With this principle, you can enjoy homemaking more right now, without buying anything from the storage aisle at your local mega-mart or sprouting a new personality. I solemnly swear on bread and cheese and wine, it’s true!
Principle Two: Some is good! When ‘some’ is what you can give, do it, and see that it’s good. Make friends with ‘some’.
Practice Three: Each day, budget your time for homemaking tasks and accept as good what you can realistically do. Stop waiting for “finished” to feel positive about it.
About the Practice: How much time do you have for homemaking tasks today? Not enough right? I never wake up thinking, “Wow, how wonderful, I have all the uninterrupted time and energy I need to finish all my tasks to my satisfaction, enjoy family time, and then sit down and enjoy my book in a completely clean and orderly home. How fantastic.”
Pffft. Remedial Homemakers do not often (ever?) have this thought.
Making friends with “some” will enable you to experience pleasure in your work during the process, not just for the fourteen seconds before it all goes back to chaos.
Let’s approach it differently. Instead of mentally cataloging all the things that ideally need your attention, start with budgeting your time. How much time can you actually give to homemaking tasks today? Let’s say its a busy day and you can only give a half hour and you know you can’t finish what needs to be done in that time.
Don’t resist starting because you can’t finish.
Check the clock, get started with your “biggest things” and give your work to your home and family. When your time is up, you may not be finished but stop and look around. Intentionally note the difference “some” made and anchor that experience as good.
Okay, gardeners, what I’m about to show you is embarrassing and just plain sad. Avert your eyes.
This is what my garden looked like yesterday when the rain cleared and the sun unexpectedly showed it’s face. I neglected this garden at the end of the season and got sick in the two weeks I had planned to winterize and weed.
This task overwhelms me. The black sunflowers, the weeds, the tools left out, the grass growing between beds, the old yucky tomato plants I never even yanked out, the pruning, the yuck. I need days out here, not hours.
I’m pretty sure neighbors drive by and shake their heads, their hope from this garden’s summer hayday dashed by my winter inadequacy. Yes. That is a pumpkin on my porch…in December.
After I did my weekly Monday task, got my sheets washing, and cleared my table, I had about an hour left to give (noticing this word yet?) to another homemaking task. I could not even approach “finished” in an hour…but I could start and see what happens. I glanced at my clock, it was 1:10, and I got started.
Starting is more than half the battle.
I put on my apron, garden shoes, and gloves and grabbed the tree-branch pruners. On my way to my garden from my shed I stopped and decided to do SOME weeding in my flower beds too. I decided to give fifteen minutes.
Some progress was very energizing! Falling sunflowers like trees is almost fun. Weeding is satisfying and easy in the wet earth. And you know what? I found an unexpected harvest.
Late season carrots that actually grew.
Two tiny little squash I missed. Aren’t they cute?
Late season lettuce that grew too, and snow peas in the background.
When I was out there giving my time, I remembered why I am growing to love gardening, and I remembered summer and anticipated spring. In short: I enjoyed my labor. Did I have to break up bickering in my house while I worked and answer text messages etc? Yes, but since I knew any “some” I got done was good, I didn’t resent the interruption.
Here’s what it looked like after I had given all the time I could.
I chopped down the flowers, weeded, harvested, raked, put a little mulch in the beds, cleared out all the dead plants, put all my tools away, and rolled up the hose. Is it finished? No. I could spend an entire day in this space and not be finished.
But is what I gave good?
Yes. It is good. Not just “better than nothing” but objectively good. I did good by giving my time here. I got so swept up in the momentum of my work that I actually gave two hours, and was happy to do it, even though when I started I didn’t want to do it at all.
Don’t wait to feel like it, just decide on the amount of time you are going to give, and start. The power of “some” will help you enjoy the process.
About the Attitude:
Here’s the truth: If you can only enjoy the end product of completed homemaking, then you won’t be as happy as you could be, and you also won’t be as pleasant to be around.
We all know this is true.
In order to not be jerks while we are cleaning and ordering our environments, we have to embrace “some”, and ease our grasp on “finished” and “perfect”.
Focus on giving, instead of spending or getting.
“I’m spending all my time cleaning and you just came behind me and messed it all up!”
“I only get to enjoy the satisfaction of a clean house for a nano second before it gets messed up. I’m so frustrated!”
“I spend all day cleaning up after you people! Why can’t you just keep it nice so I can have some peace!”
We don’t like to feel or talk this way. It’s miserable. We don’t want our hands doing the right things while our hearts are sinning. We want to genuinely serve with both.
Daughter of God, beloved and growing, try this instead; “I am choosing to give my work in these minutes to the ordering of my house so I may bless my family and honor God’s desire that I prioritize home, marriage, and family. Any bit I do is good. If a child needs me, or I get interrupted and can’t finish, it’s okay. Some got done and I can see that it’s good. I can come back to it later. The main point is that I’m giving my heart, my time, my intention here. I can enjoy giving and doing some good.”
This will change things for you. It really will.
Objection: “But finished is better! All the way clean is better! I don’t like tasks unfinished, I can’t relax!”
I agree those things are better, but that’s not going to help us. We can learn to be happy, flexible, and pleasant to be around during our work, or we can wait to relax and experience pleasure till the end.
I’m saying that your heart in your work matters more to God than your clean toilet or perfectly decorated mantle. People are more important than things, and relationships are more important than the feeling of success.
The point at which we choose to relax is up to us. Making friends with “serving and doing some good” will help. We can’t control all the factors that go into “finished”, “perfect”, “complete”. We can control how we look at it, and start with a different heart.
May Your Aprons and Bibles Both be Well-Worn,
The Remedial Homemaker
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