- Beyond the Mess

   - Cultivating Collective

   - Responsibility

   - in Housekeeping

Maintaining a clean and orderly home is a Herculean task, especially when children are in the mix. Their innate ability to accumulate and scatter possessions is matched only by our own adult tendencies to add to the domestic chaos. This realization often comes into sharp focus when we step into the pristine environment of someone else’s abode, prompting an introspective look at our living spaces.

As an educator, my experiences in the classroom have taught me that disorder can significantly disrupt concentration and learning. This applies equally to our homes; amidst disorder, we find our minds clouded and our stress levels rising, yearning for the calm that tidiness brings.

It's imperative for all, particularly men, to step up and share the responsibility of home maintenance. Traditionally in past generations women had roles in charge of the house. But this does not simply cut it. It is both our home and both our responsibility. This begins with attentive listening to our partners and recognizing the tasks at hand, whether it's clearing the boxes piling up outside or decluttering a crowded room. This approach can act as a catalyst, much like a breached dam, unleashing a flow of productivity and eagerness to organize.

Children, too, have a vital role to play. Establishing routines can mitigate the emotional upheaval often triggered by a disruption of their activities. By setting clear expectations and allowing them to anticipate their responsibilities, we can gently guide their mindset toward household contribution.

Recalling my time in the Marist Community at Winston Hills, we thrived on a communal approach to chores, designating times for collective action. This principle can seamlessly be integrated into family life. A visible chore chart can help, offering choice and fostering a sense of personal investment in the upkeep of the home. This not only builds responsibility but also cultivates a spirit of teamwork.

Ultimately, our goal is to weave the threads of cleaning and tidying into the very fabric of our family life. This shouldn't be a solo performance, relegated to one individual. Instead, we should lean into a rhythm of collaboration, perhaps dedicating a couple of hours each weekend and 30 minutes each day to the cause. As parents, leaders, and partners, our role transcends the act of cleaning—we must inspire, communicate, and collaborate in the pursuit of a harmonious home.

We need not fix everything all in one go. But together we are heading in the right direction. A greater sense of appreciation and respect that this is our own and it is our collective duty to care for our common home.

Heavenly Father,

Bless our home with love and grace,
And guide our hands to each embrace
The simple tasks of day to day,
In harmony, we seek to tend our common home.

Instil in us a joyful heart,
To tidy, clean, and do our part.
Let every room reflect your peace,
And from the clutter, grant release.

May we share chores with willing spirits,
And in our duties, find no limits.
Teach our children, guide our ways,
In our home, let love always blaze.

In shared work, let us find,
A family bond that’s truly kind.
Bless our efforts, make them pure,
Let our common thread of tending
our home sow through us,
through communication and collaboration
we make our home our own.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
inspire us,
to be a family.

Questions for further reflection and discussion
  1. How does the physical state of our home reflect the values and dynamics of our family, and in what ways can we improve this reflection through shared household responsibilities?

  2. What specific routines or systems can we establish or improve upon in our household to ensure that everyone, regardless of age or role, contributes to the tidiness and harmony of our living space?

  3. How do we balance the need for a clean and orderly home with the desire to create a warm and welcoming space where every family member feels comfortable, valued, and not burdened by the pressure of perfection?

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21 November 2023

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