Is Cleanliness Really Next to Godliness?
My mother was the original Martha Stewart! Our home was always a special blend of comfort and cleanliness. She firmly believed the statement that “cleanliness is next to godliness!” As an only child I “shadowed” her daily as she made our home a haven of order and peacefulness that was a refuge from worldly chaos and disorder. When her arthritic condition placed perimeters around the tasks she could perform I was able to assume many of the household responsibilities. Entering college as a Home Economics/Family and Consumer Science major I then learned the management strategies that aligned with my existing skills.
While there is not a Bible verse that states, “Cleanliness is next to godliness,” Proverbs 31:27 describes the godly woman as “looking well to the ways of her household.” Titus 2:3-5, focuses on the character and responsibilities a woman should practice so that God’s Word is not discredited. First Corinthians 14:40 reminds us that “all things should be done decently and in order.” When I enter my heavenly home I believe I will find the ultimate “House Beautiful.” Since my home should be an earthly picture of the heavenly pattern I am motivated to maintain in a clean, orderly manner (John 14:1-4).
A smooth-running home needs daily care. The words clean and neat have different definitions for each family member. The most important point is for everyone in the family to feel that home is a protected place, a healthy environment, and a setting that enables the extension of biblical hospitality to others.
As a “professional home economist,” I am not only trained in the theory and skills of home management, but I also possess many years of experience in applying these principles. However, despite all of my education and experience, I am unable to get the vacuum to run itself, the polish and dust rag to make a connection to furniture without my hands, or the mop to glide along the floor without my assistance. I must use my training and skill to create a Smart Home Care Plan that meets the needs of my home, schedule, and season of life.
Smart home care means planning how best to use my energy, time, money, and skill. It demands choosing cleaning techniques that get the tasks done as efficiently and completely as possible. This plan also calls for everyone in the family to help so that no one person has too much to do and everyone has a vested interest in maintaining this cleanliness and order in the home. The motto “many hands make light work” truly applies to the upkeep of a home.
The boundaries of home care depend on the following:
- The size of the family
- The ages of family members
- The indoor hobbies and activities enjoyed by the family
- Hospitality styles
- The size and age of the home
- The types of furnishings within the home
- The presence of pets
- The geographical location of the home
- The weather and climate of the respective seasons
These steps lead to a Smart Home Care Plan:
1. Analyze your needs and set cleaning goals. Take the time to look over each room and identify clutter as well as cobwebs, dirt, or dust. In hard-to-see areas, do the touch test by running a clean finger over furnishings and surfaces to find dirt that may not be easily seen. Ask yourself, “What jobs need to be done?” and then list them.
2. Set priorities. Rank the home care tasks from most to least important.
3. Number the cleaning tasks with the order in which they need to be done.
4. Develop a Smart Home Care Plan for each room and then itemize the steps for each task. A part of preparing the plan is to answer some important questions:
- How often does the specific task need to be done?
- When will it be done (daily, weekly, monthly, or seasonally)?
- Who will do it?
- How much time will it take?
- What supplies, tools, or other materials are needed to do the task?
- Make a Smart Home Care Plan Weekly Schedule. Assign the cleaning tasks to certain days of the week. With a schedule, the family can plan the workload so as to utilize everyone’s abilities, personal schedules, and time. A schedule lets family members know when tasks need to be completed and divides the cleaning tasks according to age, ability level, and time schedules.
- Allow for flexibility, such as trading tasks with one another or changing the days on which certain tasks are done in order to meet special needs of family members. Customize the schedule to meet your family’s needs. Though another family’s schedule might serve as a model, two schedules are not likely to be exactly the same.
- Consider rotating the tasks periodically, allowing everyone to experience all the cleaning tasks so all have an appreciation of what it takes to do the task.
- Whenever possible use the room-by-room method of cleaning, which is usually more effective than completing random tasks.
- Include larger seasonal cleaning tasks in the schedule. Washing the windows, cleaning the garage, stripping and waxing the floors, and cleaning under the refrigerator are not done weekly, but these tasks need to be included in the schedule to ensure the entire home stays well-maintained.
- Evaluate your Smart Home Care Schedule to make sure you are working smart. The plan should simplify your cleaning tasks. Evaluation is helpful. The following questions might help this process:
- Does the schedule include daily tasks such as picking up clutter, making the beds, and hanging up or putting clothes in the hamper?
- Does the schedule encourage a room-by-room cleaning so that each room gets the special care needed?
- Do you save energy by having cleaning tools and supplies collected—perhaps in a portable vessel—before you begin cleaning?
- Do you alternate difficult and easy tasks? Have you considered tackling the most challenging task first—while your energies are fresh?
- Do you take a brief rest after a difficult cleaning task or in the middle of a long work period?
- During the brief rest, do you increase your energy with a healthy snack? A cold glass of juice can help the mind and muscles feel refreshed.
- Do you refresh your mind with soothing music?
- Does the schedule rotate cleaning tasks so that they do not become boring?
- Does the schedule include larger seasonal cleaning tasks?
- Are you constantly looking for ways to work smarter rather than longer and harder?
Consider using the Smart Home Care Plan Schedule (below) to manage your home management routines effectively. Your home schedule really depends on your standards and lifestyle. The most important steps are to develop, use, and then evaluate a schedule. For each task listed, be sure to answer the questions stated in step four. The schedule is only helpful if it meets the needs of your family. Remember: If you are not managing your home, it is managing you.
Smart Home Care Plan Schedule