The Art of Homemaking

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There is an art to homemaking.  It is one I think I will have to take my entire life to figure out.  I often have to remind myself that “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”  Often I tend to have an all or nothing attitude, but I am finding that the joy we can find in homemaking is in the JOURNEY, not the end product.  One of my favorite quotes (not sure where I heard it from) is: “Perfection isn’t a state, it’s a direction.”  This really seems to resonate with me and gives me hope for the future.  I don’t have to be perfect today.  It’s the direction I’m headed that makes all the difference.

I was doing my scripture study this morning and ran across this quote:  “My eternal companion has wisely counseled mothers: ‘Radiate a spirit of contentment and joy with homemaking. You teach by example your attitude toward homemaking. Your attitude will say to your daughters, ‘I am only a housewife.’ Or it will convey, ‘Homemaking is the highest, most noble profession to which a woman might aspire.’” President Ezra Taft Benson

Honestly, I have not been the best example at this.  I yearn to “radiate a spirit of contentment and joy with homemaking.”  I have been so fortunate my entire marriage to have been a stay at home mom.  I have been able to bring into this world six beautiful children.  I have been there for their first steps, their midnight cries, and their greatest achievements.  Motherhood is HARD.  If anyone would have told me just how difficult it would be, I would not have believed them.  Yet, if anyone would have told me how much of a capacity I had to love, I would not have believed them either.  I have felt a fullness of joy at key points in my life and hopefully I will have a lifetime ahead of me to feel such joy.

What is homemaking?  To me, it is the making of a home.  A house is where you live, a home you take with you wherever you go.  To me it is all about family, love, patience, learning and growing up together.  Homemaking is not just about crafts, decor, baking, and sewing (though those things can bring joy and can help beautify the home), it is so much more!  I feel that the home is the best place to prepare our children for their adult lives.  There are several elements that I have or would like to have in my own home.  I’ll name a few here:

  1.  Family Devotionals – Much to my kids consternation, we try our best to have daily family devotionals.  Our devotionals typically include a song, a prayer, and scripture study or a spiritual thought.  I’m also trying hard to incorporate feedback from them on what they have learned recently or giving them an opportunity to bear their testimony.  To me, this makes all the difference.  It is sometimes a struggle to all be together at the same time with busy schedules and varying degrees of attitudes.  That said, my day goes by much better when we do this one simple act.  I hope that in the long run it will be a cherished memory for my children.
  2. Family Routines – If I could tell you all the different chores and systems I’ve used over the years, I would run out of room on this blog.  We have changed and evolved over the years.  We have used chore wheels, cards, accountable kids, The Parenting Breakthrough, money chores, you name it, we’ve likely tried it.  We switched things up as our kids got older.  The past four years have been especially difficult for me as I’ve dealt with post concussive syndrome and daily headaches after the car accident I was in.  Dealing with a head injury and cysts on my brain has, to date, probably been the hardest thing I have gone through in my life.  Harder than child birth.  While it is my struggle, I don’t want it to be an excuse for a messy home.  I am constantly trying to simplify our chore system and have accountability.  It has been really difficult of late.  That said, we are starting small and simple.  I sort of feel like a child again.  All I’ve built up to this point seems to have disappeared and I have to start out by figuratively crawling again.  But there is hope.  I have good children and while we struggle, I feel like we are in this together.  As of right now, our system includes kitchen chores (we are trying to do them after each meal) and weekly chores.  It is all I can do.  I plan on incorporating monthly and yearly chores for deep cleaning as well.  When you deal with head pain, even thinking about a complex system is overwhelming and I have to take a step back or I shut down.  (Even writing this is difficult.)  I think about the Fly Lady and how she began with just a shiny sink and moved forward from there.  At this point in my life, I can’t change the past.  I just need to look forward and do the best I can with what I’ve got.  My goal for this year is to establish habits and add to them little by little.  By the end of the year I hope to have a working system in place so that our home can once again feel like a place of refuge and peace and be a place where we want to be.  As we find systems that work, I hope to post updates so that we can learn together.
  3. Family Economy – One thing that is working really well for us right now is our family economy with the kids.  Being self employed has its perks.  We have the opportunity to teach our children the value of work and allow them to help participate in our businesses.  My daughter has been working hard to help submit my photos to several different stock agencies doing keyword entry and descriptions.  This has been a huge help for me and I hope that over time we will see a boost in sales due to it.  Even if we don’t, it is a great lesson for her.  I pay her for her time, and in turn she budgets her money and uses some of it to contribute back to the family (she pays for her cell phone bill, buys some of the groceries, pays for her school lunches, etc.)  She then puts some of it into savings for her college education and/or for a mission.  The rest is for her to use for clothing, personal hygiene (a teenage girl wants a lot of hygiene products – make-up, body sprays, etc.), and fun money.  Because we are self employed, at tax time we can deduct the money we pay our kids from our business income so it benefits financially for us and teaches responsibility for them.  Win, win in my book!  My teenage son is also working for the business and in turn pays for his cell phone, car insurance, dates, lunches, etc.  The way I see it, we would have been paying for some of these things anyway, but this puts my children in the driver’s seat and allows them to make choices.  It also gives them the opportunity to be independent and to learn.  If you don’t pay for insurance, you can’t drive.  It’s the real world and a lesson better learned now than later.
  4. Personal time – It has often been said, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”  I believe that one key to a happy home is a happy mom.  The same goes for every member in the home.  I would not be a sane person if I wasn’t able to have some personal and alone time.  I use it to blog, to feed my spirit, to pamper myself, take photos, go running/exercise, and to remove myself for rejuvenation.  Life happens, and I don’t always get this time, however, when I do, it is like oxygen and is much needed.  I am so grateful for a supportive husband and friend who helps me get this time.
  5. Family Prayer – It has been said, “A family that prays together, stays together.”  Family prayer has been our anchor.  There are times when there is fighting, quarreling, and bad feelings, and yet when we kneel together as a family in prayer, a sweetness fills the room and the anger dissipates.  “Oh how praying rests the weary.  Prayer can change the night to day.  So when life gets dark and dreary, don’t forget to pray.”  (Did You Think to Pray)  I truly believe the words of that hymn and have felt those promised blessings in my own life and home.

Whether you work full time, are a single parent, or are living alone, you still have the opportunity to establish a home.  While I still have a lot to learn about the art of homemaking, I am grateful for all I have learned and for the blessings that have come from it.

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