If circumstances require us to choose between two good things, even perfectly wholesome, innocent, and worthwhile desires may need to be deferred rather than the truly critical things: relationships, service, and obedience to the Lord. No matter how much we desire to perfect our lives, this simply may not be the time for an immaculate house, a total self-reliance plan, a large garden, or extensive family history.
Unless we can involve our children in such projects in positive, loving, security-building ways, we may be able to use our time more effectively elsewhere—maybe even get a little more sleep and reduce stress all around or take a walk in the rain or read an extra chapter of a bedtime story or the scriptures together.
I have always really wanted a clean, beautiful house, but my children do not worry about such matters. One day I was fussing because they hadn’t put the sheet music away in the piano bench. My son David asked, “What does it matter, Mom? Do you want people who come to visit to think we never use the piano?”
David helped me realize that I had succumbed to an illusion: that the purpose of the family was to support the housework, rather than vice versa. We need to remember that the purpose of our children is not to help keep our homes in order; rather, the purpose of our homes is to help us rear righteous children. The purpose of the task (and of the home and of everything in it) is to build eternal relationships. People are more important than things (see Morm. 8:39).