Friday, 12 October 2012

Day 12: A Pleasant Home

Any woman who ever dreamed as a little girl of being a home-maker probably has the June Cleaver stereotype hanging over her head.  You know, the beautiful pearl-clad wife cheerfully meeting her world-weary husband at the door with a clean house, well-behaved children, and a hot and delicious dinner waiting on the table, complete with dessert (a jello-mold?).

Then the dreaming-girl-turned-woman gets married, maybe has a few kids, and realises that the reality is more like meeting her husband at the door to hand him a dirty screaming child while the rice boils over on the stove and the floor feels crunchy and all she wants to do is lock herself in the bathroom for a few...minutes...of...s i l e n c e...

Ok, so most days aren't that bad.  But as my husband can attest, June Cleaver doesn't exist, at least in this house!

Most days at our house go like this: I glance at the clock and realise it's already 4:30 PM!  I may or may not have meat thawed for supper.  And I may or may not have a plan for what to do with that meat.  The kids are getting whiny and asking for snacks ("No snacks.  I said No!  Stop asking!  What did I just tell you? Do you need to go to your room?").  So I send them off to play while I put away last night's clean dishes and today's dirty dishes that I've been procrastinating all day, and start supper.  My husband usually walks in the door somewhere in the middle of all this and if he's lucky I'll walk over and give him a quick kiss before continuing with my frazzled-housewife routine.

Does any of this sound familiar?

But I've decided that this has to change.  While I'm not planning to transform into a Stepford Wife, I would like our home to be a place of rest and a refuge when my husband comes home from work.  For both of us.

So what do I need to change?  Mostly, on the surface level, it's routines.  At supper time the kids already know that they're supposed to clear their own dishes, so why can't they do the same for breakfast and lunch?  And I need to have a set time in the afternoon for doing supper prep.  It would make the 5:00 rush so much easier if that stuff was done ahead of time.  Then the kids can do a quick tidy-up race at about 4:30.  A quick sweep of the main floor and we'll all be ready.  Pearls and high heels optional.

Wow, that sounds so easy!  It really is too bad I'm much better at planning than at follow-through on my self-improvement schemes.  But perfection every day is not the goal.  The goal is rest.  And peace.

And the biggest contributor to rest and peace in a household is the Mama's attitude.  Why do I feel rushed and stressed as I'm getting supper ready and expecting the front door to open any second?  Is it because I'm that busy?  No!  It's because I feel guilty for not spending my time wisely throughout the day.  The guilt makes me grouchy and impatient with the children, which makes them whiny, which makes me send them away to play and make more mess just so I can get dinner on the table and hope to heaven that my husband doesn't ask me what I did all day.

Yes, I do need to work routines into our day.  Yes, I do need to make better use of my time.  But not to meet some external stereotype or standard.  I need to do it for the relationships in our family.

photo by Fragile Images / Mirka Burt

Ok, wow.  I didn't intend to be this transparent in this particular post.  I guess that just goes back to yesterday's friendship post, tip #5.  We'll talk more about meeting expectations in the wrap-up post on October 31.

Until then, I'd love to know your thoughts on having a pleasant home.

Disclaimer: I've never seen Leave it to Beaver or The Stepford Wives so I really don't know what I'm talking about...


  1. I am loving your blog and relate to this 100%. After a busy day yesterday, I am looking at my house where every single room is a DISASTER. Every toy, dish, piece of clothing we own is on the floor and I have NO IDeA how it got like this in ONE day. It can be overwhelming and frustrating! I heard a great interview on NPR (the US version of CBC) about women's self imposed expectations to be able to have and do it's just not possible! What helps me is to plan my day the night before. This doesn't always work but it can help with dinner least I know I've gotten something in my head for dinner :-).

  2. I loved your transparency mostly because I can relate. I have started to realize that 430 is not to early to start supper. Somewhere in my head I thought 5 is a good time to start making which is fine if i have everything already thought out, prepped and ready to go in the oven. I am learning that however long I THINK it will take me to make something (especially new recipes I have never made) that it will take longer so start earlier. The other thing i am learning is that not all meals take that long to make and if I just started it would be done a lot sooner.
    Menu planning really helps all of this too. This helped yesterday when it was just Olivia and I for supper and I was so tired and just wanted to order pizza. I had already taken salmon out to make salmon cakes so it was a lot easier to talk myself out of spending 30 dollars on supper when the plan was in place. Tonight's supper is fajitas.

    Next step working on have the table cleaned of my junk so we dont have to eat around it. :)

  3. I love having routines! But I often find that one week we will stick to this wonderful routine - and one evening will throw us off completely for weeks at a time!

  4. Routines do help! I keep looking at meal planning guides and thinking I should try it someday... but I've never done it. :) Oh, and Leigh Ann Dutton has a great cookbook out called 20 Minute Meals that also sounds awesome... but I usually just go with my tried and true recipes. I do agree with Mom's attitude and keeping track of time are good ideas. :) Thanks for sharing!


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