It seems like there are always parts of the house that need cleaning. Maybe I can keep up with the dishes, laundry, and piles of trash/toys. But what about the other things? At my house right now, we have a missing knob to the basement door; there’s trim that’s starting to come loose all over the house; the dining room table and chairs need to be refurbished; light bulbs need to be replaced on every floor; every surface needs dusted; the windows need cleaning on the inside and out; the faucet to the backyard isn’t working for some odd reason; I need to de-clutter my car and my wife’s van. The list goes on and on. When I think about it too much, I start getting overwhelmed and discouraged. I’m not sure if you respond the same way, but when I feel this way I often find myself avoiding my responsibilities altogether. However, lately, I have chosen to throw a few minutes of my time toward these projects, knowing that any little bit of my efforts will be a step in the right direction. Maybe I don’t have the hours that it might take to get everything back on track, but I do have ten minutes this evening to tackle something. I have been impressed with how even a little effort has gone a long way toward making changes in the condition of my house.

This week, I want to discuss taking little measures toward caring for our mountainous pile of household responsibilities. I imagine that at some point we have all felt like giving up. If you have young children and you haven’t experienced the realization that you can’t keep up with the messes- buckle up, your time is coming. I have this rule at home when it comes to cleaning- whatever I can accomplish in 30 minutes, the children can undo in 5. Eventually, my kids will get to an age where they clean up after themselves without being told. For now, I have to dedicate a substantial amount of time coaching my kids on cleaning up even the most simple of messes. This can be more draining than if I were just to clean it up myself. Besides, they are a long way away from being able to fix that faucet or replace the doorknob.

To be sure, it is important to get the children helping with household cleaning from an early age. The sooner they grow in the habit of pitching in around the house, the less pushback you will have overall. Kids thrive on routine, so if clean-up time is added to the plan they will grow accustomed to contributing. They may even be the ones to remind us to clean from time to time. But we do have other responsibilities that fall exclusively on us to care for. By focusing on some small goals that we can do in a short period of time, we keep from going down the slippery slope of a defeated attitude. Sometimes, when I put a few minutes of work into a project that I am dreading to complete I find that I am motivated to do more. There may be some truth in the thought- “The hardest part of any project is getting started.” Other times, my kids will see me plugging away at something and will join along (this doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it’s a beautiful thing).

If there are any projects that you have been putting off due to their grand scale, or because you are feeling overwhelmed by how many responsibilities you have, try giving it a little bit of your time and effort. See what comes of it- you may be pleasantly surprised.