One of our favorite Christmas traditions is to carry out our mattresses to the living room and all sleep around the Christmas tree. We usually sleep around the Christmas tree long before Christmas Eve and the mattresses stay there until around New Years’ time.
Well, what a surprise when you remove the mattresses and see all that snuck behind the kids’ beds! Look at all the dust bunnies when I tried to be intentional about vacuuming under the bed all year long! So for the past few years, it has become a New Year’s thing to deep clean the house. Pull out all that stuff and vacuum really well, throw away, give away, and clean out the closets.
This in of itself is a huge task, but well worth it and necessary to do at least once a year if not regularly. It is so good to let go, clean up, and declutter. It is freeing! Taking care of stuff takes time. It can bring stress when it feels like there is stuff everywhere you look because it is not in its place. Open yourself up to receive more. Now I don’t mean more stuff. I mean open yourself up to receive more time, less stress, and quicker clean up. Now that sounds amazing! I feel life is best lived in the moment with the people we love, not in the stuff we accumulate.
It takes us a good three days to declutter the most significant parts of the house. There might be a closet or drawer or two that I’ll tackle later. While my declutter intentions are good, you and I both know that it doesn’t take but a moment for the house to seem like toy chaos again! Creativity, fun, art, building….it’s all happening around me at lightening speeds and everywhere I look there is stuff everywhere again!
I am sure that this is never said in your house, but it is in mine…”I thought I already told you to clean up the school room. Why does the table still look a mess?”
“We just cleaned up your bedroom. This is not ok. This is not how we keep it tidy.”
“Come on guys, I’ve told you three times to clean up this room. Why am I walking in here again and it is still not cleaned up? I want it back the way it was.”
“I have asked three times now to have this table cleaned off. If I come back here and it is not cleaned off, everything gets thrown away.”
Again, I am sure that you never say that in your house… but I do in mine.
After a whole day of that, the house did get tided back up, but no one was happy and I felt like I had blown it. “This is not the kind of mom I am. This is not the kind of mom I want to be.”
“I am graceful. I teach and encourage my kids, not condemn them and pass shame.” See condemning and passing shame such as: “What have I asked you three times to….you fill in the blank…” really only takes care of my immediate frustration in the moment. It is focused on the right here, right now, not done my way.
But teaching and encouraging in the right way such as why we should keep our rooms tidy and how peace and rest come when we put away a toy when we are done playing with it, well that takes time and patience. It is thinking about them and not me. It is speaking in love with their future in mind. I am raising kids who know how to steward their home properly and how to keep it tidy and decluttered so that their home life is full of peace and joy and less stress.
The pivotal point is in the turn around. You are at the kitchen sink working away at dinner and you turn around and see the living room looks a mess all over again and they are playing hide and seek.
The pivotal point is when you walk in to their bedroom to tuck them in at night and you can barely walk across the floor without stepping on something. How will you act, not react? Will you shout out “How many times do I have to tell you….?” Or will you speak life in the moment and teach a life lesson by saying something like, “What a fun day we had! I love to end the day by giving you kisses and tucking you into bed. But before we do that, let’s invite peace, rest, and good sleep by tidying up your bedroom. It blesses our soul to sleep in a clean, tidy bedroom where everything is in its place.”