Some are going to call me old fashioned for writing this. And they are probably right. I have put off writing a post like this for years, because I didn’t really know if young wives and mothers would be very responsive to it. I didn’t write it because I didn’t really know where to start & because my home wasn’t always “up to par” as a haven. But once I got to really thinking about why it wasn’t, it was usually because my heart had fallen out of sync with where I was trying to go. I’ve had a home of my own for 10 years now, and the following advice has been handed down, lovingly in bits and pieces from wiser, more experienced homemakers, wives and mothers. I’m finally sharing because I am passionate about us as mothers, especially stay at home moms, finding our joy and our purpose in what it is we’re doing, in a society that at times makes us feel like our work isn’t valuable.
Lets think for a moment about how a home should make us feel. A home should be a resting place. A place to refuel before heading back out to fight the good fight that is doing good in the world. A place to fill our lamps so our lights can shine. A place to restore ourselves and to find refuge from the chaos that is the outside world. It’s a place that we carry with us everywhere we go, and for the rest of our lives. So therefore, the thought that we put into our homes shouldn’t be taken lightly. Home is where you should find your favorite people, the most comforting smells, your worn books, your favorite meals, and your beloved, cozy blanket.
So, think about it again; how do you want your home to make your family feel? What smells, tastes, sounds and memories do you want your kids to pull out years later and smile about? It is not the expensive things we have, but who we are and what we do, that makes our home a haven from the rest of the world. So how do we do that? Well, there are many ways, and I’ll lend you all the advice I’ve been given. But here are the first steps…and I personally think they’re the hardest.
If our hearts aren’t in our homemaking, we can’t possibly make the atmosphere in our homes into a place of rest and refuge. It doesn’t matter how much we decorate, or bake, or entertain guests, or try to create memories if our hearts aren’t where they need to be. We can’t possibly make our homes a place of rest and refuge until our hearts find that first. Take time in the morning before your kids wake to spend a little time making a plan for the day and being intentional about your gratitude. Understand that your season may be one filled with little ones who depend on you and that can be exhausting, but there is someone out there praying, right now, for what you have. Be thankful for your gifts, and be patient in your season.
Take a few minutes to get yourself ready and spend some time in Scripture. Having those anchors to my morning has helped me so much in making the most out of the rest of my day.
Engage and invest in your family throughout the day. Do not get so wrap up in your to do list that you forget why you’re doing it. If your kids need help or correction, or your husband needs a listening ear, do not be so busy that you’re not there to provide that. Yes, you can get the chores done while still engaging with your family. I like to include my 4 year old when I do the dishes; she loves to dry! She also helps me match socks when I do laundry. We make a game out of clean up times, and they are always right next to me when preparing meals. We don’t always sit at the table during meal times, but we do always sit together. The kids love picnics; some are outside on sunny days, and some are in the living room floor while we listen to books on tape. My husband works a lot of hours and it’s tough to find time to just talk sometimes. So we make sure to plan 15 minutes each evening after dinner and before the kids bath times to just have some face to face time without little ones listening or interrupting. He takes care of baths while I finish up anything that didn’t get done that day & we take one on one time to read, talk and pray with each of our kids before bed. Face time is so important; don’t assume that just because you’re in the same house together that your family feels seen. Find what works best for your family, and implement it!
Guard your time and your family’s schedule. There’s no need to fill every block of your family’s time up with activities, especially if it isn’t something that enhances your family’s relationship. Go through your calendar and mark off things that can be eliminated. We’re all busy. But don’t get so busy that you stop spending time together. Make that time. And if there isn’t time, then you definitely need to clear up that calendar!
Be mindful of being prepared when it comes to leaving the house. An outing that was intended to be fun for everyone can be ruined by having to stress about actually getting out the door. I know how hard it is to leave with little ones in tow, but I’m going to give you the advice you have probably heard forever, because it works; keep things like your keys, wallet, sunglasses, diaper bag and shoes all in the same place. Make sure they’re ready the night before. Nothing ruins the excitement of an outing like not being able to actually leave!
Be proactive about keeping a pleasant demeanor. I’m not talking about being a fake, sunshiny wife-bot whose dead behind the eyes, kind of thing. I mean, just don’t be so irritated all the time. Sage advice there…but I see you! Jaw clenched, eyebrows furrowed, voice raised…And I get it…there’s little ones (as sometimes others) who are irritating you. (And yes, sometimes it’s because they’re just trying to irritate you and have succeeded.)
But if you are always walking around like that, it may be because your heart has wandered from the path. You getting irritated could be you missing pleas for attention. And I know it’s tough sometimes to fight the scowl. I myself used to be a professional scowler. But no one wants to be around a person like that, and you can’t be a light to someone else if yours is just smoking embers. Start the day off right by not staying up too late watching TV or working the night before (I know that is the only time you may have alone, but hear me out!) Not getting the rest we need is pretty common for us moms, but attempting to get adequate rest should be top priority so that we can wake cheerfully for our family. Some seasons in life make it tougher to get rest, but know that you are putting in the hard work now to reap what you are sowing later. Remember, be patient in your season. Set your intention before your feet ever hit the floor… “Today will be a good day. I will set the atmosphere surrounding my family with my attitude. Today I will choose peace, calm, and joy.”
Be content. No one is perfect. No family or home is perfect. Someone is always going to have something that is nicer, newer, shinier than what you have. And social media is the worst for making you feel like you need more. It has a way of making you feel like your kids aren’t doing enough, or that your husband doesn’t give you enough fancy gifts, or that your home isn’t Instagram worthy. It can be a wonderful new avenue for the Devil to just walk right up into your house, luggage and all, and just set up residence. But it can also certainly be a way for us to encourage each other and support one another. Social media doesn’t usually show the ugly, and you can’t compare your real life to someone else’s highlight reel. Trust me when I tell you that God has a plan for you, right where you are. Bloom where are planted!
We all want a home that feels like a place of rest and refuge from the world. A place that is full of joy and peace, belly laughs and fairytales, hope and kindness. A place of love and light. A place that our family comes to, and falls into its sweet comfort. We all want a place where the people within it’s walls are free to spread their wings, while still growing their roots. The first step in creating a home that embodies these traits is finding rest and refuge in our hearts. Without it, we can’t provide it to others. Start by being intentional with the areas you feel need the most improvement. Mark a few things off your calendar and get up a little earlier. Schedule in that face time and be intentional in your gratitude. Wherever you feel is the right place, that’s where you begin. Start slow if you must, but just start. It’s hard to free ourselves from ruts that we’ve created, in fact those are the hardest ruts to get out of. But we can all make our homes a place of peace and joy.
“Start with a prayer, and go from there!”