People, I’m WAY overdue for an update on how it’s going with my word of the year–diligence, so here it is, in all of its glory–in July (sigh).
If you haven’t read it already, here’s the original post on diligence (my 2019 Word of the Year)–check it out and then come right back here for the update and you’ll be all caught up!
Diligence: The Overview
The truth is, I don’t have a glowing report for you.
Diligence takes a lot of work and a lot of energy, you guys, and it’s not easily achieved because it requires a lot of bad habits to be broken and replaced with good ones. This isn’t for the faint of heart, and I’m, failing on multiple fronts.
It’s not all bad news, though. In the grand scheme of things, I have been more diligent in my housework, which is the main thing I needed to work on in this area. Diligent enough to feel like a success? Not yet. But I have made some positive changes, started developing some better systems and habits, and donated or tossed quite a few things that were just really taking up space in my house.
Putting away the laundry
This gets me (almost) every time. It gets washed and dried (my husband does most of this, if I’m being honest), and often even gets folded (he pitches in a good bit on that part, too). But where we go wrong is putting the laundry in our closets/dressers/bins. Why is this so difficult? Partly because we have too many clothes, partly because I detest the chore (I’m not sure why.), and partly because where we fold laundry and where it actually goes are far away from each other, and it’s just not convenient.
Ugh. No matter how often I sweep, our kitchen linoleum and hardwood dining/living room floors are always collecting dust, crumbs, and full-on food scraps because my toddler still spills (and sometimes throws) stuff during meals quite regularly. Plus, mopping is one of my most dreaded chores, so I avoid it. (I DO spot clean between mopping, but the situation is not ideal.)
My husband and I are BOTH cluttery people, and our old habits are
dying hard still very much alive, so I haven’t kept up with keeping the dining room table clutter-free. For us, it’s a catch-all area, a workspace, AND we eat 3 meals a day there almost every day. It IS getting better, but we still have to shove stuff aside to make room for dinner most evenings.
That’s the worst of it, you guys. I’m still stressed out over the mess that is my house most of the time, and it’s still not a good idea to just ‘pop in’ on me, because I probably will try not to let you in to witness it. Most days, I feel like I haven’t been as diligent as I should have, and on my most diligent days, I feel like it’s all futile because I work all day without ceasing and everything is back to chaos in what feels like an hour or two.
Now for the good news–here’s what’s been going better in 2019:
Reframing my thoughts on diligence
One thing that’s been getting better as the year has gone by is my attitude toward all the housework I do, as well as the other things I’m trying to be more diligent about. I have been trying, with God’s help, to think of diligence as a way to share my love for God and for my family.
Before you go crazy and point out how legalistic that sounds, I want you to understand that I don’t believe that my being more diligent will make God (or my kids, or my husband) love me more, or bring me any closer to salvation. It isn’t like that. What I mean is that one way I can outwardly demonstrate my love for God and my favorite people is to provide a tidier, cozier, and more inviting place for them to be with me.
Diligence in getting stuff out
My husband and I have both been determined to get rid of stuff in 2019, so we’ve made some decent progress in this area. We’ve taken many boxes of things (old clothes, toys, kitchen stuff, and even (gasp!) some books to our local Christian community service center for them to sell or give to people who can use it. We’ve thrown out things that were in bad or unusable condition. We donated E’s crib to God’s Hands for Kids, a local foster care support ministry.
Letting go of things is hard for both of us, and it’s hard not to just replace it with new stuff coming in (Any thrift store shoppers out there? You know what I mean.). But, I have to say, we haven’t missed anything that we’ve gotten rid of (well, maybe one thing, but it’s super minor). Honestly we feel a load lifted, literally and figuratively, every time we load up the van and drop more stuff off.
We have a long way to go, and a lot more stuff to get rid of, but the more we take out of the house, the better we feel about continuing, and the easier it is to be diligent about keeping the clutter down with what we have left. This is great motivation, and I hope to have more good reports on this front as the year continues.
Diligence in reorganizing
I participated in a Marie Kondo-inspired challenge in February, and I seriously only completed 3 of the challenges (not super diligent, I know), but the ones I did made a really big difference and I’m still reaping the rewards of those two (fairly small) things.
For one challenged, I cleaned out a junk drawer. Here’s a photo!
The junk drawer makeover was good, but not life-changing. But there were 2 challenges that have made a HUGE difference for me:
1. I cleaned out and reorganized the fridge and freezer
I clean out my fridge from time to time, but usually in the laziest way possible, so for this challenge I took EVERYTHING out (even all the drawers and shelves) wiped the whole thing down, scrubbed mysterious spills from surfaces, and threw out everything that was questionable. Then, I put what was left back in as smart a way as I could think of. It’s made a huge difference! Now I can see what leftovers I have, I can tell without too much digging what I need more of, and my husband and I are both (basically) putting things back in the same places so it’s actually staying organized. You guys, I have a shelf dedicated only to leftover food…which we now actually EAT!
2. I tackled my kitchen counters
My counter space is limited, but I have enough. Except that one corner of my kitchen counter has been another catch-all place for any receipts, random papers, user manuals, confiscated toys, or what-have-you that I didn’t really have a place for but needed to keep. It’s been that way forever, and every time I started to clean it out, I’d get overwhelmed and give up before I made any progress.
But this time, I did it.
I figured stuff out one thing at a time, and found everything a home. Then, I took a plunge that I never thought would be possible: I took my appliances off the counter.
My toaster, my Instant Pot, and my waffle maker are all in cupboards now. I do have some other appliances on shelving still, but not on my counters, and it’s glorious!
I have so much more space to cook and my kitchen feels neater, cleaner, and bigger. Yeah, it’s kind of a pain to grab the toaster from the cupboard and plug it in whenever I want a piece of toast. But you know what? I’m not eating as much late night toast now, either. So, win-win, right?
This simple move has had a lasting benefit, because although my kitchen still gets out of control from time to time, it is so much faster and easier to clean up, and I have open space to wash down instead of a bunch of appliances to scrub around. I actually LIKE being in the kitchen now.
Diligence in being active
One reason I think I struggle with being diligent is that I am so tired. Neither my husband or I gets enough sleep, and we’re working on it, but there’s only so much we can do with two small kids and all of our other responsibilities.
I may not be able to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, but I can be more active and get more exercise.
So, I’ve started (after a year long hiatus) to wear my fitness tracker again, and over the past 2.5 months I’ve been going for a stroller walk/jog with A almost every morning except Sabbaths (well, I took a hiatus for camp meeting, too).
I’m really not much of a runner, or any kind of exerciser, to be honest, so I didn’t have high expectations that the habit would stick this time. Honestly, though, I started feeling better really fast. After just a few days of exercising consistently I felt like I had more energy, I was finding it easier to get going do chores in the mornings, running around with my kids during our outdoor play times, and feeling like I could take control of my body and possibly even wear my pre-pregnancy clothes again someday (a faraway day, yes, but it seemed possible, nonetheless).
Any activity that you have time for and that you enjoy will work. Personally, I’d much rather be playing tennis than jogging, but running is working for me at the moment because 1) it’s free, 2) I can take A (and sometimes E, too) with me, 3) it requires no partner and very little prep, and 4) it’s free (Did I say that twice?). If you have a gym membership and childcare, use it! I don’t, so I’m jogging.
I track my steps with a Fitbit Blaze, too. Part of me loves (friendly) competition, so Fitbit challenges with my friends who also use one makes things more fun and keeps me motivated. It may be worth investing in a fitness tracker to help get you motivated to get moving! It can be eye-opening to discover how many (or how few) steps you’re actually taking in the course of your day.
Diligence in spending more time outside
There are so many reasons that we’re trying to spend more time outside this year. There are huge benefits to outdoor play, of course, but another (unexpected) reason being diligent about getting out in nature–rain or shine–is this: When you are outside, you are not making a mess inside.
I’ve been trying to clean up after breakfast, get the boys dressed and ready for the day, and then head outside for as much time before lunch as possible. It keeps us active AND goes a long way toward not immediately undoing all the tidying I’ve accomplished since they went to bed the night before. We’re using fewer toys and eliminating a lot of clean up time for me and the kids.
Oh, and another great benefit of this outdoor time? Since the kids can just play while I do it, the mom-mobile has been cleaned out twice in two months (maybe that’s no big deal for you, but for me it’s like…a gazillion?! times better than usual). I can also spend time pulling weeds in my “garden” (which is really a patch of ground with a bunch of random wildflowers growing on it, many of which are actually weeds themselves, but they’re pretty and I like them). Another benefit? When I’m outside I’m more focused on being present with my kids, because my other distractions are greatly diminished.
Diligence in prayer
I’ve found myself praying more over these past few months. I’m praying for my husband and my kids, praying for my friends and family, and praying that God helps me become healthier and more diligent in all aspects of my life.
The truth is that I can work all day long, every day, with all of my might to do the things that need doing and it’ll never be enough without God’s blessing on and help to multiply my efforts. I need Him because His strength is made perfect in my weakness!
What about you?
I want to hear from you–how are you doing with your word of the year, your New Year’s resolution, or whatever you’re working toward in 2019? Update me in the comments below, and let’s encourage and pray for each other.
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