Friday, June 19, 2009

How important is it?

I know when I write this next sentence, quite a few of you will relate to it:

I feel guilty if I'm not "working" enough.

When I shared my flexible house cleaning plan recently, what I didn't tell you is that quite often, I go way off track. I have a week--like the one we're currently in--when I get very little, if any, cleaning done, besides the everyday stuff (doing dishes, picking up toys, etc.)

And, considering that staying at home to take care of my family and home is my primary "job," when my house isn't clean, I feel guilty.

So this post is meant to encourage myself, and encourage you fellow "guilty" parties, to look at things a little differently.

Why are my tile floors dirty, and why are my bathrooms begging for a sponge and some cleaner? Well, let's see....
  • Monday was the last day my parents were in town, and we had a great day together.
  • Tuesday I did lots of laundry.
  • Wednesday I spent all day with Little Sis. I made granola, and together we made bread. We played on the computer and played the Wii.
  • As I'm writing this Thursday afternoon, I've just recently said goodbye to a friend of mine and her two kids--the kids had a blast playing together today.

Maybe by the time this posts on Friday morning I will have gotten a little cleaning done. Maybe not. But really, should I feel guilty?

Here's how I see it, when I push the guilt aside and think rationally: Spending time with family may not be work, but it's important. Hanging out with Little Sis may be fun, but it's also important. Having a play date may not improve my home's cleanliness, but it's important. Even blogging, my creative outlet, may not be drudgery, but to me it's important.

Are you seeing the pattern here? What should really be my priority--getting enough housework done to prevent that silly guilt, or doing what's important?

Now, I'm not advocating living in squalor. I'd be miserable in a house that I rarely or never cleaned. But I am advocating giving ourselves a break when we need it. I'm suggesting we remember that it's okay for a house to look lived in.

There are a lot of truly important things I can spend my time doing...things that, in the long run, will matter a whole lot more than that pesky accumulation of dust on my entertainment center.


*Joyful*Heart* said...

"She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!' 'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'"
-Luke 10:39-42
The Martha and the Mary in me often conflict. There are things that I need to do, but there are many more times where I can let them slide to do what is actually important. What a great reminder with which to start the day!

Special K said...

I think mom's feel quilty about everything. But setting up a playdate or guest to come to my home is exactly the motivator I need to get my house looking ship-shape!!!

Call Me Cate said...

I often feel the same guilt. I made a fantastic dinner last night - but left the sink full of dishes. My living room is in desperate need of vacuuming. And my master bath needs a scrub.

I had intended to do some of those things last night - but Joe didn't have work to do for a change. We spent the evening playing a new Wii game together instead.

I'm not happy knowing those things are all waiting for me when I arrive home tonight but last night was time well-spent.

You're right - not living in squalor is important. But other things are important too. And I love JoyfulHeart's comment. Thank you for sharing that.

Scriptor Senex said...

I agree entirely. A little dirt never hurt anyone and if you clean today the dirt will have sneaked round your back tomorrow. But if you give your children time today it will pay you and them back a hundredfold. What is a smidgen of dust compared to a mother's love? Not a lot!

2cats said...

This was my philosophy when I was at home with my son, and even now that he is out on his long we don't get sick from the filth, and as long as my husband does not complain, then I refuse to feel guilty.
Your children grow up way too fast to pass up any time spent with them.
So don't feel any guilt.
P.S. My uncle who was a wise man always said, "You have to eat a little dirt before you die." He lived to be 97.

Unknown said...

Right on! Your last sentence says it all!

Jessica said...

I've never posted a comment before, but I read your blog every day (and love it!).

Lately I have been feeling overwhelmed by my home and guilty about it's poor condition.

This week I started implementing the principles from, and already I have seen a HUGE improvement in my home.

Also, I am really glad you find blogging enjoyable and important; because it is an important part of my day. It's great to sit down for a few minutes and enjoy reading your blog :)

caryn said...

I still feel guilty that my house isn't perfect anymore, it is clean just not as perfect as I would like but I have learned not to beat myself up about it. The time spent with my little one is worth so much more than taking that time to make sure everything is spotless.

Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom said...

Love your perspective, and I needed it this week! ;) My body is slowing down naturally as this baby gets bigger and the weather heats up, and I'm trying to really savor the last 2 months with Sweetpea before we add another to the mix...and yet the little chores that don't get done float regularly through my mind!

C. Beth said...

Anna--I loved how you tied this to Mary/Martha! I guess I'm not the one to come up with it, huh?

Special K--Yep, my house looked pretty good for my parents' visit last week! :)

Cate--I'm glad you made the decisions last night that you made!

Scriptor--I agree! And while I can catch up on housework, I can't really catch up on missed time with kids.

2cats--I like your grandfather's sage advice!

Kirsten--Thanks! :)

Jessica--Thank you so much for commenting! I love to get comments. :) I've heard great things about flylady!

Caryn--I think some of us just tend towards that guilt. We have to keep telling ourselves the truth despite our guilty feelings.

Steph--Yes, the end of pregnancy is a GREAT reason so get a little slack on housework! :)

Steph said...

Beth, I always remind myself that my house is a house where children live. If I achieve "perfection" it lasts about 15 minutes. Too soon, it will all be over and then we'll wish we still had little people to muck up the place!!

Jules said...

This is soooo hard for me. So hard. I feel so much more at peace when the house is clean, but I know it lasts for all of one minute when the critters wake up. Each day I try to notice the messes less and the mess makers more. Try. Not always succeed, but little by little I am getting better. Thanks for this post.