Friday, March 6, 2009

Homekeeping Extremes

Moderation is key in everything we do. This is the lesson I'm learning by experience. Food, hobbies, recreation, spending money, even ministry: all these must be disciplined or they can easily go to extremes.

I've found that I tend to vacillate between two extremes in my keeping of the home as well. The first I call "spinning my wheels". These are the days when the day seems to unfold as it will with no regard to my wishes or carefully laid plans. In all honesty, it usually starts with poor planning the night before and broken sleep from a child being awake often through the night. I wake up exhausted when Little Man cries for his morning bottle. By the time he's finished and I've made an attempt at devotions, two other children are awake and ready for breakfast. We eat in our pajamas, then clean up the kitchen, then...well, you's noon before everyone is dressed and even later before school begins. When days begin like this, it seems all day like I'm a car stuck in the mud, spinning my wheels but never getting anywhere. Bedtime comes and I'm so fatigued but can't remember a single productive thing I've done all day. I hate days like that!

Usually when I've had a day like that, I decide that the next day is going to be better. I have a schedule that I AM going to follow. I get the kids to bed early. I make myself get up early no matter how many times I've been up through the night. I cook, clean, launder, and make phone calls before the kids wake up. I am on a roll...and end up rolling right over my poor kids. The same children that were allowed to eat breakfast in their pajamas the day before are whipped into shape by Drill Sargent Mama. My word for this is "driven". At the end of the day, I'm still exhausted with not much to show for it because the kids acted terrible. No one likes to be given orders all day just so a schedule can be followed.

So, the pendulum swings back and forth and I get more and more frustrated with myself. Ah! The key word is "myself". I cry to God, "Why am I not getting anywhere? Are you sure this is what you want me to do? I'm failing miserably as a mother and this house looks like a wreck!" God gently asks me, "This morning when you were so driven to be productive, did you spend time with me and ask me what I wanted you to do with your day?" I have to admit that I drove myself right through my devotions, doing most of the talking again. (I'm really good at monologue!) He continues, "When you spent the whole day spinning your wheels, did you ask for my help that morning?" I have to admit that I was so behind that day that I didn't pray much more than a half-hearted "Good morning" to my Heavenly Father.

The song, "In Christ Alone", comes to my mind then. I was "counting my diamonds" of a great schedule or a full to-do list instead of relying on God. The simple truth is no external system is adequate for a prayer-less woman. If I fail to cry out to my Father for help and guidance, I am assuredly going to fail in my productivity for the day. Even if I succeed in having dust-free surfaces and shiny floors, who gets the credit? "I can do all things through Christ Who strengtheneth me." Yes, that even includes homeschooling and mopping floors. Aren't you glad it does?

How does time with your Heavenly Father help you avoid extremes in the keeping of your home?


  1. Jennifer,

    I will forever stress the process of routine. You need to make a schedule and try to keep to it as much as possible. You may say, Sarah, you can't say that you don't have kids. To that I will answer, I don't need children to understand the process of routine. My grandmother raised 9 children, she taught my mum the importance of routine. My mum raised her 5 nieces and nephews as a young teenager (younger than you were when you got married) using a good routine. You do not have nine or five children, if it works for them, it will work for less children.

    My childminders looked after many children, we all had a time to do things and we accomplished our homework and many chores before our parents collected us. My nanny always had routine with her own children and with me too.


    No one likes to be given orders all day just so a schedule can be followed. not good. It's not about liking to be given orders, it's about doing them. The real world, outside of being a housewife and homeschooling works in schedules. How can you prepare your children for the real world when you don't want to give them orders for schedules.It's how the world operates, even God gives us rules for us to follow, which are strict.

    I'm not saying routine is easy, but if you establish a good routine and try to keep to it as much as possible, it will work for you.

    Also, there is no reason why your children can't have chores. I had chores from the age of 4. It didn't kill me and my mum got the housework done, I did my part, she did hers.

    I'm not being funny but, I think you need to read books on how the original old time housewives kept their homes and trained their kids with routine and you'll get some ideas. I always read books like that and I'm not married and nor do I have children. I rarely read books on how these trendy yummy mummies do things, I prefer to learn from the older women. I've asked my mum, nanny and other child minders, how did you do this and how did you do that? Somewhere in that conversation comes a routine.


  2. Sarah,
    Thanks for the helpful suggestions. The fact is I DO have a very detailed routine. I may post it sometime on a Home Friday. However, the "bad days" I was writing about sometimes upset the routine. I was talking about my attitude. Requests with a joyful attitude are much better than ordering my children around like a drill sargent (how DO you spell that?!). My children do have chores. Each morning they make their beds, get dressed and brush their teeth (with the exception of the baby, he he). They clear the table, unload the dishwasher and load it again. They vacuum and dust occasionally. I'm teaching my daughter how to clean the bathroom with supervision. My son empties the trash each morning. My daughter delivers her laundry to the laundry room. Both children help me fold and put away laundry. My desire IS to learn from older women who have been there and done that. Please don't think you have a glimpse of my whole life through one blog post. I was making a different point than that I am a completely undisciplined wreck! :-) Although, that happens sometimes too ASIDE FROM GOD'S HELP. (The capitals are not shouting but my way of emphasizing since I can't do italics in the comment box.)

    With Joy,
    Lady Jen

  3. I will agree with Lady Jen that some days a set schedule is very hard to keep. Mom is on the job 24/7 There are unforeseen things that will come up and wreck havoc to any well laid schedule. I am speaking from experience with that as I am currently doing ALL that in my life. Talk about last minute schedule changes. I also remember when I was young and my mother was having her devotion time we would interupt her with our little problems (and little children need to be heard too.) She was very gracious about it. I know that God understands. Remember we can pray to him for help throughout the day. He listens anytime. Keep up the good work. Remember a wife and mother is "on the clock" so to speak all the time. We never "punch out" of work. Sometimes a schedule goes right out the window. Just my two cents.


  4. Thank you for the encouragement, Beth! My article on devotions in the sidebar has more to say about that aspect of it.

  5. I have the same problems from time to time. Just seems like that one day all time just flies by and nothing seems to get done. And like you, the next day I try and make sure that all is done, but in my heart I feel that it was all done wrong, for the wrong reasons and with the wrong attitudes. As I am praying for God to help me in this area, I will also pray for you and for the many other mothers feeling these same feelings and going thru the same motions.

  6. Thank you, Home Grown Academy! I'm glad I'm not the only one who struggles here. For the record, yesterday was really productive! Just writing about it seemed to help me get on track.

  7. Lady Jen, I very much enjoyed your honest post.

    One way the Lord has often encouraged me is through His exhortation that faithfulness in little things matters to Him. My life as a wife and mother is composed of so many little things. I am thankful, too, that I may cast my little cares upon Him. He truly gives wisdom to those who request it.

  8. Thanks, Joyce. I appreciate your encouragement.

  9. Hi Lady Jen,
    I soooooooooooo rang true with this really spoke to me and many many days I swing from being really undisciplined and not getting much done and not relying on God much throughout the day and then the next day I'm really disciplined and strict and get heaps done and am very productive, but haven't really spent quality time with the Lord or maybe achieved what HE wanted me to achieve. I'm glad I'm not alone in this! I like the idea of a routine, but I rarely follow it to the letter, even though I do have one that is a work in progress. I guess maybe I need to become more discplined, but you are right, it is only with God's help and with His strength that we can do what HE wants us to do with our day as a wife & mummy.

    :) Nina

  10. I'm glad to find someone who feels the same way, Nina! God will help us all to be more disciplined in the RIGHT way. He's working on me every day!