Inside: When we have too much on our plate, it’s easy to let little things start slipping. These 7 Habits of an Effective Homemaker will help us move towards transforming the space between our four walls into a place of rest from this world.
One day I was walking around our house, dazed and frustrated as I went from room to room–I wondered how did we get here? How in the world did I become the complete opposite of my mother?
I could hear her voice and the echoes of her words in my ear, “Why can’t you keep your room clean? Why are you so messy?”
I wondered in that moment,
Why? Why can’t I keep this house clean?
Why is there a mess everywhere all the time? Whether I clean or don’t clean it always looks the same!
Then I realized this mess didn’t just happen over night it started with letting a few things go undone. Letting a few things slide here and there for a few days, then weeks and quickly it turned into an uncontrollable mess.
This is what usually happens when we get to this point: We get home from a jammed packed day, I send the boys to their room to get ready for bed. They barely can manage undressing themselves without falling apart and having tantrums. The usual routine of putting away their clothes doesn’t happen nor of putting toys and books away. All it took was a few days of this and we had a mess!
So I did the math, with 3 boys that means 3 pairs of clothes on the floor, 3 pairs of shoes all over the place, and only God knows where the socks ended up. Then you add 3 piles of books and 3 piles of of toys from each child and you end up with a huge mess! But don’t forget the pajamas, towels from showers… These little messes pile up, really fast. These little messes turn into mounds after a few weeks and then we have chaos on our hands.
Do you see how quickly that happened? It wasn’t a month, it was all in a matter of a week and then it became weeks and a mound of clothes, toys, books and socks EVERYWHERE!
When we have too much on our plate, it’s easy to let little things start slipping.
The scenario I mentioned above was an “aha moment” for me. I realized two things. —
I can’t give my kids what I don’t have. I have to stop beating myself up and make changes.
When I feel stressed out about the mess in my house, the busyness in my schedule, the chaos in our life it’s what overflows from me onto my children–a bubbling brook of stress. I can’t give them peace when I don’t have peace. So hopefully these habits will help us move towards transforming the space between our four walls into a place of rest from this world. In the midst of all of this I need to give myself grace.
The seven practices below are mindful habits and tips to incorporate in our life plus I would add sprinkle it with thankfulness and prayer! These habits we can all incorporate into our life no matter what stage of life we are in so we can move towards peace and sanity in our home. I first share the Habit and then I share tips that are more practical and may or may not fit into the stage of life you’re in. Also, realize that though these may be good practices/tips some may not mesh with your family. We are each in different seasons of our life and what may work for some may not work for others but don’t be afraid to try something new. Remember to take baby steps! Start with some thing small in Habit 1 and do it for a week and then add on and move to habit 2 the following week. Remember it takes at least 30 days of doing something for it to stick. So don’t give up because your in week 2 and you still can’t get into the routine of saying no.
7 Habits of an Effective Homemaker
- Do it now, not later. For those of you who are cleaning freaks and spend hours cleaning this may help you find balance and learn to walk away. For those of us, who are slackers well this will most certainly help you. It has certainly motivated me.
Tip: Something I have been practicing recently is what I call my “Take 5 Maintenance”. The other day, I decided it was time to tackle the chores I had been putting off all day. I’m one of those people who doesn’t see the need to make the bed everyday. There’s so many other things that can be done so why waste my time making my bed which no one sees. So, my”Take 5 Maintenance Chore” was my bedroom. I timed myself and it took me 5 minutes to make my bed, sweep my floor and put shoes and pjs away. Then I went to the kitchen and washed the dishes and guess what it only took me 5 minutes. It’s good to remind yourself how little time it takes to get things done. Even if you have a huge mess in the living room break the tasks down and time yourself. I’m going to pick up everything that’s on the living floor for 5 minutes. I’m going to put all the books back on the shelf for 5 minutes and so on.
- Learn to say no! Learning to say no and prioritizing your activities will help you not to over schedule yourself or your family. But if your life is anything like mine you have unexpected guest drop in, you have errands that take 2 hours when they were only supposed to take 30 minutes or you forgot you invited some one over for dinner. I’m sure you’ve experienced chaotic days. They are inevitable because life just doesn’t always go as planned, so that’s where I’ve learned to creat margin in my week.
Tip: Prioritize your day or week. I share a little bit here about the block schedule routine I use that has changed my life. Make a list and prioritize what needs to happen in that day.
- Make time to energize yourself. Think about what is it that energizes you and do it. Set this time aside in your day and schedule it in. I have to schedule it in so that I make it a priority otherwise it gets buried in the midst of the dirty dishes, errands to run and life as we know it.
Tip: Take 15 minutes for yourself each day in the morning and if you possible also do it in the afternoon–schedule it in. If you’re a crazy clean person, this may mean you need to learn to let things go because you’re always thinking about the dirty counter or dirt that’s being tracked in. Learn to walk away and let it go. Take 15 minutes for yourself each day in the morning and if possible in the afternoon. I am energized when I exercise, do art and spend time with God. I need each day to intentionally focus on Christ so that I can wade through a day full of demands.
- Delegate, delegate! It’s not only your job to help maintain the house clean. Everyone who lives under your roof should have some responsibility in this no matter how small the task. It’s not your job to run around behind everyone cleaning up their mess. Yes, if you have little kids it will take some time to teach them and it maybe easier for you to just do it yourself but delegating chores is not just about you getting help, it’s about teaching our kids responsibility, teamwork and letting them know it’s not all about them. Entitlement can easily slip into our home and it might have already snuck in, if you have kids complaining to you about “When the laundry is going to get done. Why aren’t you folding the clothes right? Why are you late again making dinner?” Um, my question is, “Why aren’t they helping?”
Tip: Specifically delegate tasks and call them family contributions instead of chores. Don’t just insinuate that you need help nor assume your spouse understands that you banging the dishes in the kitchen means you’re upset because he’s not helping. Your kids can help with simple tasks like setting the table, sorting laundry if you’re not wanting them to do laundry. Putting away dishes and clearing the table if you’re not ready for them to wash dishes.
- Set priorities and goals for your family. What is important in my day? What is my family about? What do you want your home to become? It takes some motivation, direction, and a vision to make our home into what we want it to be.
Tip: If you have no idea what you want your family to move towards or you don’t know how to get there, I share some ideas HERE how to brainstorm and come up with a family mission statement!
- Find your strengths and weaknesses. Ponder whether your weakness is really what you think it is or more a matter of preference. I hate doing laundry. Is my lack of keeping up with laundry really a weakness or more that it’s not a preference so I don’t make it a priority.
Tip: Think about your strengths. Maybe cooking is a weakness but your strength is you’re a great conversationalist. So when you host people for dinner don’t beat yourself up for your meal, be kind to yourself and focus on your strength–your ability to make people feel at home and draw them out in conversation. Those things that are weaknesses find ways to improve or time-saving hacks. Think good enough, not perfect.
- Plan ahead & come up with routines. I personally hate schedules but thrive on routine. A routine makes our household run smoothly, it establishes expectations, and it provides consistency. Consistency and balance are good for us and especially for our kids. If you don’t already have routines in place don’t start with grand routines that are color coded and confusing and it involves spending $100 of supplies that you don’t have at the office store. Start simple and add on from there. Remember baby steps! I have a cleaning routine that changes depending the time of the year but I think I found a good routine now–Mondays are for cleaning kitchen and doing basics, Tuesday are for cleaning bathrooms and starting a load of laundry and so on…
Tip: Family calendar is a must! We’ve had a family calendar in our dining room table or kitchen for over 8 years now because it works. It’ a large calendar that we all use to let the family know what is happening that month. At the beginning of the month we jot everything down: appointments, baseball games, dinner guest, devotional and who is in charge, events, date nights, who is in charge of picking up poop… It keeps us sane and from over scheduling but it also helps my anxious child who always wants to know what is happening next.
This article is Day 3 of 21 Days: (Re)Discovering the Heart of Your Home series! As we consider our house let’s think beyond making beds, cleaning dishes and doing laundry. As we think about homemaking let’s look beyond whether we work outside the home, work in the home, are single, empty nesters or don’t have children… Let’s put all of that aside and let’s view it through the lens of relationships and let that guide us. What is the purpose of the space between these four walls? What do I want to overflow from our home and from my heart to my children, my spouse, my guests, my neighbors…? Cultivating a home is so much more than keeping a clean house, making food from scratch, having an organized and tidy home it’s about cultivating beauty, laughter, peace and love in my family and in my relationships. Follow along HERE to get updates on the latest homemaking, parenting and recipe blog post!
What is a habit you practice to make you an effective homemaker? Please share your tip in the comments below!