Taming the Laundry Monster

Housework is part of how we serve and love our families, but it can feel disastrously overwhelming. It is the job that is never finished. Sometimes, late at night, I have a moment the house is clean, organized, and smells good. The laundry is finished, and the dishes are done.

A brief moment of housework nirvana that I bask in deliciously, the master of all I survey . . .

.  .  .  for about ten seconds. Because if I look longer than that I’ll see the blinds that need dusting or the baseboards I’ve been ignoring. So I’ve started using the good enough standard – is it good enough to keep my husband happy and make his life easier? is it good enough to keep us healthy? Is it good enough to be welcoming to guests without feeling like a museum.

Our homes are supposed to serve us, be a shelter and refuge, not an idol that we break our backs to serve. Whether you’re a neat-nick or not, getting housework done quickly gives us more time to do the things that matter, like read stories and kiss cheeks because those days will be gone before we know it.

Several of my friends have been struggling with the sheer volume of laundry this week. The piles and piles of it gathering makes them feel like an army is mounting an offensive.  I’ve found a solution to taming the laundry monster. Housework is part of how we love and serve our families, but it can feel disastrously overwhelming at times. Use this strategy to tame the laundry monster.

I’ve divided up my laundry to one load per day. One day it is my husband’s things, the next our daughter’s, then mine, then towels, the next sheets, etc.

First thing in the morning, I start a load of laundry. You could even put it in the night before and start the washing machine in the morning. By the time I’ve brushed my teeth, gotten dressed, etc. the load is ready for the dryer.

Folding is the longest part of this process, but I’ve realized that I spend more time dreading it than just getting it done.Restart the dryer over and over rather than just fold it - heavennotharvard.com

When I open the dryer, I start pulling out the clothes and separating them into piles: socks, underwear, shirts, pants. Anything that doesn’t fit in one of those categories gets folded and set aside. Then I fold all the pants since those go the fastest. T-shirts are the largest laundry group in our house, so I found a way to fold them faster.

Then I stack or fold all the underwear and any miscellaneous items left before tackling the socks. I lay them all out and start to match them. By laying them all out before I start to fold them, I eliminate digging through the pile to find matches.

I found that I can fold almost an entire load of laundry in about five minutes. It feels like less work as well when I approach it in essentially five-minute increments: 5 minutes to gather and put in the wash, 5 minutes to transfer to the dryer, 5 minutes to fold.  I spend 10-20 minutes a day and never have a laundry monster.

Plus, once I got ahead of the curve on this one, I’ve had days that I didn’t have any laundry to do . . . whoa.

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Why I won’t buy a Tiffany Lamp

As a young woman, I used to imagine what my future home would look like once I could afford to move out of the cramped, college apartment lifestyle. I would picture a delicious reading nook with a cozy chair and the warm ambiance of a Tiffany lamp surrounded by rich mahogany.

Then I made my first budget, looked at the price of a Tiffany lamp, and put it firmly out of my mind. Even so, often I come back to that idealistic image. Last night catching up with my DVR, I flipped through one of the plethora of holiday catalogs that have already started filling my mailbox. The most beautiful Tiffany lamp caught my eye. I quickly scanned to see the price, $349. *Sigh* large__4470694244

I quickly calculated, imagined squirreling away $5 here, $20 there, anticipating purchasing this lamp. I pictured right where I would put it, how it would glow against my red accent wall. I stared at the picture, daydreaming of hot tea, cozy pajamas, and my lamp whisking me away into the perfect bliss of quiet reading time. Ahem, as if I ever actually FIND time in which to quietly read, but I digress.

Then I imagined military movers with my Tiffany lamp and shuddered. Then I thought about how my beautiful, imaginary lamp would really make me feel. I wouldn’t want anyone to touch it. Letting the kids dust it would give me palpitations. In my mind, watching the dogs chase the cat under the table that houses my imaginary lamp made my stomach knot. I imagined how I might act protecting my lamp. I could almost hear the shrill, sharp tone I would use if anyone played too roughly near my lamp. If it were broken someday, how would I feel about having wasted $349 when we’re living paycheck to paycheck?

I’ve been making a concerted effort to serve God intentionally in my home, with my home, choosing God’s focus in ways that encourage my family to enjoy our things instead of simply not breaking them. My house is supposed to give us a place to rest and fellowship, be a place to live.

Would a fragile lamp be worth the cost, much less the price tag?

One of the biggest changes my husband can see in my life has been relaxing who I am in our home, by what standard am I measuring my success. That standard should always be Jesus, Jesus who taught us to love each other, to love others more than ourselves, and that people who value wealth rarely find Him.

I look around at the now mussed, lived-in look of my house and celebrate the growth in my heart. I’ve spent years afraid to live with stuff that doesn’t magically get put away the second we are done with it, living without understanding the people in the home are more important than the things that might get broken. In the past, I’ve cried over broken ceramics, but ignored the hurts my careless actions caused my family.

But today, a toy broom lays at my feet because I was playing with my daughter after lunch. Her elaborate “picnic” sits carefully constructed in the middle of the living room, waiting patiently for her daddy to come home to play. Toy friends lie carelessly strewn right in the middle of the hallway waiting to create an entire imaginary world for her, causing her to stop to play instead of rush to beg for television or kindle time.

Saving up money and waiting patiently for something that we want is a good lesson to teach children, but right now, that is the only good lesson I can think of regarding this lamp.

Looking at the price tag, I can spend $350 on a lot of things: a plane ticket for one of my stepsons to visit, a vet bill for one of our beloved pets, Christmas gifts for our extended family, or a carload of groceries for the neighbors who haven’t had fresh vegetables in a month.

I have chosen to put serving God above everything else, and God always asks, “What can you be doing for me?” and I can’t see how I could serve Him with this lamp, either in my home or in my community.

No matter how beautiful a lamp might be, it cannot be allowed to overshadow God’s light in me. So, no, I won’t buy a Tiffany lamp. My house is supposed to serve my family, not my family serve my house. My home can be a safe place for my husband, kids, and pets or a Tiffany lamp.

photo credit: rthakrar via photopin cc

Imagine your tiny tyrant – a Godly wife

How do I raise a Godly wife if I’m still learning how to be one?

I originally wrote this post two years ago, I’m both encouraged by how far I’ve come and humbled by how far I still have to go.

This morning I was reviewing the book I’m reading (The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace). The author discusses how she was a spoiled-rotten only child when she first got married. Her selfishness and lack of self-control were destroying her marriage.

I read this and for the first time really realized that my daughter is not only going to grow up to become an adult, woman, mother, but also probably someone’s wife.

I spent a couple of moments in imaginary terror, picturing my almost-four-year-old as a wife, crying over every slight, demanding her way, and throwing temper tantrums. Humorous, but not a pretty picture.

My daughter is a perfectly normal almost 4 year old. She plays nicely in her room, would watch PBS all day if I let her. She reads books, asks a million questions, loves life and her energy is boundless.

Sometimes her coping skills are overwhelmed by being hungry or tired, like any preschooler. Obviously, she will mature, but will she have the strength and peace to be a woman of God as an adult?

My tiny tyrant a wife someday? How do I prepare her to be a mature woman of God? Click To Tweet
Am I preparing her to be a Godly wife? How do I prepare her for that?

My daughter is almost 4, and hyper emotional. Every bumped knee or disappointment is the end of the world.

She is used to being the center of attention, and I’ve been wondering how to parent her appropriately to guide her into self-control, patience, self-reliance, gentleness, perseverance, and faith.

I’ve been quiet recently because we’ve been struggling with spring colds and her willfulness, and I’ve been seeking some of God’s answers.

My daughter has been a tiny tyrant for the past couple of weeks. Not everyday, all the time, but it’s been a daily struggle to deal appropriately with her deliberate disobedience.

But I think the answer to her current disobedient streak and to how to prepare her to be a wife or Godly woman are the same.

It begins with me. What kind of wife and mother am I? If I am angry, selfish, loud, short-tempered, she will internalize those attitudes just the way I internalized my mom’s cleanliness and organization.

I need to live the wife, mother, woman that I want her to see and grow to be. I want her to be joyful, loving, patient, kind, funny, strange, prone to dance parties and silly songs, devouring books and learning, and knowing she is loved by her earthly parents and Heavenly Father.

I need to live the wife, mother, woman of God I want her to be. I am the example she will… Click To Tweet

Just last night, I made dinner, had all the prep dishes washed, cornbread in the oven, coffee pots ready for the next day, salads waiting to be dressed, laundry washed and folded, even had time just to play mommy, and felt like a real grown up. I know – I’m 42.

I even managed be patient all day. It was just the daily life of a wife, but I felt really good about the day.  Why? Because the house felt not just tidy, but calm and peaceful, because I had been. For too long, my focus was how clean my house was instead of the condition of my heart.

Proverbs 19:14 House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.

Would my husband say that I’m a gift from God? Whoa, I had to pray about that. And if not yet, how do I get there from here?

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Fearing the Lord is truly understanding God’s holiness, mightiness, omnipotence, righteousness and accepting our need for redemption. I immediately stopped and prayed with David from Psalm 86.

“Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name” (Psalm 86:11).

Faith starts by understanding who we are in God and starting to live in humility. But faith has to be seen out loud, as well.

James 2:17-18 (ESV) 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 

I want my daughter to see my faith, my fear of the Lord, BY my works, by my life. We’re human. We nap, we play, we laugh, and we love each other. And we serve each other and God.

I want her to see that service to God in my heart as a joyful blessing and want to serve Him, too.

This tiny tyrant rules my heart, but I need to raise her to be the woman and Godly wife she is meant to be.

This verse is very convicting for my bold, aggressive spirit.

Proverbs 9:13  The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing.

The biggest change I could make would be to become soft, quiet, and gentle. What a beautiful witness that would be to my family!

1 Peter 3:4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 

Recently, I’ve been feeling the Holy Spirit start to gentle me. My sinful nature is resisting, making me realize just how selfish I still am, but I see the beauty of a gentle spirit when I get it right.

When I get quiet, her unruly 4 year old nature doesn’t have a grip on my emotions like it used to. I can see her struggling with her sinful nature and guide her, instead of forcing her to deal with mine.

As a Godly wife, when I get quiet, he reaches for me and feels my love for him.

Titus 2:3-5 “3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Doesn’t that passage say so much? I need to be reverent, hard-working, self-controlled, pure, kind, submissive.

My answer for how do I teach her to be a Godly wife someday is right there. By example.

Proverbs 31:10 lists so many attributes of a Godly wife just in different translations of this one verse: noble, virtuous, capable, excellent, diligent, of strong character, valiant, and worthy. This wife’s price is above rubies.

How I long to exhibit this verse.

She will learn by my example. Even the world proves over and over we learn by imitation first and foremost, so I have to let the Holy Spirit work in me all day, every day so someday her husband can live in the home of my precious girl’s heart for God.

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