Home-Made Joy: Make a Plan

Finding joy in the day to day tasks of taking care of home and family can be a challenge!  We get frustrated trying to live up to the expectations of others and discouraged by all the Pinterest-worthy images we see on social media.  We begin to overcome these challenges when we discover our WHY.  Once our WHY has been determined, we can begin to move forward by defining our priorities for each task and embracing our “good enough”.  Once these are done, we can make a plan that works for us and stop trying to make someone else’s plan fit our life.

Make a (Realistic) Plan
Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Make a (Realistic) Plan

Set yourself up for success by making a plan that is realistic for you.  Depending on your life stage or schedule it may not be possible to plan to clean your entire house in one day.  You may also love the idea of doing monthly freezer cooking but you may not have several hours in a row you can dedicate to cooking each month.  Just because a system (or plan) works well for one person, doesn’t mean it works well for everyone.

I have a pretty good basic cleaning routine that works well for me.  The basic tasks of laundry, bathroom cleaning, and vacuuming get done each week.  However, I realized that the more thorough and deep cleaning tasks rarely got done!

To try and remedy this I developed a plan to do a bit of deep cleaning each week.  I thought that this way I could get some deep cleaning done each week and it would just keep getting done.  But I’ve discovered that this isn’t working for me!  I need to refine my plan.

Refine the Plan as Needed
Photo by Dana Vollenweider on Unsplash

Refine the Plan as Needed

Trying to get a concrete list of tasks done each week was not happening.  Some weeks I would have time to get most of it done and some weeks I barely got anything on the list done!  I was feeling behind and like I was failing at my own plan!

So, I’ve refined my plan.  Now I have set times during the day when I focus on cleaning.  During these times I first focus on the daily/weekly things that need to be done (like laundry or the bathroom or vacuuming), then if I have time, I move onto a deep cleaning task.  One day I might wash the kitchen floor, another day I may clean a closet, some days are busy and not much of anything gets done!  It all depends on how much time I have and what I decide is a priority.

Make it fun

I’ve also found ways to make these tasks more fun!  I like to listen to podcasts while I clean.  This gives my brain something fun to do as well as gives me a bit of adult-type “conversation” during my homeschooling days.

Use the right tools

Cleaning is so much easier with the right tools and products.  I’m a huge fan of keeping it simple, but I also like to keep it easy by using the right tools.  We have hardwood floors throughout our house.  I used to sweep all these floors but was always frustrated that I couldn’t quite get it all.  Then I got a small (1.5 gallon) shop vac.  It has made it so much easier to keep the floors clean!  It is easy to maneuver and easily sucks up all the sand and dirt that comes from living on a gravel road as well as all the bits of bark and wood that come in with the firewood.  It also does a great job with hair in the bathroom!  Yes, it takes up more room than a broom and dustpan (and I do still have a broom for small jobs) but I  love how much easier it is to keep floors clean!

Celebrate Success
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Celebrate Success

Celebrate your successes.  Even if it is just cleaning something for 10 minutes, I consider it a success!  I rarely try to clean outside of my “scheduled” cleaning times because then I would feel the need to always keep cleaning because I would never be “done”.  Schedule yourself an endpoint and be “done.”  Celebrate the success of being “done” for that day!

Live in the Sweet Spot of Contentment

Contentment means being happy with what you have.  There is always more we could be doing, but we also need time for rest and fun.  Be content with a plan that you can succeed in that fits your life now…not what you wish your life was li

Home-Made Joy: Embrace Your “Good Enough”

Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, a working mom or dad or a work from home parent, you know the everyday tasks of taking care of home and family need to be done (and seem to never have an end!)  Last week we discovered that knowing our “why” can help us find more JOY in these tasks. 

While it helps to know our “why,” many of these tasks seem to be a never-ending cycle: there is always more food to make, more dirty dishes to wash, more laundry to do and more dirt to clean.  In home and family life there can always be more to do.  The next key to finding JOY is to embrace your “good enough.”

Find Joy By Letting Go of Perfection.
Photo by Outsite Co on Unsplash

Find You “Good Enough” by Letting Go of Perfection

With the very visual nature of our social media world, it is easy to compare our homes and lives to what we see (and imagine to be true) of the lives of others through the pictures they share online.  We must remember that (most of the time) people share only the best and prettiest parts of their life with the world.  No one can do everything, and for sure no one can do everything perfectly!

Don’t place other people’s expectations on yourself

As a newly married wife, I was excited about making meals for my husband.  I wanted him to like my cooking and the meals I served.  Because of this, I often searched for and tried new recipes.  A few we liked, most we didn’t.  Thankfully my husband came to me and asked why I kept trying new recipes.  I was trying to provide variety in our meals.  He preferred just to eat the meals he knew he liked!  Thankfully, a little communication saved me tons of time and stress in trying new recipes each week!

Stop the Comparison Game

A few years later we discovered my husband was sensitive to nightshade foods.  Now many meals that we enjoyed were no longer options for our family.  Because I now had to make everything from scratch, meal planning was much more important than it had been.  So I began a habit of weekly meal planning, but I dreaded it!  I felt like each week our meal plan looked very similar to the week before.  I was comparing myself to the pretty (and varied) meals plans I was seeing online.  When I embraced our limitations and created a capsule menu the dreaded chore of meal planning disappeared!

I knew my “why” of meal planning: healthy, allergen-free meals my family liked AND that I liked to make!  But I needed to discover my “good enough”: embracing repetition and creating a capsule menu!

Find JOY by embracing your "good enough."
Because I choose to let the creative play happen, my home often looks like this for an afternoon!

My “Good Enough”

My “good enough” will look different from yours.  Your “good enough” will look different from your neighbor’s or your friend’s.  That’s OK!  Your “good enough” only needs to work for you and your family.

I’ve shared about my “good enough” with laundry.  And my “good enough” for cleaning.  Share in the comments a “good enough” from your life to help other’s embrace their own!

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Home-Made Joy: Finding Your “Why”

Joy is a deep and abiding sense of pleasure and satisfaction in knowing and living according to your purpose.  Happiness is a feeling based on your current situation.

I can have JOY even if I am not HAPPY. This is great news!  It begins by finding your “why.”

A note about gender roles: In our home, we tend to do household chores based on traditional gender roles.  This works well for us.  However, this is not the case in all households and that is OK.  Marriage and family is not a 50/50 thing.  It is a 100/100 thing.  We all give 100% to make and keep our homes; we just all have different roles.  Communication is the key to setting up a plan and system that works for your family.

Find joy by discovering your values and priorities.

Finding Your Values and Priorities

To discover your values and priorities, ask yourself “Why?”

Why do I do the (often) mundane tasks of taking care of my home and family?

I choose to manage my home well so I can bless my family with clean clothes, healthy meals (and bodies) and a comfortable (and clean) environment.

I manage my home well so I can so I can bless others through sharing our home (and lives with them), either in our home or outside of it.

I manage my home efficiently so I have the time and energy to invest in relationships, first with my husband, then with my children, and then with others.

Get Specific

If you struggle to come up with a general “why” get more specific:

Why do I do the laundry?

  • I do the laundry so we don’t have to wear dirty and stinky clothes and so that we don’t have to constantly buy new clothes.

Why do I make meals from scratch?

  • I make meals from scratch because it is important to me to feed my family healthy food AND stay within our grocery budget.  Because of various food sensitivities, we don’t have the option of ordering take-out or of eating pre-made dishes.

Why do I clean my house?

  • I clean my house because I like living in a clean space.  I want the freedom to welcome people into my home.  I want my family to be healthy and a dirty house is not healthy.

Discover the Priorities of your “Why”

OK, we know things like laundry, cooking, dishes, and cleaning are important, but we need to take it a step further and discover our priorities behind our “why.”  This will help us know how to create a sustainable system that works for us.

An example of dishes:

  • A friend of mine hates doing dishes.  Early in her marriage, they did not have a dishwasher.  Every evening she hated doing the dishes; it was a dreaded part of the evening.  Soon after they began building their own house.  It was a priority for her to include a dishwasher in their kitchen layout.
  • Another family with three elementary aged daughters had a dishwasher in their home.  When the dishwasher broke, they realized that the cost of a new dishwasher and some updating of plumbing needed to be done.  They also had a large family vacation planned that year.  They asked their daughters if they wanted to sacrifice the family vacation that year in order to get a new dishwasher or if the girls wanted to take on the responsibility of doing dishes by hand until they could save the money needed for a new dishwasher.  The girls chose to wash dishes by hand and chose to continue to do so for many years.  A dishwasher was not a priority for them!
  • We do not have a dishwasher.  I wash all our dishes by hand.  While our kitchen is not tiny; it is not large either.  In order to install a dishwasher, I would have to sacrifice an entire cupboard.  The cupboard space is more important to me than a dishwasher.  For me, cupboard space is a bigger priority than a dishwasher!
  • I’ve also known families that buy disposable dishes often so they don’t have to do the dishes!  Generally, this is a choice made during a time of extreme busyness or change (such as illness or a new baby or moving).

No one family is right or wrong in how they choose to eat off of clean dishes.  Each family made choices based on their own family’s priorities.

Spend some time this week thinking about the priorities your family has around certain chores?  What are they?  Are they really your priorities or have they been placed on you by an external source?

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