Home Comforts and Orderliness
Lately I have been reading several excellent books. But the one book that stands out as the most encouraging to me is the book Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping HouseThis book is a homemaking manual. It is simply filled with helpful how-to’s on every subject of making a home you could imagine. However more than just a book that lays out a description of how to do various tasks, it gives the reader the feeling that making a home is something normal and desirable. And she brings to home making a sense of properness and order.
In the book she deals with routines and housekeeping schedules, food (no recipes, rather it is the discussion on home cooking, serving meals, the kitchen culture, shopping, etc..) laundry with descriptions of different fibers used and there care, washing, drying, stains. She covers cleaning the home with topics on household cleaners, how to clean various surfaces such as tile, stone, no-wax floors and more. Plus issues on home safety and even has chapters that deal with legal issues, insurance, keeping records and the storing of keepsake papers and photos. The book has over 800 pages that are full of helpful information. If you want a good grasp on homemaking and all it entails then this is a book I highly encourage you to look into.
As I started reading this book I was greatly encouraged and motivated by some of her first chapters on neatness and orderliness. In my home there are currently 7 of us here and by the end of the day we can all accumulate a lot of clutter that is just lying around the house disrupting a good deal of order. My husband pointed out that if each person left 5 items in the wrong place or did not deal with those items properly that would be 35 things out and about on any given day and after 3 days there could be over 100 items out of place if things were not dealt with. And 5 items in a day does not seem like a lot. There are shoes, jackets and sweaters, pens and paper, books, the newspaper, a coffee cup, toys and so on.
Cheryl had an excellent example of this chaos in life outside the home and then draws a superb parallel of this to life inside the home. She calls it the broken window theory. Here is a quote from her book:
“This theory says a neighborhood causes people who are predisposed to antisocial conduct to feel more inclined to commit various crimes and misdemeanors. If there is one broken window and it isn’t fixed, this suggests to malefactors that no one is in charge – that there therefore it is safe to write graffiti on the walls, litter, and break other windows.”
She goes on to explain how this applies to the home and I will show how it happens in my home. Let say I begin the day with a clear dining room table or other flat surface (top of the piano, my built in hutch, etc..). I lay the magazine I am reading down on the table when I am done with it. Then someone else comes in and removes their sweater and sets it on the table. Then the kids leave their finished cups of water and maybe a few toys on the table. And so the day goes. By the end of the day the table is covered again. This creates a lot of clutter and makes the whole room seem out of order.
So what is the solution? Make new habits. First
there is an awareness of the problem, and then there can be a plan. With my own
family I have started emphasizing the need to take care of our things by putting
them in their proper place right away. Rather than waiting for a specific time
of the day to start picking up the house I want to instill the new habit in my
children and myself to stop and deal with that item properly to begin with. If
you have established places for items such as a basket to hold the magazines,
hooks for sweaters, used dishes in the sink or dishwasher, and so on then it
becomes a matter of follow through and teaching that to my children.
In my own experience I can say that there is nothing that makes a home feel more comfortable than to be neat and orderly. However, Cheryl does point out and I do agree that there will be times when a current project can and should be left out. I leave sewing out on the table if I am in the process of working on a project, I let the children leave the board game out or the Lego’s that they are currently playing with so they can take a lunch break and then resume the play time or setting my book down to answer the phone or get a cup of tea, puzzles that may be currently worked on are left out on a table.
I think the bottom line for what I want to see in my own family is an understanding of the importance of making new habits. When these new habits are instilled it will go along way in helping to create and keep a nicely comfortable home.
It is not always easy to teach a child (or myself) new habits. It takes patients and time. There is a fine line between nagging frustration and teaching. To avoid becoming frustrated and nagging (which is so grating on the nerves of everyone in a home) I start by letting my children know what the new expectations are and then gently but most importantly I consistently remind them until it becomes a new habit, which may take time! This is where patients are needed. However I do not try and change my husband’s habits. I am not his mother and that is not my job. I love him and in love I will do what I need to do to create a warm and comfortable home for him!
If you are interested in reading more on the book Home Comforts or would like to purchase your own copy you can find them very reasonably priced through Amazon.com.