y Mama said you can’t hurry clean — just like you can’t hurry love.
And I’ve been spending about, oh, the last 20 plus years trying to prove my good mama wrong.
In a (long) moment of apparent brain blur, I tracked down, paid good money, and hauled home another impossible puppy.
Because in a house of 7 kids, between the ages of 4 and 24, coming and going, a full-time farmer, 1000 pigs, and more dirt than you can possibly imagine, we clearly do not have enough insanity. No, we needed a lovely little beast to rip apart every stinking garbage bag across the entire garage because the UPS man needs some disgust to tiptoe through at 2 pm in the afternoon.
So, okay — my Mama may have had a point— right there at the end of her wagging finger — how in the name of all things sane can you hurry clean — with a whole lot of love?
Well, this ain’t my first rodeo —
And after twenty years plus of homeschooling a posse of crazy kids and getting to be wife to one fine, albeit greasy, gritty, farming man— these are a few of the things that I love— because they proved (to some arguable extent) that you can hurry clean — and don’t go telling any mama for one New York minute that doesn’t mean a whole lot of love to ease the mind.
6 Things Mamas Love To Hurry the Clean & the Love
1. Rolling Shoe Drawer
Walk in that back door and roll that sucker out, toss in the shoes, and roll that drawer back in.
Sanity — You’re welcome.
Shoebox: Self-built. One plywood box. Beadboard front. Rubber wheels from the country hardware store where we just walk in, find our wheels, holler put it on The Farmer’s bill, and truck it home to happiness. Top the rolling box with a wooden step. Call it, not merely good, but a lifesaver. Mudroom goes from complete chaos to what we like to call authentic-farmhouse.
On top of Rolling Shoe Drawer? Two wire baskets.
One Basket for Outgoing: a book to return to my Mama, egg cartons to go to my sister and her flock of hens.
One Basket for Incoming: Hats. Mainly a lot of farm hats. This little trinity back in the mudroom — rolling shoe drawer, two baskets — has definitively lowered my blood pressure.
2. Kid Lockers
That, kinda, aren’t really lockers at all. They are drawers, spice drawers. Along the kitchen island.
I find kid stuff anywhere? Goes to your drawer. Kid can’t close drawer? Time to clean your drawer.
Kid’s glasses, keys, wallets, combs, papers, hairbands, batters, headsets — I find it, I’m not hauling up to your bedroom — just slip it in Kid’s Locker.
Be it spice drawers, hanging pockets, pull baskets, bona fide lockers, whatever the cubby may be, I’m thinking these are a few of the things every speed cleaner needs: Kid Lockers for Home.
3. Just 5 Steps More
It’s an ongoing refrain here, my ridiculous, relentless Mama symphony rising above the domestic cacaphony: 5 Steps More!
5 Steps more will get that away.
5 Steps More and the clothes are away, 5 Steps More that dish is in the dishwasher, 5 Steps More that book is on the shelf. You are strong enough and you have time enough — for just 5 Steps More. You are just 5 Steps More away from a cleaner house.
Because the thing I keep saying and believing and living is: We get to make Art for the people who get to come behind us.
We get to make beauty, we get to leave loveliness, we get to make art for all who come in our wake — so they get to wake to wonder. So whether it’s in the kitchen, at a screen, with colleagues, with kids, in the house: Make Art. It brings glory to the Master.
And that Art happens? By getting everyone consistently doing 5 Steps More.
4. 30 Minute Love SHAK
This is the Key, the absolute non-negotiable must-have Key.
Every single day — for us, it’s right after dinner clean up — every single day, set the timer for 30 and every single person under your roof, does a 30 Minute Love SHAK — that would be 30 Minutes of Surprising Home Acts of Kindness.
Yeah, sorta of like Random Acts of Kindness— but for your house. In your house.
And true — it’s technically, not surprising. But! If you think of it as surprising! As a way for all of you to surprise all of you with…clean bathroom! clean floors! clean counters! clean table!
Then — it’s like random acts of kindness — for our own family! By your family.
Did you know — this is a true story—people who make Random Acts of Kindness (RAKs) a habit— are more likely to have less stress, better health, and greater happiness?
So the deal is: Do Surprising Home Acts of Kindness — Love SHAKs — 30 minutes of random cleaning, just 30 minutes of every single person who lives here seeing something that needs to be cleaned—- and everybody cleaning as quickly as they can.
The point of everybody working together at the same time to surprise everybody? Everybody models the kindness of cleaning for each other,nobody gets to say what they’ve got going is too important to get in on loving each other, real progress is made because everybody is working fast and together, spurring each other on —and we all get to say we are on the same team.
Because if we don’t have 30 minutes a day to do what I call “Clean Your Own Bowl” — then something is very wrong with our days. For us personally, we don’t have a housecleaner here because this I believe: There is serious work done in our soul when we ‘clean our own bowl.’
When we clean our own cereal bowl, our own fish bowl, our own toilet bowl — when we take time to clean our own bowl — the inside of us is being cleaned of pride and self-importance and ego.
Around here, we live or die by our 30 Minute Love SHAKs. (Accompanied by soundtrack of your choice. Just crank it.)
5. Made Beds matter.
This isn’t causation but the odds are stacked pretty high in favour of made beds:
“71 percent of bed makers consider themselves happy; while 62 percent of non-bed-makers admit to being unhappy. Bed makers are also more likely to like their jobs, own a home, exercise regularly, and feel well rested, whereas non-bed-makers hate their jobs, rent apartments, avoid the gym, and wake up tired.
Turns out that making your bed is what they call a keystone habit.Keystone habits are those habits that are a catalyst for other good habits— which is exactly what I want to have happen for the kids.
You did catch that commencement speech at the University of Texas, by Navy Seal William H. McCraven? Who offered this as his #1 Big Life-Changing Habit for graduates,
If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day…. It will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.”
And a made bed? Is a stress-free habit that is contagious and the catalyst for whole bunch of other good habits throughout the day. And, honestly, if your kids had terrible, awful, horrible, nothing was perfect day — there’s nothing like your kids having the gift of a perfectly made bed when they come back to their room at the end of a day. A made bed meets you like relief at the end of the day —like one thing went right.
6. If It Doesn’t Make You Smile — Make It Leave
That’s Bottom Line. If It Doesn’t Make You Smile — Make It Leave
Papers? Take a picture and let it go. Too many books (if that is possible)? Community library and let them go. Closets? Keep letting things go.
The decluttering habit of letting go fosters the spiritual discipline of letting go.
And the question of what you will keep in your house is actually the question of how are you going to live your life.
Your home tells a story about your life.
And when your home is full of what is good and fair trade — your life tells a good and fair story
Small changes — can change the story your life is telling — and change the world.
When it sparks hope in the world — is what sparks joy in your home.
What is in our home should be for who we are becoming — fair and good and world-changing.
What gets your life in order — can bring more of God’s fair and just order to the world.
Keep only those things that speak Kingdom to your soul.
Home is a reflection of our hearts — a reflection of how we fairly value people. And home can be a reflection of more than our hearts — it can be a reflection of God’s heart for people made in His image.
A beautiful home is only the means to the end goal of telling a beautiful and fair story with your life.
And housework is an act of caring, an expression of love — and when our house and our work in it are fair trade — our housework is a loving act of caring for the least of these far beyond the walls of our homes.
Housework is really being about the work of God — praying, serving, praising, and being a gift of grace — both in your home, and around the world, to a sisterhood of women in their homes.
The goal of housework is not to just have a clean house — but to feel the joy living in a house that tells His good story.
Surround yourself with things that tell a good story, and your home becomes part of His Kingdom come to earth as it is in heaven.
So we stand at our sinks, us all standing in shafts of light.
Because “to lift up the hands in prayer gives God glory…
And a woman with a slop pail,
gives Him glory too.
God is so great that all things give Him glory –
if you mean that they should.” ~Ignatius Loyola
Mess will happen today.
The dog will rip up something. Something will be strewn about, a welcome banner of sorts for the brave mail lady whenever she gets here.
And? The mess will get cleaned up today, the cleaning will happen today, we will make art, and we will clean our own bowl and tend to our Love SHAK, and walk 5 steps more and we will rest in it:
Cleanliness isn’t next to godliness like Love is.
It’s the prayers and grace we weave into the cleaning of the house, the matching of the socks, the working of our hands, that survives fire.
It’s the love that we fold into our work that survives fire.
It’s the way that we make our home a place of grace that will matter when we see the face of God.
Sure, your mama said you can’t hurry love— but you can fold grace and love into the work of your hands — and make every moment of your days tell a story a grace — tell a tender love story.
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