Monday, June 29, 2009

The 4 Ingredients to My Happiness & Success as a Home-maker

I DID say that this would be a 4-day series. I DIDN'T say 4 consecutive days. :)

Ingredient #2: The Age of My Children

I don't know about you, but I tend to look around at other people's lives and homes and become envious of those who seem to have it all together. I never could understand why some moms could "do it all" when I struggled just to get 3 meals a day on the table and make sure my children survived another 24 hours.

Years ago, a friend of mine helped me realize that other moms either 1) don't have as many children, 2) send their children to school, or 3) have older children.

I have found that for me, a huge ingredient in my success as a home-maker is the age of my children. My youngest will be two years old tomorrow. This is the longest I have ever gone without having another newborn in almost 12 years. SIX of my children are potty trained leaving only one child with regular diaper changes. He only has to eat 3 times a day instead of the 7-8 times a newborn needs to eat. I sleep through the night! My older children help keep an eye on the younger ones while I do things around the house that need to be done. I have an 8 year old that even VOLUNTEERS to change diapers!! My kids do chores. Yes, they even DO DISHES!!!
Do you see where I'm going with this?

When I had 5 children 6 and under, friends told me to just hang on, things would get easier. Friends with more children than I had, but older, said that they had it much easier than I because of all the help their children gave them. I never thought that day would come, but it has.

They were right!

My older children are like 2 extra sets of hands. It has come to the point where I hardly ever go anywhere with my youngest two without older children to help get them into and out of their car-seats. They help take in groceries and unload them. They hold the hands of younger siblings when we're out. They even bake desserts from time to time. The amount of time they save me has enabled me to recently get projects done that have been on the back burner for years. What a blessing!

The fact that I was able to clean all of my children's closets and dressers in one day and the attic the next is all because my children are at an age where they are becoming a bit more responsible (a BIT). When I cleaned out the attic the other night, I assigned dinner clean-up jobs to various children. That was 30 more minutes I could put toward the task I've been wanting to accomplish for over a year!

I am not talking slave-labor here. My children have more than enough time to goof off and play. They live a life that I can only compare to a perpetual carnival. However, they are a part of a family. They realize that if every one pitches in and helps, mom has more time to do fun things. We can get through our chores faster and on to more exciting activities by each person doing their part.

I am excited that we are now at a point in our lives that I am finally able to dust my house again on a regular basis. I am actually caught-up on laundry and ironing. I amazingly have time to relax in the afternoon, once in a while, and to do things like, well, blog.

If you are a mom of young children, I encourage you like my friends encouraged me. Just hold on. Your time will come. Do what you can, but don't stress if your house isn't 100% dust free, your laundry reaches the ceiling, and you have to order pizza...again.

Yes, you're going to see some young moms who can seemingly do it all, but you may not see the people they have behind the scenes who are helping out that you may not have access to. Or, you may not see the stress levels they are putting on themselves or their family. You don't have their whole picture. You only have yours. And God has it, too.

The same friend who helped me see other people's realities also shared with me this truth when I was struggling with those 5 children 6 and under: Pray. You may not have the time or energy to even read one chapter of your Bible, but you can pray anywhere. Even if it's "HELP, LORD!" He hears the prayers of the mommy. Read a verse here and there if you can. But, always talk to the Lord.

That advice helped me through a very difficult time in my life. A time when everything seemed to be a wreck. But, that seems forever ago. God walked me through. My children have gotten older. And, I'm feeling more successful.

But, wait. Looking back, I was successful then, as well. Success is doing what God wants you to do when He wants you to do it. It's not what the world, your friends, your mom or mother-in-law think you need to do. It's doing what HE wants. If you're doing that, you are a successful home-maker already. In a few years, you'll get to do the extras YOU want to do!

Just hold on.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The 4 Ingredients to My Happiness & Success as a Home-maker

It's been a while, but I've been cleaning, remember?

The other day, after a profitable day of homeschooling and cooking dinner in my clean home, I got to thinking about why I seem to feel happier and more successful as a home-maker lately than I have in the past. I've been on this roller coaster ride long enough to know that I may have a down-turn again, but what is my success & happiness dependent upon? Due to time constraints (I'm a mom of 7, remember?), I will break this up into a 4-day series.

The first ingredient:

My walk with the Lord.

If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you realize that your attitude, your daily life, your reactions are completely dependent upon your relationship with God. I find that if I let a few days go by without reading my Bible or keeping up a conversation with my Lord, I become a pretty miserable person.

Yes, I said a few DAYS. I know. Most of you MAY skip one day here and there, but never 2 or 3, or 7 days in a row. Ever. Pretend you can relate.

Without the Light guiding my path, I tend to become even more impatient than normal and the guardian of my tongue seems to take a leave of absence. By my misery, my children become miserable. With miserable children, it's difficult to get anything done. Miserable children have difficulty doing their schoolwork & getting along which requires more of my time. When I'm bickering with my children or just have a poor attitude, my creativity level is low and meals become boring, hum-drum, get the point. My poor attitude creates a spirit of selfishness and doing things for my family such as laundry, cleaning, cooking, changing diapers, etc., become a burden and a point of resentment.

However, opening my Bible, reading it, speaking to the Author sheds light on my day. I see that my children are still learning and I am their trainer. I see that I need to have in my mouth the law of kindness. I take the time to ask the Lord to help me in the areas in which I am weak and I lift up my children in prayer. Not necessarily for them to behave, but for them to have a love for God and to please HIM, not ME. God shines the light over onto my responsibilities and enables me to see that by fulfilling them, I can bless my family. He fills my mind and heart with songs so that I may replace the miserable grumbling with a bit of happy humming!

A new day. A new prayer. A new the same ole Book. The first ingredient to happiness & success in being a home-maker.

In truth, the first ingredient to happiness & success in all areas of life.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Clean Thoughts

It all started with a scheduled meeting of homeschool co-op teachers at my house. I looked around my house and knew something needed to be done.

Don't get me wrong. I normally strive to keep my house in some semblance of order. Well, as much as possible with 7 kids. I usually make time to sweep, mop, and vacuum (at least the downstairs) on a weekly basis. But, dust? Wipe down walls and cupboards? Do windows? Um, yeah. I can't remember the last time I had time to do those things. Hire someone else to do that, yes. But, do it myself? Hmm...

Well, I knew I had over a dozen adults coming to my house. Unlike drop-in guests who understand they just interrupted reality and that's why there's still food smeared on the kitchen table, expected guests, well, expect more.

So, I got to work. Four days before the meeting. Which is rare for me. Usually, I'm in a tizzy four HOURS before people show up. But, in order to ward off the pre-hospitality stress, I got to work.

I dusted, straightened, threw away, scrubbed walls, floors, ceilings, cabinets, windows. I stayed up until 2 a.m. one morning as those late hours are preciously uninterrupted hours.

You know what? I am more content with my house now than I have been in a long time. I didn't get any new furniture. No new curtains. We didn't remodel. I just cleaned.

And I feel like a new woman.

Oh, and may I introduce you to my 2 new maids? The ProForce 1500 my husband bought for me a month or so ago as I am MURDER on your average department store vacuum.
This, I bought yesterday as my new vacuum has no attachments. This has given new life to the inside of my windowsills and my stairs!
I am truly a happy housewife!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sharing Your Life Together

Isn't that a beautiful couple? They got married on Saturday. They are not what you would call your "conservative Christian" couple. The didn't do everything the Bible way. However, they showed the utmost respect for the wedding ceremony.

My husband and I were betting what they would do during the cake cutting portion of the reception. Would they be nice or smash it? I must admit, I expected them to smash it. I mean, after all, we all know church-going Christians who have shoved cake up the nose of their newly wedded husband or wife.

I was so very happy when, after cutting the cake, they fed each other a bite with the love and grace deserving of the tradition.

There is symbolism behind every wedding tradition. The cake cutting/feeding symbolizes the sharing of the new couple's lives with each other. It symbolizes the submission to one another and the promise to love, honor, and cherish each other. What is a couple saying about these things when they smash cake all over each other's faces?

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to have fun. I love to laugh with my husband. We love to tease one another. However, we did not smash cake into each other's faces on our wedding day. I smeared a tiny bit on his nose, that's all. Making him look foolish and getting into a cake fight was not on our agenda of the loveliest and purest of days.

This couple may not have done everything right. But, showing each other the honor and respect deserved as husband and wife was definitely the right thing!

note: this post is not intended to condemn anyone who believes differently - it's not a scriptural truth - it's just the opinion of the author. :)