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Getting Better with Time
piano fingers
Photo by Brian Richardson

Last night I was cleaning up my kitchen while my 15-year-old practised piano. She's in grade 8 (almost done!), and she was playing a particularly difficult piece just beautifully. At one point I paused what I was doing, stood still, and just listened.

I love moments like that.

Nine years ago, when she started, she couldn't do that. She would sit on the bench, her feet dangling over, as she tried to pick out the notes to This Old Man. It was cute, but it wasn't beautiful.

Over the years, you see, she has spent countless hours perfecting her skill. And now she can sit down, whenever she wants, and play a song she heard on the radio. She's had experience.

We instinctively understand that when it comes to piano, or any other instrument. We get it when it comes to most hobbies, like knitting or scrapbooking or painting. You get better with time and effort.

I don't think, however, that we give enough room to the thought that this could apply to other parts of life, too.

I remember when I first moved to my small town, Keith and I were invited over to dinner to the home of a couple who was then in their late forties. They served a wonderful meal with a beautiful centrepiece and a delicious dessert. Music was playing in the background. The house was beautifully decorated. Everything looked flawless, and the hostess made the meal look effortless.

Dinner Party
Photo by Lachlan Daniel

The next day, when I looked around my living room to see the mismatched couches, and the toys all over the floor, and the distinct lack of dining room table (we ate in the kitchen and had allowed the children to take over the dining room for their craft projects), I felt like a failure. I couldn't host a dinner party even if I wanted to. I wouldn't know what to make. I wouldn't know where to seat people. And my furniture was terrible.

Fast forward twelve years, and life is very different. I can host a dinner party now, because I have a dining room table again. My 13-year-old makes great centrepieces. I can cook much better (though last year's Christmas dinner was a disaster, but that's another story). My house isn't a mess.

And the reason is because I've had practice.

When I first got married I needed a recipe book for everything. Now I have a ton of them, but I rarely use them. I look at what's in my cupboard and my fridge and create something, and it usually tastes marvellous. I can keep things clean. Part of that is because my children are older, but another large part is because I'm just plain better at it. I know how to clean better, I know little tricks to keep the house in order. I'm better organized. I've had more time to learn.

When I had my children I was fairly young, and I spent most of my energy for them. We went on outings everyday, I read to them, we created things, we played. I didn't have much time to clean or have people over. If I were to have babies today, I'd be a different mom. I likely wouldn't play so much because I'd clean more. I'd be more upset about mess. I'd be far more structured and scheduled because I would need to maintain "my" time.

I think I was a better mother then than I would be now. But at the same time, I'm a much better housekeeper now than I ever was then, because I have learned. Some of you have the gift of hospitality, and some of you are gifted homemakers. I never have been, which is probably why I read so many organization blogs and cleaning blogs. It's always been a challenge for me, because I'm such a multi-tasker that I find it hard to stick to one thing. That's why the dining room never gets fully cleaned; I get distracted before I can finish. But I'm getting better with time.

When I think back to that couple in their late forties who had us over, I think she had just learned how to be a good hostess. When she was in her late twenties, she had three boys under four. I'm sure her dining room table wasn't huge and spotless. I'm sure her furniture didn't all match. I'm sure she had toys everywhere. But over the years they had more money, so they could slowly buy better furniture. She had practice cooking. The toys went away. And life got easier.

We have a tendency, I think, to compare our homes to our mother's home, or our friends' homes, or other women's homes that we know. Perhaps it's time to stop. Your mother's home may have been quite a mess when her kids were the age of your kids, even if her home is spotless now. The women whose homes you admire may have had years to get that way. If you're not there yet, relax. Remember: practice makes perfect. Maybe all you need is just a few years to practice organizing, and keeping a home. We don't learn overnight. It takes a while to get used to it. And I think that's perfectly okay!

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At 8:43 AM , Anonymous Nicki said…

Loved this, what an awesome post. Love your blog, this was my first visit but will be back for sure!


At 10:47 AM , Blogger Angela said…

What a great reminder! So often I compare myself to people who have been married for years. I need to remember that everything comes with practice. Thanks!


At 11:32 AM , Blogger The Happy Domestic said…

Thanks, Sheila. I cried reading your post today, because just yesterday in our fellowship group I shared how overwhelmed I am by all the housework to do with 5 kids in the house. I often feel so discouraged and frustrated with myself as well as with my kids. Why can't I get my kids to help more? I feel like I am failing somehow as a parent as well as a wife and homemaker.

And then I read your post and realize that I have only HAD a home of my own for 5 years, and have been actually AT home for just 3 years. And after all, I've only been a parent for just under 3 years! My bio kids are still quite little. As one of my favourite songs goes, "There is hope for me yet!" :)

Thanks for your encouraging words!


At 11:38 AM , Blogger Sheila said…


Thanks for all the kind words, ladies! I'm glad it could be an encouragement to you. If it's any further encouragement, right now I can't see my dining room table because I have crafts all over it that I'm getting wrapped up for Christmas. It's not like I'm ever spotless, either. But I'm getting better, and you will, too!

With all things, it just takes time...


At 11:49 AM , Blogger Mary Joy said…

You know how to put things back in perspective. I really needed to hear that this morning...

Now I better go do the dishes! Have a wonderful day! :D


Mary Joy


At 2:19 PM , Blogger trish adams said…

Sheila, this is such a great blog. I've been working hard at getting things organized in my home and yesterday spent the entire day revamping my basement to make a playroom for my daughter. I was thinking just yesterday that here I am 41 years old just now getting it, meaning just now understanding how to make things more practical, useful and put in there place.
Look forward to reading more blogs of yours and I'm thinking about signing up for your speaker and book training.

Thanks much,
Newbie blogger,


At 5:15 PM , Blogger Tessa said…

This is exactly how I've been feeling lately. I have an end picture in mind about how I want my home and my lifesyle to look but it's not there yet. I'm a work in progress and praise the Lord for that fact! I'm not perfect (and neither are my housekeeping skills) but I'm better than I was and that's what counts. Taking baby steps forward. Once again, loved this post!

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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