Homemaking is for everyone who eats, sleeps, and relaxes in his or her home. It’s an art, and one that we can always improve in.
I’ve always been interested in things involving the home. Ever since I was little, I would “play house”. My parents bought me an aluminum play kitchen from Kmart when I was about four. I loved wearing my apron and pretending I was the lady of the house.
I learned to cook by watching my mom or my Gramma John prepare meals and desserts. I read my mom’s yellow Pillsbury cookbook back and forward and started a recipe box by the time I was seven.
My mom went back to school for her doctorate when I was a teenager. I got the chance to play lady of the house while she was at class. I’m not sure she was entirely pleased with my usurping the grocery money and rearranging the house while she was gone.
As a college sophomore, I got an apartment with three friends. Kristin and I moved in before the other two and had quite the awakening cleaning out toe nail clippings (not ours) from the couch cushions and scrubbing greasy cabinets.
We also felt such accomplishment once it was all clean, and the grody 1970s couch was covered by pink floral sheets and pink and teal throw pillows. What can I say, but that it was the 1991.
Sorry, KMS, I didn’t have a picture of me.
Over the last 20 years, I’ve lived in six different homes as a wife and mother. They’ve ranged from 250 (yes, it was small) to 3000 square feet. There’ve been all kinds of issues over the years from not enough money to not enough time to oh-my-goodness-we-ripped-out-the-whole-kitchn-now-what? We’ve had seasons of neat and tidy and seasons of more clutter than you can imagine.
I have swam with dolphins as well as sunk like the Titanic. (How’s that for a weird homemaking analogy?)
Somehow I’ve managed to raise babies and homeschool regardless of where we were or what we had on our plate. Here are some of the things that I’ve learned over the last 24 years of housekeeping on my own:
1. Establish your priorities.
Somewhere there’s a woman who can do everything all the time, but I haven’t met her. For everything there is a season; God said so. So, you need to figure out what season you’re in and determine priorities that go along with it.
- Maybe you have time to bake every week. Maybe you don’t.
- Maybe it’s a good season for remodeling or redecorating. Or maybe it isn’t.
- Maybe it’s a good time to learn to sew. Or maybe it’s not.
I can’t tell you what to choose. Only you can.
2. Find your strengths.
For some people, keeping things neat and tidy comes naturally. For others it’s cooking. Where are your strengths?
Find those and go with them. For me, food is my friend. I know how to cook pretty decent food most of the time. My people know that they can (usually) count on me for something yummy. This blesses them and me. I know I’ve done a good job.
Doing a good job at something we’re good at is really good for morale. So, find your strengths and give your ego a boost.
3. Work on your weaknesses.
That said, you don’t get a free pass on the things that you can’t do super well. Everyone can learn — or muster up the motivation to get better.
Ask yourself if it’s really a weakness. I could say I’m not good at cleaning the kitchen, but that’s not true. The reality is that I don’t always make it a priority. I also don’t like getting my hands wet. Really. But, now that I bought a this magic wand, washing dishes as I go is much easier.
4. Find a way to organize yourself.
I am a word person. That means that I process things through the written word. I like lists.
Find a work control system that fits who you are. Try one of these 4 planning systems.
5. Plan your meals.
No matter who you are, a celebrity chef or a boxed mac and cheese connoisseur, you need to plan your meals. Everyone eats!
The weeks that I don’t have a meal plan or don’t make an effort to follow one are the weeks where chaos reigns. REIGNS, I tell you.
6. Continue to learn.
Even though I’ve been managing a home of my own for almost a quarter of a century, I still need to learn. I still lag. I still falter in making my house a home for my family.
I’m currently in the “not enough time” zone, so I’m looking for short cuts and nifty tricks to make our home happier, healthier, and a little bit tidier. We’ve got a little life-changing magic going, but I need to constantly be working to tidy, fold, cook, wash, and otherwise manage our home.
I’ve found that reading a good book about organizing, productivity, or homemaking is usually just the shot in the arm that I need.
What makes YOU a better homemaker?
I’d love to hear what helps you manage your home and love your family. What tricks have you got up your sleeve?