One of the jobs in which I delight the most is making and keeping our home a beautiful, welcoming place. The home is the family's base. It is Spirit-filled, and ideally, a calm, relaxing and welcoming environment, not just for the family but for everyone who enters it.
The job of keeping a place like this is a humbling one, and one which I take very seriously. As a full-time college student who also works outside the home part-time, my schedule is quite full, and I have to keep my various responsibilities prioritized. After being a wife, being a homemaker is my favorite job, so it's near the top of my priority list. I should say here that it is primarily my job alone, but Joshua and I make a great team. He helps me out a lot with keeping the house organized, doing dishes, cleaning, taking out the trash, doing laundry, etc. Just as at this time in our life I don't expect him to do all the money-earning by himself, so he doesn't expect me to do all the housework by myself.
That said, being the woman, I am pretty much in charge of keeping the home. Doing dishes and laundry are two of my least favorite things to do, but I knew when I got married what I was getting myself in for (at least some of it!). The main purpose for all I do at home is to glorify God. Bottom line, when I wash dishes, scrub the toilet, and make the bed, I'm doing it for God. I am fulfilling the vocation in which he has placed me, and doing the work he has set me to do. But I'm also doing it for my husband, because I want our home to be a place to which he loves to return. And finally, I do housework for myself, because I take great satisfaction in seeing a sparkling bathroom, a clean and organized kitchen, and a dusted and vacuumed living room!
That's the why of what I do at home. As for the how...
-I try to keep on top of clutter. Some days I'm not home much, and I get behind. But I try not to let junk/dishes accumulate.
-I recommend always washing dishes immediately after eating. I wish I did this more; when I do, it's a great feeling!
-This semester I have a weekly pattern for cleaning jobs. That has helped considerably, especially putting time to do those jobs in my daily schedule. Things don't usually get done if time is not set aside specifically for them.
-It's my goal to have a place for everything, and to keep everything in its place. This doesn't always happen. But I like having baskets and little crates to keep like things together-- for magazines under the TV table, for candles on top of the fridge, for various personal care products in the bathroom. Command hooks are one of my favorite tools--I recently hung up three by our front door, hung fabric bags on them, and filled the bags with scarves, hats and gloves, to keep them handy but tidy. A couple purses and a light jacket are also on those hooks.
-I like having flat surfaces as bare as possible. This means putting away the things that pile up on my desk, clearing off the end table, and putting away DVD cases instead of stacking them on the TV table. This also includes keeping the kitchen table and counters clean and organized.
-Shelves are my friends, especially low ones (waist-height or lower). The tops can then be used, if necessary, for storage or for decorations. We have three such sets in our living room, for books, movies, and games. Under the games shelf is room to neatly tuck away our shoes. In a small apartment (we live in about 1000 square feet), everything is multi-purpose.
-I love having living things inside. We are blessed with big south- and west-facing windows, so I have two viny plants; one in the living room and one in the kitchen. I think this adds warmth and homeyness to a room.
Bottom line, I want our home to be a place where God is obviously present, a place my husband and I love to come home to, and a place where our friends and family feel welcome and peaceful. That does not mean that my home is always spotless. I don't always keep on top of things the way I should. Sometimes higher priorities--relationships--need to come before the cleaning; but that, I think, is the way it should be. When my husband wants to play a game together, I put aside the supper dishes. When a friend comes over to talk, I ignore the pile of clothes in the bedroom. I focus on what's most important.
Having a beautiful home is wonderful, and a good thing. But it is my desire to balance that with those things in my life with eternal significance.
What do you do to make your home a beautiful, welcoming place? Do you have any ideas or tips to share? Let's talk!
Linking with The Alabaster Jar, The Better Mom, & What Joy is Mine