13 December 2010

Keeping House

Not long ago I read a few books on housekeeping that helped me get focused and organized in terms of caring for our home. In Home Comforts, Cheryl Mendelson gives a comprehensive examination of how to clean and keep a home. It's quite comprehensive, actually -- 896 pages' worth. I'll admit I didn't read every single page, but what I took away from the book is the importance of having a routine. Mendelson suggests having a day of the week for each task, but that didn't work for me. I'd assign various tasks to various days and end up having to chuck the plan for various reasons. But that left us with unvacuumed floors and bare cupboards. We always, however, have clean clothes. Whether they are folded or not is a separate issue; they are clean.

This is the first official week of my break from teaching, and it has me thinking about our household routine. I've been thinking about it so much, in fact, that all I did yesterday was think and worry about all the things that needed to get done around here that haven't been done in awhile. Like the vacuuming. Which was a task of Olympic proportions this morning as I slid furniture around the house and whirled the hand-held extender into every crevice of this house.

I know I shouldn't worry about these things, and that I certainly shouldn't worry about them on the Sabbath. So I decided it was time to reinstate the routine, but instead of having a task for every day of the week, I want to do as many tasks as I can in one day. I've elected Mondays as the do-it-all day, which means Mondays will be laundering, vacuuming, cleaning, meal planning, and grocery shopping day. We'll see if this works.

When I think about keeping our house, though, I like what Margaret Kim Peterson has to say in Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life:
How much more hospitable it would be if our homes were routinely to be places filled with satisfying meals, with shirts warm from the dryer, with smoothly made beds -- not because we are trying to win the housekeeping prize but because these things are good and pleasant ways to care for one another and for ourselves.

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