The House Comes First

Library of Congress:  Mr. and Mrs. John Herlihy at home, 1942 Montana 

I have been thinking lately about how empty many neighborhoods are these days.  There are all kinds of houses and apartments that are left without a keeper for most of the day.  It is hard to imagine driving through a lovely neighborhood, on a weekday, and seeing no children playing, nobody taking laundry off the clothesline, no families on the front porch, and nobody tending the front walkway. 

What is causing all these houses to be empty?  Could there be a loss of love and appreciation for home?  

I love this quote by G.K. Chesterton: 

“There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place ...”

Empty homes seem to be the modern way of life for our culture.  Babies and children are in daycare and parents are at work.  Grandparents do not commonly live with their grown children anymore like they did in the past (particularly in Italian homes). Can you imagine what a help it would be if grandmother lived at home and could help care for the children and tend the house?  It would be a blessing to her as well as to the family.

The Christian Home, a godly home, has tremendous value to our well-being.  It is to be a restful, pleasant place.  It must be cultivated by someone.  Someone must be the keeper, the one who "keeps the home fires burning."   Someone ought to be home.  Mother is the ideal (and Biblically appointed) keeper.  

Home can almost be like a hobby. It is where we spend our time decorating, cleaning, dusting, and greeting visitors.  It is a place to provide wholesome, nourishing meals, clean laundry, and a comfortable bed in which to sleep.  It is a place to rest and spend time with the family. It is a place of security and contentment.  There is much to do in order to keep it happy.  Some people spend a great deal of time on hobbies.  These hobbies are times of entertainment and recreation.  If a large portion of that time was spent in the care and love of home, it would be an enjoyable place to be.

We need a priority of home. The House must come first. What we do there each day builds memories we will cling to in later life.  Let them be good memories.

Here are some practical ideas to bring life back into our neighborhoods by tending our homes:

1. Arrange your schedule so you can be home more often. 

I sometimes see teenagers roaming the streets looking for mischief.  I wonder if it is because nobody is there to make a real home for them.

2. Make a list of daily chores and do them.

We are constantly tempted by distractions to do many things. The television, computer, telephone, invitations out, craft projects, and reading are enjoyable but must have their slot of time.  The chores have to be completed before we have the fun.  (dishes, laundry, sweeping, meal preparation, etc.)  

3.  Simplify your possessions.

We will always need to sort clutter.  Things come in each day and we must discard what is not necessary.  It is a tremendous waste of time and energy to have too many things in our houses that we do not use or need.

4. Avoid spending money.

The greatest trouble in the home is the lack of careful use of money.  In our culture we are constantly tempted to buy, to shop, to spend. Do not yield to this temptation. Do not give in.  Learn to spend money carefully and as little as possible.  It is better to have money saved "for a rainy day" than to have a financial calamity hit and cause you to fear the loss of a comfortable home. 

5.  Don't leave home until you make your bed. 

I know this sounds simplistic, but the simple act of making your bed will help inspire a clean and orderly home.  I do not want to go out on an errand or to an appointment, unless I know I have done my work at home. This starts with making my bed.  

6.  Evaluate how you are spending your time.

If you are busy with too many outside commitments, this will often cause you to neglect your house. You will be stressed out and anxious.  If we do not have the time or energy to maintain a happy, neat home, we must stop all the extra activities that take us away from our main work at home. This will help make us sweet with a gentleness of spirit. 

7. Enjoy your labors.

Decorating and cleaning the living room and then sitting down to admire your hard work is a blessing.  When you are outside tending the laundry on the clothesline, enjoy the serenity of the fresh air, the retreat - like feeling of doing wholesome work in a lovely setting.  Find happiness and joy in the work of keeping the home.  

8. Do pretty things.

We ought to present meals in an attractive way.  Set the table with silverware, napkins, real dishes, and present the food in pretty serving bowls.  This will invite the family to want to come to the table and enjoy eating together.  Make the work look pretty. Make the home look pretty. Do you hair nicely and wear a lovely apron.  Make home a pretty place.

9.  Make it look like a Christian House.

There are paintings and wall art full of Scripture and quotes from great ministers of the past. These types of decorations will inspire you and your guests.  At the very least, each Christian home ought to have the 10 commandments posted by the door. (You can type these up directly from Scripture.)  We have them there as a rule of life, something that we love and find joy in observing.  

10.  Keep Love Strong.

A house of forgiveness, mercy, kindness, charity, and love will be a happy home. These are daily acts that must constantly be in service.

11. Keep dust off the Bible.

The foundation of a godly home is the Lord.  The Most important part of good housekeeping is daily Bible reading.  This ought to be done alone and with the family.  It does not have to be formal, but just picking up the Bible and happily reading will bring a great blessing on the home. 

This is all "housework" and it is wonderful work that we can enjoy.  When home is our priority we find joy in our daily lives.  This provides a happy place for our children and families.  A great deal of our recreation and entertainment can come just by keeping house.  If more mothers could do this at home, wouldn't we have lively, pleasant neighborhoods?

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

We Must Learn  - To Earn and Not to Spend.

This is What many of us Crave - An Ordinary Life at Home.

The Greatest Use of a Mother's Time - A Humble Parlour as a School of Theology.

Mrs. White's special book for Homemakers - "Mother's Book of Home Economics."

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 


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