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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.

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 -

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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Revisited: My Perspective on Homemaking and Tiffany Lamps

My perspective on homemaking has changed over the past few years as I've made my heart Christ's home. What I had always imagined wasn't what God wanted at all.

My perspective on homemaking has really changed in recent years as I’ve worked harder to make my heart a home for Christ. What I had always imagined wasn’t what God wanted at all.

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I used to obsessively watch HGTV and dream of my perfect space. But once I had my dream home, I’ve realized that God isn’t interested in how I decorate it as much as he wants to be the master of how I live in it.

I used to imagine my future home once I could afford to move out of my cramped apartment. I pictured 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 on a teacher’s salary, looked at the price of a Tiffany lamp, and put it firmly out of my mind. Even so, often I came back to that idealistic image.

Last night catching up with my DVR, I flipped through one of the 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.

On one salary,The Tiffany lamp was still out of our budget.

I 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. Staring at the picture, I daydreamed of steaming coffee cups, cozy pajamas, and a book next to the soft glow of my lamp, whisking me away into the perfect bliss of quiet reading time.

Ahem, as if I ever actually FIND time to quietly read, but I digress.

Then, I imagined military movers with my Tiffany lamp and shuddered.

Next I considered how my beautiful, imaginary lamp would really make me feel. I’m in a season of mothering a young daughter with a menagerie of pets.

I wouldn’t want anyone to touch it. Letting kids play near 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.

How might I act protecting my lamp? I could almost hear the shrill, sharp tone I might  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?

My perspective on homemaking has changed over the past few years as I've made my heart Christ's home. What I had always imagined wasn't what God wanted at all.

My perspective on homemaking began to change. . .

when I realized my identity is rooted in Christ, not how nicely I decorate my home.

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.

My perspective on homemaking changed when I realized our house is a home, not a museum. Click To Tweet
Would a fragile lamp be worth the cost, much less the price tag?

One of the biggest changes in my life has been relaxing who I am in our home. I’ve changed by what standard I measure my success. My standard should always be Jesus. Jesus 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 my now mussed, lived-in house and celebrate the growth in my heart. I’ve spent years afraid to live in my version of chaos, stuff that isn’t magically put away the second we are finished with it.

I didn’t understand that my fear of ruining my perfect things was hurting those I loved. The people in my 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 selfish 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. They wait to create an entire imaginary world for her, causing her to stop to play instead of beg for screen time.

Saving up money and waiting patiently for something that we want is a good lesson to teach children. However, 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, Christmas gifts for our family, or a carload of groceries for the neighbors who haven’t had fresh vegetables in a month.

So, no, I won’t buy a Tiffany lamp in this season of life, although I might someday buy a budget version.

I have chosen to put serving God above everything else. God always seems to ask, “What can you be doing for me?” 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, I cannot allow it to overshadow God’s light in me. My new perspective on homemaking is our house serves my mission as a disciple, not as a museum for pretend perfection.

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