Thursday, July 06, 2006

Your Home: A Jungle or Paradise

The business of home involves developing routines. These might not take place every single day, yet you will have them on your mind.

Making the home a pleasant place to be, takes about 99% work for 1% enjoyment, it seems. Therefore it is mighty important that you develop a penchant for your work. Some jobs are gritty and hard. You have to get the determination to do them, but your motivation comes from the picture in your mind's eye, of the end-results.

To achieve the dream you have for your home, you might have to break down the tasks into small portions.

Let me give you an example. I mentioned in a previous post that the outdoor area around your house can extend your use of the house. I wanted to have a place just like pictures in Better Homes and Gardens. However this would take some hard work before could become a beautiful spot to sit and sip lemonade on a warm day.

Around our house was overgrown brush up to my waist. I had given up wishing to win a prize of a free garden make-over. I sat for years thinking that it couldn't be done. Then, one summer day I reached over and pulled out a clump of dried grass and weeds. Beneath it appeared bare ground and fresh soil. I pulled some more. The grass was so difficult to pull, and the ground so hard, that the only thing to do was to pull out the grass, one blade at a time, with the help of a little hand trowel. I told myself I would do one square foot. I don't know how much that is in European measures, but just think of it as the size of your foot, four ways, making a square. After one square, I would quit.

By the time I had done one square foot, having a bare spot next to the outer wall of the house was so pleasing, that I could not quit. I did stop now and then to refresh myself but by then, was hopelessly addicted. I stayed outside til 9 or 10 in the evening, as long as the light lasted. A job that I thought would entail months of work, took me only one day of hard labor. The next day I was enthused about filling up those bare spots with pretty flowers.

It might seem like the 99% of hard work resulted in 1% pleasure, but the work became part of the pleasure, as I saw good results.

The same can be done with a laundry room. Everyone has experienced not seeing the floor of the laundry area for a long time. Just clean up one square foot. The same can be done in a kitchen that you've lost control of. Clean up one square foot.

After one area has been conquered, you will want to move on to another--maybe, the bathroom or a crowded bookshelf. However, you can't let the other things that you've mastered, such as the flower beds and the laundry room, slide back into disarray. You have to maintain these areas first. This is where your daily routine comes into play. When you first get ready to begin your day, go around and maintain the areas that you've already cleaned up. There will be a stray towel here and a pair of shoes there; a pan or a cup left out from the previous night. There will be a messy couch or papers left around on a table. Go through and maintain these areas, by picking up the clutter and wiping sticky surfaces, sweeping floors, folding things, putting in a small load of laundry. Then, and only then, begin another area, which I call "the jungle." Do not start a new jungle area til the paradise areas have been "maintained."

Let us suppose that you have caught up on your laundry, and your kitchen is clean. The next day, you will go through and maintain those areas, and then begin a new area that needs a complete overhaul. Do one square foot of some area if you like. The next day, maintain that one foot of clean area, and do another square of it.

In maintaining a home, you may get discouraged if you assign yourself something that is too big and then you will want to give up completely. I always have a "hope to do" list, rather than a "to do" list, because sometimes, so many urgent matters have to be taken care of, that I never get one thing done. I just begin again the next day. There have been times when something on my list just kept getting put aside, and it took me a month to get to it, but it was on my mind, and eventually I did it.

In the summer, outdoor work is always pressing, and you can expect that indoor projects may have to wait awhile. That does not mean that you can't get your laundry done, but it may mean you won't be organizing your cupboards and drawers for awhile.

The most important things are your dishes and laundry, care of food, and cleanliness of the bathroom. These things MUSt be attended to, for the sake of healthful living and sanitation. Clean floors are essential if you are living in the country, as I am, because if you leave crumbs and filth about, the field mice, ants, spiders and other critters will come in and get it!

Wise women like to get things in the house in order before noon, when the heat of the day hits them, so they can do something less intense and more relaxing. If you aren't a morning person and don't like to do it that way, you can use the evenings to get things straightened up.

Homemaking is more than just pleasing yourself. You are leaving an impression on your family and others who notice your busyness. They know that you think your house and home is important enough to keep clean and beautiful. They know that you love your family enough to provide a place for them that is neat and orderly.

"Sharing the Gift" from Pierside Galleries, by artist, Susan Rios


Gina said...

Thank you for that article, Lady Lydia! I always look forward to the next one!

Jen said...

I really enjoyed this article. Right now I am feeling very overwhelmed by all that needs to be done around our house. I am 4 months pregnant and it has been almost 90 degrees for the past month and I am so behind. This is a great way to think about those "jungle" areas. I think I will go and tackle a couple of square feet in my kitchen now! :)

I also find "To Do" lists a little daunting at times because I am a detail oriented person and so my lists are quite long. Last week I decided not to make those anymore and instead make "Accomplishment Lists" so that I can see the progress I've made and not be so worried all the little things I think need to be done.

Anonymous said...

I found your post to be very encouraging. I read a lot of blogs but I can sometimes feel overwhelmed by to do lists, decluttering, gourmet cooking etc. I have three small children and don't keep very good health. I have a weekly plan to keep my house in tip top shape and a weekly menu plan to feed my family well and I would love to homeschool but things don't always go according to plan. I can sometimes feel so incredibly guilty because I realise I haven't changed the towels for two weeks or I have two baskets of folding and a large basket of ironing or the meals I planned whilst nutritious were not exciting. But as you said, everything does get done, just maybe not in the time frame I originally envisioned. Trying to do everything can be very stressful and when I get stressed I get irritable and grumpy and my family don't deserve that. So I take a big breath and just do what I can do and leave the rest in God's hands. If I am loving and kind to my family and they are happy then how can I feel that I am a failure. ?Sometimes I feel that instead of encouraging me, blogland can pull me down - I don't know how to keep my house spotless, do lovely craft, homeschool, make preserves and jams, entertain, and still be fresh and lovely for my husband and family.

DonnaB said...

I have found what you suggested in this post to be very overwhelming job can be accomplished in little amounts of time. If I can just get started then I'm usually motivated to see a job or project through. Fifteen to thirty minutes can make a big difference!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this encouragement. I really needed it today.

Janet W.

His Grace Abounds said...

My husband and I were just discussing this very topic only a short while ago! Praise God for confirming this through your post. (o: Elly

Anonymous said...

I so agree and believe we need to apply ourselves to routines. It just becomes habit... then it doesn't take a lot of mental thought to begin and finish, to maintain.
How lovely to live in a home that has it's basic needs met. It frees up the mind to creativity.
I so liked the idea of getting the routine done before noon and then to concentrate on a bigger project, the "jungle" that needs attention. What a great way to look at our home, paradise and the untamed. The untapped potential!
At the same time the article pointed out that we still need a certain amount of flexibility so as not to get overwhelmed, but to keep the needed project in mind so we will accomplish it at some point. That gives hope!

Millie said...

THANK YOU for this. This is much less intimidating than any other homekeeping schedule or tip I've heard before. I have a problem with getting discouraged by big jobs, so this is perfect.

Thank you, thank you, thank you again.

Unknown said...

What a wonderful read.

I have visited a lot of homemaking sites that, quite simply, overwhelm me! This entry was much more humble and reasonable, and actually inspired me to believe that I too can get into a routine of keeping the house. It also encouraged me because I didn't feel as if I have to start out perfect in order to be a "good" housewife. :)


Lydia said...

I get a muffled laugh out of calling the unorganized areas "uncivilized," and the clean areas "civilization."

Anonymous said...

Thank you for making the most ordinary things seems beautiful (even cleaning clutter and weeds). I thought this fit in nicely with Amy's V.'s "Clean Heart, Clean Home Challenge" at


Ari said...

I am so glad I found this blog. I have always been challenged at being the keeper of our home.

I started with and now your site is also a blessing.

Thank you so much!