Saturday, September 29, 2018

Days of Housekeeping

Library of Congress:  Howard family moving into their Alabama home, 1937.

I remember the early years of my marriage.  We had moved into our first home. It was completely empty.  We had limited furniture and not many possessions. The boxes were few.  We had packages of brand new items from our wedding.  Soon we had to find curtains and bedding and a kitchen table.  My parents had given us a couch, a bureau, and a few other pieces of furniture. We had to set up housekeeping with limited means.  Because we did not have much, it was easier to keep things neat and clean.

These days, many of us are fighting clutter and an abundance of items.  The common teaching out there is to "purge" and "declutter."  This is because, over the years, we tend to accumulate more things than we seem to know what to do with.  But we do not have to throw out things that are useful. We do not have to give away, or trash items, that we can neatly pack away for the future.

We often read of grandmother's attic and the old trunk full of treasures.  This is where grandchildren come along and find wonderful things from the family's history.  Often an old shawl, toy truck, or precious book finds a new home with one of the decedents.  Sometimes, baby clothes are carefully stored away because we should always expect a baby will, someday, enter our home again.  I don't think any of these possessions should be purged.  But we do have to get rid of junk and trash in order to have a neat home.

It can be quite an ordeal to keep a nice home when there is too much clutter around.  Often it is almost impossible to find enough energy to do the daily work, and take care of the family, while organizing our possessions at the same time.   This is where having set days for specific housekeeping is helpful.

If we simplify the work into a weekday schedule it may help keep us peaceful and happier.  This work is over- and- above the normal tasks of preparing meals, making beds, taking care of the family, etc.

Expect to spend between 2 and 4 hours on each of these days. You might want to do a few hours in the morning and then work again in the early afternoon. Take lots of breaks so that you are well rested.  Get help from the family if you still have children at home. Small children love to help with the work.  Older children are often willing to help if we are cheerful and offer to play board games, etc. during breaks. This makes the work a social event and is more enjoyable.

Here is an example:

Monday -
Organize and Declutter.  This work will always be necessary.  It would be nice if it was part of our weekly routine.  We may want to file papers, sort photographs, handle the bills and finances, pack up seasonal clothing, put away books, organize the closets, etc.

Laundry, sewing, mending clothes, ironing, tidy drawers and closets, wash bedding.

Do all the deep cleaning (bathrooms, wash floors, dust, vacuum, etc.)  In my teenage years, working as a maid, it took us 2 hours to do the basics of deep cleaning for an entire house.

Grocery shopping and errands.  I always get extra tired on days I have to go out.  This is a good day to serve easy meals to keep things simple.  Buying the groceries, using a carefully prepared shopping list, setting up the week's menus, and bringing it all home takes a great deal of frugal effort. (You might want to use this day to post next week's menu in the kitchen so you have your plans all ready in place.)  Sometimes on these errands we may also have to stop at the bank, go to the library, or visit a relative.

Heavy Baking and Cooking.  This is a good day to bake a cake for the weekend. We might want to make easy food for next week's lunches to put in the freezer (like homemade pizza and lasagna).

I believe one of the biggest obstacles of keeping a nice house is being overwhelmed by clutter and messes. Sometimes we end up throwing out things we really wanted to keep. We might do this because it is hard to keep home neat and we often feel guilty for having so much stuff.  It doesn't have to be this way. I believe that a good schedule of keeping set days to do certain work, including a day just for organizing, will make our homes more pleasant and easier to manage.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Is This True? - Only Rich People Have Clean Houses.

A Treasure - Homeschooling with Grandbaby.

It is how we make it -  The Cultured Society of Home.

Mrs. White's special book for homemakers:"Introduction to Home Economics:  Gentle Instruction to Find Joy in Christian Homemaking." Paperback, 200 pages. 

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 


Deanna said...

Blessings to you this fine Autumn day. The cooler temps have started showing up. Enjoyed reading your post. Wonderful. I have found out that much I want to keep nowadays is what I started out with as a newly wed. I have very fond memories of when I was first married and starting a home.
Always a pleasure dropping by your place,

Cozy Home Cottage said...

I loved this post! We are at the time in our life when so many items have come to us from our mothers' homes and from other loved ones who have moved and given us cherished items, too. It is hard to know what to keep and what to let go, but it is necessary. Thank you for the cleaning and chore schedule, too. It is very helpful! May the Lord bless and keep you and your family. <3

Anonymous said...

I’m an only child, and when my mama died, there was so much to go through. There was one cousin I thought would help out, but she never came. Her niece was getting her first apartment and could’ve used so much of it. I couldn’t begin to keep everything, so much ended up at Goodwill. Every time someone came over, I insisted they take something. One of Mama’s friends laughed with me when I found 9 round cake pans (Mama hadn’t baked anything except at Christmas for at least 10 years). The young couple who bought the house also bought some of the furniture. Every now and then, I remember something I didn’t keep and wonder what happened to it.

Amelia said...

Hello Mrs. White! I enjoyed reading the post here, and I too become so tired on grocery shopping day. It's usually the day my husband fasts and prays so he is super hungry for supper! Haha! I try to make pasta gravy in bulk and that way on those grocery days I can pull a ziplock of that from the deep freeze and he's happy, I'm happy ..and relieved! : )

I like your schedule here, that is very helpful and generous of you (your time is valuable) to share with us.

It's such a blessing to me to read your entries, it's so hard to find fellowship in this culture of fellow homemakers. My daughters I fear are also having the same problem in their young years. It's nice we have each other though.

I recently found a book on motherhood that you authored that I purchased for one of my expectant married daughters, but first I am enjoying it! : )

Take care now, until the next time!

Love, Amelia

Laura Lane said...

This puts decluttering in a new perspective. I find that I am moving from a teens at home to an empty nest in slow motion. My two sons have moved out, but I still have my 21 and 17 year old daughters at home. Because we live in a small house (2 bedrooms but with storage), we are overfilled. My 17 year old and I have been moving things out and giving them away if they are part of our "old life" of homeschooling little ones and tweens.

It's bittersweet, but we must make room for living now, and we rent, so we cannot keep everything. That's hard for my thrifty self who wants to save for the grandkids (even though the kids aren't married yet).

Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

P.S. No pressure to answer.

Amelia said...

Here is a P.S.

It was interesting reading how you first started in your home. The Lord helped me to realize just recently that one thing that would help me declutter is to try to go back to the pots and pans that I had when first married and either store the rest or give. I also have extras I can either give my adult daughters (at least give them a chance) and then it goes to our Christian center resale shop. My husband said that maybe it would be good to place extras out when the girls come visit and let them all have a chance to take the things, whatever stays after several weeks goes bye-bye to bless someone else.

Another thing that helped me declutter some things is buying an inexpensive lead testing kit by First Alert. I had to throw out the vintage peach colored pyrex type serving dishes from one of my grandmas. Both the inside and out tested for lead. I have some pyrex serving bowls that tested for lead on the outside but not inside, many of those will be given away. I'm keeping one big turquoise farm family scene one from my Italian grandma, it's so period. Perhaps I can use it for decor somewhere. We can't nest those colorful pyrex bowls either in the cupboard etc.

Have a great evening!

Lisa said...

I loved this post, Mrs. White! Having too much stuff means it takes so long to tidy before cleaning that it makes it really hard to keep a house clean. It's definitely a battle in this day and time of over abundance.

Linda said...

Thank you for taking the time to write such practical, helpful reminders. As a woman (wife/mother/grandmother) in my 50's, I still enjoy reminders like this. It's so easy to become overwhelmed with all that needs doing each day, so a schedule/plan is so important. Thank you !!!. Blessings to you ~ Linda

Deborah Montgomery said...

As an empty nester, it's easy to fall out of a routine and let things get a little haphazard. I like the idea of getting back to a schedule. Thank you for posting your ideas.

Jessica said...

Thank you for this post. I hear so much lately about purging and decluttering and living a minimalist lifestyle, and it is just not for us. My husband holds so much sentimental value on "things"--things hold memories for him, and my children seem to have inherited that trait from him! And with 10 children all living at home, the "stuff" can add up quickly and overwhelm me! I am not prone to this as much myself (although anything that has little hand prints or footprints are definite keepers for me, lol!), but I have become more so as the children grow and life moves on...our oldest daughter is getting married in four weeks and will be the first to leave the nest. It is bittersweet seeing her things from her bedroom slowly disappearing as she packs it up to be moved into her new home...
Anyway, I have had to learn over the years to work with all the "stuff", and we have managed to keep our home lovely amidst all of our knick knacks and whatnot (not to mention, that we are all in agreement in our house, that it is warm and cozy feeling, rather than being empty, cold, and sterile. That may not be for everyone, but that is our preference, and we have been told by guests on many occasions how warm and inviting and lovely our home is.)
We love to have items from family past that hold memories and tell stories of their lives. And what joy to pull out the baby clothing and items we have reused for years and remembering when they wore those things, and now get to use again on a new baby! How many times have I, being influenced by being following the mantra "if you haven't used it in a year, you don't need it, so get rid of it," only to later realize that I DID need it and then regret getting rid of it! This post is an encouragement to me that I am not doing something wrong by holding on to items. We or someone we know usually benefit from saving things that we can use again or simply enjoy the stories and memories. Thank you!

The Charm of Home said...

I love your blog. It is always a pleasure to read the home keeping posts. Thanks for sharing!