Tips for the Beginning Homemaker

It’s been exactly one year since my official career change from full-time public school teacher to full-time homemaker. While I still VERY MUCH consider myself a beginning homemaker, I do want to share a few things that I’ve learned over the past year. These are not new ideas at all, and I probably could have easily come up with them if I’d sat down to make a list of guidelines on day one. However, it’s taken a year of really digging into the daily business of homemaking — especially after having my first baby — to really begin to understand how foundational these things are to my mental and spiritual health, as well as to my general success in homemaking.

This list is not exhaustive, and just because it’s on my list doesn’t mean I’m an expert at it. It just means that these are some of the most important lessons I’ve learned and am still learning. I mess up in some way every day, and it usually relates to one of these. And then the beauty of it is that, so far, God has given me another day to try again. Here is my “Top Ten List”:

Know your job title.
Isn’t it awkward when someone asks you, “What do you do?” and you’re like, “Oh, I just stay at home.” Why are we denigrating our worth and propagating the myth that we “just” remain in our houses? Oh my goodness! If I “just” stayed at home, a whole lot of things would go awry. So forget the “just.” Also forget the “stay at home.” Look at that verb! What is it that you do? You stay? Is that really an adequate description of the main business of your day? Not leaving your house? Pooh! As an extension of this idea, I have abandoned the term “stay-at-home-mom.” In its place, I have adopted the title of “Homemaker”! Now that’s a job with quite a description behind it, and a whole lot of worth attached to it. Although both terms are typically treated as synonymous, I just have a totally different image in my mind for each. While the “SAHM” watches TV, plays on the internet, and slowly loses muscle mass in her yoga pants that are really never used for yoga, the Homemaker is hard at work! In addition to the daily upkeep of her house, she’s looking for ways to make it a home. She’s raising children (That’s a tough job, by the way. Why else would daycare be expensive? Ever think about that? It’s physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually taxing. Don’t downplay that.). She’s learning how to be a better cook. Maybe she has a garden. Maybe she cans preserves. Maybe she sews. Maybe she homeschools. But the idea here is that she is busy with an important, lasting, and impactful work. She does not “just” stay at home. For me, calling myself a homemaker gives me something to live up to. It’s a difficult and meaningful job that I am constantly growing into. I do not have to learn how to stay in my house, nor is much skill or effort required to do so.

Have a schedule for your day.
Those who fail to plan, plan to fail, and they end up on the internet all day watching YouTube videos and clicking “refresh” on Facebook. Don’t do that. If you do, then call yourself a SAHM. Ha! Just kidding. But whether it’s a written and detailed schedule you follow, or general outlines in your mind for what you need to do in the morning and in the afternoon, have a plan. It’s like setting goals. You won’t reach them if you don’t set them. Also, establishing routines for my baby has been a lifesaver. He knows what to expect, his little body gets sleepy and hungry at exactly the right times, and it just makes life easier for both of us. I know when we can go out and when we can’t, which almost eliminates public meltdowns — mine or his!

Make Bible study and prayer a top priority. Like brushing your teeth.
Seriously. No matter what is happening, barring a natural disaster, there is never a day that I don’t brush my teeth. Ever. Isn’t spending time with God more important? (Don’t ask your dentist that question.) Seek the Lord every day with a whole heart. Maybe right before you brush your teeth.

Get up early.
This is not difficult if you have young kids, because they will probably wake you up. But if you’re in a situation where sleeping in is possible, don’t make it a practice. It may feel nice to get those extra hours of rest, but generally sleeping in is a recipe for a non-productive day.

Go to bed at the same time as your husband (assuming he has a regular daytime work schedule).
Some people may object to the previous point, saying that sometimes they’re up super-late doing whatever important thing it is that needed doing. My advice to you on that one is to go to bed. If something is undone, leave it that way. If you order your day so that the non-negotiable things get done, while the lesser things are left for free time, then you’re unlikely to be facing late nights with things you “have” to get done. And it’s better for your marriage if you go to bed at the same time. You know what I’m talking about.

Do laundry and dishes every day.
I used to get SO MAD at laundry and dishes, and consequently, at the people who dirtied them. What the heck? Why is ____ wearing 72 articles of clothing in a day? Why did ____ use three different glasses today for water? I JUST washed the darks. I JUST emptied the sink. AAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHH! Okay, and so I was in a constant state of frustration and resentment over people simply living life. Clothes get dirty. Dishes get used. Every day. Multiple times a day. Treat laundry and dishes like showering. It’s fairly non-negotiable. You can skip a day, sure. But skip two… oh man. Now it’s smelly. Just stay on top of it and do laundry and dishes every day. Only the size of your family will determine how many loads per day are necessary to stay on top of it; start with one or two and see how it goes. And skip Sundays. No one should do laundry on Sundays. It’s in the Bible.

Start thinking about dinner around lunch time.
Many, many nights in my house have gone down like this:

Him: (around 6 p.m.) Hey, honey, what’s for dinner?
Me: (responding defensively, wondering why everyone always looks at me asking for food) I don’t know. Do you have a plan?
Him: (responding carefully) Well, do we have anything to cook? Do you want to order pizza? Chinese?

I’m left feeling lousy for not having my act together and shifting the responsibility onto my unsuspecting husband, and he’s left frustrated that the responsibility has been shifted to him at the last minute, but trying to figure out how to balance that frustration with being an understanding and helpful husband. No one wins, and we end up overpaying for delivery and eating too much grease. Ugh. Solution? Make a decision about what dinner is going to be while you’re eating lunch. That gives you time to run to the store for an ingredient, if necessary, or to defrost the chicken, or to do some prep-work during nap time so you’re not so rushed and flustered come early evening. It just keeps everybody sane, and a bit healthier. (As an extension to this idea, it REALLY helps to meal plan for the week and go shopping all at once. Saves gas and time, too.)

Have a schedule for household chores.
So you may have gathered by now that I’m a schedule person. Why yes, I am; nice to meet you! I have lists and charts and calendars, and I love it! Otherwise, I feel like I’m just ambling along, letting circumstances dictate my day, and I end up getting nothing that is very important done. To help with this, and to aid in learning hospitality, I developed a schedule for always keeping my home at an acceptable level of cleanliness. I am not a clean freak, but I am when I have people coming over. So, my early years of marriage were spent in a messy apartment, with a husband who wanted to invite people over, but with me refusing because it was so stressful to clean the whole place at once AND figure out food. Forget it! Let’s meet them at Chili’s! Now, I’ve learned to keep my house generally (but certainly not perfectly) clean all the time by keeping a schedule. Then if we want to invite people over, it’s only a few minutes of extra tidying that needs doing. And besides, we’re just all more comfortable in a clean space.

Be frugal.
Only purchase things you need, and evaluate your definition of “need.” Shop the ads for your groceries — you don’t have to go all over town; Walmart price-matches all local ads — and clip coupons. Look on the discount racks first at department stores, and seriously consider thrift stores and garage sales when you need clothes or household goods. For most of us, the choice to give up a paying job to be a full-time homemaker is a sacrifice, so keep that in mind. No matter how united you and your husband are on the idea that the money he makes is “our” money, he’s human. If you are not making money, but you’re spending the money he makes like nobody’s business on things you don’t need and/or can’t afford, it will be very difficult for him to not resent you. His resentment is his issue, sure, but your wastefulness and disrespect is yours.

Accept that this season of life will be different.
I am a writer. I thought, when I was pregnant and wearing rose-colored glasses, that I would be able to finish my novels while my baby slept. I mean, babies sleep a lot, right?! Ha! I was nuts. What a completely unrealistic plan I had. Maybe if I had a maid, and a nanny… Alas, this is life with little ones. Life will change; babies will grow up, (oh I have a lump in my throat at the thought!), and there will be new opportunities to more fully pursue personal dreams. Right now, my highest calling is to pour into my little one and constantly whisper the love of Jesus to him. And to talk sweetly to him when he accidentally leaks poop down his leg. What better job is there? Oh, but it’s just for a season.

Those are the biggest lessons that I’ve learned, and that I have to remind myself to keep learning very frequently. Tomorrow, I’ll share some of the things that I really still suck at, but I wanted today — my one-year homemaking anniversary — to be positive! What are some lessons you’ve learned as a homemaker?

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My Favorite Things 2

This is volume two of my favorite things! I hope you find something that will be helpful to you. (I promise it’s not all mommy things. Skip the first two items if that doesn’t interest you!)

As mentioned in the video: Etsy Shop — iPuke

Previous “Favorite Things” video can be found here.

Intentional Praise

I’ve been planning to write a post about my praise jar for about a week, but I just haven’t. I’ve been super-overwhelmed with a lot of things, (mostly Bennett and his notsleeping), and so I’ve put it off. Today, however, is so full of praises that I figured it was the very best day to write this post!

My neighbor, Rebecca, posted a very Pinterest-y idea the other day on Facebook:

I thought it was brilliant! I decided to make my own, with the specific intention of its being for praises. So here’s mine:

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No, I don’t dot my “i”s. In print. I do dot them in cursive. And yes, my jar is small. That’s what I had on hand. I’m hoping to upgrade when it gets full! Anyway, I wanted to make sure that my jar was prominently displayed in order to remind me of it, and I wanted to make sure that it was clear that this is all about making note of everyday praises. At the end of the year, I can look back and praise God very specifically for all the ways He blessed me during 2013! Awesome! I’m so excited, and I’m extra excited today, which is why I’m posting this particular post at this particular time.

I put several praise post-its in my jar today.

  1. I am exactly at my pre-pregnancy weight! Five months and three days after having my stomach sliced open and being handed a baby, and then curiously still being left with a giant belly and lots of pounds to lose! This is a great day. I celebrated by eating, and I’m going to celebrate again tonight by eating. 🙂
  2. Bennett’s notsleeping, as mentioned above, has been a huge issue. Huge. I’ve done everything I felt like I could do based on his age and my related discomfort with cry-it-out sleep training at his age. Anyway, my friend Alison gave me the courage to try something that she told me to wait until bedtime to try, so that I’d have my husband for reinforcement, but I tried it anyway at both naps today. BENNETT HAS TAKEN TWO NAPS TODAY WITH MINIMAL PROTEST! AND HE’S BEEN ASLEEP FOR AN UNINTERRUPTED ONE HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTES ON THIS SECOND NAP, AS I TYPE VERY EXCITEDLY IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS MUCH TO YOUR ANNOYANCE!
  3. I have an amazing husband who is a great encouragement and help to me every day.
  4. I have an amazing friend, Andrea. (I have lots of other amazing people in my life, too, but she was most recently amazing.)
  5. I have an amazing God, who has been preparing me extremely specifically through Scripture (the book of Titus) for a spiritual battle. He is sustaining me, comforting me, and encouraging me spiritually as this is happening during a season of both physical and emotional exhaustion (see #2 above).

Amen, and amen.

(You should make a praise jar, too. It’s too easy to forget or ignore the good things when there’s so much crumminess around that’s too easy to dwell upon.)

Adorning the Doctrine (a page from my journal)

January 4, 2013

Titus 2:9-10

Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own master in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.

  • “Bondslave” – “doulos” – permanently a slave, his will is altogether consumed in the will of another
  • “Master” – has unlimited authority over slaves, not always for good.
  • The slave is to be absolutely obedient without arguing or being self-seeking (pilfering)
  • Adorn the doctrine: reveal the beauty of it, enhance it, make it noticeable and pleasing to others

Obviously this passage is referring to literal slaves who legally belonged to their masters. Since that’s not really part of our culture, I often ignore or skim passages like this, or I loosely and not very seriously apply them to an employee/employer situation. Today, however, I was reminded that I am the bondslave of the Lord, just like Mary and Paul. I need to be absolutely obedient and not argue back! While the “master” referred to in this passage may well have evil intent, my Master does not — so how much more should I obey Him! What I struggle with is discerning His voice, so I need much help from the Holy Spirit. Even so, there have definitely been times I’ve been really pretty sure, but said no or protested before relenting. Often in the latter situation, where I finally just give in, I hold back or don’t completely obey. That’s a kind of pilfering, really. I’m holding back something for my own gain, usually the avoidance of embarrassment, awkwardness, or inconvenience. So this passage about bondslaves in the ancient world? Totally about me. If I learn absolute obedience, the total yielding of my will to God’s, then I will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior, a doctrine which is explained in the following verses:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
(Titus 2:11-14 ESV)

My job here, on this earth, is to give my life over to the beauty of God’s will. In a way, I’m like an ornament meant to accentuate the beauty of God and His redemptive plan. What an honor it is to adorn the doctrine!

~Maranatha

Resolutions: Bibles and Cake Pops

(Okay, so I’m a day late. No big deal.) The beginning of a new year is one of the best times — well, there’s no bad time, really; NOW is the best time, whenever that is, but I digress — to start a Bible-in-a-year reading plan! I very highly recommend this site: Back to the Bible. It gives you several different plans to choose from, so you can pick one that suits your fancy.

So why is it important to read the Bible in a year? It’s not. Which is why I’m not doing it in 2013, for the first time in five years. It hurts a little to say that, honestly. It hurts even more to admit that I gave up in 2012.

Last year, like the several before it, I embarked upon a Bible-reading journey. That year, I chose a chronological plan, printed it out, and stuck it in my Bible. Unfortunately for my reading plan, I was in my first trimester in January, February, and March. I had no hope. I could barely put on mascara and stare at the middle school students in front of me every day, much less read roughly three chapters of the Bible. And forget making dinner. So, I got behind. And then further behind. And still further. By my second trimester, I was feeling great, and I doubled up on my reading assignments to get me back on track by a certain date. (Six chapters per day! Whoa.) Anyway, it never happened. I had a baby. I didn’t sleep. I finally gave up completely in November, I think, but maybe it was before. It hurt my heart to give up. It pained me. I had made a commitment when I was 25 to read the entire Bible through every year for the rest of my life, so I felt like I was breaking a promise to God.

Nope.

It was my own commitment to myself, and honestly, it wasn’t a very good one to make long-term. In stressing quantity over quality, I lost a lot. (Especially when I was doubling up my readings. Good night!) My husband told me this all along, but I told him he was wrong. (He wasn’t.) I told him I needed to keep my commitment. (I didn’t.) I told him to worry about his own Bible study and let me do mine. (He did. Most of the time. Except when I complained about being behind on my reading. Which was all the time. So he just said things like, “You already know what I have to say about this.” I did. And I stuck my tongue out at him and dug in my heels.)

So now, for 2013, I am *not* reading the Bible in a year. I’m going deeper, starting with the rest of Titus, and then my husband and I will be digging into the prophecies of Daniel together. I’m excited, but a little sad to let go of what’s familiar.

What about you, though? I started this post recommending reading plans, and I still do. Have you ever read the whole Bible? Most people — even most Christians — haven’t. How long have you been a Christian? Have you read Habakkuk? Lamentations?

Okay, seriously, what about Leviticus or Numbers?

You should. Maybe don’t make a commitment to read the whole Bible every year for the rest of your life, but do it this year. I’m better for having done it in the past; I understand the big picture and its Author much better and in ways I never could have without having read Zephaniah and, yes, Numbers. You’re really missing out if you haven’t. So pick a plan and open your Bible every day. I mean, you probably spend a lot of time on Facebook, blogs, Pinterest, and Words with Friends, right? Seems like you have a few minutes for the Word of God if you dig around a little. 😉

It’s honestly not really important that you read the Bible in a year, but that you read it, all of it, and not just the parts that seem to you like they might be enjoyable or interesting. That’s why the reading plan is a really good idea at least once. It’s true that reading the whole Bible isn’t easy, especially if you’re new at it. But, making cake pops for the first time wasn’t easy, either, but that didn’t stop you because you knew it would be worth it. Well, this is the ultimate cake pop. You know, like a cake pop for your soul!

Dig deep in 2013. Stretch your roots into the Word. You’ll never regret it, and you’ll never be the same. Trust God on this one:

Three-week Study on Titus

Well, I’m in the same situation I was in about a month or so ago, with a little time between scheduled Bible studies. I haven’t decided for sure whether I will be participating in Good Morning Girls’ Luke study, which begins on January 14, because I’m not sure what the ladies’ group at my church will be studying or what my husband and I may decide to study together. Regardless, I am faced with a few weeks with nothing scheduled for me, so I have decided to study Titus! I really enjoyed my earlier study on Jude, and I wanted to invite you to join me for a similar journey through Titus. I think it will be great!

I will be following the Good Morning Girls’ SOAP Bible study format, which I invite you to do as well! I’m still loving this approach to Bible study, so I’ll be continuing it. Here’s how it works:

S– The S stands for Scripture- you physically write out the scripture……you’ll be amazed that what God will reveal to you just by taking the time to slow down and actually write out what you are reading!

O– The O stands for observation- what do you see in the verses that you’re reading. Who is the audience? Is there a repetition of words? What words stand out to you?

A– The A stands for Application- this is when God’s Word becomes personal. What is God saying to me today? How can I apply what I just read to my own personal life? What changes do I need to make? Is there an action that I need to take?

P– And finally P stands for Prayer. Pray God’s Word back to Him. If He has revealed something to you during this time in His Word, pray about it. Confess if He has revealed some sin that is in your life.

That’s it, once again! Simple, yet powerful. So grab a Bible, a journal, and a pen, and feel free to join me. Many blessings, and Merry Christmas! (Don’t let the holidays be an excuse to let your Bible study slip… If you’re not doing this, do something!)

Titus Reading Schedule: 

WEEK ONE
December 24 – Titus 1:1-3
December 25 – Titus 1:4-6
December 26 – Titus 1:7-9
December 27 – Titus 1:10-11
December 28 – Titus 1:12-14

WEEK TWO
December 31 – Titus 1:15-16
January 1 – Titus 2:1-5
January 2 – Titus 2:6-8
January 3 – Titus 2:9-10
January 4 – Titus 2:11-14

WEEK THREE
January 7 – Titus 2:15 – 3:3
January 8 – Titus 3:4-7
January 9 – Titus 3:8-9
January 10 – Titus 3:10-11
January 11 – Titus 3:12-15

 

Be a Blessing,
Angela

The Advent of Peace

Hello! I just finished up the Good Morning Girls‘ Advent Study, and it was awesome! I got a little behind, but ended up finishing it yesterday. The last verse is John 14:27 —

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

There is so much that could be said, but I focused in on the world’s peace, which rests in men. Looking up the Greek word that’s translated as “world,” I found that in addition to meaning exactly that, it also has a connotation of decoration and adornment. It made me think of dressing up, of keeping up appearances. What the world offers is only skin deep. Locks, seatbelts, baby monitors, railings, alarm systems, bank accounts, fraud alerts, security cameras, medicine, hospitals, first responders, guards, clean water, FDA, CDC, FEMA, FBI, warning labels, medical alert bracelets, insurance, road signs, speed limits, laws. These give some level of peace, but they’re all external. They can — and do — all fail on occasion. Only the peace of Christ surpasses all of these. What the world gives is false, incomplete, an illusion. It’s when we put all our trust in the world’s peace that we’re the most susceptible to being shattered when it fails. Praise the Lord that He sent His Son, the Prince of Peace, whose true peace surpasses all understanding!

How blessed are we who love Him, for He first loved us. Merry, Merry Christmas.

Be a Blessing,
Angela