Our 31 days to the inner rhythm of the heart, the root foundation of a house of peace, is in progress. In the vein of those who are setting a New Year’s intention with “one word”, I offer the word of today to you: haven. Read on for more…
In La Leche League, my favorite parenting organization, there is a good amount of emphasis and thinking about people before things. This is rightfully so in regards to all people, but especially our children! Children need our presence, our time, our attention. They are far more important than things.
I hear a lot of chatter around the Internet of mothers being turned off by “beautiful” blogs. Where is the imperfection, the humanity, the realistic look at living with children 24/7 we cry? Living with children is a constant re-do of the cooking, cleaning, laundry – it never really ends and just cycles around and around. That can be challenging for some parents who would love the home to stay clean for five minutes before the cycle begins again!
So we often say our children are more important than our things, and therefore our children are more important than cleaning our things and taking care of those things. However, I am not certain it has to be as one-sided as we often seem to make it on the Internet. It is almost this unspoken thing that if we are taking care of our children well, then we can’t take care of our homes well. If we take care of our homes well, then obviously our children are being neglected and they will grow up and have to enter therapy! And to be fair, some of us do have memories of our mothers cleaning, cleaning and we were to be seen and not heard, and it is not pleasant. I do understand that!
What I am suggesting is a middle way of viewing the home as a haven. If you read the last post in this series, I talked about time and being home. Being home for copious amounts of time is a first good step to having time for this middle ground of caring and nourishing our children and the physical space in which we live.
I feel that this nourishing and care for the home may be more important than we make it out to be because I talk to so many mothers and they tell me their stress level is so much higher when their homes have clutter piled everywhere. They tell me when no one picks up after him or herself and they feel as if they are the only one helping to care for the home they feel stressed and they tend to yell.
So I do think having a no-yelling home DOES have something to do with the physical environment and what routines or rhythms are in place to help take care of nourish the home. The home is a very real extension of the people who live there. When we have a baby, especially a first baby, and even into early childhood, things in the home will not be done completely nor perfectly. However, there is a difference between recognizing that and doing what can be done versus deciding nothing can be done at all. Again, the middle ground is important. For those of us who have completely perfectionistic tendencies about cleaning and clutter, learning to have realistic expectations is so important. I know people who don’t have children. Their things don’t mysteriously move places! Some of them are exceedingly neat and clean from top to bottom after they cook – because they are not cooking three or more times a day for a hungry children! So, realistic expectations and finding that balancing point is so wonderful. Many mothers do tell me that when things are reasonably picked up and reasonably clean, they feel lighter and happier. This is the reality we are searching for in making our homes a haven. A haven is not a picture from a magazine of beautiful homes where no one lives. A haven is a home where children and children’s friends play, a home where pets are loved, a home where there is a certain harmony between the adults in the home. And this really can start with a welcoming physical environment.
Many mothers begin by simplifying and reducing as much clutter as possible. This is the first step toward beginning to establish routines and rhythms that take a little time each day that can be done together as a family. This is the first step toward bringing order out of chaos. This is an interesting back post for you to read on this subject: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/03/30/an-ordered-outer-world-for-a-peaceful-family/ and this outside post that was an inspiration to many: http://www.studyinbrown.com/writing/2011/3/22/order-and-routine-making-straight-paths-for-peace-part-2.html
Many mothers enjoy a system such as Flylady to help them reduce their clutter and get started on baby steps to cleaning. I love Flylady. My home is generally reasonably picked up, but I don’t spend hours and hours on chores and I attribute this to a foundation of many years with Flylady. I don’t do things exactly like Flylady, but I do have small step routines in place.
You can start laying the foundation of working as a team to nourish your home as early as the toddler years. Liza wrote a beautiful post about this here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/06/28/guest-post-meaningful-work-for-toddlers/ . Work in the home, and as a team, is another way to connect to our children, to establish a family unity, to attach ourselves to one another in love.
A home as a haven. What a beautiful thought for the day.
Blessings and peace,