“To Be a Better Homemaker,” Ensign, Jan. 1984, 66
I love being a wife and a mother, but housework has always been a struggle for me. If you have the same problem, here are a few hints that could help you be a better homemaker.
Learn your husband’s priorities. Years ago, when we were first learning to function as husband and wife, my husband and I did some negotiating. We each chose three priorities and promised not to nag about the other things. He chose clean socks and underwear in his drawer, his chair and place at the table not sticky, and a general cleanup right before he comes home (this is conditional on his calling and letting me know what time he is coming home). Anything else is a bonus! Clutter still bothers us, but we have both matured and mellowed some and we know that in the near future we will have years to sit in a clean house with no children around.
Take time for yourself. If my older children are home during the time I have designated as MY TIME, they know they must play quietly in their room for at least an hour. Except for rare times when they need to talk with me, the children leave me alone. Sometimes I read, sometimes I nap, sometimes I watch TV, and sometimes I eat lunch in total peace. The time is mine to do with as I want, and I am continually amazed at the lift this gives me.
Set your own limits. Do not be afraid to say, “I can’t handle that at this time!” For years we did not have animals—I could not handle babies and animals at the same time.
Be realistic. When I first sampled all those homemaking books being sold, I was overwhelmed. I decided that, realistically, I could not immediately do everything they suggested. Instead, I decided to establish one habit at a time, such as making my bed when I get out of it. Then when I mastered that habit, I would work on another until it became a habit.
Be flexible. Don’t be afraid to leave housework if your husband wants you to go somewhere or do something with him. Many husbands give up asking because their wives are too busy, too involved with the children, or just plain overcommitted. The stronger the husband-and-wife relationship, the smoother the home will run.
Teach your children to help. Children love to push buttons. Teach them to run all those gadgets. It helps when Mom is sick if someone ANYONE—knows how to run the washer and drier. Also teach them some tricks that can save you time and frustration. In our home, for example, we pin our socks together so that we will stand a better-than-average chance of having clean, matched socks in our drawers.
Use motivation. Pretend you are having company—do a quick pickup (everything out of sight), then go back to a big task. Clean one room, then sit in the clean room and read for ten minutes (reward system). Set the timer and force yourself to stay in one room for ten minutes. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.
Smile … Enjoy your home and your family. Develop a sense of humor. Be original. In my home, I use signs to ease friction. In fact, I have two permanent ones: “Please keep your complaints to yourself. Why ruin my day too?” And “This is National Do-It-Yourself Week. Please do it yourself.”
I have been known to hide the TV for three days (not for the children’s benefit, as their TV time is restricted anyway) to encourage some necessary communication between my husband and myself. He thought it was funny—I really thought he would be angry! You can get by with a lot if you smile while you do it. I have also been known to hide the Sunday paper until everyone (hubby, too) agrees to help with after-dinner cleanup.
Pray. In detail. Pray that you might get the bed made, the dinner on, and still have time to read to the children. Report back when you say your evening prayers. It helps! Cary Grubbe, Oregon City, Oregon