Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hallowing the House: Books for Lent

"I prefer the monotony of obscure sacrifice to all ecstasies. To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul." St. Thérèse of Lisieux
As you know, I have been slooowly working my way through Splendor in the Ordinary. I planned, and am still planning, to make a tour through my house, decluttering and cleaning while thinking through the book.   But I just realized that one reason I am going so slowly is that the book is mostly philosophical and theological -- it is written on a general level.  Which I like, but since I am weak in actually IMPLEMENTING metaphysical truths, I need some down-to-earth help and inspiration along with the rest.

Plus, now that Lent is almost here, I want to cut back on my fast reading and instead do more studying or Slow Reading.   And since our family has sort of outgrown our old housework systems I thought it might be a good time to study and upgrade our life skills curriculum such as it is around here! 

So last time I had to be in town all day (being out of the home is my other excuse for moving so slowly with the house cleaning and book study) I brought a pile of my cleaning and organizing books with me.   Here's a list

Speed Cleaning:  Tips, Tricks and Strategies to Get Everything Done in Half the Time or Less

My mom had a copy of this book.  I liked its focus on the simplest, most efficient way to get things done.   It assumes you don't want to spend any more time on cleaning than you have to, which in my case is increasingly true.  (I find solitary cleaning to be somewhat relaxing, but I never seem to find the time nowadays, and undone cleaning is the opposite of relaxing).   Plus, it includes strategies for doing cleaning as a team, so I can get my kids involved.  You can find some general strategies dealt with in the book here, plus newsletter archives:  Speed Cleaning Rules and More

Sidetracked Home Executives 
I found this book very helpful a few years back.   It's basically household management for ADD-types.   I don't use the system anymore, or rather, I sort of carry it in my head, but I want to go through the book again and see if I still need it or if I've outgrown it now.   Here's their site

Life Skills for Kids
This is one of those books I buy hoping that somehow the contents will transform out into the household without me using it or even reading it.  To be honest?  books full of lots of tips that tell you to "start young" and "be diligent" are a huge energy drain for me.  Just reading them makes me feel discouraged and hopeless.  Yet unread books are just clutter -- and even if I am going to pass it on, I should probably make an attempt to go through it and get a few useful tips from it.    So Lent seems like a good time to do that.  

401 Ways to Get Your Kids to Work at Home
 I actually liked this book and wasn't discouraged by it -- it had lots of options and nice charts.  I found it in a thrift store and it was falling apart, and so I comb-bound it.  Since then I haven't really looked into it, so it's a good time, perhaps, to look at it again.

How to Do It -- I found this little book for sale at a book store on the Oregon coast.  It is about 4 x 4 x 3 and I can't seem to find it online anywhere.   But I like the concept -- it's divided alphabetically into sections like Business, Car, Health, House,... 20 sections in all.  It certainly isn't comprehensive, but it has a wide variety of different things contained between its covers.   It occurred to me that I could use the book to help me come up with things to teach my kids.   Maybe I will read them excerpts at Morning Time. 

Don Aslett books and supplies.   

I have about three  Don Aslett books.  I bought them early in my homeschooling journey.  But when I glanced through them this time I realized that I had pretty much internalized everything that I was going to internalize with his books.   They were very helpful to me when I didn't know a darn thing about house-cleaning, and I still have quite an array of his strategies in my head, but I think I can let these go.  The site does include some demo videos and pretty decent cleaning supplies, so it's worth visiting.

So my Lenten plan is to work through these -- Splendor will provide the reflective part of it and the other books the practical resolutions.   Here are also a few more reflective-type resources that I have around the house and/or on the Kindle:

Familiaris Consortio -- actually quite closely connected to Splendor in the Ordinary, and I think it is good reading even if you aren't a Catholic. 

Holiness for Housewives and other Working Women by Dom Zeller.  
This one I will probably want to keep for my daughter but it may be a good time to look through it again.  Quite readable.

A Mother's Rule of Life.  I was planning to read through this again and maybe this is a good time.

The Family Cloister:  Benedictine Wisdom for the Home.   Actually written by an Evangelical pastor.  A friend had borrowed this and I actually forgot I had it, but since it's sitting on my shelves I'd like to look at it again.

The theme I want here is Ora et Labora -- balancing meditation and actual deeds.   I hope to make progress both in internalized skills AND in effective habits!   I'd also like to learn to pray while I'm working better than I do now. 


  1. Ohh I would have been tempted to keep Don Aslett for your dd, then again maybe she has already learnt it from you:)

  2. Hi Erin -- the Don Aslett books don't seem to be my daughter's style, and she cleans dorms for work study, so she probably already down some of the basic strategies. But come to think of it, maybe I should mail them to my son who's living out of state right now ;-).

  3. oh! Maybe we should read the last two TOGETHER.....I LOVE The Family Cloister......I had started my own book study on it once...even keeping as journal as I worked through it.....

    let's chat!

    PS I typo'd Cloister as Clositer...and almost left it there :)


I would love to hear your thoughts on this!