Monday, March 22, 2021

Obstacles to Homemaking: Inexperience


Today's post begins a series on overcoming the obstacles to homemaking that most of us face at some time or another.  Today we will be looking at the obstacle most common to new keepers of their homes...inexperience.
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.


There are also components of homemaking that many today consider hobbies, but have traditionally been seen as vital to the economy and happiness of the home such as gardening, baking, and crafts.

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:

  1. First, we are going to find an encouraging mentor.
  2. Second, we are going to manage expectations and pace ourselves.
  3. 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.


There are threes stages to learning any physical skill: cognitive, associative and autonomous (Posner and Fitts)

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.



2- Associative stage
: The
learner begins to put similar tasks together into a routine. She begins to chunk together aspects of the process (individual, related tasks chunked into daily and weekly routines). What are some related tasks that are good to start early in the day? Decide on those and then put them together into a morning routine. 


Here is an example of various tasks that have been chunked into my morning routine:


6:00 a.m. 

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)


7:00 a.m.

  • 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)

15 minutes


  • Make and eat breakfast. (15)
  • Load dishes in dishwasher and clean counters. Quick vac. (10)
  • Dry load of laundry. (5)

30 minutes


  • 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)

30 minutes


  • 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)

15 minutes


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.


Love,

Amy Laurie





Thursday, March 11, 2021

Homemaking Resources



I'm often asked about the books that I recommend on marriage and domestic life. In today's post, I'm going to share with you a few of my favorites.

The Holy Bible

The book that has had the most profound influence on my life is the Holy Bible and so I will list some relevant Bible passages first. To get the most out of it, read the Bible slowly and intentionally. And read prayerfully.  

  • Genesis 1-4: These chapters set forth the beginnings of humanity, the creation of man and woman and their respective purposes and roles, the reasons for their fall into sin and suffering, and the consequences of their disobedience.
  • Proverbs: Written by King Solomon of Judah and Israel, this book of advice gives general admonitions of practical wisdom. It has 31 chapters, so one chapter a day can be read going through the whole book in a month. There are 31 verses in the last chapter (Proverbs 31) and 22 of them are devoted to a the qualities of a virtuous woman and ideal wife. I've memorized these verses and found them to be a blessing in my life.
  • Song of Solomon is a written another work by King Solomon, more poetic in nature, it is very romantic and has much to say about married, sexual love.
  • Matthew 5:32, 19:3-9, Mark 10: 2-12: Jesus's teaches in these passages on the sanctity of marriage and God's abhorrence of divorce.
  • 1 Cor. 7:10-11: In these verses, the apostle Paul's gives advice on marriage and divorce.
  • Ephesians 5: 22-33, Colossians 3: 17-25: The apostle Paul gives the structure and purpose of Christian marriage.
  • 1 Timothy 5:1, Titus 2: 3-5: Paul gives advice on how women in the church are to conduct themselves and their ministriy as homemakers.
  • 1 Peter 3: 1-7: The Apostle Peter gives advice to Christian women on their ministry as wives, their behavior and how to relate to their husbands
She looketh well to the ways of her household and eateth not the bread of idleness. - Proverbs 31: 27

The older women likewise that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;  that they may teach the younger women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.  - Titus 2:3-5

Much can be gained from meditating on verses like these.  I've found that they have given me plenty of challenge in my Christian and homemaking journey.

*******

Other than the Word of God, there are several books, websites, blogs, podcasts and YouTube channels that have been a great help to me.  I have asterisked* the ones that have impacted me the most.  Please keep in mind that everyone is a little different, so always sift and tailor any lifestyle advice to your particular husband, family and situation.  


Resources on the practical aspects of keeping house:


*The Legacy of Home, Mrs. Sharon White.  Mrs. White writes this lovely blog and also has written many books on practical homemaking, gives tips here on budgeting, menu planning, cleaning, organizing as well as having the right mindset and dealing with difficulties.  



























*Sink Reflections, Marla Cilley, aka FlyLady.  This is a great book if you are looking for lists of what you should be doing on a daily and weekly basis.  She not only tells you what to do but how to deal with motivation and mindset issues. Flylady is very good for people who are creatives and tend to get sidetracked. Her website is here.


*A Better Life with Kat, YouTube and Patreon.  I have followed Kat on Patreon for the last year and she gives daily step-by-step instructions and encouragement to get your home clean and organized.  She bases her advice in the FlyLady system which you can read more about here . Kat is very helpful, calm and concise.  


*Diane in Denmark, YouTube, Instagram.  Diane also gives daily encouragement on implementing a household and personal system. She is a personal life coach specializing in routines and time management. She’s also based in the Flylady system. Diane has helped me in pulling together my wardrobe.


The Secret Slob, YouTube . This is Flylady for ladies with young children at home.  She has some wonderful printables that make the FlyLady system very easy and doable for young moms.


Vintage Gothic Homemaker, YouTube and her blog is here . Rain San Martin has some lovely videos on the daily rhythms of home I appreciate and love her videos on vintage habits and routines. She will make you excited to live more quietly, simply and intentionally.


Home Comforts, Cheryl Mendelson.  This is an encyclopedia on housework...her goal is to explain all the components that go into making a clean and comfortable home.  She goes into very great detail, so keep that in mind.


A Mother’s Rule of Life, Holly Pierlot.  This book, written by the homeschooling mother of a large family, will show you how to schedule your day in order to get it all done and grow closer to God at the same time.  She comes from a strong Catholic perspective.


The Thankful Homemaker, Marci Ferrell, YouTube and her blog is here . Marci  is a wonderful Titus 2 mentor. She gives practical homemaking advice on marriage, homemaking and parenting from a strong Christian, Biblical base.  



On self-improvement, mindset, marriage, and relationships (because relationships are a big part of homemaking):


Home Living, Lydia Sherman, YouTube and her blog is here.  Lydia gives encouraging talks several times a week.   Her topics are preparing for homemaking, getting the work done, and dealing with people.  Her blog has years of wonderful articles. Lydia is a lovely Christian lady, a veteran homeschooler and also an accomplished seamstress.  


*The Total Woman, Maribel Morgan. This book is old but it has some great marriage advice and fun tips.  It is the book that opened my eyes to how to make my husband happy at home.


*Love Life for Every Married Couple, Dr. Ed Wheat.  Dr. Wheat gives very sound marriage advice and also gives hope to those in estranged marriages.



On the Art of Homemaking: 


Hidden Art of Homemaking, Edith Schaeffer.  Mrs. Schaeffer gives many ideas on how to add beauty and creativity to your day as a homemaker and also stressed the important role of homemaking in the Christian home.


Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions, Sarah Ban Breathnach. This book takes you through each month of the year with some marvelous suggestions for daily and seasonal rituals and traditions.  This was one of my favorite books when I had children at home. The tone is love, old-fashioned and relaxing.


*Living a Beautiful Life, Alexandra Stoddard.  I think every woman in America should read this book whether she is a housewife or not.   Alexandra comes from the perspective of a woman who works outside of the home but also has a great heart for homemaking and creating beauty and comfort at home.  Every chapter in this book is a treasure.



Enjoy!


Amy Laurie





Sunday, January 17, 2021

How to Make a Graceful, Cozy Home Without Spending a lot of Money


It is possible to make a home cozy and inviting without spending a lot of money? I think it is. The general principal is to direct your efforts at appealing to the senses and the emotions. Unappealing elements such as dirt, disorder, and debris are not helpful in creating a comforting feel to your home and those things need to be banished. I like this quote and I think it sums up how to make a home that will bring about a feeling of contentment:


“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful"- William Morris, 1834


I'm sharing with you all here are a few things homemakers have done for generations to make their homes graceful and a place they and their families want to be. Let's don't quickly dismiss some of these old-fashioned and frugal ways of making a house a home.


Declutter your home. 

Put away everything that isn’t useful or beautiful. Make the time investment to evaluate everything in your home. Keep what you love and donate or sell the rest. Getting rid of the weight of seen and tucked away clutter will make your house feel totally different.


Keep the house clean.

  • Bathrooms should be cleaned every day. Make sure sinks, toilets, showers, & floors are clean and shiny.

  • Keep the kitchen . After meals, sweep floors, wipe down and clear counters, wash dishes and put away. Do a quick mop several times a week. I use an all in one spray mop from O Cedar.

  • Tidy those bedrooms...make the bed and put clothes away and have children do the same.

  • Common living areas should be picked up daily, vacuumed and dusted weekly, polished once a month or so.


Decorate with heart, hands, the senses and imagination.

  • Light scented candles & keep luscious smelling lotions handy. If you want to splurge, beeswax candles are heavenly.

  • Use throws and decorative pillows to add color.

  • Extend the life of furniture by covering any worn places with throws,quilts and blankets.

  • Hang family heirloom or second-hand painting bought from antique and thrift stores.

  • Wood furniture instantly warms a room as do natural materials such as bamboo, wood, leather, cotton, wool, and linen.

  • Area rugs add a lot of charm, pattern and color.

  • Potted plants such as geraniums are lovely if you have a sunny window. 

  • Keep a vase of flowers on the table, either fresh or silk.

  • If you can afford to paint, use warm paint colors.





Live, create and do things in your home.

In these covid times, home is the place to be!  And so we can use this time to really learn how to live and be at home.  Here are some things to do at home that will make your home come alive.

  • Keep a lovely tablecloth on the table and then eat at the table daily; use pretty second hand dishes.

  • Put out seasonal decor and celebrate holidays. Bring in greenery from your yard if you have it and put in pretty containers around the house. It's free and brings noticeable life into a room.

  • Display children's art and family photos.
  • Play music. Musical instruments add a lot of interest to home. Also you can splurge on a nice speaker and play from streaming services whatever you like...country, gospel, cooking shows, jazz, classical. This is a wonderful way to personalize your home by having music playing in the background.
  • Keep coffee brewing in a sparkling kitchen;  make tea in the sun.
  • Cook and bake daily. 
  • Have some needlework projects out in a pretty basket, also newspapers, books and magazines.

Pay attention to lighting.

  • Use natural light during the day as much as possible. Open the windows if you can and let in the smells and sounds of nature. When it's cold, open the blinds and let the sunlight in. Nothing makes a house feel better than natural light and breezes coming in from the outdoors.
  • Turn off the overhead lights and use table and floor lamps instead. This will create a warm, cozy glow throughout the room and house.
  • String lights are super cozy and help to brighten up dark areas in kitchens or on mantels. Ambiance and accent lighting are both nice in a bathroom. Dollar General store has a great choice of small accent lights on a budget. Don't forget battery powered candles that have timers. These are lovely to have come on early in the morning for soft lighting in closets, bathrooms and kitchens. Have task lighting for areas where people read or do writing, art or needlework.
  • When the sun goes down, create clusters of illumination where you want focal and conversation points to be.
  • If introducing additional lights and re-jigging your lighting situation is out of the question for financial reasons, at least make sure you are only using warm bulbs throughout the rooms that you want to cozy up.

This all sounds like a lot of work. Is it really worth it? 

I think so! Your family will gravitate toward a cozy, well-kept home that will bring comfort  and add to their well being.  Creating a warm nest  is one way of ministering to them,  to friends and extended family and anyone that you invite into your sanctuary.  A thoughtful, lived in, loved space can bring peace to your little world and you will stay busy, active and creative as you do it.



Blessings!


Amy Laurie



Obstacles to Homemaking: Inexperience

Today's post begins a series on overcoming the obstacles to homemaking that most of us face at some time or another.  Today we will be l...

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