Day 29: Together #write31days2018

I’m a day behind again (or still), so I’m just writing as if I’m not.

Today was my son’s birthday, and we spent the whole day doing some of his favorite things together for fun. Going to the library, hiking at the park, buying new shoes, making his cake and pizza for dinner. We had a really great day. And I am so tired. It was all simple, nothing extravagant or expensive. (Well, the shoes seemed expensive, but my son needed two pairs and my daughter also needed a pair!)

Just us. Together.

This is pretty normal life for us. As a homeschooling family, we spend a lot of time doing things as a family. When the kids were younger, it often felt hard to be alone with them, but now that my kids are old enough to enjoy playing and reading and drawing together, it is becoming so sweet. I love watching them become the people God intends them to be, even though that includes a lot of tiring, repetitive training.

Chew with your mouth closed.

Please stop whining and use your normal voice.

How do you ask for something nicely?

Don’t stand on the couch.

You get the picture. Parts of parenting are simply mundane and wearying. Some days I do just want to be alone and have a little peace and quiet. But at the same time, I am sincerely thankful that we get so much time together. I think that when my kids are grown, they are going to be some of my very best friends. And I will always be able to look back on these memories we made together and know it was time well spent.

This post is part of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes and Write 31 Days blogging challenges. Find all my posts in this series under the tag “write31days2018.”

Day 22: Help #write31days2018

I think in our current culture, we as American’s are not always willing to admit when we need help with things, at least I see that in moms. We want to appear to have it all together and to be capable of caring for our families and other responsibilities on our own. 

But this is not historically how mothers have done things. (The exception, perhaps, was in the extreme frontier days when pioneer women often went months without seeing their neighbors and had no contact with the families they left back east but occasional letters.)  In times gone by, women helped each other with childcare, household chores and outdoor work. They washed clothes together at the stream. They brought in the harvest and put up canned goods together. They trained their older daughters to look after the younger children while the women did work that needed free hands. 

Sadly, we have lost this type of close community help as our lives have become more automated and fast-paced. We have the semblance of community online, but we lack real hands-on help in our daily lives. We would not say that our ancestors were weak in giving help to and taking help from other women in their communities, would we? No. I think, rather, we should say that it is strong and brave to admit that we sometimes need each other, that we need help. And we need to be used by God to help others also. 

In what area of life could you use some “in the flesh” help today? How could you help a member of your local community this week? Let us pray for God to bring friends and mentors who can support us. Let us pray for God to bring us people we can serve. Let us pray for true community. Then be open to being the one to start building it as the Lord leads.

This post is part of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes and Write 31 Days blogging challenges. Find all my posts in this series under the tag “write31days2018.”

Day 16: Pray #write31days2018

Not a day goes by that I don’t pray several times for help from God. Most of the time, it’s a quick prayer in the midst of sibling conflict between my two children. But in the morning, I usually do  have time for more focussed, less desperate prayers.

However, I have found that those short send-ups for patience, wisdom and grace in moments of desperation are still meaningful. I am learning these days that I cannot control my children or the outcome of my parenting. I can only do what I think is best at the time and pray for the Lord’s will to be done in their lives. The Lord alone knows what is best for them, and I need Him desperately in these days. I am not the potter. I am here to nurture my children and to teach them all I can about making godly choices. But I am not able to determine the path they will go. This is a humbling, and in many ways frightening, realization.

So I pray. A lot. I pray that I will faithfully mother these precious souls. I pray that they will see Christ in me, even through my many flaws and failures. And I pray with gratitude that my God is big enough to draw them to Himself no matter how much I may mess up in the day to day.

This post is part of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes and Write 31 Days blogging challenges. Find all my posts in this series under the tag “write31days2018.”

Setting Intentions and Atmosphere in Our Home

I sat at the dining room table Sunday afternoon, notebook open in front of me and pen in hand, waiting for some ideas to come. After weeks of growing discontentment with our current routine and the attitudes in our home, especially surrounding chores and school, I was ready for a change. 

But what kind of change? I knew I had to set the tone with more positivity and a fresh atmosphere, so I set down a few ideas for adding positive reinforcement and a little more loveliness into our day. 

One of the problems we have been struggling with is in the area of completing our morning routine without dawdling and complaining. I created a little extra incentive chart for my son to do his morning jobs in a timely manner without my constant nagging. I also decided to back up the time I expect us to “start school” each day to stop us feeling so rushed. When I talked to my son about these changes, he was very excited and ready to try to get his tasks started in the morning.

Since my own attitude is really the only one I can change, I also wrote down some very different priorities for the week in my planner. Instead of usual top 3 tasks for housekeeping and work, I wrote things like “Smile, laugh, and have some fun every day,” “Create something with your hands,” and “Love God and your family well.” I also reminded myself of the importance of getting my personal Bible study and prayer time in before the kids wake each day, so I set my alarm a little earlier for Monday morning.

Finally, I resolved to infuse some fun and beauty into our homeschool routine so that we all have something special to look forward to each day. Over the past few weeks we added “Poetry Tea Time” back into our schedule once a week, and it had become a highlight for me and the kids. In my notebook, I wrote down plans for daily “tea time” at the beginning of the school day: light candles, set out the tea things and snacks, and gather at the table with smiles and anticipation of the good time we are about to have learning together. 

Finished with my brainstorming session, I pushed back the notebook and set down my pen with a satisfied sigh. I knew that none of these changes were big on their own. And I knew that none of them was a magic formula for success. But I also knew that because I was setting my intention to make positive changes and have a joyful attitude myself, things would be better. Because I was going to set the tone and prepare an atmosphere of beauty and goodness, our day would be different. I was hopeful.

And, you know what? Today was the best day we have had in a very, very long time. I hope it is not the last… I don’t think it will be!

Keeping the Laundry Monster at Bay: Homemaking Series, Part 5

Welcome back to the Homemaking For Real People series! We’ve made it to week 5 already, and today I’m talking about laundry. Yes, I know it is not the most glamorous or exciting part of our homemaking duties, but it is still important. And since it seems to be an area in which a lot of people struggle, I thought I’d share a few things that have helped me keep the dreaded “laundry monster” at bay in our home.

Have a Routine:

I’ve said it before in this series, but it bears repeating. Having a predictable routine for your housekeeping tasks will help you stay on top of everything, and laundry is no exception. In fact, in our house, even if there is not a set schedule or day for any other task, there is a schedule for laundry. No matter what else I have going on during laundry day, I try to make no excuses and just get it going. Since my husband and I got married nearly 14 years ago (say what?!) we have done laundry primarily on Friday and/or Saturday. This way I always know we have clean clothes for church and the coming work week. It just makes sense for us. As a young couple, we could generally do all of our laundry in 2-3 loads each week, making it pretty easy to get done in one day. Now that we have kids, I usually have a few more loads than that to do, but I still have specific days for washing clothing, towels, bedding and doing hand washing, when needed.

Fold and Put Away, Right Away:

I know that this is where a lot of people get tripped up, but believe me, friend. You will be able to stay on top of the laundry pile so much better if you just buck up and fold, hang and put away that clean laundry right away. Now, let me say this: in our house that doesn’t always happen exactly while the clothes are still hot from the dryer. It does, however, happen on the day the clothes are washed. I will frequently do 3 loads of clothes in a day, bringing them all to our bedroom and piling them on the bed. I hang things that will wring easily right away, but I will often wait until all the clothes I’m washing that day are done before starting to sort, fold and put away. But it always all get put away before anyone goes to bed at night. It is just part of the job, so I have disciplined myself to do it. My husband usually helps, but if he is busy, I don’t mind doing it all myself. I know there are seasons when this can seem overwhelming, but sometimes we have to stop making excuses and just do the work.

Train Your Kids to Help:

This is another things I’ve said before but will say again. Teach your children to help with the laundry. My son has been doing his own laundry since he was around 6 years old. Every week he has this on his chore chart. It is not his favorite thing to do, but he know how to do it and will not be bringing his clothes home for me to wash on his college breaks! Ha! Also, my daughter is learning how to sort the dirty clothes into colored piles and to help sort the clean ones into the correct family member’s pile. She can match up socks and fold wash cloths. Anything you can teach your children to do to help out, even if it takes more time in the beginning, will pay off in the end, I promise!

Don’t Buy Too Many Clothes:

Seriously. Capsule wardrobes, minimal amounts of clothing for each family member for each season, will help you. The fewer clothes you have to wear, the fewer clothes you have to wash! Also, if you don’t need to buy a lot of hand-wash or dry-clean only items, you will save yourself the time and money of needing to take special care of so many clothes. Buy permanent press or non-wrinkle dress clothes when possible to cut down on the need to iron.

Bonus tip:

Another way to cut down on laundry is to re-wear barely worn clothes. I’m obviously not talking about sweaty t-shirts or muddy jeans. But often we wear clothes lightly enough that they are fine for a second go round before hitting the wash. Teach your family members to hang up clothes that have only been worn for short periods and are still clean, instead of automatically tossing everything in the hamper. Dress clothes and jeans especially fall into this category.

It’s pretty no-nonsense and simple, but those are the things we do here to keep the laundry from getting out of control Do you have any other tips or tricks you use to keep from swimming in unfinished laundry? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

Previous Posts in the Homemaking for Real People Series:

Intro to Homemaking for Real People: Homemaking Series, Pt. 1

Why Just “Good Enough” Housekeeping? Homemaking Series, Pt. 2

A Good-Enough Housekeeping Routine: Homemaking Series, Pt. 3

20 Daily “Quick Wins:” Homemaking Series, Pt. 4