My struggles in homemaking and in the guilt that's sure to follow whether I'm keeping a good home or not.

Home

Home has always been a struggle for me.  When I was young it was plain old unsafe.  As soon as I realized I could spend a great deal of time at my friends’ homes (which was about 7th grade), I did.   I noticed whose homes were safe, whose parents treated me sideways, whose home was warm, stocked & safe and whose was sterile, hostile and unforgiving.

I never thought much about what my own home would be like until I started to watch my best friends get married & I unhelpfully assumed I’d find the same marital bliss and my home would be a warm, welcoming hub of activity and well behaved children.  I have been known for my naivite’, you’ll have to forgive me.

Here I am now, married nearly 13 years, two boys in tow, living in a home where seems thing to have gotten out of hand.  Both my unsupported expectations and my clutter in equal measure.  Yes, I do believe my children feel safe and loved and that should feel good enough for me but it doesn’t.  I never wanted to be Susie HomeMaker but I also never thought I’d be Clara Clutter or Missy Mess. Also, Unorganized Una.

In the last two weeks, I’ve been listening to Gretchen Rubin’s latest offering, Happier at Home where she kicks her original Happiness Project up a notch by focusing a great deal of energy creating resolutions which she believes will bring greater happiness to her home life, marriage & children.  I want to beg, borrow & steal every idea she has for making my home a happier place too.  Certainly clearing clutter, making a clean office space or a weekly date with your children aren’t her original ideas but I can’t help but wonder if I’d work harder or be more successful at home-making if I’d had a model of it growing up…and then it would be easier to carry out the types of things Gretchen carried out in her home happiness project.

If, if if is a nasty game to play.

When it comes to what I did and didn’t have growing up I can get caught in all the shame traps pretty easily especially when I start thinking of the lack of routines and discipline I don‘t enforce.  I wonder sometimes, when I’m talking about (or merely pontificating) about clearing the clutter in our home, moving (because our home has become far too small for us), cooking regularly or any other good thing, if folks believe I feel I must do this to fulfill some grand home-making identity.  As far as I can tell, it’s not that.

As far as I can tell, I want to teach myself to make traditions and home a stable environment for my husband and children. And for me too, precisely because I didn’t have it growing up. In addition to not having a safe, loving, trusting environment I want something different for myself and my kiddos and that has to be okay.

I try to believe in my motives, and pray the Lord keeps me pure as I seek the stability which I desperately desire for our home.  Even if my motives become somewhat shady, what will it have hurt for me to put in the effort to make our home a better place?

Everyday that goes by, I continue to feel a sense of heaviness surrounding this issue.  I suppose it has a little something to do with being actually cluttered, with knowing no one is coming round to fix all our problems, knowing we likely won’t be able to afford to move for 2 more years at least and that I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing in home keeping.  So.  I’d say I’m suffering through a healthy dose of paralzying fear in an area I can’t seem to gain control over.

Like most things in life, I need willingness to work hard, read widely, fill up on resources, gain support, push through the challenges and DO. At least then, one day, I can tell myself and my kiddos that I did my absolute best in making our house a home even if I wind up falling short.

Do you struggle or excel in homemaking tasks? What helped you to get to where you want to be or what’s keeping you from it?

  • Shawna Middleton

    I have and do struggle with the same issues. My mom was a very hard worker, sometimes three jobs! So even though she cooked dinner, cleaned house, and provided it wasn’t very ” home maker like” and I was gone a lot as well. After I was saved at age 18 with a 1 yr old daughter in tow I was married very young and very quick. The church I started attending (and still do) is very family oriented, ppl get married young and fast and start families. I not being raised this way had a very hard time, I had 2 kids within my first 2 yrs of marriage. I was a young mom of 3 with a husband (now ex) that expected perfection. My house was cluttered I was exhausted and defeated. It actually took a lot of healing after my divorce and for me to understand I’m not perfect God doesn’t expect me to be perfect so I learned to love and have grace with myself. After that it really became easier to keep my home clean, organized etc when I realized I was doing it for good reasons as nd motives, not to live up to mine or anyones expectations. The Bible says to do ALL THINGS as unto God , so I am happy when I know I’m really doibg these task for my savior. The times I don’t have a desire to I tell myself it’s ok. We have 5~7 ppl in our small home and I get overwhelmed, but I quickly go back to gratitude! Just being thankful for my little house and my mess can make me feel better. Also I’ve noticed just keepibg things clean and picked up REALLY helps with everyones moods etc so it makes it more important for me to keep up with it. I do work from home, homeschool 3 kids, and have a hubby so I get overwhelmed but these things do help! Just my 2 cents :) thanks for sharing this article!!

    • http://www.gabbingwithgrace.com Grace Biskie

      Shawna, wow you have a lot on your plate…and a very good perspective. I’ve not done well enough at fostering thankfulness regarding home…I try & then forget, try again & then forget. rinse/repeat.

      But it is always helpful to hear about God not expecting perfection! thank you for commenting!

  • Cathy K

    I’ve been a full-time homemaker since 1980, just before my first child was born. In all those years, housekeeping, as in keeping a clean and tidy house, has been a mystery to me. I like a clutter-free environment but my husband is something of a pack rat. I have 4 children, one girl and three boys (all adults now). Barbie shoes and Leggos became booby traps for unwary feet. I was often frustrated and depressed over my inability to do what my mother, who raised eight children seemed to do so easily. My college education was no assistance at all. Two books helped me with my frustrations. The first was Edith Schaeffer’s “The Hidden Art of Homemaking” and the second was “The Side-tracked Home Executive”. The former taught me that creating a warm and welcoming environment for family and friends was more important that Martha Stewart-like perfection. The latter gave me a system for housework that broke it down into small tasks that could be accomplished on a daily, weekly or seasonal basis as needed. It even showed me how to enlist my children in doing age-appropriate chores, all part of raising children to be capable adults. My home became a happier place, everyone who came through my door felt loved and welcome, and I built a lot of good memories for my family and myself. As an empty-nester, housekeeping is still a mystery but I can afford a cleaning service and my husband has some empty bedrooms to fill with his stuff. My yen for perfection can wait for heaven. In the meantime, my door is open and you are welcome any time.
    P.S. Cultivate your sense of humor. It helps when dinner is scorched and company’s coming.

    • http://www.gabbingwithgrace.com Grace Biskie

      I am going to look into that 1st book! I could really use some guidelines to go by! I know there are a lot of blogs out there on this as well…I should probably start looking into resources! thank you!

  • Sara

    I find it is a constant struggle to live up to my own expectations. The best thing I have learned is to put things where they belong rather than dropping them somewhere thinking I’ do it later. My home is never totally cleaned because it works better for me to do something each day rather then saving the job to do all the same day. Some years, weeks & days are better then others. When I start to feel guilty about what I’m not getting done I ask myself if it will make any difference 5 years from now. I remind myself that quality time with family and friends is much more important then a perfect house.

    • http://www.gabbingwithgrace.com Grace Biskie

      Sara, true! Some days/weeks/months are better. I suspect when R2 is a bit older those years will be better than his 3 & under years . I think what I’m trying to focus on what will make a difference 5 years from now…and to tackle those things….but it’s always tricky to figure that out with a hubby & two kids who don’t always feel the same way about the same messes! I trust God will guide us through it though!

  • Patrice

    Hey buddy. Don’t be so hard on yourself. If you can tackle character flaws and godly leadership. You can do homemaking. You just have to trust yourself to chance the focus and realize the challenge as another way for you to grow spiritually. I have some gifts and skills in this area so it comes easier BUT….. You can do it. The biggest thing that helps me is the reality that my kids and husband will have memories that are based on what effort I put in now and HOW I go about homemaking. I struggle at times with remembering to take joy in cooking cleaning and serving. The best times are when I turn on GREAT music and make cooking or cleaning something we enjoy together. It brings back memories from childhood of good times with my own family so I want to duplicate that with shoob and Kenny. My main goal is training the 3yr old to take pride in keeping things neat/clean and taking care of her things. She is putting her own coat hat and shoes away daily YES! And she will with supervision clean her room YES! Lots of stickers involved in that. I hope you can feel a sense of hope and encouragement in this area. Just know I look back and I am sooooooooo greatful for the early sat mornings cleaning with my mom and the chores and the cooking together time with both mom and dad. I learned skills and made memories that I cherish.

    • http://www.gabbingwithgrace.com Grace Biskie

      Thanks P for reminding me to have grace on myself! What you are saying is one thing I want to keep working on with the kids, cleaning together & helping them to become responsible, equipped adults. It’s good to hear about how much you enjoyed that time with family…it’s a good reminder for me, b/c I never had that, and as you know, my Ma never made me clean up anything but once a year…I feel woefully unprepared still. I don’t want that for the boys! I’ll keep trying though!

  • Kathy Tuan-Maclean

    Thanks Grace! I too struggle with clutter and my husband is a neat-freak. It’s a challenge. . .

    • http://www.gabbingwithgrace.com Grace Biskie

      yep, challenge doesn’t even BEGIN to explain it, eh? My hubby & is ADD’ness, wants everything to be clean all the time, but struggles with messyness himself. WE are a mess!


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