Don’t be the Lone Ranger. Empowering children to be part of the solution gives them ownership and responsibity. We set a timer right before dinner (or bedtime) and put it on small number like 3 minutes. I sometimes choose a fast paced 3 minute song. The family challenge is to straighten up the entire living space (or any other room) before the time runs out. Have everything needed to complete the project before starting is a great idea. It is amazing how fun and quick straightening up the house turns out to be. I also will instruct the children, at different times through the day to stop and clean up before they get anything else out. The rationale they use “but I will play with it later” almost NEVER happens. After four children I do not listen to that one anymore.
Have a laundry basket for every child. Once laundry is done it goes into that child’s basket and he/she is responsible for putting it away in his/her room and returning the basket promptly. That basket is a great spot for random items that end up laying around the house but really belong in a person’s room. When they put their clothes away their items will also be put away. I even offer them the option of picking up their toys and putting them in the laundry basket until they clean it out. But full basket means time to clean it out.
I try to leave a room better than when came into it. Even if it is just one thing that I do to straighten up, it makes a difference. I may walk through and do the thing that is bugging me the most, like pick up the blankets laying around. The next time I might straighten the pillows. I might even be as little as picking up a piece of garbage or a lego.
Each child receives a job each day. I know that lots of moms have lots of solutions that work well for them. This is the best for us. Each day I write the jobs on the chalkboard. These change daily. Sometimes we can go several days between vacuuming. But sometimes the floor gets nasty after we have had a lot of people over. I look at the house and see what needs to be done that day. Sometimes it is a bathroom and sometimes it is a closet that needs straightening. I let the needs of the house decide the chores. One thing that has been helpful is coaching the children how to do the jobs well. I am going to include a checklist on how I taught the children to clean the bathroom (click here for the checklist). We had a teaching day or two (or three) where I showed them how to clean it well. They can all do the job well now. If we know that we are going to be entertaining they might have several jobs. We really do not need to even do this very often.
Clothes live in 4 places. On your body. In the closet or dresser. In the dirty clothes. In the laundry basket waiting to be put away. Keeping bedrooms clean is so much easier if clothes are not an issue.
These are some of the tips that have been super helpful to me over the years. Because we homeschool we use our entire house all the time. It could be hard and overwhelming to keep it clean, but it is not. It is a great place to live and it is full of peace! How much more could we ask for?
My first coffee memories were the smell of strong coffee in our station wagon as we headed north in the wee hours of the morning. We would go to celebrate Christmas with our family in Pennsylvania leaving for the eternally long drive while we children were still sleeping. As I would lay there trying to go back to sleep (but too excited) I would smell my parent’s coffee. Still to this day, the smell of strong black coffee takes me back to that memory.
My grandparents were coffee drinkers. They drank out of cups and saucers. (A missing piece of our heritage that needs to be brought back.) Grandaddy would make me a saucer of coffee that looked more like the color of sand because of the amount of milk and sugar that he added. I would sit at the table with him and we would drink our coffee together.
While on our first international mission trip, to Malawi, Africa, I had my first coffee from a French press. Our leader was a coffee drinker and knew this was our way to have great coffee without having to depend on undependable electricity to brew some. I have never tasted better coffee. The memories with that coffee were some of the funniest and sweetest memories. We were with people who were complete strangers and became friends while sitting and waiting for coffee. We took turns making the coffee and it took several makings to brew enough for all the coffee drinkers. That time waiting was invaluable time together. We developed personal jokes, we shared both encouraging and heartbreaking stories all while waiting for a cup of coffee. We drank slowly because we wanted to savor every bit.
This morning I brewed a pot of coffee out of my new French press. As I sat and sipped my delicious coffee I began praying for our oldest two who are on a mission trip across the United States. I thought of the French press and our team from the Africa trip. I thought of the obstacles and the blessings that came from that trip. My eyes fill with tears as I pray that they too will blessed on their trip as their dad and I were on ours. I pray that they will enjoy the ministry time as well as the down time–knowing God can work in all of it.
But in light of those thoughts it is great to remember that we can care for people and make connections wherever we are.
My husband (who doesn’t drink coffee) is meeting with a young man this morning at a coffee shop to talk about life goals and how the Lord is so good.
Mom has a elderly friend who is lonely. She offers time and love. Sometimes Mom takes her to the store and patiently helps her maneuver around. Sometimes they just play cards. Mom always comes away with fascinating stories of times we never knew.
I met with two moms at a park today. All of our kids ran and played and we talked about life with husbands and children, cooking and school. One of the ladies remarked that she never has adult time and how she had really enjoyed our hour together at the park.
The opportunities are endless of how we can connect with others. Maybe it is at the office. Maybe it is at a dentist appointment. Maybe it is a neighbor across the street or a delivery person. Just take a little time and share some love. Love looks like something. It is a gift to be able to share. Enjoy loving today.
And sit and have a cup of coffee. Great things happen around coffee.