat and for there to be peace. So I tend to push and push to get things done rather than remembering our ultimate goal of training the children in godliness.
Specifically, though, things can often be hard to prioritize. Obviously, everything can’t be done! So, I remember that in homeschooling, Bible reading, character training (including teaching them to obey), and reading aloud to them are basic everyday.
For housework, we have to have clean dishes and clean clothes, food in the pantry and fridge and meals on the table. Those are basic. Next in line are the chores that can cause problems (messes, smells), so we get the bathrooms clean (though not the showers and bathtubs very often), kitchen wiped down, and trash taken out. Finally, hospitality is important (remember the Bible’s command to practice hospitality), so I vacuum the main floor once a week (at least) to make it more welcoming for guests (such as our violin teacher and my voice students). One more thing: my husband has certain things that are important to him that I try to do specifically as a service to show I love him. The kids do a clean-up of the main floor every day before he comes home from work (this includes picking up everything that has accumulated on the floor of the main level, wiping the kitchen table, setting the table for dinner, and sweeping the kitchen floor).
It is extremely difficult to clean the whole house while constantly being pregnant, nursing, and/or having little kids at home all day long. Therefore, my husband has been gracious to allow me to have a cleaning lady come once a month to clean the whole house. The day before she comes I spend about an hour going through the house putting things back where they belong so she can more easily clean. I’ll admit that I haven’t mopped my upstairs or cleaned a shower or bathtub in years! However, my goal here is to have the kids eventually take over all of it. With so many of them, it won’t take long to get it all clean once they are old enough!
One thing I have found essential is teaching the kids to do chores as soon as they are able. When I was pregnant with my fourth, I couldn’t keep up with the laundry folding. So, I taught my 4 and 5 year-olds how to do it. The four oldest kids (ages 3-8) fold and put away all laundry now. I try to wash every day, but we fold 3 times a week. They also know how to start the washer and dryer. They unload and load the dishwasher daily. Another great thing I did was invest in safe Shaklee cleaners (Basic H) so that I can clean with the kids around and teach them to clean the bathrooms themselves. They’re not very good at it yet, but it’s better than nothing!
After last week’s frustrating experience, I’m going to re-read "Managers of Their Chores" by the Maxwells. I need to add a bunch more chores and use chore packs to make sure they get done. Also, today I started a few more character development techniques that I just read about in the "Duggar: 20 and Counting" book: blanket time, "I’d be happy to. . . game", and getting a penny for every "Yes, ma’am." I expand on these on another post.