Friday, June 1, 2012

Order in the House

I'll give you three guesses as to what I'm planning to accomplish this summer. When I got pregnant with my second son, I was discussing the fact that the boys would be 17 months apart with another woman who had two of her children that close. She told me, "I refer to the year after my second was born as the 'black hole'." I didn't know then, just how right she was!
I have always been a very orderly and organized person. I could multi-task and get things done in record time. But as soon as I became a mother, that slowed down. Then becoming a mother of more than one child so close together made my accomplishments in anything come to a complete halt. I was under the illusion that I could continue doing everything I normally did while taking care of two toddlers, and I was SO wrong! After much stressing, freaking out, kvetching and just plain fit throwing...all by me, of course, I changed my foolish thinking. I have pared back my to-do-lists and tried to focus more on the home and my family. I feel much better and I am not so stressed and much less hurried, frustrated and frazzled. But now that I have slowed myself down, I look around at my house and think...'Who lives here?'
I have become a pack rat! And a disorderly one at that! I didn't realize that in my haze of busy motherhood, I would move things from one place to another, stacking and stacking and stuffing, until those places were full of everything under the sun. Sadly, with no rhyme or reason. I'm not saying my house in untidy, or dirty. It's picked up and clean most of the time. I'm talking about disorganization. Do I know where my marriage license is? Are all my irreplaceable pictures in one place? Where is the house insurance policy? Can I keep all the yarn in one place so that I stop buying the same color yarn every time I start a new crocheting project? Why are the shorts packed in the winter bins? How many glue guns do I need? And it goes on and on!
I was speaking to a dear friend of mine and I said, I don't understand why I can't keep order in my home. I use to be the manager of a collection agency and a supervisor of a hospital business office early in my adulthood, and yet I can't seem to run my own household. She responded,"Not enough people on the payroll." So true. It's not my fault..or is it?
Then I went to service on the Shabbat before Mother's Day and the Rabbi read from Proverbs 31, of which Eshet Chayil, the Jewish Shabbat hymn, is based. What stood out at me was the verse 27.

"She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:27

Well, I just sat there. I thought, I can't say that about myself. I'd rather watch a movie and do my nails while the kids are taking their nap than to go through my pack rat piles and restore order to my house. So, just as it is when the Lord's Word strikes a chord in your being and will not stop, I had to make a change. It was time for me to look well to the ways of my household. It needs to run like a well-lubed machine. I'm not necessarily going to press that old adage 'a place for everything and everything in it's place' because quite frankly, with 4 and 3 year-olds in the house that's laughable. But I can strive to have the kind of order that gives me peace when I sit down and watch that movie and do my nails, knowing that I don't have clutter looming in the dark places of my house.
First, I am rejecting the need to buy every new gadget and nick knack just because it promises to be useful or fun and it's cheap. Do we really need it to survive? Most of the time, no. And I would be better to save those $1 or $20 buys here and there in the bank and spend it on family outings, creating memories that are irreplaceable and that will last a lifetime. I am rejecting the American mentality of more is better. I'm reworking my mentality to accept a minimalist kind of thinking. And focusing more on what the Lord has already provided us, a family. But most of all , I don't want my children to think it's okay to have lots of stuff. Especially when so many people in the world do without.
Secondly, I need to have systems in place that help me prevent clutter, rather than contributing to it. I need systems that handle incoming mail, and school handouts, stocking and maintaining pantry items, clothing needs for the ever-growing boys, planning and preparing healthy meals for the whole family, etc.
Finally and most importantly, I have to balance my orderly household goal so that I am including my family in the process while still making sure we have quality family time. Some days I get so wrapped up in my to-do-lists, my quality family time evaporates. It's not fair to anyone. After all , they're only this age once.
Since I've made this commitment, I am pleased to say I have reorganized the laundry area, my cleaning supplies, my home office, and reconstructed a closet to handle more items more efficiently. It's a slow process, but I've already realized progress and it makes me happy.
I am confident that this is something I can accomplish. Why? Because the Lord speaks in His word about a Woman of Valor, and it is something we can all strive to achieve. With the Lord, it is possible!
"Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future." Proverbs 31:25

 And I want to be able to "smile at the future." What a beautiful sentiment. Next time someone says "Keep on smiling", I'll remember the Lord and His word.

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