MoJo Monday: Joy In Being Orderly

Edinburgh Mommy Friends Reunion, August 2009: Emily and baby Rosie are smiling left of center at the back.

A guest post by Emily Luehrmann of Em’s Musings (check out her blog – her three little ones are just scrumptious!)

Well, if you read this post, then you had to know by the title that I didn’t write this MoJo!  (By the way, thank you all so much for the tremendous outpouring of wisdom and encouragement in the comments.  Some ideas have already been implemented, and more will be, I hope!)  Orderliness is *not* one of my strengths, but it is an area in which I’m seeking to grow.  My dear friend Emily and I have been discussing all things homemaking for as long as we’ve known each other (since we were fellow expats and new mommies in Edinburgh 5 years ago).  She is a great example to struggling housekeepers like myself!    Since the whole “Joy in Mothering” series was her idea, I thought it would be wonderful if she could write a post to fill in in one of my major areas of weakness.  With absolutely perfect timing, here are her thoughts.

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I’m not a recovering sluggard. At 3 I organized the candy bars while my mom checked out at the grocery story. At 10 I liked to stay in from recess to reorganize my desk. And at 30 I keep my closet (and my husbands!) in rainbow order. Are you starting to say, Freak! You may see why Jodi asked me to do a post about how I love my life and find joy in mothering by being organized and keeping an orderly home! Although being organized and orderly comes naturally, finding joy in mothering through this is more tricky. I often fall into the trap of prioritizing tasks and tidying over laughing and loving. Thinking about this has given me fresh motivation and delight in mothering while keeping an orderly home!

So what motivates me to be organized and orderly? I often do it to be productive, to feel good, and because it just makes my life flow better. But all of these motivations are focused on me. And what I really want my life to be focused on is the Lord! So I have to turn my focus first to God and seek to be organized and orderly for God. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 Paul implores us that in whatever we do we are to do all to the glory of God. And in Colossians 3:17 Paul says whatever you do do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the father through him. I also have to turn my focus toward being godly and training my children in godliness. The gospel should train us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives (Titus 2:12). I want my training to reflect God and the gospel so I’m trying to help my kids say no to ungodliness and to say yes to being self-controlled and orderly.  A final motivation I have to consider is seeking to love others and training my children to love others. When my home is orderly it is more peaceful for my husband, children, me and others who enter it. I also have more freedom to love others.

It’s great to be motivated to be orderly, but how do I do it? In case you don’t know, keeping an orderly home is hard work. Sometimes I feel like all I do is tidy up!  A key component to keeping an orderly home is consistency. I keep a housekeeping checklist of tasks that need to be done on a regular basis. I write down the date when I complete a task and then I know later if it’s been a week or a months since I last cleaned the shower! Every day I do laundry and tidy. And I’m trying to find ways to bring my 3 children into the process. When we get something new we find a “home” for it. Then when it comes time to tidy they know where to put it. I encourage them to play with one toy at a time and then put it away when they’re done. I encourage them to tidy an activity before they go on to another. I try to include the kids in housecleaning by giving them a microfiber rag or a Swiffer duster (both great tools!). When they get undressed at night I ask them to put dirty items in the appropriate basket (light or dark!). And often we make tidying fun by putting on music and doing it all together. These are simple ways I try to encourage order in our home.

Is all this hard work worth it? What is the benefit of keeping an orderly home? As I consistently keep an orderly home with a godly motivation, peace will rule in my home. My home will be a peaceful haven for my husband, for my children and for others! Consistent hard work to maintain order should also provide freedom. I can be flexible to play with my kids, to go out spontaneously, or to have people over. This may sound counter intuitive but routine helps us to be flexible! Joy comes when my kids internalize the routines and order and when they enjoy the process too. As I seek to be orderly and train my children to be orderly our home can be a fountain of love where people can rest and be cared for.

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Thank you so much for sharing your joy with us – you are a true blessing!

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