Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happiness and The Domestic Scene






Together Tonight, by Dennis Patrick Lewan


Home is a place we should be drawn to; a place that we would not want to leave. There have been times when my house looked as though someone had taken every posession I had, from books to clothing to kitchen items to papers and home decorating accessories and thrown it all in a huge pile, taken a giant spoon, and stirred it up like a tossed salad. I learned ways of dealing with this that helped me keep my composure and inspired me at the same time. Because our homes are used and lived-in, there will always be times like this. No real home stays in perfect order.



If the tossed salad description defines your house, you might enjoy having a few tips that will alleviate the stress and help you have a pretty home.


Grace Cottage by Susan Rios


Your first thought may be to get some kind of professional help, but maid service is expensive. If yoBoldu will do it yourself, the money can be used for some needed or luxury item for your home. When cleaning the bathroom, you might notice it is really time to get some new towels or soap. Take advantage of this hard work and reward yourself with something nice for the room, even if it is a pleasantly scented bar of hand made soap.

Go to Sleep Early

It is easier to look forward to a difficult task, if you are well rested. It is more difficult if you just can't get going because of a groggy, sleepy feeling. The next morning, get ready to put a plan in action by doing the following:

Get bathed and dressed, fix your face and hair, add a light scent and put on nice shoes.

This action gives you a feeling of being prepared and put-together. If someone comes to the door, even if your house is a wreck, at least you look like you are in control. If you have to go to a store or meet your husband somewhere, you will be ready. No one in the public will have a clue that your house is a mess. When you are dressed up, you look like you came from a beautiful home. Make sure your clothes are ironed if necessary, and that you don't look like you "had your clothes thrown on with a pitchfork."

Enlist the Help of the Children

Children should, from a very young age. Most children start trying to help, and even asking "can I help?" as young as 18 months. It makes it a little slower, but it is certainly worth it for mothers to at least let them think they are helping. Later on when there is a big burden of a disorderly home, these children's help can really make a difference. Some two year olds are very smart, and can take some item and put it in a particular room for you. They love to fold towels and washcloths at 3 and 4. Five-year-olds love to vacuum. TwBoldo year-olds can actually put their own clothes away. It takes time to teach them but that little bit of extra help, makes a big difference. Young children like to stand on a chair near the kitchen sink and help dry dishes. Older children and those in the teen years, are capable of cleaning and arranging an entire room themselves.

Clean the living room or front room, or room nearest the front door, first.
You may find that this is the best thing you will do. It is the place people will see first, and it is the place you will return to just to look at, when the rest of the rooms are still disrupted.

This is the room that will greet anyone that comes to the door. If you rarely have company, then just think of the scene that will greet your husband, when he comes home from work, and try to make it cheerful.
To clean this room, put everything in piles:
books
papers and any related items like pencils and pens
magazines
cloth items: clothing, blankets, towels
toys
accessories that do not belong
This is where your children will be the most help. They can take the piles to designated places, to be dealt with later. Send the books to be set near a bookshelf, the clothes to the laundry or to various bedrooms, but do not worry about putting them away. Just worry about the room you are working on.
Make sure the floor is bare and the furniture is bare, with the exception of decorative accessories such as pillows or rugs.
Vacuume this room.
Wipe dust off surfaces of tables and shelves.
Reward yourself.
There are two things you can do. Put something interesting in the room by either making a display on a shelf or corner, or hanging a picture, or lighting a candle. I use the battery operated tea lights. Put on some soothing music and get your nice tea set out and make some of your favorite tea and put it on a tray.
Do the rest of the rooms and spaces, in order of importance, this same way.
When you have done the labor of the room, give yourself a reward by doing something to the room that is appropriate: the kitchen can have something you like to smell, in the oven, such as a favorite muffin or soup. A laundry room, a bedroom, a dining room, can all have something in them that give the family pleasure and a feeling of home.
Take time out between long jobs to refresh yourself.
Checking your hair and brushing your teeth or grooming yourself in some manner, seems to give a little more significance to the jobs at hand.
Invite someone over, even if it is your sister or mother, and make it a week ahead. This is often a very motivating way to get your house clean. Serve tea and scones. If you do not like tea, but still want to use a tea set, I have a nice tea recipe:
Heat water in a kettle to a rolling boil. Put a few strawberries, blueberries, or any kind of fruit, into a sauce pan and mash it up. Add the boiling water and let it set a few minutes. Strain it through a strainer into your tea pot. When you serve this, the color will be beautiful and the scent will be soothing. Honey tastes great in this, but milk and cream will curdle. Another kind of tea you can make is with your favorite spices in your cabinet: put a fourth teaspoon of ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, etc. together in a tea pot and add boiling water. Just choose the flavors you like best, including things like vanilla. This type of tea tastes well with milk or cream or just plain.
Even when you have moved on to another room, you need to go back to rooms already cleaned, and check them.
When the children see you picking up any little thing: paper, a stray shoe, books, etc., they will eventually develop the same habits. After a room is done, if you are in the room, be alert to the clutter-crime and get after it immediately. I have explained before about a friend I know that, even while sitting in a chair and relaxing, will look around the room and reach over to a side table to straighten something or remove something. Once it becomes a habit, it will not be necessary to have a regular cleaning day.
Keep your mood on the upside.
Even if you feel aggravated about the whole thing, force yourself to disguise this, and make a happy atmosphere for everyone. If you really believe women should be home, then show yourself, your family and the world, the beautiful results of it.
I have discovered how powerful it is just to dress up and get the front room clean. It somehow gives me a starting place, and a place of reference for doing the rest of the house when things look like they got stirred up with a great big spoon.

17 comments:

Trixie said...

What great tips! Thank you for sharing.

In our home, the first room guests see is the laundry room and kitchen. Those are also the most used areas so it's more of a challenge to keep them clean.

It is very important to have a pretty, clean and neat entry area and work area so I do try to keep those rooms as nice as possible. Even the laundry room/mud room is painted a pretty blue. The washer and dryer are kept clutter free and wiped down. The clothes and boot racks are kept neat and organized.

Take Care,

Trixie

Laryssa @ Heaven In The Home said...

Thank you Lady Lydia.

This wisdom is just in time for all the family gatherings coming up.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Michele said...

I agree, keeping the front room picked up makes a big difference in how our home feels.

And you are right about getting dressed nicely while doing household tasks. I need to work on this, but when I get it right it really *does* lift my spirits while I work.

Anonymous said...

A wonderful inspiring article again and I so appreciate the specifics. Your writings are treasures. Thank you so much! Love from L.M.L.

lady cess said...

oh just what i need! right now, my home looks like a a bowl of tossed salad knocked off the table by a tornado, lol! i feel bad about it, but you're right, this is a real home, so there will be times like this. now i feel so much better. thanks a lot!

Lady Marie said...

I'm very much looking forward to reading this later. Thank you so much for all your effort, Lady Lydia.

Elizabeth said...

Great plan for tidying up when things get away from us.

Jessica said...

Thank you so much for sharing this today! I have become overwhelmed with my home and really needed this. This will give me the motivation to start anew tomorrow! Thanks!

Mrs. K's Lemonade Stand said...

You know, now that you mention it, my house does look a bit like a tossed salad! (grins). It has been a hectic few weeks and I have gotten a bit behind.

One thing nice though is on Wednesday, I have made the commitment to give my home some much needed TLC.

I love it when my home feels right and is back in shape. :)

Jill F. said...

I loved this article! I just want to add that keeping a home takes a lot of time! Especially when the wife and the children are IN the home all day! If you grew up in a home where all the activities were outside it you may not realize how much time and effort it takes to keep a home. I have eight children and we are ALWAYS decluttering our home and we take four days a week to do school, one day for deep cleaning (usually Friday because our weekends are so busy with church and guests). My husband loves to come into a neat front room and entryway but he also really loves to smell something cooking on the stove. I try to keep that in mind and plan my day accordingly.

Jill

Mrs. Anna T said...

Dear Lydia, thank you for all the great advice. I like to start with our bedroom, not necessary the front room, because the bedroom is my favorite room in the house. But if I'm expecting someone, I'll put the living room in order first!

Kate said...

I've been doing this sort of thing for years, except I start in the farthest room from the door. This keeps me inspired to keep moving. I hate to be embarrassed with a messy house. Getting myself ready first is also a must. I like your tea ideas, since I don't like tea and cocoa is now off limits for health reasons. I'll have to try both your concoctions. Thanks for always posting such inspiring articles.

Katrinka said...

I like this post very much, and the advice is so good. I also like it because it's good to know that everyone gets behind sometimes. Kind like 'depression' that everyone is talking about these days. Sometimes it's normal to be sad, just like sometimes it's normal to have a messier home. I used to have a friend who would walk into her children's room and say, "Look at this mess! Get this mess cleaned up!" But they were working on projects and being creative. As homemakers it helps to remember the same thing. Sometimes being creative and getting things done DOES make a mess. I used to tell my daughter, "I don't care if you make a mess, just as long as you clean it up."

I always try to remember, too, to keep one room or corner tidy enough that I can sit and have a cup of tea and RELAX. If everything is in disarray (we have a lot of activities crammed into our small home) and I have no peaceful corner to sit, I get stressed. I remember a home that we used to have that had a room that was a mess, and there was really nothing at the time that could be done about it although I felt guilty that it didn't look better. Unfortunately, I could see directly into that room when I was sitting in 'my chair' in the LR. I would sit there, trying to do needlework or read or just have a cup of tea and listen to the radio, and I would get so frustrated. Finally one day I thought, "Just shut the door!" I felt so much better :).

We are planning a move in the near future, and it is my hope to seriously declutter before we leave.

Thanks for the post, Lydia! And have a nice Thanksgiving with your family.

Katrinka said...

I like this post very much, and the advice is so good. I also like it because it's good to know that everyone gets behind sometimes. Kind like 'depression' that everyone is talking about these days. Sometimes it's normal to be sad, just like sometimes it's normal to have a messier home. I used to have a friend who would walk into her children's room and say, "Look at this mess! Get this mess cleaned up!" But they were working on projects and being creative. As homemakers it helps to remember the same thing. Sometimes being creative and getting things done DOES make a mess. I used to tell my daughter, "I don't care if you make a mess, just as long as you clean it up."

I always try to remember, too, to keep one room or corner tidy enough that I can sit and have a cup of tea and RELAX. If everything is in disarray (we have a lot of activities crammed into our small home) and I have no peaceful corner to sit, I get stressed. I remember a home that we used to have that had a room that was a mess, and there was really nothing at the time that could be done about it although I felt guilty that it didn't look better. Unfortunately, I could see directly into that room when I was sitting in 'my chair' in the LR. I would sit there, trying to do needlework or read or just have a cup of tea and listen to the radio, and I would get so frustrated. Finally one day I thought, "Just shut the door!" I felt so much better :).

We are planning a move in the near future, and it is my hope to seriously declutter before we leave.

Thanks for the post, Lydia! And have a nice Thanksgiving with your family.

Christina said...

What a pretty site, with beautiful images! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Christina


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www.hilliardandcroft.blogspot.com

Melissa said...

I love these tips! Some of them I try to put into play now, and others I am going to start doing now. I love your blog and I look forward to growing through it as a new wife :D

Thank you!

Melissa :D

Anonymous said...

As an aside, I've found the points in your article written with bold print, highlight what I need to re-absorb as I skim over the article after having read it thoroughly numerous times. It's a way of refreshing and studying the main ideas and inspire me to 'get up at do that point immediately'. Thanks again for all your specific ideas! Love, L.M.L.

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