A woman’s work is never done. (Subtitle: My house is always dirty.)

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I’m going to make a declaration about housekeeping that’s probably going to sound stupid.  I don’t claim this philosophy to be any doctrinal absolute, and I admit up front that it may be entirely motivated by rationalization; nevertheless, I’ve thought about this for several months and I’m ready to declare it true in the Book of Stephanie.  Ahem . . .

I don’t think we’re supposed to have a clean house. I think we’re supposed to WANT a clean house and work toward it.  This phrase from April’s General Conference about Mary and Martha’s house fit in perfectly with my philosophy on this:

“It was a welcome place for the Master, where He could rest and enjoy the surroundings of a righteous home.” ~ Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer

I think the Savior would rather hang out in a home where people are working together harmoniously (even in a very unfinished project) than where a mother on the verge of a nervous breakdown is screaming at her children to get their last sock off the floor, and they better not have left the hand towel on the floor when they just used the bathroom.  In fact, if he showed up at my house right now, I bet he’d sit on the floor next to me and help me fold laundry while we talked about important things.  But I’d miss out on that if I ran around like a freak trying to clear the counters and make the beds really quick before I paid him any attention. I think I’d even miss out on that if I sat down with him, but my mind was constantly focused on everything that was undone.

Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that “cleanliness is next to godliness,” and all that “house of order” stuff, but I believe what matters most is that we are consistently striving to make our home a place where the Spirit of God is welcome.  And if that’s our goal, be it in the early stages of chaos or the last load of laundry, for all intents and purposes, I think the Savior knows He’s invited.  And that’s all that matters.


33 thoughts on “A woman’s work is never done. (Subtitle: My house is always dirty.)

  1. i absolutely agree. all the things we do to invite him are important. all the things we do to invite His Spirit are important. the rest? they’re details.

    (although i’d want to clean my bathroom before He used it. but i think He’d just smile at me and give me 5 minutes. because He loves me like that.)

  2. Add my tears to Lisa’s at the thought of the Savior helping me fold socks and put away puzzle pieces with my little ones. What a tender wonderful image. Thank you.

  3. One word: Genius.

    Okay, a few others, like: inspirational, heart-warming, thought-provoking, smile-inducing.

    I could go on. But I won’t. I’ve, um, got some laundry to fold. But I LOVE this post Stephanie. You get a hearty amen from me.

    I’m going to mull this over some more, and smile some more. Thank you so much.

  4. Thanks for this perspective! I love the image of Jesus sitting down to help fold laundry . . . I’m sure it will help me get through a few more loads. 🙂

  5. Amen!! I loved this post, Thank you, I needed it. Sometimes I get stuck in the “Martha Syndrome” too much. I heard a great quote (and my brain is GONE, so forgive me if it was from you!) but I’ll say it again: “A clean house is the sign of a wasted life.” And I believe that.

    I think it should be our goal and I think our homes should be sorta tidy (you know, like no kool-aid on the floor and stuff) but CLEAN (like a hospital)… it’s not happening here. I’ve been in homes that are so spotless, I feel like I am violating the space just by entering it. That is NOT how it should be. Our home should be welcoming.

    I love where you said the Savior would sit down and help you fold laundry… it gave me goose bumps… really. That IS what HE would do and that is how we should be.
    Thank you for that beautiful picture 🙂

    and THANK YOU!! for the beautiful comment on my blog about marriage… it made my day.

  6. Thank you for posting this. I feel like whenever my house is spotless and then my kids spill something on the floor I make a big deal out of it when it’s just a part of motherhood. Toilets will need scrubbing, laundry will need to be washed, and folded, but we can never go back and BE there for our children if we are so focused on an immaculatey sp? clean home.

  7. I will just say that this is very, very much how I feel. What I posted today reflects it, I think. I did not include the disclaimer, though (that my house will not, can not and is not really meant to be as clean as the temple. Because: We live here. (love that))

  8. Stephanie,
    No kidding, I just texted a message to my friends saying that I REALLY want a cleaning lady! I have been feeling the weight on my shoulders to get my house clean…bathrooms scrubbed, floors washed, dusting, on and on and on. It’s enough for me to just keep up with dishes, laundry, and 3 little ones! I needed your blog today…it made me cry. I thank God for the great women in my life! Thank you for your wise perspective. 🙂

  9. I adore the image you used for this post! And of course, I love the wise words you said, too 🙂 !!

    I think there is a difference between a clean house and an orderly/happy house. The latter is what we strive for!

  10. Amen and Amen!

    p.s. Doesn’t it always make you feel a little uncomfortable when you walk into a perfectly spotless house with magazine-perfect decor and they ask you to take off your shoes? I like to think even He’d be a little more comfortable at my house, talking about important things.

  11. Hallelujah! I don’t have to be perfect! thank you for the reminder especially at this time of year when everything is even busier.

  12. THANK YOU!!! I honestly have been fighting the ‘perfect clean house’ bug for a little while recently. Between your post and President Uchtdorf’s counsel to slow down, I think I finally have my answer – my children should come first! (And my hubby). Thank you again!

  13. My house is never perfectly clean. There are piles here and there of things that have no home. No home because we don’t have the space.

    But. Our house is full of love. And I try to clean it daily, yet when it isn’t perfect, I try not to let the guilt overwhelm me. In this task, the attempt is more important than the finished product.

  14. Wow! Are you kidding? Sunday I started writing a post called Cluttered. It still isn’t finished because I have been running after kidlets, to stores, and well trying to clean up. This was so needed, I have been in a funk about this matter for quite a while now. When I finally get to finishing my post there is sure to be a link to this wonderful gem. Thanks and thanks again. As is very apparent I think we all needed this!

  15. You sure have a way of making the rest of us feel a lot better about ourselves…at least me!

    Jaroldeen Edwards (she was one of the first LDS Fiction authors) used to be in my ward when Bria and Chloe were babies. And once she gave a talk and she spoke about visiting teaching a woman who was so worried about having smudges on her glass that she followed her children around cleaning. Her house was always spotless. I will never forget what she said next: “That house wasn’t working correctly.” Our homes SHOULD look lived in. I try to remember that a lot, especially since I do tend to be like the woman following her kids around with a spray bottle sometimes. I like my house spotless, but it really isn’t practical NOR is it the right thing.

  16. Oh my goodness. I’m going to print this and frame it and give it to my mother-in-law for Christmas.
    Okay, not really, but I wish I could require certain people to read this post before they were allowed in my house.
    Thank you for articulating it so well–clean is really important but not the most important! (Especially not when the little ones are so little!)
    Thanks again for hitting the nail on the head.

  17. My house is never clean…and I get very intimidated by those other women who always “seem” to have a beautifully clean house all the time. I don’t, and I have to remind myself that it is okay. Thank you for sharing!! It’s so true and you said it all!

  18. I am yet another woman who is typing this comment through her tears. This was absolutely what I needed to hear. A concept that had never ever occurred to me. Thank you, for lifting a tremendous burden off of my weary shoulders. My house is in constant CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome), and I still have work to do to get it to that level of “a welcome place”, a pleasant environment. Now I can just do the work singing a happy tune, rather the lugging around my load of guilt.

    Thanks again! You are an angel to many this day with such a needed message.

  19. Thank you for this post. I have always told everyone that my clutter/slight mess doesn’t bother me & generally it doesn’t . . . but recently I’ve just been feeling inadequate. I think I’ve been focusing on what has been important to others & not remembering what is important to me. Teaching my children how to have a clean home (by allowing them to do work & not “fixing” it) is so important to me. My wonderful mother didn’t require enough of me in that regard – she, in many ways, did too much for me.

    Thank you for reminding me that the Savior wants us to strive for perfection . . . he doesn’t expect us to be there already.

  20. I figure if anyone comes to my house to visit me – that is exactly what they are doing! Because they are certainly NOT coming to experience Crazy kids, socks on the floor, 127 Legos scattered on the piano and backpacks as far as the eye can see!

  21. I had that feeling a while ago when I was watching a talk by Pres. Uchtdorf. I thought, “If the first presidency came over today and sat on my couch, I think they’d be pleased with me. I think they’d see the toys and know that a family lives here.” I don’t think I’d feel judged in the least.

    So, why is it that I worry more about what other moms think of my “mess”?

    How many perfectly clean houses do you hang out in? I can’t think of one.

  22. I agree with you. I think for me, I am a letter-of-the-law kind of girl and I take cleanliness next to godliness as it’s my duty to have a spotless house. Unfortunately, I have spent many manic years freaking out if I saw any thing dirty or out of place. I have learned to relax a little and have more balance. I think it’s important that our children learn to take care of what they have and be tidy, more then anything. I don’t want my kids to think that all I cared about was how clean their rooms were. But couldn’t they just clean them for once!!! 🙂
    Found you on MMB.

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