Your home is a mess and so is your life. I forgot where I first read the phrase, probably at Darla Shine's site, but I remember thinking how true it was. Unfortunately, nowadays many people don't seem to realise the importance of having a clean and well-organised home.
For instance, Cheryl Mendelson in her book Home Comforts writes about the sad state of American housekeeping and points out that "These deficiencies...can have serious effects on health. The decline of home cooking and regular home meals...coincide with skyrocketing rates of obesity...Allergy and asthma rates...are exacerbated by modern housekeeping practises. Those who live in disorderly and untended homes suffer higher accident rates. Inadequate cleanliness in the kitchen poses the danger of foodborne illness. Germs and mold...can cause infections and allergies." (H.C., p.8. Scribner, 2005).
While she is correct in identifying the problem and praising the diligent housewives of the past eras, Mrs Mendelson stops short of proposing a logical solution of restoring the old system and suggests instead that housekeeping tasks are divided between various households members, which is probably better than when the house is totally neglected, but certainly inferior to the situation when there is one person who is in charge of the household and generally responsible for the state of affairs at home.
When Home Comforts was first published in the end of the 1990s, it was probably too politically incorrect to suggest the return to the traditional division of labour, but 15 years later things have changed and there is an abundance of sites supporting people (chiefly women, of course) who choose to stay home. However, the accents have changed subtly. We talk, as I just did, about stay-at-homes, whether they are a stay-at-home mom or even in some situations, a stay-at-home wife. It has become sort of accepted choice for some women to stay home, as long as they don't designate themselves as housewives, apparently.
Well, you will ask me, what's the difference? The point is, you can stay home and do little to no housekeeping. You can even spend as little time at home as possible, being engaged in various activities, volunteering, ministries and such. Christians are hardly better in this regard as they promote the work-at-home model when the wife is engaged in home businesses the whole day long, and this purely economic activity is seen as something spiritual. This, and she can homeschool (which is positive in itself), however, the necessity of creating a cosy and orderly home is seldom stressed at all.
If one tries to question it, out comes the (in)famous Proverbs 31 lady with her supposedly business activities. It's noteworthy that there were also some things which this lady didn't do. Her energy was directed to her own household and not that of someone else. It was her husband, not herself who was known in the gates discussing politics with the elders of the land. She obviously wasn't engaged in any social causes, and didn't spend her time trying to change the world. She gave to the poor and needy but the Scriptures don't mention her going on mission trips to the foreign lands. She helped those around her, her actual neighbours.
She also looked well to the ways of her household and spent most of her time at home. It's hardly a secret that one of the tenets of feminism was rebellion against traditional female domestic duties. Again, to quote Cheryl Mendelson: "Feminist historians...have complained that the 1950s woman foolishly wasted on superfluous "work" the time she saved by using technological innovations. In calling the work superfluous, they devalue the goals of that era's housewives..." (p. 13).
"Advertisements and television programs offer degraded images of household work and workers...It is scarcely surprising...that so many people imagine housekeeping to be boring, frustrating, repetitive, unintelligent drudgery. I cannot agree (In fact, having...practised law...I can assure you that it is actually lawyers who are most familiar with the experience of unintelligent drudgery)." (p.10).
Well, I don't agree, either! I think every sort of job has it drudgery element. Mrs Mendelson compares the declining middle class domestic standards (including the shipment of young children to daycare) with the life of the industrial poor a hundred years ago. The truth is that material possessions aren't what makes one middle class (or, at least, it's not the only thing that counts). If your house looks like that of Daisy and Onslow from Keeping Up Appearances on any given day, you aren't really middle class, despite having a TV set in every room of the house and going on vacation three times a year.
When speaking of a well-ordered household, I don't mean to say that it always will be ideally clean, or that people should be afraid to let a crumb fall to the ground while eating a cookie or that children shouldn't be allowed to have friends over because they make a mess (there are families like that), however, a house should be well organised with the minimum cleanliness standards met. It means that the lady of the house will have to devote at least some time to domestic chores every day. The rewards, however, are great. As Mrs Mendelson rightly notes: `...it is your housekeeping that makes your home alive...´ (p.7).