Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My Homemaking Philosophy

I started this blog almost 2 years ago mainly to comment on other blogs. And then thought it was only fair to write a little too. That if I saw others lives, they should see a bit of mine.

But I've discovered something. Words can be powerful. And I never know who is listening here. So I've prayed that God would lead me in the things I should write about on this blog.

Homemaking is not necessarily the subject that I wanted to write about. I've thought for a while about writing about husband and wife relationships. I've formulated ideas in my mind and then sat down to type them out and....nothing. So I'd try again. With the same results. It's not that I thought I was an expert on husband/wife relationships. It's just that after 22 years of being with my husband I thought I had some things to share. And I still do think that. But now is not the time. I don't know why. I just know that I won't try to force it anymore.

As I went about my day yesterday it suddenly became clear to me that I needed to write about homemaking now. How I do it. Why I do it it the way I do it. My basic philosophy. I resisted the idea, because I'm certainly no expert. But the idea stayed with me all day. It just felt right.

And with that wordy preface, I give you my homemaking philosophy.

Treat homemaking like a job.

That's pretty much it.

If you worked outside the home, you'd more than likely have to be at work at a certain time. At home, we're given a little leeway. The fact is, it's easy to take advantage of that leeway. Don't.

If you worked outside the home, you'd have expectations placed on you. Place those expectations on yourself.

If you worked outside the home, you'd not resent most of the work that was placed on you. You'd realize that it was simply a part of the deal. Try to keep this same mindset when you work at home.

Realize that you'll have bad days. Just like if you worked outside the home.

Realize that you'll have days that you don't get everything done or that you just feel like you're spinning your wheels. Just like if you worked outside the home.

If you're lucky enough to be able to stay at home and care for your husband and family full time, then treat it like a job. A job that you love. And learn to love it if you don't.

How might you learn to love something that you don't?

First, pray. Ask God to change your heart so that you love and appreciate what you've been given a chance to do. I believe that God helps those that ask. So ask Him.

Secondly, learn to do it well. Very, very few things in life do we dislike doing that we do well. Think about it. What are you really good at? Do you like doing it?

So how do you learn to do something well? There might be areas that you have to research. You might have to get advice from someone. You might have to try different things to see what works best for you. But eventually if you persevere, you'll get good at it.

First you need a plan. I use a homemaking binder with chore charts. You might find something totally different that works for you. I make a menu on Sunday or Monday that we use for the whole week. When I know what we're having for dinner, I am almost never left at 5pm trying to scramble for something.

It's all about organization.

If you don't have your own system, feel free to use mine.

Brew yourself a nice pot of coffee or a cup of tea. Get a notebook or a piece of paper or an old envelope and a pencil. Start to make a list of all the things that need to be done in your home. Beside the chore, guesstimate the time that it takes you to do that chore. Like laundry might take me 5 hours a week. Paying bills may take me 2 hours every two weeks. Cooking (including cleaning up and organizing) may take me 2 hours a day. Grocery shopping may take me 2 hours a week. Scrubbing the tub may take me 20 minutes a week.

You get the idea. Include everything.

Ask your husband what he'd like to have done. There is no shame in this. Ask him what is important to him. You might be surprised at his answers. And don't bristle at his answers. You asked, didn't you?

This list may take you some time to complete. If you're like me, you'll find yourself adding to it for a few weeks as you get the whole thing organized.

Next, figure out how many hours you have in each individual day to get chores done. For example, on Monday and Friday I'm home all day (or can be). Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I'm obligated with driving the girls and church activities.

Get several sheets of paper, each with the individual days of the week written at the top. Divide each day into time slots and start to plug your list into these times slots.

If my husband leaves for work at 8am and gets home at 6pm, then technically I have 10hours that day to get my work done. Of course, I'm not going to work for 10 solid hours. But that is how many hours I have to plug my list into on any given day.

If I've got 10 hours to work with, I try to factor in 5 hours of housework. This includes cooking. This leaves me 5 hours to read my Bible, play with my children, exercise, work in my garden, walk the dog, go to the park or write a blog post (I don't watch TV without my husband, but if you like it, there is no reason you can't factor that in as well). What other job give you this kind of freedom?

The reason I "only" figure in 5 hours is because I have already worked before my husband leaves and I know I'll work a little after he comes home preparing meals and/or cleaning up. Plus, do you realize how much housework you can get done in 5 hours? It's a lot. Trust me.

Now on Wednesday I only have about 3 hours at home. So I figure my work load accordingly.

Once you figure out how much time you truly have in each day and have your scheduled work load for that day, you rarely feel overwhelmed. It's all laid out and easy to see what needs to be done each day. And you've scheduled plenty of time to do it!

I'd love to hear any thought on your routines and how you go about making homekeeping your career.


Anonymous said...

I loved this entry! I believe too many women view home keeping as a chance to be lazy (thus why I've heard many working wives/mothers say they would be bored!), but it truly is not as God intended for it to be. He wants wives and mothers to keep the home full-time, and DO IT, not lay around. It truly is, as you say, to be treated as a job! Excellent.
Thank you for sharing.
-Mrs. Gunning
P.S. You do not look old enough to have been married 22 years!

Lisa Kay said...

Thanks so much for this post.

Hubby and I don't have children, so I am currently working full time. (I prefer part-time and Hubby supports that, but there's I can't find anything pt right now.)

Anyway, that being said, I really struggle with balancing my "full time job" with my "most important job." I am not an excellent housekeeper, but I want to be better.

Organization and planning would go a long way in helping me do a better job at home.

Thanks for the encouragement!

Revka said...

You have no idea how much I needed this post, Michelle. I am a stay-at-home mom, and the household is my responsibility, but I absolutely despise housework. So... time to fix that. Thanks!

BarbaraLee said...

I couldn't help but read this. Your so right. I do the same thing. If more women treat homemaking like this there wouldn't be a need for womens lib. How wrong they are.

Anonymous said...

I was looking for this article two days ago to print off for my Home Management Binder, and could not find it again.
When I finally found it today (by accident, no pun intended to your blog title! LOL), I realized that the very end of your post asks us to share as well.

Every day starts with private devotions. Then my daughter and I have a brief Scripture reading time with discussion. Monday and Tuesday and then Thursday and Friday is home school for us, so we get that done first thing. That usually wraps up by lunch time, and then we get going on house work. House work is usually done within 2-3 hours, depending if I am doing a deep clean that day or not. After that, if anything needs to be "wrapped up" for dinner, it gets done after house work, but it's flexible (i.e. a crock pot meal needs to go in the A.M.). I try very hard to allow us at least an hour of relax time during the day, as that's one of the things that truly makes me being home for my family a blessing - a calm atmosphere.
Dinner, family time and then the bedtime ritual is what we do. I usually stay up for 2-3 hours after my daughter has been put to bed to do any personal things such as reading, web surfing, personal devotion time again, or scrap booking.
I do try to keep flexible, though, if someone were to desperately need me during the day, that we can help them if possible.
The weekends are not so scheduled!
Thank you for a lovely blog. I am going to link you at mine!

Michelle said...

Hi Michelle,
I happened upon your site after visiting Tisha and her muddy day with her boys! Even though it's May, I decided to open up this March entry on homemaking philosophy. What a great encouragement to me! Thank you for sharing your ideas and your helpful hints. I've not been able to be the homemaker I'd like to be for the last few months; but my season of rest has nearly come to an end.....and it's almost time to get 'back in the saddle' again. I love the way you wrote your thoughts. They will be a spring board for me!! We've just wrapped up school for the year and there are a lot of 'loose ends' around the house that need attention.

Annie said...

Hi Michelle,
I just found your blog, linked from MoneySavingMom because of your giveaway. I resonate with your philosophy completely and enjoy seeing how fulfilling being a godly wife and mother is as my job, compared to the corporate job I left a few years ago!

I'd like to pass on a recommendation to all your readers: www.flylady.com She has very helpful home organization/cleaning tips that help you build routines. It has been HUGELY helpful to me as I try to get better at my "job as homemaker."

I look forward to following your blog now! Thanks!