A Tidy Home
There's a limit to everything, including the race after a
variety of modern technology's gimmicks that has made life
pressured and burdened instead of easier.
"Every item that you take home requires attention," explains
the author of The Last Defense Against Junk. "Every
chair, every dress, toy, lamp -- all need cleaning,
protection from young children or thieves, storage and
maintenance. Free yourself from superfluous things and win
Sounds good but how can you throw something out when the
question pops into your head, "What? Throw it away? After
investing in buying and taking care of it? And what if I'll
need it someday?" R.P., a psychologist, suggests a technique
for coping with the pain of separating from superfluous
things. "Tell yourself, `Yes, maybe I'll need the leftover
material from this rug one day but do I really intend to keep
all these things that m-a-y-b-e I'll need sometime in the
You'd be surprised how many people would be willing to answer
`yes' to this question. For them, he recommends the bottom
line, "If that's what I plan to do, to keep everything that
might be useful someday, then I have to buy a warehouse."
G.K. defines himself as a "cleaning expert" and gives advice
on how to get rid of unnecessary items at home and at the
office. He's also written a book, Controlling Chaos.
For those people who find it difficult to give up even a
bolt, his solution is: Start with one small step and continue
slowly but inexorably.
Time after time, day after day, go through a drawer, a shelf,
a room. Something's broken? Fix it but NOW, or throw it away.
It's superfluous? A shame to throw away? Have it repaired,
but NOW -- or give it away to someone [who will]. Don't try
to sell what others just like you don't need.
In order to fight the mess that threatens our homes, he makes
another suggestion. Don't leave anything even for "just a
minute" not in its proper place. "Don't leave suits on chairs
and don't leave a glass in the sink." The calculation is
simple: If you don't expend the energy for a moment to return
everything to its place, you'll have to work twice as hard to
clean up the house after a while.
Isn't that the advice that every mother gives her children?
Of course. "Don't put it aside; put it away." What can you
do? The younger generations are forced to relearn the house
rules from experts instead of parents.
Know to Say `No'
L.P. was a full time mother of two daughters but to add to
the family income, she tutored, worked as a saleslady in a
small store and for personal fulifllment, she volunteered to
organize all the community committees in her area. She
thought she could handle it. One day they offered her her
original job back as an interior decorator. She accepted --
and then came the big crisis.
She started to suffer from anxiety attacks because of her
tight schedule. Only after she understood what was happening
to her and she began to lessen the pressure did her health
begin to improve. Today she's at home every evening to have
dinner with her family. She finds time to help her daughters
with their homework. "I'm happy to get to know my family
again," she says with a smile.
The advice which saved her health was a two letter word:
"No." This word will free up hours of time for you each
It isn't always easy to refuse requests or job offers. Refuse
politely, gently, with a short explanation such as "I just
don't have time." Be careful not to provide too detailed
explanations. Otherwise, whoever is trying to recruit you is
apt to argue and even prove that you could find time for
them. In any case, there is no need to reveal your
private matters to others.
Time is More Important Than Money
For decades we've heard the expression, "Time is money." It
is the principle of modern economic thought. The idea behind
the adage isn't bad. It's worthwhile to save time, not waste
it and be efficient.
The book, The Guide to a Simpler Life has an important
reminder. "Most of us guard our money but don't give any
importance to time," says the author. "It doesn't occur to us
how much time we waste in order to save pennies."
There is no dearth of examples. Why travel to the supermarket
that sells at a discount when all you need are picture
hangers that are sold at an insignificant difference at the
neighborhood hardware store?
Similarly, sometimes we're determined to do some home repair
that is beyond our abilities and for which we certainly don't
have time. How often do we push off home repairs until
vacation? Sometimes it's cheaper and more worthwhile to call
in a professional who will do all the work at a reasonable
price and in even more reasonable time.
Children Who Know How to Pitch In
S.K. emphasizes in her book, Find Time for Yourself Every
Day, an oft forgotten rule: Children can also help out at
home. In fact, she expounds, each and every one, with the
exception of babies in their crib, has to lend a hand at
In chareidi circles this is well known. Children can
help in every area and with every task. Even a three- or four-
year-old toddler can bring Mommy a diaper or hand
clothespins. Children of seven, even five, can set the table,
make the beds, take laundry off the line, perhaps fold some
of it, and even sweep the house (even if not at the highest
standard, to begin with). Children aged 8-12 are capable of
doing almost everything from shopping to taking out the
garbage -- which is definitely not their favorite job (and
you have to make sure the bags are closed, not dripping, and
thrown IN, not NEAR, the garbage).
You only have to explain to children ahead of time what to
expect. You can make a list of jobs and rotation duty for all
the members of the family, to prevent arguments to the tune
of, "He should do it. Not me."
Of course, the work of a child doesn't compare to the work
that a mother can do. A bed made with small hands won't look
like a bed made with the exactness of Mom. When there is no
time (and is there, ever?) it is better to delegate to the
child the task of making his bed in the morning and putting
his dirty clothes away at night than leaving a mess all day.
Besides, how is he going to learn to do it if he doesn't
start sometime? The sooner the better.
And sometimes, the bed will be terribly made because the
child wants to prove to his parents that it doesn't pay to
give him household tasks. For cases like this, there is an
educational rule, "Don't give up!" That's the most important
one. If you give up, the child learns that it's worth
fighting with his parents, and the phenomenon will repeat
itself in many areas. On the other hand, positive
reinforcement such as simple praise will go a long way.
To be sure, there's no need to wage war. It's better to sit
and talk, to explain how important it is and how much it
contributes to the home and to ask the child, if he
stubbornly refuses, what exactly bothers him and how it can
be overcome. As the wisest of all men said: A soft voice will
turn back wrath -- and also overcome stubbornness.
Is it really worth all the effort? ABSOLUTELY! Learn to save
time, to live simple -- and you'll all enjoy a more pleasant
For Part I, click here.