Spring Lenten Cleaning

“How do you do it all?” a friend asked me years ago about my schedule.

“I’m a lousy housekeeper,” was my answer.

This year for Lent, besides thinking of what we were giving up, I tried adding something for our family: a deep clean of our house, a room a week. We have our daily chore assignments and weekly chore lists, and we can get our house in middling order quickly. Deep, thorough cleans, however, are uncommon.

How are we doing it? Each week, I write a list of every step involved in a deep, thorough clean. Then we divide the number of tasks by the number of people in our family, such that each of us tackles an extra job each day. With 4 people and one room, over 7 days, it’s a little extra work for us all but is achievable.

Richard does fewer tasks and picks his first, as he’s got the busiest schedule. Then the kids alternate to choose what they will do. I take what’s left. So far, it’s working.

My hope is by Easter, our home will be thoroughly cleaned so I can enjoy it better. What have I learned in our experiment?

  • Let go and delegate. I’ve always taken “my” jobs, without realizing my daughter wanted to try them. It was hard to watch someone else polish “my” dining room set and cabinets, but she did well.
  • Encourage project ownership. Since I didn’t tell my kids what they had to do and they chose, they have complained less and done a better job.
  • Leverage individual strengths.
  • Set achievable small goals to meet a bigger objective.
  • Planning gets better results than just doing.
  • Enjoy the fruits of your labor.

I didn’t realize when I started our project that outcomes would include better cooperation and performance – and less nagging or yelling on my part.

As I worked through the cleaning, I also realized this is an allegory of what Lent is about – we’re doing an examination of home, not just an examination of conscience.

  • Where do we need to declutter, prioritize, or clean out old crud so our world will be better by Easter?
  • How can we take these lessons and apply them personally, to our own hearts?
  • How can we use this experiment to build better habits to extend beyond Lent, past Easter, into long term change?

I don’t know the answers, but here’s to trying to find them

Mary Biever is a wife, mother of two teens, and computer coach.

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