At a friend’s request, I considered writing a blog post about the deep clean I was doing to my house. It was more than just a deep clean, having been yet another adjustment in creative space use for our children’s bedrooms. Having 3 girls in a bedroom that is roughly 12 x 12 takes some ingenuity to find places to put all their *stuff.* Ava also just graduated out of her toddler trundle that we were storing under the girl’s bunk bed, and into a twin size bed of her own! Having chosen to commit our reproductive futures to God’s capable hands, we are constantly finding new and improved ways to use the space we have wisely to accommodate our growing family. I must confess to being entirely inspired by the practical solutions from Large Families on Purpose. She has been a great blessing to me as far as challenging me, and giving practical and detailed advice to this VERY disorganized Mama! My creative personality is helpful when paint or fabric is involved, but ask me to make a schedule or be practical, and I’m lost.
My posting was also delayed by a few sad events. I meant to post Monday, and didn’t, with Wednesday (yesterday) as a fall back, but yesterday was a bit weird, and was derailed as a fallback. First, we had one bunny die. Then another bunny died. Then Sarah lost a tooth, and then we had VBS. So yup. Yesterday was fried. I was instead contemplating the meaning of death with my 6 yo, 4 yo, 2 yo and 4 month old. It is amazing what our children tell us about ourselves. Their responses were a moment of conviction for me, and how I have modeled how to survive a crisis.
I need to just follow Brooke’s advice,to Keep Calm, and Carry On!
Now I am sitting down to enjoy some peace and quiet, and beating the heat in our non Air Conditioned house, by listening to the girls watch a movie while we all eat some cold popsicles and wish it wasn’t so hot! Meanwhile, I’ll tell myself I’m being productive by writing the promised post. It’ll be a nice break from pushing through the heat!
Before we get to the photos, My disclaimer: I feel as if we are nowhere near the paragons of virtue that I’d like to be when it comes to having an organized and clutter free home, but we are doing better! I did struggle over the idea of whether or not I was comfortable with sharing these photos on my blog. All I see is what is NOT right in them, but I hope it is a helpful reminder that no Mom blogger is perfect, and that yes, living with 4 children under 6 is HARD, not perfect, and involves a slightly modified idea of ideal housekeeping. I marvel in wonder, and truly respect the women I know who maintain spotless homes. Bit by bit, I am taking their advice, and learning their secrets, but I am nowhere near their level of success yet.
I do know that one step at a time, we will eventually have a home that looks just as glorious as the ones in the magazine, or the ones that don’t deal with the daily stretch of young children being trained, or have the fiscal limitations of a young family on a tight budget, catching whatever thing/furniture will do the job via Craigslist and Yard Sales.
In any case, it isn’t how your home looks, it is how you use it! Is it a place where Christ is honored? Is it a place where God’s Word is applied daily, and on a moment by moment basis? If it is, the looks will one day follow, and reflect a commitment to living in a way that honors God. And no, your home may not look like the Hilton, but it isn’t a hotel! It is a home. With all of the warmth, and lived in feel, that the word home entails!
I have the unique blessing of having my Mother in Law take my children to VBS for an entire week, once a year. During the time she has them, I generally make it a point to deep clean. It has become quite the tradition. Since we had to do a bit of reorganizing and rearranging in the bedrooms to better fit our space, I started with the bedrooms. I wanted to refresh the deep clean I did in the kitchen and living room from a month ago, but I underestimated the impact children have on their bedrooms… Furthermore, I (foolishly) waited to take my triumphant “after” pictures until almost a week later. So they’re not as beautifully shiny and new as they would be, had I taken them the same day as everything was completed! In other words the bedrooms have been a bit lived in, and are now the responsibility of their occupants. Some age appropriate housekeeping is displayed here. I didn’t take pictures of the Master Bedroom, or Bath, since they’re pretty straightforward anyway. Our Master bedroom is also a mix of home office and bedroom, and I can only go so far with the deep cleaning until I hit a pile of bills that my hubby wants undisturbed. And who wants to see pictures of a bathroom anyway?
The pictures, L-R are:
Top left: Hooks for purse, bag, backpack, or coat storage are screwed into the bunk bed.
Top Middle: Hooks for yet more storage on the back of the door.
Top Right: A broken clothes rack, repurposed and anchored to their dresser added hanging storage for a room with no closets. The rubbermaid bin is storage for outgrown clothing for one child that is atill too big for another. keeping it there makes transitions easier.
Bottom Left:Their comfy reading corner for quiet time during the afternoon.
Bottom Middle: Sarah’s bunk bed and shelf. Can you tell they make their own beds? What I find funny is how you can see their skill level by looking at all three beds together…
Bottom Right: Emma’s Bed, made summer style with the covers folded at the bottom. Nobody wants covers during the summer!
Not pictured: The entire bunk bed. Ava hadn’t made her bed yet when I took these pictures. Also not pictured? The new paint job their room needs! Saving that for another day, when everyone is over the “coloring everything” stage. Still fighting that fight, and if anyone knows how to keep their artistic children from decorating their room rabidly, do let me know. On the bright side, they have, (so far) mostly contained it to their room, and the hall outside their door. One day, probably when Ava is 8 or 10, we’ll re paint it, and the girls will help. Until then, we’ve succumbed to the idea that young children means dealing with each foolish indiscretion as it comes, even if that does mean following up a VERY quiet naptime with the horrifying discovery that the ENTIRE bedroom has been “re-decorated.”
The Details: The girl’s bedroom is a challenge. I have 3 twin beds (one is a bunkbed, mercifully.) and three children’s worth of clothing and stuff to put in there. We do have a playroom, so I do aspire to have a minimal amount of toys stored in their room. It is limited to books for quiet time, and dolls/My Little Pony for girly time. My oldest has the privilege of the top bunk, and so I installed a shelf for her to keep her most precious items. I did have a ‘no one in the top bunk but Sarah’ rule, but it has been suspended upon invitation from time to time. Generally though, I jealously guard each child’s bed as a precious space that is theirs alone, and consider it an excellent tutor on property rights. If someone has a precious item, I encourage them to keep it on or near their bed, in their space. I also discovered the joy of those little screw hooks, and placed one for each child on the bed, and on the back of the door to store other precious items. Nobody may invade someone else’s bag, jacket, or bed. The rest of the room is all 3 girl’s common property, because, frankly, I don’t have enough space for either a family closet (I wish!) or to give each child a dresser. As it is, they’ve all been trained to ascertain the size of clothing, and wear from there. If it fits, you can wear it. I cull the clothing several times a year as well, because with 3 girls, it accrues quickly!
The girls are solely responsible for keeping their room clean, their beds made, and their walls free from further crayon encroachment. They do an age appropriate job with my supervision. I have long since learned not to sweat the small stuff. If things are (mostly) clean, and everything is put away, I try not to obsess over the things that I see as childish, imperfect, or that drive me nuts. One day, they will notice the details, and care for them. Until that day, we tackle one task at a time, until they master it, then move on to a new one to master. I’ll just have to live with the clothing corners sticking out of drawers, and piles of treasured drawing on top of the bureau until then!
The Photos, L-R:
Left: Our steamer trunk which is used for clothing storage for what is not in season, or not fitting the current child’s needs.
Left Middle: Sewing space and nursing chair, complete with rocker. I have to admit the toys stored here do end up being a sort of “secondary play room.” when we are doing school. Our home office contains the computer we also use for school, and so often the younger children use the nursery as a playroom while we do school on the computer. The nursing chair also comes in handy on tough nights when a child is sick. I can sleep in there, without disturbing my husband’s sleep on work nights, and take care of any needs for any child without waking him. I cannot say how many times that has come in handy!
Right Middle: The Rocking Chair Allen found at a sale for a few dollars. I LOVE it! It is fabulous come naptime, or for those late night crying sessions!
Right: The crib that has been through 5 children. Next to it is a wardrobe that contains 5 drawers and a closet. This contains ALL of baby’s clothing for the first year entirely, and perhaps even a bit longer. Each drawer is used for 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months, 9-12 months, and 12-14 months respectively. The hanging space houses all of baby’s shoes, hanging clothing, and jackets etc. Under the crib is a fantastic storage space, as is on top of the dresser.
The Details: Isaiah’s room is easy. He doesn’t mess it up. (yet) It provides ample storage space, not only for his things, but for some of his sister’s hand me down toys as well. It also doubles as a sewing room, for now, and contains my cabinet sewing machine. When the machine is tucked away, it looks like a tall end table. When it is out, it transforms into a lovely sewing table. All of my “at hand” sewing project needs (DVDs for watching while I’m sewing, my sewing kit, and mending basket, plus Sarah’s sewing kit) are all kept in my room, which is adjoining to Isaiah’s room.
There you have it. My not so perfect, cobbled together old home, complete with smiling children, Goodbyes to Bunnies, and unmade beds some mornings. I dream of the day when I will preside over a pristine historical Farmhouse with no clutter, only rag rugs and old rocking chairs, and absolutely NO wood paneling, but that is not where God has placed me. He has placed me HERE, NOW. I have a lot to learn before I reach a level of faithfulness in housekeeping, child training, homeschooling, etc that is worthy of an 18th century Farm house. Meanwhile, I’ll try to keep my home as if it WAS an 18th century farmhouse, and prepare for the day when that kind of delicate beauty is my responsibility.