At the beginning of this year, I learned how to keep my house clean consistently. Before that time, my home was ALWAYS a mess. Think mountains and rivers of dirty laundry, not-yet-unpacked boxes, overflowing dirty dishes, zero counter or table space, sticky floors, and several bags of trash blocking the back door. Every. Single. Day. If it wasn’t a mess, the mess was hiding.
I had no idea how to be a homemaker, but once I understood why God called me to be a homemaker and how to keep my home, I was like a completely different wife and mom. I went from being a slob to learning how to make my house look like Martha Stewart came to help me overnight (if Martha had a modest budget, to be clear LOL).
Pretty Good Excuses
You may be wondering how things got so bad. Or you might not be wondering, if you’re in the same boat I was in and know how easily it happens. I’ll tell you anyway… Our family has never been settled in one home for more than a year — until two years ago.
This summer marked the second year of living in our current home, one of the parsonages of the church where my husband is the youth pastor. My husband and I will have been married 5 years as of November 2018 and we have moved to 4 different places through our entire marriage. That’s right — we moved 4 times in 3 years!!
Someday I’ll share the story about how bad our finances were between year 2 and 4 of our marriage, but just to give you an idea… In 2014 our lease was up on our first apartment so we moved to a place with more space for less rent (yaaas). At the end of 2015 our landlord graciously asked us to move instead of evicting us because of months of late rent payments and we moved to my mom’s basement just before 2016 when we had our daughter.
Really Bad Habits
In between the first apartment and first move, we were working for a church that didn’t have a building so we kept A LOT of church stuff at our house. We were so busy we never had time to settle in and our home was overrun with boxes that weren’t ours. By the time we moved those boxes to the new church building and we transitioned from our jobs there, I was pregnant and had NO energy to learn to become a homemaker. Then the “eviction” and cramming the contents of our apartment into mom’s basement made housekeeping almost impossible, though I tried as best as I could to “nest” before our baby came. We lived like that for 7 months, by God’s grace!
So when we moved to our current home I didn’t know how to unpack, I didn’t have good routines, and I was emotionally and spiritually recovering from a difficult time being a new mom in tough financial circumstances. I didn’t know how to create structure for myself. I struggled!
What Made The Difference
To make a very long story shorter, I had one mindset shift that changed my life.
After over a year of living in our new home and being a hot mess (inside and out), I was praying about what God was calling me to do. I remembered the desire God gave me to have an open home and feed people and create a place to nurture my family and our guests. I remembered how much I loved to entertain when I was in college and how people remembered the impact of my hospitality, to the glory of God. I was reminded that not only is this house literally not ours, but it spiritually belongs to God and I am His steward of it.
That’s when God gave me a vision for my home. I realized my home is to be used to bless others.
Suddenly it clicked. How can I bless people through my home if my home and heart were cluttered? How can I live the vision God gave me the way I was living? So I enlisted help (my sister spent a couple of nights on my couch) and I pushed myself to have an immaculate home before the New Year. I deep-cleaned like I was moving out (again lol). I gave and threw things away, I put things where they belonged. I stopped making excuses and I BUSTED. MY. BUTT.
I kept these three Bible verses in mind:
Philippians 4:13 NIV – “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Galatians 6:9 NIV – “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Hebrews 12:11 NIV – “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Ever since then, even if my house gets crazy messy, which it absolutely still does sometimes, I am able to turn it around in a couple of hours or less because I’ve developed systems to keep it tidy.
Praise break. THANK YOU JESUS!
If He Did It For Me, He Can Do It For You
It was that serious for me, guys. If you know what it’s like to be a slob, this may sound like a miracle. That’s because it is! For me, it was a huge miracle! I feel like I was finally obeying God in the “small” things. I knew that the Holy Spirit living in me was helping me live out the life God wanted for me so that I could show others who He is.
God is faithful! If your home is always a hot mess, I want to give you some practical tips for reclaiming and keeping your home for His glory, whether you stay-at-home or work outside of the home full-time:
1. Discover God’s vision for your home.
Not having a vision for our home is the biggest reason we put off cleaning it. If we are not driven by a “why,” we can find or create a cleaning schedule all we want, but I’ve found that it’s easier to give up on those routines over time if you don’t have a reason other than “to keep it clean.” The truth is our homes don’t need to be clean for us to survive and cleaning can be pretty boring. You need a vision to keep going when you’re bored and don’t “need to” keep it up.
Pray and ask God how He wants you to use the home He is letting you steward for His glory. What do you want your home to be known for?
For me, my vision for my home is to have a peaceful, creative, cozy environment that is clean enough for me to host guests and to make yummy food.
Ask God to show you where you’ve been slacking in this vision.
For me, I was making excuses, blaming my family members for not helping me and having a pretty crappy attitude about doing the work. Once I stopped making excuses and chose to fight my laziness (my flesh), God helped me to obey him.
2. Get a game plan
What do you (and your household members) need to do in order to see this vision take place?
This may mean prioritizing keeping the dining room table clean so that you can have meals as a family. Or it may mean working on conflict resolution so that there’s a spirit of peace in the home. Or it may mean adjusting schedules so that you’re all at home together more often.
Over time, for me this has meant spending time with God daily (dealing with my own pride, blame, and anger issues), decluttering surfaces and dishes daily, keeping floors clean, not stressing over toys, and giving my family grace so that I’m not stressed over the cleanliness of everything. I was able to find balance in not shooting for perfection, but doing all that I could (versus trying to control people) and letting the rest go. Pray through and discuss with your family members what things need to be done consistently.
3. Develop systems and strategies.
Pinterest is your friend! Other moms are your friends! Be willing to let down your pride and ask a friend or family member to help you either by giving you advice or even coming over to help you get started so that you’re not overwhelmed. Be willing to be vulnerable so that you can hear beneficial tips from people who may be more organized that you are. My friend and I often discuss the state of our homes and she recently told me she sets a timer for 10 minutes in the morning and night. I totally used her idea and learned to set time aside for my toddler and I to clean the house together before her nap.
Invest in the tools you need to motivate yourself to be consistent or make the housework more “fun.”
My husband bought me an inexpensive vacuuming/mopping robot for Mother’s Day this year because I hate cleaning floors. It was a win because he loves using the robot too, so that’s something I don’t even have to do; now he likes to do the floors without me asking! (More miracles!)
I buy Mrs. Meyers cleaning products because I love the smell. The Lemon Verbena concentrate makes me want to clean! I also love having various candles for ambience and scent.
I also make sure I have music or a podcast, sermon or audiobook going in the background while I work. I bought some cute and affordable bluetooth headphones that have helped me be so much more productive.
Learn what you don’t know
What do you need to learn so that you’ll be consistent with making your vision happen?
For me I had to learn how to clean while I cook instead of using every pot and pan and begging my husband to help me clean up. That saved me so much time with clean up after meals too.
I learned to teach my daughter how to clean up after herself.
I also learned the hard way not to clean during my daughter’s nap or when she wasn’t home, but wait to have her help me instead. That way I could protect my down time and have more energy to manage my home.
Consider these strategies and others you can think of after doing your own research:
- Will you do laundry daily or weekly?
- Clean in the mornings, clean in the evenings, or both? Or afternoon?
- Do different chores on different days or go with the flow for a set amount of time (timer)?
Ask, But Don’t Expect Help
Notice that I did NOT emphasize assigning jobs to your family members. Repeat after me: “I can only control my own actions.” I’m going to be honest, during the time that I started turning things around, my husband didn’t help me. (That’s why I was ecstatic that my sister was so gracious to come over. Note, she invited herself over and I never threw shade at my hubby, even though I wanted to, because of the Holy Spirit’s help.)
Whenever I asked, he would give me an attitude because he was frustrated about how much stuff I was giving away without his permission (i.e. a surplus of kitchen items and clothes that I would have had to wash, including his). That was valid, but I also didn’t care. I was DONE with waiting for people to help me out of the pit. God gave me everything I needed and I did everything I could — and I had to fight to do it without pride or resentment.
It was HARD, but if you keep waiting for everyone else to get on board, you might be waiting a long time (I’m assuming you’re thinking you might not be in this place if you actually had help, right?) Eventually he came around, but by then I had already gotten my systems in place and I was way less stressed and didn’t “need” his help. I was so thankful for God’s help and proud of my own personal growth during that time. Sis, please read this next sentence with the love it’s intended to convey. Stop waiting for permission to obey God. Just do it!
4. Don’t stress!
Let this be an act of worship and thanksgiving to God — not a point of frustration when everything is not as good as you want it to be. You will have messy days. The point is for those days to be the exception, instead of the norm.
Remember that different seasons mean different priorities and realities.
For me, during the holidays I clean all the time because I host many family gatherings.
During the summer, I’m barely home because we travel a lot, lead youth camps, and visit family. When we return home, I don’t stress the mess. I know that it’s just a season.
I also recommend having a rest day. Give yourself (and your family members) permission to be messy and lazy one day of the week. If you work full-time or outside of the home, give yourself permission to not have the entire house clean all week.
Seek God First and Always
I will always remind you to keep Jesus as the focus of your life every day. It’s no coincidence that when I started being consistent in my quiet time with God, my habits at home drastically changed. Do life with Him. He’ll show you where to be more diligent and how and when to let things go.
I believe in you, sis!
Your turn: How does knowing that your home belongs to God change your perspective about homemaking? ⭐️
Hey sis! I’m Imani, the Young Moms’ Advocate and Legacy Activator, who is here to help your family prosper. Also, I’m probably dancing to Michael Jackson right now.