"My house is filthy!" I said to my mother who had come to visit. "With a preschooler, a toddler and a baby, I feel like I'm cleaning all the time, but I just can't keep up! What am I going to do?"
"It's not really dirty, honey," Mama comforted me. "It's just messy."
I looked around. Toys littered the floor. Dining room chairs sat askew. One curtain lay rucked up at the windowsill. Through the door to our bedroom I caught a glimpse of our still unmade bed. It looks a wreck! At least I can pick up the toys while Mama is enjoying the children.
Every young mother has had such a day, sometimes many days like that in succession. Just as you finish the breakfast dishes and are ready to start the day's work, the baby needs a change. Then the toddler's nose needs attention, the preschooler gets into something, and the phone rings. A whole morning can fritter away like that! When you put the kids down for a nap, you're bone tired, with still a day's work to do.
Here are a few suggestions to make your day go more smoothly.
Make your bed first. The morning seems to unwind more smoothly if one's bed is made. Set the clock a few minutes earlier, if necessary, to get that in; it will be worth it. (Making my bed took less than three minutes this morning--a small price for feeling good about yourself!) The first line of an antique sampler reads: "The beauty of the home is order. . . ." Tidiness in one's bedroom begets tidiness in the house.
Pick up clothes. Worn clothes should stay on the floor no longer than overnight. Investing in another hamper for the master bedroom is a good idea. Encourage your husband to "practice baskets" with his soiled laundry. Urging children to clean their rooms will lack authority if Mom and Dad don't keep theirs neat. It takes only minutes when you do it every day. Besides, vacuuming isn't such a chore when the floor is already clutter-free.
Teach the children to keep their toys in a certain play area, preferably out of sight from the living room in case a visitor drops in. An occasional toy will find its way to the living room anyway, but before goodnights are said, have pick-up time. A tidy living room and bedroom can be rewarded with a story or a glass of milk and a cookie in the kitchen before bed. Even toddlers are not too young to help--with extravagant praise from Mom and Dad!
Straighten out-of-place articles as soon as you see them. The smaller your home, the less "mess" is tolerable. Children's papers on the table, a picture hanging crooked, a "blanky" strewn across the sofa and two throw pillows askew make a small room look disaster-struck. When you are too tired suggest that the oldest child help and tell him what to do. Kids always have energy.
Pray over your home. This is the most important suggestion. Healthy, exuberant children are a blessing. Even so, the appearance of security and control in your home and a peaceful atmosphere is important for all of your family. God will help you to bring an untidy house under control if you ask Him to "bless this mess!"