Sunday, April 22, 2012

Have Joy in Your Home

I gave a relief society enrichment lesson the other day about housekeeping. Exciting I know. But I have a bit of a passion for such things and so it was fun. I have had several requests for my notes and references so here we go.

If you turn the word "housekeeping" around it becomes keeping- a -house. If you turn the title of Housekeeper around it becomes the keeper-of- the- house, I think that sounds better and more sophisticated. I love being the keeper of the house. I consider it sacred privilege.

My older sister suffers from a severe mental illness that has prevented her in many ways,from taking care of her home. And over the last 15 years I have seen her and her family suffer because of this. So even though keeping a house is darn  hard work that is never done- it is truly a gift to have the ability and the opportunity to be the chief keeper of the house and to take on this sacred responsibility. To be the one that gets to partner with our Heavenly Father in creating and maintaining a bit of Heaven on Earth for our families- is holy.

I don't always love housekeeping, I get sick of it too, but the right perspective helps so much. 

I base almost all of my housekeeping beliefs and practices off this one quote from Sister Hinckley,

“Your home is your own private temple. Keep it clean. Create a feeling of order and spirituality. Your home can be beautiful without being elaborate or expensive. As you create a home don’t get distracted with a lot of things that have no meaning for either you or your family. Have joy in your home.”

Notice how she put "spirituality" and "order " in the same sentence…there is a link.

I have believed for a long time that there is a spiritual aspect to housekeeping and homemaking. Heavenly Father is the master Housekeeper. He was the one who created this earthly home for his children. Making sure that it was an environment where we could thrive and learn and live. And as women, we get to do that for our families. Lucky us!

We have been taught by our church leaders that the spirit of the Lord can be felt freely when we are in a place of cleanliness and order. Our church buildings and temples are the perfect example of this. They are always beautifully maintained and kept.
President Hinckley said,

"You are housekeepers. That doesn’t sound like much, does it? But what a job it is to keep a house clean and tidy! We are people who believe in cleanliness, order, beauty, and respectability.”
And in The Basic Manual for Women, put out by the Church says,
"We can have a bit of beauty in our homes even if we do not have much money. We should not settle for the dirty or untidy, either in ourselves or our homes."
In a 2005 general conference Elder Russell M. Nelson shared about the passing of his wife.
"My dear brethren and sisters, since our last general conference, my sweetheart—my beloved wife for 59 years—passed away. While I was at home on a rare Saturday with no assignment, we had worked together. She had washed our clothing. I had helped to carry it, fold it, and put it in place. Then while we were sitting on the sofa, holding hands, enjoying a program on television, my precious Dantzel slipped peacefully into eternity."

I love that the very last thing that Sis. Nelson did for her family was laundry. Can you imagine with 10 children, how many 100 and 100’s of loads of wash she had done? Such a loving last act as clean clothes is such a basic and constant need of all of us. If we would begin to think of our housework as a blessing instead of a burden it would change our lives. House work will always be work but it can be the best kind of work.
President Lorenzo Snow (1814–1901) said:
Is your house a house of order? Need you dust, clean, and rearrange before you invite the Spirit of the Lord into your home? “The Lord does not intend that the Saints shall live always in dens and caves of the earth, but that they shall build fine houses. When the Lord comes he will not expect to meet a dirty people, but a people of refinement.”
It is human nature to be drawn toward cleanliness.
In the 13th article of faith we state that, "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." We want to be in clean environments.
To prove this let’s look at some photos…
Would you rather have family home evening here…

Or here…

Would you rather kneel down and pray here…

or here..

Would you rather have a meal with your family here…

or here…

It is a universal thing! People choose clean spaces over chaotic spaces. And it has nothing to do with money, it only has to do with order. Guess what the ONE THING is that makes keeping a house impossible. The ONE THING that if you get control of, you can make keeping your house a whole lot simpler.
There are a studies that show that over the last 100 years there has been a gigantic increase in the amount of possessions that we have.  Paul Graham a professional organizer said this,
“Most people in America have too much stuff.  In fact, the poorer people are, the more stuff they  have.
It wasn't always this way. Stuff used to be rare and valuable. You can still see evidence of that if you look for it. For example, old houses have very small closets.  In those days people's stuff fit in a chest of drawers. Even as recently as a few decades ago there was a lot less stuff.  Stuff has gotten a lot cheaper,  we have way more of It than ever before and the large majority of it is cheaply made and almost entirely worthless.
Ironically when money is tight we accumulate more stuff. Friends leave something behind when they moved and offer it to us, or we see something on the street on trash night and we take it home or we find something in almost new condition for a tenth its retail price at a garage sale.
And pow, more stuff.
In fact these free or nearly free things aren’t bargains, because they are worth far less than they cost. Most of the stuff we accumulated is worthless,…
because we don't need it.
Most retail items these days, cost far more than they are worth. Companies that sell stuff have spent huge amounts of money training us to think stuff is valuable. The only way you're ever going to extract any value from stuff  is to use it. And if you don't have any immediate use for it, you probably never will.
Some stuff is actually worse than worthless, because once you've accumulated a certain amount of stuff, it starts to own you -rather than the other way around
A cluttered home saps one's spirits. One reason, obviously, is that there's less room for people in a room full of stuff. But there's more going on than that.  A cluttered room is literally exhausting.
The worst stuff in this respect may be stuff you don't use much because it's too good. Nothing owns you like fragile stuff. For example, the "good china" so many households have, and whose defining quality is not so much that it's fun to use, but that one must be especially careful not to break it.
In industrialized countries the same thing happened with food in the middle of the twentieth century. As food got cheaper, eating too much started to be a bigger danger than eating too little. We've now reached that point with stuff. For most people, rich or poor, stuff has become a burden.”
Because I have become someone who places strict limits on what comes into our home I have a few "stuff" rules that I live by.
The first one is the 80/20 rule.
There was this Italian scientist , Vilfredo Pareto who through observation discovered that 80% of Italian land was owned by only 20% of the population.  He also observed that 20% of his pea pods contained 80% of the peas in his garden. He along with other scientists and thinkers started to apply this idea to other areas of study, like mathematics and science and soon discovered that this idea of “roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes” was true. 
Did you know:
We wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time.
We use 20% of what we own 80% of the time.
We reference 20% of our paper files 80% of the time.
So, turning that around…basically 80% of your items are only being used 20% of the time! And within that 80% of stuff there is a huge percentage that are never seen and never used-ever!  Wow! Can you image eliminating your 80%, it would be life changing.
And we would spend a lot less time cleaning.
Go through your 80% and get rid of most of it…I promise it will feel so great.
Rule number 2 addresses sentimental items. Here’s the rule…
If everything is Special then nothing really is.
We want the keepsakes that we have to really really mean something, to help tell the story of your most significant experiences. But if you keep everything, the most important things will lose their value.
So to address keepsakes you limit yourself to a container. For newborn items, I like to use the cute shoe box sized boxes that you can get at craft stores. One for each baby.  When it’s full…that’s it- no more. They look like this..small and sweet.

The same goes for  your kids school papers. I use a file box size Rubbermaid container with a lid- one for each kid...when it’s more, or take something out. Be selective with this because you only get one for all their years of school.
We have had so much fun with this over the years. I keep these boxes in an accessible place and we love to take them down and enjoy looking through them. Keeping them accessible also means that when a paper comes home that you want to keep it goes straight in the box instead of piling up somewhere or getting lost. If you aren't keeping it-it goes straight in the trash or recycling bin. Don't feel guilty-because remember you ARE keeping the MOST important ones. Go through these every year, something that seemed important 2 years ago may not seem that way now, you might think, "why did I even keep that?" Ours look like this, except I write their name with a sharpie across the side.

Sometimes your kids especially the young ones will bring home some gigantic art project that is bigger than your house…take a picture and let it go.
 For adults who have lived longer it can be a hope chest or trunk type container but that’s it, not the whole top shelf of your closet, or all the space under your bed. I also think these things should be easily accessible so that you can enjoy them often.
If you are having a hard time letting certain, no longer needed items go because they are attached to fond memories, one good tool is to take a picture then have a good cry, kiss them good-bye, and let it go. I wrote more about this here. (this post has a bunch of other stuff in it, so scroll down to get to the organizing part).

One more note about clothing. If you intend to store clothes that a child has grown out of, so that a younger sibling can use them, I have some advice for you. One: Keep them in small bins. If you stuff every baby girl item from new born to 5T in one bin, it will be hard to get to, you will forget what you have and it will be difficult to retrieve the clothes you need, when you need them. Which in turn means it will be easier to go out and buy more than to find the old ones and WHAM-O, more stuff! Small bins kept right in the child's closet who is going to use them, will help. The bins will be easy to get to and because you are using small bins you wont save more than you need. Remember that all clothes that go into storage come out looking worse! Elastic waste bands rot, colors fade and stains become more prominent. So BE SELECTIVE about what you keep for hand-me-downs. Last thing...when you are all finished with a certain bin of clothing and you give it away or donate it...consider giving the bin as well, why? Because what do we do with a empty bin? We fill it. Be glad that you have an empty shelf and let the bin go. This is the top shelf in my girls room.

The next rule addresses shopping, gift giving and getting and, accepting "free" stuff that your neighbor is getting rid of.

It is The Interrogation rule.

Be very protective of your home.  Remember  what Sister Hinckley said, your home is your own private temple and everything needs to prove itself worthy of being there. Be fiercely protective of your home.  Be as strict with items as you would with a live-in roommate.

Consider each and every item as being guilty unless proven innocent. Everything is a suspect and needs to be interrogated. Toys are a huge culprit.
Are you just clutter?

Are you going to get played with once and then forgotten?

Are you cheap and easily broken?

Will you steal away my child’s creativity and desire to be outside?

Do you need batteries which will end up costing me more money over time?

Do we already have something similar to you at home?

Will you take up precious space?

Protect your temple. This will really help you limit the stuff in your home.

So many children value nothing because they have everything. Think of our grandparents they had one or two treasured play things and that is it.

When giving your children gifts consider this...Can I give them a somewhere instead of a something? Giving experiences means that you are creating family memories and it does not clutter up your home. You can also give them the gift of lessons. Maybe you have a daughter that wants to take dance..give her the gift of dance lessons for Christmas instead of another plastic toy. Or  we can  give them the dollar amount that we might have spent on a "something" and teach them about saving and money-management and tithing instead.
The last rule is the In and Out rule.

No matter how good you get at the interrogation rule, things will always, ALWAYS be coming into your home. It comes from school, work, birthday parties, grandparents, scouts, church activities and every where else. So you have to MAKE SURE that things are always, ALWAYS going out.

There are a bunch of good methods for doing this that can be googled pretty easy. 40 bags in 40 days is a good jump start if you haven't done it in a while. Do some research and find one that works for you. Every few weeks (2 or 3), I do a good thorough cleaning of my kids rooms. They clean their rooms on a regular basis but lets face it...once in a while we've got to get in there too. I always take a trash bag with me. Throw out broken toys, forgotten trinkets and games with missing parts. Donate toys and toys they don't play with. I promise you that the bottom of your toy box as some junk! Get the junk out of the trunk and move feels SO good! And dont forget...Children who have everything value NOTHING!

When we start to do these things, we turn a "project" into a "habit" and it just becomes part of who we are and how we run our life. You can do it, we all can!  Say no at the store, no to free stuff and no to more, more, more. Joy can be found in housework becasue it is a service to your family and service always brings joy. Sure the kids and the husbands need to help...but thats a post for another day. And remember, a little gratitude goes a long way, it really is a privilege to keep a home. Here's my last thoughts on the topic...

I am grateful for house work. It means I have a house. I am grateful that my floors need sweeping…it means my kids and their friends are running in and out while they play. I am grateful there are dirty dishes to be washed…it means my family is not going hungry. I’m grateful for dirty laundry… it means my family has clothes to wear… it means my kids are healthy enough to get dirty… it means I have a washer and dryer…I am grateful for little hand prints on my windows…it means I have children. I am grateful that with my able body, I get to scrub and fold and wash. I am grateful to be the keeper of the house…it means that I am blessed.

Have Joy in your home! Good Luck!


Shelley said...

Thanks for sharing this again :) I will print it out! You have inspired me to go through all my STUFF and get rid of the clutter in my home! I did the boy's room this weekend. It was hard for me to throw stuff away, and sort out what to donate, but I did it... and it was great! Next week... the office. Yikes!

Anna said...

I am going to tackle my house this week. Now you must do a post on your cleaning schedule. Do you clean a little everyday?

Robin said...

You are wonderful! Thanks for the insight. We all need it. I don't get a chance to stop and read your blog all the time, but when I do I always find it uplifting and inspirational. Thank you for sharing.

Melissa Howell said...

I loved this post. You have so much insight into your role as a daughter of God, wife, mother, homemaker, and I have so much to learn. I love how you've taken your job/role of homemaker and made yourself an expert in it. Thanks for helping me find meaning in my own homemaking. I too love to get rid of things, clean out, and make do, and limit what comes in, but I never thought about the spiritual aspects of that--literally protecting my home and more carefully thinking about everything that enters. Reading your blog is inspiring and really makes me think. Keep it up!!

Melissa Howell said...

Also, an idea for keeping kids artwork I thought was great. My mom scanned in much of my artwork from when I was a child and put it into one of those online book-making websites (shutterfly). One book can hold scans of many favorite pictures and each page can hold several scans/photos. They are also preserved in a great hardback book that has become a picture book favorite with my kids to see what I made when I was a child.

Tara Fischbeck said...

Love it Julz!!! And where are you guys moving too? Maybe it says on your blog. Haven't been here for a long long time!

Post a Comment