(Not my photo)
These two articles "The Sacred Nature of Everyday Work" and "My Home as a Temple" are must reads. I often get overwhelmed and discouraged by all the demands of running a household and trying to keep my house clean. I've been doing better this past week and have found better routines and a better attitude. However, these articles moved my mind beyond the "task" of keeping my home clean to the "purpose" of housework and the possibilities that I am missing out on by being so task oriented.
The Sacred Nature article talks about the bonding that is created between family members when they work on tasks together. This reminded me of some of my own fond memories from my youth. We heated our home with a wood burning stove and each fall a load of logs would come and fill our driveway and our task was to stack all those logs on the back patio. This was a time consuming job and took all of us working together to do it. I remember that we formed a chain and passed the logs from one person to the next. Even to this day the overall feeling that remains with me is the fun that we had working together. My parents might have a different feeling about it. Maybe we complained and whined and whatever, but all I remember is the bond that felt with the others who shared that experience with me.
Another thing the articles talk about is working together. I don't think it means that on every chore that has to be done that everyone has to be together, but definitely none of us like doing jobs by ourself. I remember when I worked at a boys ranch (for teenaged boys who needed counseling) and a major component of our responsibilities as the "parents" was to have the boys do chores. The meals were cafeteria style and once a week it was our house duty to clean the large kitchen (like schools have). We had fourteen boys we were responsible for. Even with all of us working I think it took close to an hour to clean the kitchen. Jeremy and I divided the responsibilities between the boys and then we would work along side them. One time one of the boys commented about the fact that we worked along with them. I didn't understand why this was a big deal to him. He said that none of the other house parents worked with the boys, they would just sit and talk while they made the boys work. Us willingly working along side the boys helped them have greater respect for us and it also formed a bond between us.
At that point in my life, at least in that certain situation, it seemed natural to not require something of those boys that I wasn't willing to do myself. Now as a mother and the manager of my household I'm not quite as quick to work along side my kids. It's definitely not because I am sitting down while my kids work, it's more of a divide and conquer attitude - if we split up the work and you do that and I do this we will get done faster. Sometimes that is necessary, but right now while my kids are so young and think it will be better for me to work with my kids and not get all the tasks done than any other way. There is definitely time and place for kids learning to do things on their own and learning responsibility of a task and blah, blah, but I'm not at that stage yet with my kids.
The articles also point out that service and gaining Christ-like attributes are a result of family work and the ordinary everyday tasks that we have to do so often. I'll have to remember that when I am sweeping the floor for the fourth time in the same day, or wiping up the 3rd glass of spilled milk, or whatever the situation is that usually leaves me frustrated and feeling down. As I set my sights higher and maintain a spiritual view on these physical tasks I hope to transform my way of thinking and focus more on the positive aspects of housework rather than the negative - let them fill my soul rather than empty me emotionally.