It’s hard to believe I’ve been raising humans for 20+ years now, but when I look at this picture there is no denying it. My people are growing up. I am finally at the delightful stage of life where I feel a natural rhythm flowing from years of intentional habits. My mother was a natural born homemaker. She cooked, cleaned, organised, had people over for meals after church, decorated, grocery shopped and when I was in middle school, decided to go back to college and become a nurse. So for my last few years at home before college she worked full time and still continued to manage our home like a well oiled machine. She was amazing. (Still is in fact)
One thing it took me awhile to realize as I was managing my own home and raising my children was I was never going to be my mama. I am extroverted in high levels- she is introverted by nature. I do not notice details too much, mom is very thorough. I put a lot of pressure on myself to keep my home the way I remembered mama kept ours, but it didn’t quite work for me. Our personalities, abilities and interests were different and I finally recognised it was natural for our homemaking style to reflect those differences as well. However two principals I learned and still use to help me manage the chaos of home and family are gifts from her I am passing on to you. These are beliefs that become practices after being internalized. They will help you find your rhythm as a wife or mom or homemaker.
Your home is a tool you use- to show value and care for people. It is not a showcase to prove how talented or creative you are. It does not need to be spotless, updated, renovated or new. It does need to be functional. You need to have spaces to sit and visit, comfortable beds to sleep in, laundry in some state of clean and accessible and counter tops free to cook or do homework or lean across while you listen to your husband talk about his day. It needs to be clean enough. But, perfectionism will never, ever place the highest value on people. It demands the highest value be on performance and end results. In order to really use your home in the way God intends our possessions be used, perfectionism has to be surrendered. To truly care for people, things have be used, and sometimes used up. Messes will be made, bath tubs will gets dirty. Stuff will happen. But if you understand your home is not the prize, it is the tool; and your family and friends are the real treasure, then you can take it all in stride.
Workable systems and daily routines will save your sanity. There are four areas in managing a home that take the most time and produce the most angst: laundry, clutter control, meal planning/cooking and morning in general. After posting an informal question on Facebook, the overwhelming responses affirmed what my experience has been- it’s hard to get a handle on these big four. Over the next two weeks I will continue a series of blogs to tackle each of these, one at a time. But the principle is: you need a way of approaching each area and a daily routine to engage it. For our family, some of these involve other family members and some are solely handled by me. The key is that the system should be simple enough everyone understands it and regularly practiced so it becomes normal. If it requires a spread sheet to explain it, it’s too complicated. If you don’t do it consistently, it will always feel hard and you’ll avoid it.
Again, the first step in learning to manage your home is checking your heart. Make sure the emphasis is on the people who live there, not the home itself. The second step is identifying what is not working currently in the “big four” which can be done quickly by asking this: where are you frequently frustrated or constantly inventing a new way to tackle it. Wherever you find yourself doing either, something is not working. After answering that question, you will be able to begin solving the problem in a simple and consistent way.
I am truly thankful I was raised in a home with a mom who was gifted and devoted to using our home to care for us. If you didn’t have that kind of mom, don’t be discouraged. God places us in community to teach each other and learn from one another. I am looking forward to this series and welcome feedback and questions as we go.