Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Half-Made Bed

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to start from scratch with trying to develop habits to help me with my housekeeping. I chose cleaning off the counter every day as my first habit. I’m doing better than I was, but it definitely isn’t a habit, yet. So, I’m still plugging away at it.

making bed made chores attitude loving my family husband covers blessing
Not the prettiest bed, but nice and neat.
Even though I was choosing to focus on one new habit, I wasn’t going to stop doing the things that have already become a natural part of my routine – not that there were many things which had! One of those few habits I had already developed was making the bed every morning. I think this was an easy habit to form because it takes merely seconds (I’m not picky about how great it looks – just pull up the covers and go!) and it makes me so much more comfy at night! If I make the bed every day, my blankets get much less tangled at night. Plus, since my bed takes up almost my entire bedroom, when it isn’t made, the room looks like a disaster! When it is made, it doesn’t matter how bad the rest of the room is, it still looks relatively neat.

I started this habit several years ago when I was trying to follow FlyLady. I’ve mentioned before that I love FlyLady’s ideas. But, the way she puts them into practice just does not work for me. One of the things I struggled with was reading the testimonials she sends out where these women suddenly seemed to have it all together. Their homes were decluttered and free of chaos. Their families were chipping in and lending a hand. No one ever wrote in and said they didn’t get why this just wasn’t working for them - or at least those letters were never shared. One month, the habit of the month was making your bed. I read testimonial after testimonial about how, after making the bed for a week, these ladies’ husbands suddenly realized how nice it was and would start making the bed, too. Honestly, I was sure that this would happen for us. After all, not a single one of those testimonials said that their husbands just never woke up and realized that they wanted to help with all this housework.

So, when I got out of bed in the morning, I would pull up the covers on my side of the bed. Then, when my husband got up, I would go back and make his side, too. I even used the fancy pillows that had been in the corner of our closet since we moved in! The first few times, my husband looked at me like I had grown an extra head. Who was this stranger making his bed? His wife certainly never did anything like that. But, I smiled and the next morning, I did it again.

During this time, I realized that I loved the feel of a made bed. It was never something I’d ever done before, even as a kid. I just never made my bed. Why would you when you just going to get right back in it that night? 

making bed made chores attitude loving my family husband covers blessing
Just this morning. (BTW, those red aliens are heart-people Sis painted.)

I thought for sure that my husband must be developing this preference as well. Yet, every day, I still had to go back and make his side. Something just wasn’t clicking. Why didn’t he suddenly start making his side of the bed every day? It never happened! And eventually I realized that it probably never would.

He just didn’t care if the bed was made. On the days when I don’t make it back to the bedroom to make his side, he is perfectly fine with it. He is just as comfortable with an unmade bed and isn’t bothered at all by the sloppy look.

For a long time, as I struggled to turn my life into those testimonials, I thought that something must be wrong with me. Why were things not working for me they way they seemed to work for everyone else? Why did my family not suddenly develop a love for order and tidiness? Then my thoughts started moving from, “There must be something wrong with me,” to “There must be something wrong with him.” I started to become bitter. I was trying so hard to keep the house clean and neat and he wasn’t helping at all! It wasn’t fair that I had to clean up after myself, the kids, and him! 
If it is possible, it made me dislike housework even more than I already did.

Eventually, I came to realize where my thoughts were going.  I knew I had to change my attitude!  Yes, my house is still pretty messy. And no, no one has decided that they would love to help me out with the housework (although my kids don’t really have any choice).  But, if the bed never got made, would it really matter to our lives?  In eternity?

I'm not saying that it isn't nice to live in a neat, orderly home.  But, holding that up as an ideal wasn't worth the bitterness I was feeling.  Being loving and kind, with no bitterness, was so much more important than having a perfectly made bed.  

So, to change my attitude, I started with changing my thoughts.  Instead of wishing my husband would just make his side of the bed (or pick up the dirty clothes, or run the dishwasher, or...) I decided to focus on how I was able to serve God by serving my family.  

"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
Matthew 25:40

It wasn't easy.  There are still times those thoughts pop into my head.  But, when they do, I stop myself, say a prayer, and purposefully change the way my thoughts are headed.  I think about everything I am thankful for about my husband (or the kids).  I think about how wonderful it is that we have this house to clean, or these clothes to wash, or a bed that I can share with the man I love (even though he steals the covers). 

Suddenly, a half-made bed doesn't seem like that big of a deal.  The emotional and spiritual atmosphere of my home is so much more important than the physical!  So, while I'm still working hard to improve my housekeeping skills, I'm much more conscious of preventing that pursuit from causing me to have a negative attitude. 

Often, I have to force myself to change my thoughts and dwell, not on the negatives, but the positives.  However, the more I do it, the easier it becomes.  It still takes a lot of prayers of, "God, please change my heart!"  But, thankfully, we have a God who wants to do just that!

I'm linking up at Teaching What is Good.

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