Looking Well: New Routines & Binder to Help Me Care For My Family Better.

lookingwell

Remember that funk I mentioned last week? Well, one thing my husband and I thought could be a factor in the cause of it was my lack of goals. Though I am not goal-orientated person per se, I do enjoy having things to work towards. Yet, since becoming a wife and then, mother, I have struggled to set up goals in my life. I have been a “potterer” for many years and though this got me by when I was working part-time before having the kids, now as a stay-at-home mother, the chaos and unpredictability that happens everyday has slowly eaten away at me. I’ve become lost and aimless, going through the days without any point or purpose other than doing the bare basics around the house and keeping the children alive {!}. One of my sins of laziness has just thrived!

The moment Tim mentioned my lack of goals and suggested working out a routine, something just clicked in me. I just knew that he was right and that, in all my defenses to him in the past that just “pottering” worked for me, I could no longer just get by anymore. We no longer have babies in the house and, though we have two toddlers in the house {eek!}, things are more manageable. I knew that God was showing me that it was time to move out of survival mode {even though we haven’t realistically been in it for a number of months now} and actually do something with our days.

I’ve been overwhelmed with the housework. It’s not that our house has been piled with mess and we have to swim through rooms of junk…It’s more that everything that goes beyond the bare basics {of laundry, cooking, dishes, vacuuming and tidying} has been staring at me and I just feel like I can never get to it. But the truth of the matter is that I haven’t disciplined myself to do something about all the dust, the clutter, the marks on the walls. And, our days have had no structure. I have just tried to go with the flow and…well, potter.

She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. ~ Proverbs 31:27

I have always loved this verse even though I have, and do, fall so short of it. I have had seasons of doing very well at watching over our home and being industrious – but the truth of the matter is this: More often than not, I have failed at caring for our home in a way that is efficient and loving. And I certainly have eaten many loaves of bread of idleness! Much to my shame, many of my attempts at changing have been half-hearted at best, legalistic at worse.

I’m not trying to beat myself up. I’m trying to look at myself honestly. What is inside isn’t pretty and it is easy to deny, to put the blame somewhere else, to look down on others to make ourselves feel better about our own failings. But, if I want true change from the inside out, I need to look inside my heart and admit to my failures and seek God’s help for forgiveness, change and transformation.

Though God is the one who changes the heart, I begin the process. So, being fully open with you, here is how I am working towards loving my family better. This is not a Pinterest-perfect article; my pictures don’t have back-lighting or fancy lenses. This is me, being open with my struggles, and hoping to encourage just one other wife and homemaker that we can do this – we can look well to our households and love our families with energy and efficiency.

Daily Routine

One point that we both agreed on is that I needed to make daily routines. I have seen posts on routines for so long all over the internet and I totally agree with them {I’ve had them in place for when my kids were babies}. But what I couldn’t understand was how??? To me, each day is different – kids need me, we have sicknesses, someone needs disciplining, we have an unexpected errand. These worries, or seeming barriers, have always prevented me from trying to implement daily routines. But Tim encouraged me to start small.

So I broke up my days into blocks that generally happened in a similar way each day: I looked at early morning, morning, mid-day, afternoon and evening. As I began to think about our days I saw that we actually do have quite a few routines in place {particularly early morning and around dinner/bedtime}. My three main routines are these:

  • Early morning: Quiet time, check computer, breakfast and morning routine tasks {unload dishwasher, load of laundry on, tidy kitchen, make beds and tidy rooms, get everyone dressed}
  • Midday: Lunch, Rosalie’s nap/rest for Josiah and I, daily/weekly tasks {fold and put away washing, bathroom or vacuuming etc, one or two room tasks}
  • Evening: Prep/cook dinner, dinner, evening routine {tidy kitchen, load dishes, tidy house, baths, kids bedtime, finish kitchen ie. sweep/mop}

household4

I searched all over Pinterest for a printable daily/weekly planner that felt right to me. I stumbled across one called Passion Planner – and I fell in love. It is perfect for my tastes, needs and aesthetics. Though you can buy a proper hard copy diary, I love it that they offer you a week’s layout for free.

These are the parts I love the best:

  • It’s clean, simple and black & white {great for printing}
  • Each day is blocked into thirty minute increments {perfect for busy mum with lots to do!}
  • Each day has a focus that you can fill out
  • There are sections for your weekly goals – from highest to lowest priority, divided into personal and work

I’ve been using this for a week now and it is the One. Though I love pretty, flowery things {see post-it’s!}, I love that this is a no frills printable and it gets the job done.

Cleaning Routine

Getting on top of the housework in a way that encourages me to have goals and to see that I am actually achieving something was the next step. Again, I searched Pinterest to find a cleaning schedule to help. Though there were many that offered a blank schedule that you could fill out, I don’t feel confident to do this quite yet. I need something to tell me what to do {for some reason, I work this way!}. Tim thought doing a room-by-room thing would work and I agreed.

Finally, from Scattered Squirrel I found this Spring Cleaning Checklist that pretty much works for our home. I need something that I can tick off to show me that I have accomplished something. It can be depressing when you do the washing, clean the dishes, pick up the clutter – and there it is, back there again the next day {or moment}. But having this list and going room by room is so satisfying. I know I am getting things done and when I see a box still needing to be checked, it motivates me to actually do it. Usually I would just go, “Oh well, maybe tomorrow.” and never get to it. This list is so encouraging to me {see below left}.

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Other Changes

Have you searched “household binder” on Pinterest? Oh my! – it’s like printable, organisational heaven out there. And it can be quite overwhelming, too! But I know that having a binder to keep these new routines in one place with other notes and documents will help me be in a more organised head space. I purchased a binder and clear envelopes as well as some sticky notes. These sticky notes are to write reminders on for things that I do beyond my daily/weekly chores. They might say “Call the dr” or “Make meal for…”. I place them at the bottom of each day on my weekly planner.

I also have a weekly meal planner which is also a sticky note. This {and the To Do list} were given to me by my sister-in-law for Christmas and are from kikiki.k. I am working at getting into meal planning again to help me both with keeping the budget down and because every member of our family have food/health issues {another post for another day!}. Taking my job as homemaker is important and giving my family healthy and nutritious meals is suddenly  very vital task of mine {and something I didn’t expect}. At the bottom of my weekly planner, I place my meal sticky note for easy reference.

I plan to add more things to the binder such as family information, medical information, birthdays, important events etc. I just have to collect the right printables for me. Even Etsy has many people who sell printables in amazing patterns and styles at fairly good prices. Some also sell entire household planners {though you can get lots free too if you look around – again Scattered Squirrel has great printables, as does Clean Mama}.

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Grace

As always in the Christian life, God asks us to both work and rest. Psalm 92:12 says:

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

God asks that we take our days seriously and I know that I have a history of not doing this. Sinful idleness, cultural standards and my own lack of motivation have been part of my struggle to care for my home and family well. But God has given us only one life to live for him and his glory and as this verse says, he asks us to take each day and use it to it’s fullest. Having this perspective on our daily life, God says, gives us wisdom.

Yet, our Lord also says that our failures, sins and weaknesses that lead us to either strive or be slothful can never be satisfied. I can never work enough nor can I ever rest enough. And it isn’t finding a balance, either, as much as that tickles our ears. Rather, God says that in our work, our souls find the rest we need in him alone.

My soul finds rest in God alone. ~ Psalm 62:1

Recently I have been repeating that to my heart every time I feel a restless spirit move within me. If I want to be slothful, I say it to my soul and it spurs me on to work for him. If I am feeling overwhelmed by the chaos and noise that can be child-rearing, I speak this to my soul and I find a stillness that keeps me going on the right path of patience and strength. 

Looking well to the ways of our homes is both work and rest… The work of seeking his glory in all that we do and bathing in the perfect acceptance and grace that is his rest in Jesus.

Why I’m an Advocate for Mother’s Being at Home.

This is a contentious topic and I’m not sure I ought to be adding a voice to the dialogue. But this wee blog of mine is a place where I desire to encourage women to focus their heart and energy to their families. With society the way it is, the call of wives and mother’s to professionalise homelife is more important than ever. Because this is my heart, I would like to share the deep convictions I have and the reasons for it.

If we look at Scripture as a whole – from Genesis to Revelation – and try to see particular verses in their historical context, scriptural context, it would be incredibly difficult to argue that God encourages women to leave their families for outside work. The Bible never condemns it and I do not believe working outside of the home in and of itself is a sin, but, we cannot deny that the overall principle and ideal that God paints in Scripture is that the woman is the heart of the home and is vital for the health and well-being of family life. A husband needs her and requires her support; her children need her nurturing and instruction.

“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”

Proverbs 14:1

“The adulterous woman…[the personification of an unwise person} is unruly and defiant, her feet never stay at home.”

Proverbs 7:11

“She watches over the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”

Proverbs 31:27

 

“Older women…are to teach what is good, and so train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”

Titus 2:3-5

“So I would have the younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander.”

1 Timothy 5:14

 

But if [any man] does not provide for their own household, he has denied his faith and worse than an unbeliever.”

1 Timothy 5:8

Now, for me, these verses quite clearly show that when a woman is married and has children, her priority is them. The season in life when children are dependent on her {and not the husband because he is working to provide for them} is when her heart and main focus ought to be where her children are, at home.

For the nitty gritty details, like looking into context and original language, there are much better resources than myself! {See this post for my top five favourites.} But for me, even more important than the rational evidence that can be found when studying Scripture plainly with an earnest heart, is found in the verses from Titus.

In Titus 2:3-5 {often seen as the mandate for Christian women}, Paul frames his instructions for older women to teach the younger women with these two reasons:

…it is good teaching {sound doctrine}.
…it honours God and his Word.

To me, above any other argument, this is what sells it to me. It isn’t scientific research, personal experience, or any other ideal that causes me to believe children thrive best when mother’s are home with them – it’s because when we do not have our family as our main focus and priority, it dishonours God. It gives God a bad name among non-believers. That just kick me in the guts.

Paul speaks of this again to Timothy. His instructions for the welfare for widows is that a widow must remarry and raise her family at home so that

…outsiders can’t slander the gospel.
 

Have you ever thought that choosing to work outside the home when one has dependent children isn’t just about having skills, or passions, or abilities to do so? A woman could absolutely have the desire, the drive, the abilities to be the president of a corporation. But the Bible doesn’t mention one’s capabilities or skills as being a reason to do something {or not do something}. But what the Bible does say is this: motherhood, family life and marriage are not about me. Building our homes, managing them, keeping them is not actually about us. It’s all about Jesus.

What God is saying in these verses is that, not only is it best for a woman and her family that she prioritises family life above all else, it is best for non-believers. What do they see when they watch a woman commit her life to her family? Sacrifice. True, Christ-like love. Hard work. Dedication. Selflessness.

They see Christ.

Could there be any better argument for the advocation of a mother staying home with her family than the furtherance of God’s kingdom? Yes, we live in an imperfect world where sometimes God’s ideals just cannot be lived out. I know a single woman, raising three children, who works outside the home. And oh, God glorifies himself so much through her. But it is hard and it, in his perfect world, would not have been his first pick for her.

But just as prioritising our husbands and children above any other pursuit is about Jesus, so Jesus loves and covers and provides ways for those who cannot pursue his best for them. His grace is lavish and rich and abundant, and uses all things in our lives to make us more like him and glorify him through them {Romans 8:28-29}. But if we have a choice, if the way is there for us, it is for our best – it is for Jesus and the non-believer’s best – that we make our home and families our priorities.

This is why I advocate mother’s being at home – there is so much more than myself at stake.