Last year I talked about the time when I decluttered the house and how I did it. Although the project was very successful, I now found myself facing a new problem. Clutter was starting to come back! Somehow, surfaces got covered in bits of paper. Random pencils and bookmarks could be found placed thoughtlessly in any room of the house. Despite having taken lots of items to the charity shop during the big decluttering event, my home looked haphazard again.
At first none of this really bothered me, until my son went on a playdate to a friend's house. His mom showed me around their house, as I had done for her when her son came to my home. I was blown away. His mom is a real homemaker! She works outside the home, yet still made the time to keep her home looking great, making it look like a very welcoming and comfortable home. And without any clutter in sight.
Instantly, I was ashamed of how my place looked. I never had that feeling before.
In the past, I'd see someone else's home looking much better than mine, and I'd think "oh, it's because of the layout". Or "oh, they spent a lot of money on decor." But in this case, there wasn't all that much different between her home and mine, except what her heart and hands had done in her home that I hadn't quite managed to achieve in mine.
So I searched online for homemaking, to get some ideas for how I could improve. I came across a Homemaking 101 article by Melissa Ringstaff at A Virtuous Woman. It's an article that's well worth a read no matter where you are on your homemaking journey. It resonated with me. I liked how it was a faith-based article, focusing not solely on the things homemakers can do for their families, but also on why they should. I decided I wanted to improve both my skills and attitude in homemaking. So after browsing around her site, I decided to take the plunge and do one of her courses. I did Melissa's course One Week to a More Organized Home. I knew I was keeping up fine with all the cleaning and cooking, but I definitely needed some help with home organization, so that's the course I picked. I debated at first, because it was a paid course. But I figured that for its under-$20 price tag, the course would be worth it in the long run. Here is my balanced review of the course showing its pros and cons.
Before signing up, the course gives you a helpful overview of the types of things it covers. It seemed like a good fit for me so I signed up. I knew going into it that it would be a Christian-based course, which is what I loved.
By contrast, I'd tried to read a non-faith-based book about homemaking and it was a nightmare - I could see I'd wind up with a long checklist list of things to do and feel like a hamster on a wheel. So Melissa's course, focusing on both skills and faith, looked to be ideal for what I was looking for.
Even if you are of a faith other than Christian, or of no faith, I'd recommend you give it a go because of its positive focus on attitude. Melissa is not at all "judgy" so it's a good way to start with homemaking regardless of whether you share the same faith.
- It's geared equally toward those who are stay at home parents and those who work outside the home. There is no assumption made that you stay home all day.
- There are 5 days of work on the course - long enough to get a solid foundation but not so long that you'll get burned out.
- The amount of work each day is reasonable.
- You can proceed at your own pace. At first I didn't think this would apply to me, I was like "sure, I will get this done in the 5 days." Well, life threw me a couple of little curveballs: 2 days of a sick kid at home, plus a bunch of questions from a kid about his science fair project. So I wound up taking two days to complete one of the days of the course, but that's OK. It's laid out so you can do that without feeling rushed or stressed.
- Online, you can check off bits of the course as you go, or you can leave bits unchecked so you can remind yourself to come back to it later.
- If you run into a problem, you can contact Melissa from inside the course to let her know. In my case, I somehow couldn't see one of the pages of the course, even though I could see all the others. I used the contact form to tell her, and boom, within 24 hours she had let me know that she had fixed the problem, and sure enough I could now see it.
- Some of the questions are designed so that you can involve your other household members if you choose to, which in turn has the effect of making them more supportive of your efforts. It doesn't say anywhere to do this, but my husband and kids actually enjoyed answering some of the course questions I posed to them.
- The course was successful! I'll talk about my results a little further below. I started seeing real differences in my home!
- Although not a major issue, in the homework there was a strong focus on getting rid of some unneeded items each day. If you haven't recently done a big purge of unneeded items, this is actually going to be great for you. Melissa can hardly be expected to somehow know that I'd done that on a big scale a year ago. However, I still don't quite see why this needs to be done on a daily basis in the course. Even if I'd not done a big declutter a year ago, I still would have found it frustrating having to make a trip to the charity store every day for 5 days. Fortunately I was in fact able to find items each day to get rid of, but who has time to make the trip every day? I didn't want to make a 30-minute round trip each day, so instead I decided each day I'd put the items in the car, bagged up and boxed up all ready, and only actually make the trip on 2 of the days to donate the accumulated items, which in the end worked out perfectly for me. (You do need to put it in your car at the very least - I'd already had a pile of stuff to donate sitting around inside my home for month!) I would have preferred the course focus more on dealing with the clutter of currently-in-use items than of unwanted items. Despite this minor issue, I felt the course was still well worth the amount I'd paid, because of the results I saw, described below.
I could not believe how well it worked! The course got me off to a great start with my attitude and with day-to-day details. It started happening on day 3. I found myself making changes for the better, that kept clutter off surfaces for the longer term. I think it was mostly that my eyes became more open to problem areas, and using the suggestions and hints in the course, plus some inspiration from the Holy Spirit, I was able to find new solutions for these without having to buy stuff.
My family also appreciated these little small changes that they could see every day. My family knew I was taking a homemaking course, and they eagerly looked to see what the changes were. Initially I had wondered how Melissa would somehow "know" what was wrong with my home and how the course would tell me to fix it. There is a little bit of that (checklists, ideas, etc) but it's also all about teaching you the skills you need to get on a good path where you're able to continue and extend these things on your own afterward. And that's where the real value of the course is, because Melissa has a real gift for doing that, which I've not seen elswhere, ever.