This past weekend as I was backing out of my driveway to go pick up my kids from a neighboring Bible School, I was suddenly hit with a strong feeling of overwhelm. I looked at my home. My yard. My van. And even my garden. God has blessed me so much but how well am I caring for the things He has blessed me with? I threw out every plan I originally had for this week. I threw out my blog ideas. My projects and goals. I hit pause on everything because I needed a week to just get it all done.
Now let’s be real here- that is impossible. I know of one person on earth who said “It is Finished” and it actually was and didn’t need to be done again a few days later. That person, of course, was Jesus on the cross. So I can say confidently that I will end this week with things still on my to-do list. However for each thing I can check off that list that is a burden removed from my over filled plate.
Behind on Blessings
I really want to stress that this is not a platform for me to complain on. My hope is to plan better and offer motivation and inspiration to others feeling that same pressure. But for everything on my to-do list- there is an adjacent blessing. My van needs to be cleaned inside and out, but God has blessed me with a van big enough to haul around my family and a trunkful of groceries. My house is begging for my hand to clean it, but God blessed me with a home. Laundry is overwhelming. Our heating element went out and Rafael just got a new one installed so I am about a week behind on the hamster wheel of laundry. But God blessed us with clothes and a washer and dryer.)
Realizing the blessings that come along with the to-do list helps me to prioritize what needs to be accomplished. It also keeps my mind set on the right things. Not that I never slip up and become angry over the amount of toys the kids can pour out as soon as I finish picking them up. But a mind set on praise, contentment, and gratitude can find joy even in the stressful.
I love the title of Homemaker. Crafting a home of peace and beauty from which we live our lives is one of my greatest joys. As with any job title comes a work load. But just like with any job, managing your time, your schedule, and your goals is key. Mindset is the first step because a cheerful homemaker is a productive homemaker, but planning is a close second.
For some of you (Type A, is it?) planning is natural. As much as I love pretty lists, printed to-do’s, highlighters, pens, and floral calendars- I am not a natural planner. In fact my factory setting is, as I would say to my kids, lollygagging. I love the aesthetic of being a planner, but schedules and long lists overwhelm me. (Even specific meal plans overwhelm me sometimes.) But not keeping up overwhelms me more! I think homemaking should be beautiful and enjoyable.
So my plan for this week was to make a list of all the things overwhelming me without assigning them specific times or days by which they were to be accomplished. This way each day could bring its own plans and pace (as each day does regardless of your to-do list) and I could cram in as much or as little as I wanted. When I had time to work on a task, I could turn to my list to see exactly what needed to be done.
Where To Begin: The Silent To-Dos
When laying out a plan of what things need to be accomplished I always check first for the silent to-do’s. I believe it was Minimal Mom who coined this phrase initially, but it is absolutely genius. The basic idea is that there are certain areas of your life or home begging for your attention! You may not have them jotted down on the top of your calendar yet, but every time you walk through your home- they are screaming at you. Not so silent I suppose, but nevertheless.
Do a brief walk through your home and take simple notes on tasks that need to be completed. Areas where clutter has overtaken a corner of your home. It may even just be an area of your home you aren’t really happy with. If the bedding on your guest bed is bugging you so much that you shut the door to not have to see it- put on the list to replace it. If that blank wall in your living room needs a make over- jot that down. Everything in your home, yard, or vehicle that is adding stress or bitterness to your life- write it on your list and know that in time you will get around it!
Keeping Your Mind on Track
Small wins can be some of the biggest motivators. Don’t start with the absolute most daunting task on your list. Pick something small, but noticeable. For me that was my porch. It wasn’t horrible and while it needs a good spring wash- the shoes, toys, and dirt were really getting under my skin. So the first thing I did was tidy and sweep the front porch. It only took about 10 minutes with the kids helping. Every time I have pulled up in the driveway, sat out to watch the kids play, or eaten dinner on the porch this week- I have been so relieved to find it not in the same shape it was Saturday!
Small tasks may not seem like they are accomplishing much when your list is really long. But every little thing ticked off that list is adding to a bigger picture. It is better to take on 2 or 3 little 15 minute tasks a week than to let everything pile up in hopes you can carve out 6 hours to work on something bigger later.
We can discuss our mountain of to-do’s all day, but how can we make them more manageable? You can wash the dishes three times a day and by morning there will be more dishes to wash. The laundry basket refills the minute you put the last folded shirt away. And dust holds daily family get togethers on every surface of our home. So how do we navigate the daily tasks, the weekly chores, the monthly needs, and the seasonal work that a home requires?
Of course as I mentioned planning is essential, even for the non-planners. But there are steps we can take to make life much easier. Organization is essential in homemaking. Assigning a place for everything is so important. If it doesn’t have a place in your home, it is probably time for it to leave your home.
The clothing, dishes, furniture, trinkets, and even heirlooms can become burdens when there are too many to care for. What was beautiful and served us well in one season of life may serve us better at a second hand store or a dumpster now… That can be a hard thing to accept sometimes, but the things we own should add something to our lives. If they no longer bring joy, beauty, or serve a purpose in our homes- then show them the door. We own our stuff, it shouldn’t own us!
Doing It All When It Isn’t Worth Doing
I always hear Mamas say, “How do you do it all?” to other women. Want to know a secret? They don’t.
No one does.
I certainly don’t.
I never want to give off that facade. Instagram motherhood is edited and unfulfilling. Every mama you see (unless she can afford to hire help) has a full plate and crumbs falling off both sides. What is important isn’t doing it all, but rather figuring out what is worth doing and what isn’t.
Spending time with your kids: Important.
Baking 500 cupcakes for your child’s school: Not important.
Making sure your house is clean and livable most of the time: Important.
Making it the envy of every neighbor: Not Important.
You are not defined by how much food you make from scratch. You are not a failure if you go to bed without emptying the sink because you had an exhausting day. If you watch someone on YouTube who sews their own clothes, bakes their own bread, and reads 3 books a month- that’s amazing! But I will bet you they still have dust bunnies under their couch just like the rest of us.
You don’t have to do everything to be a successful wife, mama, and homemaker. You are aiming your arrows, you are teaching them about Jesus, you are crafting a beautiful home, and cultivating an atmosphere of peace in your family to the best of your ability. And that is all that really matters! You can’t do it all. But you are doing a beautiful job handling what really matters.
Let’s Do this Together
I still have so much work to do, but with every item ticked off the list- I feel the joy growing. Now is a great time to start wherever you are. Maybe your home is relatively in order and you just need to touch up. Perhaps your home is a disaster and overwhelming every thought. Maybe you don’t yet have a home of your own or a home you like- start where you are. Take small steps. Write out a list and mark off a thing or two each day or each week. Fill a trash bag or donation box with things that stress you out. Clear your countertops, clear your mind. And know that you are doing a great job. Make something beautiful!
Leave us a comment, a house cleaning tip, or a before and after picture down below when you take something off your list. Encourage your friends- I promise we are all paddling in similar boats. No one is doing it all!
(You’ve got this! )
Check out our blog: Heart of the Homemaker for inspiration on cultivating an atmosphere of peace in your own home!