I confess I'm not keeping up with the Homemaker's Challenge. The challenges are too involved for me to complete in the afternoon when we've finished school. They take too long leaving scant time for cooking and the load of laundry that must be washed and folded, then the hard part, making sure all four children put their share away. But I am not giving up. I am doing the do-able. I am picking and choosing, prioritizing and and being very, very realistic as I'm planning my days, as I'm making my list of Six Other Things (or five or four). I see the value in the list, the benefit of being pushed a little beyond what I am used to accomplishing in a day. Here was my list for today:
1. Wash the living room floor.
2. Make two pots of Vegetable Chowder, one for my family and one to share.
3. Wash the dining room floor.
4. Make a double batch of bread, one for us, one to share.
5. Write out a birthday card for my niece (wouldn't it be nice if it wasn't late?) - still need to do this!
This was an ambitious list, but I intentionally planned to include my children. A month ago we washed the living room floor and I discovered that in twenty minutes we could pick up toys, sweep, swiffer, move out all the furniture, and damp "mop" the floor, if all five of us worked together. I use vinegar and water to clean the wood so it's safe even for the five year old. We had to fly to finish in twenty minutes, but with a timer set the kids were motivated. The room was clean when we were done, maybe not as clean as if I had done it myself, but a lot cleaner than it was before. I was amazed at the multiplication of my time.
So I planned to do it again today. We did the living room and dining room all together. We made soup all together. The five year old measured out frozen veggies. The seven year old made a bouquet garni (she's the one, out of all my family, who knows every herb in the bed!), the ten year old with the splint hunted veggies in the fridge and stirred the pots. Ally and I chopped and diced. All our tasks took us one hour. My lesson? I need to plan ways to include them more often. They multiply my time and in turn I'm training them for life.
While I shaped the bread loaves the girls and I had a chat about our reasons for keeping house. I'm not a formal lesson writer -ever- so this was it. I love to hear them speak my heart and apply their own Bible verses to the principles. Ally mentioned doing it all out of love, for husband and children, and I added, "do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh but through love serve one another." (I'm not even going to look up the references for you, we did this as we worked. Grab your concordance if you need to.) Kara, a pragmatist, added that if your husband is going to work, you need to do your share not just sit around, you need to be diligent. "The precious possession of a man is diligence." Ally considers a love of order a reward that spreads it's effects to other areas, we feel at peace in our homes and have time for hospitality. She also speculated that if we discipline ourselves to clean the house, we might be more diligent to discipline ourselves to read our Bible. I shared a common mommy-war I've heard waged, over how important house cleaning is, and to some it doesn't seem important at all. I told my girls it's not important compared to the Biggies - the Lord, my husband and children. I don't want to be wiping and mopping and folding so long I don't have a minute to spare. However, a clean home is a lot more important than many of the ways we actually do spend our time: Facebook, blogs, TV, novels, phone calls, the list goes on....God meant it when He told us not to spend our time as gossips and busybodies, whether we go house to house or website to website. There's work to be done, and a reward for our labors. My reward today is a slice of bread with butter, warm from the oven. Eager hands reach for their reward as well, then clamor for more.