My 20 month old granddaughter, Claire, learning early
in life the importance of helping out with chores.
When we think about our homes, most of us think about the upkeep and the many obligations we have to accomplish each day. Today was one of those major cleaning days that I like to tackle a few times each year that can only be completed when I'm on vacation from teaching Kindergarten! I always think about two important scriptures from the bible when I care for my home and family. As the bible says in Proverbs 24:3 - "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established.” Proverbs 14 - “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” These scriptures have always inspired me to do my best in keeping my home and family running smoothly. That doesn't mean I try to have that perfect picture in a magazine, not lived in looking home. But there's
nothing like that feeling when you've vacuumed, mopped and washed many of the floors on your hands and knees to give the body a good workout, polished the kitchen cabinets, scrubbed the counters and sink, cleaned the refrigerator and freezer inside and out, as well as the rest of the appliances in Our simple kitchen! All Clean!
the kitchen...Think of the ongoing movement I gave my body all day! Natural fitness by tending to our homes! Less sitting, more moving! There's so much more to it than just having a clean home. A wise woman builds not only her home, but also tends to her temple.
We also teach our children by example. Make cleaning a family time and a valuable occasion to teach important life lessons. In Colossians 3:23 we are told, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for people." It's not healthy to enable our children to sit around while their parents tend to household chores. Teach your children to join in and lend a helping hand. Helping makes them feel part of the family and contributing to all of our greater good. This instills responsibility, cooperation, and builds character. Children learn the feeling of accomplishment and appreciation when they are complimented on their quality work. Or, they learn when we don't put our best foot forward that we will be made aware of our mistakes. Life isn't always about being praised and expecting something tangible in return. Rather, we are teaching children that we work hard for that intrinsic reward. That inner feeling of great pride when we know we did our best and see that look of joy on our parents' faces.
As a single parent, my girls needed to step up to the plate and help out more than a child would have to when there are two parents raising children together. They were always by my side helping me clean and organize inside the house with the standard chores: meal preparation, dishes, laundry, vacuuming, dusting, washing windows, mopping, cleaning bathrooms, collecting weekly garbage and blue bin items, and helping with groceries. Then they helped me strip wallpaper, sand and paint walls, ceilings, and basement floors, repair toilets, as well as helping me maintain the outside - mowing, raking, weed whacking, trimming hedges, stacking wood, hauling stones, gardening, powerwashing the house, washing the car, shoveling the snow from our driveway and roof...the work seemed endless at times. And then my girls would sit with me in my classroom, late into the night while I prepared lessons for the next day. They would sit quietly doing their homework. Lex and Rox never complained. They worried about me as much as I worried about them! I have been truly blessed with two daughters that gave such love and compassion to their mother who was left to raise her children alone. Angels placed in my life to keep
me strong even when I felt I was going to crumble on many occasions. We followed scripture and we were able to maintain our home together as a loving family. We made the most out of difficult times. Always singing, laughing, taking breaks to go for long walks or swing on the swings, and play together. We always remembered that there are other people in this world living through much worse conditions than we were. We knew that God was with us each Rox and Lex were angels in our church Christmas
Pageant that I directed each year.
moment, making us stronger women in the end. Joshua 24:15 says, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." That we did and still do today!! I can't imagine not having God at the center of our home. Without Him I believe our children are lacking that spiritual piece that is vital to making a well- rounded compassionate person. All of these pieces create kind and helpful children who become adults with great integrity. But let's not get caught up in keeping things so neat and clean and maintaining our homes that we forget what truly matters. In the well-known bible story about Martha and Mary, Jesus never condemned Martha for keeping a clean house. However, He pointed out to her what was important... we need to have balance in our lives. Let’s make sure that we don't forget what is most important. Being with family and enjoying the healthy lives that we have been blessed with!
In case you are wondering what I use to clean our home, I like to keep products simple safe,and healthy. My go to natural cleaner for almost everything is white vinegar and water about a 60/40 ratio. For the sinks and toilets I scrub with baking soda. I like to clean both of my refrigerators and freezers when it's time for me to get more groceries and collect more spring water. Then the refrigerator isn't so full of food and water, which makes the task of cleaning much easier. Less to take out and put back in once the appliance has been thoroughly cleaned. I'll finish up the bathrooms tomorrow and when Rox returns home from her summer concert tour, I've left some outdoor chores for both of us to do together, while enjoying the sunshine and working outdoors in nature. AND, this holds me to how a wise woman builds her home. Always following scripture: Ecclesiastes 12:14 - "God will bring every work into judgment, and that includes our work as parents. When we stand before God to give account for our lives, He will judge us for our diligence as parents." Even though Rox is 20 years old, she knows I expect her to assist in tending to our home as that is what we do as a family working toward the greater good and being responsible, hardworking, caring, godly people. I am always finding ways to keep God present in our lives.
I also believe it is imperative that we turn to our own parents and grandparents for their guidance and wisdom in raising our children. In other cultures our elders are revered by the families and often live together with their adult children. Think of the Native Americans and how they lived in together in clans. We are missing out on this incredible resource that God blessed us with. It's time we go back to those days when families lived together or near by to help raise our children. I remember growing up and my grandmother lived in an apartment my Uncle built on to the back of their house for her to reside in. How I wished my grandmother was living with us! I could sit for hours and listen to her life stories and the incredible wisdom she shared with us. For my granddaughter, I would give anything to be there for her and Lex each day. This is needed more than ever with the new stressors that children face each day...technology, social media, common core standards, excessive testing, parents who work longer hours, so many single parents raising children alone. Ask your parents for advice. Seek the wisdom of elders in your church and community. We can't let go of the tremendous years of experience in rearing children that our elders have to offer us. Rather than placing our parents into assisted living environments, we should give back the years that our parents gave to us when they raised us by having them become part of our family. I'm hoping when my mother is ready, she will take up my invitation to come and live with me!
So many of the parents of my students over the past 27 years have asked me for assistance in teaching their children responsibility and behavior management. It all starts with our expectations we set for our children from the start. An important message to parents with children going off to school; please allow each child to pack their backpack and possibly even their lunches. Even Kindergarten students are capable of doing this. If they forget something when they arrive at school, allow them to figure out a plan with their teacher. If parents stop what they're doing and run to their rescue to drop off lunch money, gym sneakers, library books, or a forgotten assignment, we aren't teaching them the necessary skills to be responsible citizens. We are enabling this behavior to continue. I promise, they won't forget in the future once they realize their parents will not deliver forgotten items. A great lesson learned very quickly!! Teach them to pack their belongings before they go to bed and then come morning, if things are hectic, no worries, everything was taken care of the night before! I hope this blog has given you something valuable to ponder.