|My morning routine is done.|
To be a homemaker, even in a world of ample supplies and technological wonders, requires learning a set of skills and becoming experienced in them.
One of the great obstacles to gaining these skills is that from every side the young woman is told that the ordinary tasks of survival are insignificant and unworthy of her full attention. These tasks are considered so insignificant that a woman receives very little training in them until one day she finds herself on a domestic island with no choice but to figure it all out on her own and no time to do it.
What is often underestimated by the homemaker is the time and effort just to become experienced and competent at the fundamentals of managing a household: budgeting, meal planning, cooking, daily upkeep of stuff and laundry, time management, organizing, cleaning and maintenance.
Then there is the spiritual work of homemaking. Creating a home is more than cleaning, cooking and organization. A homemaker nurtures the spiritual growth of the household as she oversees daily and weekly routines and rituals as well as celebrating special days, holidays and traditions.
We, as the mothers of the house, are building small units of soul-sustaining culture. And this building takes time, practice and experience.
The wife and mother of the house must take responsibility for this work while not neglecting her primary role of being an affectionate and loving wife, raising children and taking care of her own personal needs.
Now...looking at the components of keeping house...it seems a little overwhelming. But of course it can be done; we have the example of generations of mothers and homemakers to inspire us.
So where should we start in overcoming inexperience?
Let's break our great task down into three steps:
- First, we are going to find an encouraging mentor.
- Second, we are going to manage expectations and pace ourselves.
- Finally, we are going to learn and work the process of gaining
|As a new wife, I was in love, but I had much to learn about being a good wife.|
1) Find an encouraging mentor.
If you have a seasoned homemaker in your life, your mother or another wise and willing older woman, count yourself blessed and actively learn from her and take advantage of her experience.
Unfortunately, few women these days have role models and active mentoring from an experienced older woman. The good news is that there are excellent books, numerous homemaking blogs, vlogs and social media accounts that can help. We live in a technological age and we ought to take advantage of all it offers. I’ve listed resources that have helped me here .
2) Manage expectations.
Homemaking isn't learned overnight, so give yourself the time and energy to learn how to do this work. Even if every woman were prepared for keeping house by a diligent and competent mother, it still would take few years to get used to her own husband and her own home.
And then whenever there is a move or a major life change, the routines and habits need to be recalibrated and in some sense we start all over.
To those ladies who already have homes and families and are in the middle of trying to figure out the skills of homemaking as you go, let me just say…I sympathize with you. This is where I was when I started out and I know it can be difficult and stressful. My advice is to clear out your schedule as much as possible so that you have more time to develop competency in homemaking.
In the meantime, slow down, relax and enjoy your home. Homemaking is as much a journey as it is a destination. Try to get a little better every day, be consistent, and you will see your house slowly but surely improving to your great delight. Maybe you were only able to declutter one drawer today. Congratulations! Pat yourself on the back. Sit down for a moment with a cup of tea. Go back and look at the drawer a few times later in the day ( I always do that). Did you put "Declutter 15 minutes" on your to-do list? If you did, then enjoy the feeling of accomplishment as you cross it off as DONE. You ARE making progress.
She perceiveth that her merchandise is good; her candle goeth out by night. - Proverbs 31:18
Taking time every day to savor your wins will motivate you to do even more.
3) Work the process.
Running a household is a coordinated activity that requires learning, then practice, and then more practice until it all becomes automatic. When we get to the point that we can run the house on autopilot, we can then better deal with children and interruptions and we can add creative and outside pursuits.
But many women are hard on themselves, silently berating themselves for not being able to keep up with it all. What they do not take into account is that there is a skill acquisition process to homemaking, a step-by-step process, and that the skills can be learned and mastered. A growth mindset is essential.
1- Cognitive stage: This is the point in which the learner is figuring out how to do a particular task or following instructions. The learner is aware of and thinking about each stage of the process (individual tasks like washing a load of laundry, cooking a chuck roast, changing a diaper, setting up a kitchen drawer). At the beginning stages of homemaking, each task must be separated out, understood, and practiced individually.
One idea at this stage is to make a list of all the individual tasks that go into running the home each day, time the task, think about how to do it in the most efficient way and then practice it until mastery is achieved.
For example, as a beginning cook, it's a good idea to learn and even memorize individual recipes and practice these. As the basic recipes and techniques become automatized, more recipes can be added to the repertoire. (I suggest keeping a card file or a notebook of your recipes and adding to them new ones are found, tested and become part of the regular rotation of meals.)
Homework: make a list of all the separate homemaking tasks you do every day in a notebook or on index cards....one card for each task. Go through your list or stack of cards each day.
Here is an example of various tasks that have been chunked into my morning routine:
Get up (I consider this a task...lol), brush hair and pretty up a bit. Open blinds. (10)
- Make coffee.
- Take supplements. (5)
- Make breakfast for and pack a lunch for Mr. C. (15)
- Read Bible and pray. (30)
- Morning tidy: gather laundry, papers and other things out of place (5)
- Start a load of laundry. (5)
- See Mr. C off to work. (5)
- Make and eat breakfast. (15)
- Load dishes in dishwasher and clean counters. Quick vac. (10)
- Dry load of laundry. (5)
- Quick shower, moisturize, brush hair and teeth and get dressed. (20)
- Quick tidy the bathroom (swish toilet, wipe down sink, counters and toilet seat). (5)
- Make the bed.(5)
- Look at calendar and deal with papers. (5)
- Think about what's for supper. Pull out necessary ingredients (5)
- Fold laundry and put away (5)
Be ready to start writing by 8:30.
When I do these things, I've given myself and my household a great start to the day. I check off my morning routine from my list and enjoy the feeling of taking care of myself and the people I love first thing.
Homework: After practicing and timing the individual tasks for a few weeks, organize them into three piles: label one pile your morning routine, one pile your afternoon routine, and one pile your evening routine. Now practice your routines one at a time until you have them memorized....sort of like a dance.
3- Autonomous stage: The learner can now put that component of her day on autopilot as routines and habits are in place and improvement stops. Now once you have that morning routine down it will become a habit. A habit is something you do that is easier to do than not.
You probably have a habit and a routine already in place. Many people have a habit of looking at a smart phone first thing in the morning and most likely do it without thinking. The problem with this habit is that we can often lose track of time and end up not doing more healthy and necessary things. Also some of the things we look at on our phones can put us in a negative mindset for the rest of the day.
A healthy morning routine works in the same way.... once you have done it over and over, you don't have to think about it anymore. But the difference is that with a healthy routine in place, you are unconsciously and without much effort improving your life every day. This is the great benefit of having good habits. They are difficult at first, but once they become automatic, they are like magic in our lives. They are the gift we give to ourselves that just keeps on giving.
Homework: List some things that go beyond the basics of housekeeping that you would like to add into your life at some point. For example, do you want to learn to bake or garden? Maybe learn to play an instrument? Write it down on a card and think about how you can incorporate it into your daily or weekly schedule.
And if you want to keep on growing, new habits and new things must be learned. So don't get stuck in routines unless you like it that way. :-)
Enjoy the feeling of accomplishment as you put into place basic homemaking skills and routines. Be consistent. Then with some momentum built up, you roll onto the open field of possibility and the more creative and rewarding aspects of keeping house.
Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. -St. Francis of Assisi
Finally, homemaking, like so many things we undertake in life, is a journey, so remember to take time to enjoy yourself, your home and your family.