A couple times a year, usually in the Spring and in the Fall, we all get motivated to clean, clean, clean. I’m not talking about a light dusting or shoving the stuff scattered on the floor or piled high on coffee tables, dressers or even the kitchen counters into a “I’ll get to that someday.” I’m talking about a deep clean.
You know, when you actually pull the couch out and your kids think it’s Christmas because of all the lost treasures that have been hiding under there for months and months. Or instead of playing tug of war with your dresser drawers because they are overstuffed with clothes you don’t wear, you take them all out and get rid of the clothes you thought you just might fit into some day…. You get the picture.
This type of cleaning is easy to do especially after a long winter, a few semi-warm days (that can mean 40 degrees here in the Midwest) gives us renewed energy and a desire to “clean” everything. We open up the windows to air out the house, turn on our favorite music and willingly get in a cleaning frenzy. (Usually in a pair of shorts… because 40 degrees is “hot” after months and months of cold!)
As a gardening family, those warm days get us excited about gardening. All winter we’ve thought about what we want to plant, what new varieties we want to try or what new area of the yard we want to till up and plant our old-time favorites. We get out our garden tools, seed packets and may even start some of our seeds indoors to get ready.
Fast forward. Summer comes and goes at warp speed and before we know it, Fall has arrived. And again, for some strange reason, it seems like a great time to do a full force, clean out everything and prepare for winter time of year. A few months ago, while at Walmart, I noticed that they had put together a large display of storage containers of every size and color imaginable.
While I weaved in out of aisles near the display I had to think about what part of year it was…. I know that these stores push holidays earlier and earlier every year, but storage containers in my mind meant Spring cleaning. But then I realized Fall cleaning is a “thing” that we all do.
Time to put away the garden supplies, seeds and tools. Time to pack up the summer tank tops, dresses and flip flops. Time to tidy up the garage so I can park my van in it during the winter season. Time to winterize the mowers and tillers and pack up the patio set.
While one season is finishing up, we spend a lot of time preparing for the next. Though I love summer and fall, there’s also something relieving about winter, knowing that I won’t have to worry about trying to keep up with the weeds or lawn. It’s a much-needed break for the mind and body!
And though all of the things talked about above are important to do, I’ve also been thinking about taking this time, the Fall season, to think about our families. Because, really, is there anything more important than the well-being of our family’s?
We are more than willing to spend time and money preparing for a new season, but how much do we spend “cleaning” and “organizing” our own families? Do we take time to rid our family of the “dirt” that has crept into our lives, our time or relationships? Have we taken time to elevate our own family and where we are and where we are headed?
Life will swiftly take you and your family down a path you may not even know you are on. A compromise here and there, reassuring yourself that you’ll start reading the Bible as a family next week when things slow down, fill in the blanks for your own family.
Grab a coffee or tea, a piece of chocolate, a pen and pad of paper and take some time to go through the short checklist below. Add to it as you see fit as every family is different! Have your spouse do it separately from you and compare your answers. (It’s one way to see if you’re united in your family’s direction!)
My Fall “Cleaning” Family Checklist
- How many daily meals do you sit down together and eat?
- Are most of your meals homecooked or takeout?
- Does everyone help in cleaning up after a meal? If not, how can you change it so even the littlest members get involved?
- If your children are of appropriate age, have you taught them how to cook something new in the last month?
- Is there a neighbor, church or family member that you could make and take to as a family?
- Is there a neighbor, church or family member you could invite into your home for a meal?
- During meals, does your family talk to each other, sharing meaningful conversations? Or is a TV or cell phones distracting everyone?
- Are meal times stressful or a blessing to your family?
- What consumes most of your family’s leisure time?
- How much time do you and your family spend in front of a TV, computer, tablets, smartphones, Xbox, etc. each day?
- If you have the devices listed above, are you aware of what your children are watching, the types of video games they are playing or what they are posting on social media?
- What does your family like to do together? Play board games, sing, compete in a game of flag football?
- How much time does your family spend outdoors? Biking, hunting, hiking, working in the garden, cleaning up the yard, etc.
- Is there a new hobby, game or family activity your family wants to try? What is holding you back from trying it?
- Do you read aloud a classic story, the Bible or poetry as a family? If not, why not?
- When’s the last time you’ve spent one on one time with your children?
- When’s the last time you’ve had a date night with just your spouse?
- Is your marriage a godly example to your children?
- Are there any family relationships that need reconciliation?
- Is your children’s curriculum (homeschool, private or public school) centered on a Biblical worldview?
- If you homeschool, are you falling behind? Are there certain areas that you need help in?
- If your children attend a private or public school, do you know what your child is being taught in all subjects?
- Are there local field trips you can take to help supplement your child’s education?
- What are your children currently reading? Are the books they reading age appropriate, challenging and purposeful?
- Are any of your children struggling in a specific area? If so, what can you do to help?
- Do any of your children need to be challenged more than they currently are?
- What practical life skills are you teaching your children? (Cleaning, laundry, taking care of a pet, gardening, etc.)