Sunday, October 11, 2015

Enjoying Being at Home

  • Addressing the heart issues - 3 recommended books
  • Offering some practical "how-to's"

So many moms do not enjoy being at home, so they have their eyes outside their home focused on what they’d rather be doing or think they “should be able” to be doing or what it looks like other women are able to do.  The family really suffers when this happens because mom’s heart is not in her home; and Hubby may feel like he's failing his wife because she doesn't enjoy the life he's providing for her.   

I have felt the Lord moving me to write about this tender topic with the hope of being an encouragement.  So here are 3 book recommendations to teach a mom's heart how to turn her heart towards home; and several practical "how-to's" for making one's home really enjoyable to be in.  AlsoSherry Hayes from Large Family Mothering has agreed to write with me answering the same question on her blog ~ because it's one of those Large Family Matters; and because Large Family Matters.  *hugs*  

Many moms feel trapped, or frustrated, angry or depressed, feeling blocked from doing what they think they want to do by children, or financial limitations, or demands on her time...but at the same time her heart is probably sad because she is not the wife and mother she always thought she would be, and she can't figure out why when she loves her children and husband so deeply... That was me many years ago when we had only two young children.  

So here are a few resources, and some simple, practical ideas to help bring a mom's heart toward home.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Three Books

A dear friend pointed me toward three books when I was struggling that really showed me - directly through scripture - how to really love being at home and with our children.  I have hope when I have direction and vision.  I think most moms are this way...


Keeping Our Children's Hearts, Steve & Teri Maxwell ($12) 

This book, among the many other life-changing points that it makes, guides us to an understanding of how we need to intentionally - ON PURPOSE - turn our hearts towards our children and our home. We can begin by asking ourselves:
~ What is our mental and emotional focus?  On friends, outside ministries, entertainment, getting more "me time", hobbies, a home business, exercise, etc.?~ How do we spend discretionary time?  Because where our treasure is, there our heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).
Our time usage proves our priorities.  And how we think effects how we feel, which effects how we act.  And how we act determines whether or not we have our children's hearts, and whether or not we enjoy being with them and being in our homes.




This book is not just for homeschooling moms, but in my opinion is geared toward stay-at-home moms in general. First let's define meek and quiet, because they may not actually mean what many mothers think they do:
~ Meek:  mild of temper; soft; gentle; not easily provoked or irritated.~ Quiet:  peaceable; not turbulent; not giving offense; mild; meek; contented.

These seemed so out of reach to me when I first read this book.  *chuckle*  But now I have come a long way.

And do you experience these?  Four of the greatest meek and quiet spirit robbers:
  1. Fear and worry
  2. Anger
  3. Depression
  4. Disorganization
Teri Maxwell does such a beautiful job of walking people through how to have freedom from these robbers, and to become more meek and quiet at home.  And she is direct, clear, and full of practical how-to's in the real life throws of life as a mom herself of eight children.




Managers of Their Homes, Steve & Teri Maxwell ($25)

This book gives ALL the practical how-to's of becoming the manager of one's home. Becoming proactive rather than reactive to life, and in creating a wonderful weekly schedule for any type or size of family.  

She also backs up all that she teaches with scripture, which I really appreciate and admire.  If you would like to read more about the concept of scheduling you can read my post, Scheduling and Routines:  You Can't Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too, Part 1 of 2, and you could skim the titles of my other "Scheduling and Routines" posts and determine if there are any additional ones that would help you with becoming proactive in your approach to your days.


Some Practical "How-To's"

I also am a great believer in the practical how-to's for one's home.  *smile*  To make it a place that we can love to be.  I honestly love, love our home.  Sometimes my husband, Bob, will offer me the opportunity to just go out for a little while by myself...but I honestly am the most comfortable and the most peaceful in our own home.  

Having turned my heart completely towards the Lord and our family (from the outside pursuits I had before), my favorite thing to do now is spend time as a whole family when Bob's home.  I do sometimes also go to our master bedroom when he offers the opportunity to me to just step out of the pressures of parenting for a little while on an evening, but again, I'm not inclined to run to friends or entertainments...I love to be home.  Here are some suggestions to start you thinking on ways to make your home a place you love to be in.



Uncluttered

This...is...huge.  *smile*  De-cluttering a home transforms the place.  When there's stuff filling the walls, behind the doors, underneath furniture, falling out of closets, the home feels cramped, people "need to get out", and this breeds stress for everyone in the family - mom, dad, and children alike.  On the other hand, a home can feel spacious, peaceful and relaxing when it is uncluttered.  Not that our home isn't sometimes covered in toys while kids play, but when play time is over it all goes back to where it belongs; everything has a "home".  And a small house like ours (1,100 square feet) can feel spacious even with 11 people in it - honest, cross my heart *smile*.  I have an entire, detailed, with-photos post called, De-Cluttering:  The First Steps To Organization.  Where I cover:  strategies & methods for de-cluttering; where to begin; and how to be careful with others in your family as you develop plans for de-cluttering and organizing your home.



Organized

Again, this...is...hugeWhat does orderliness mean exactly, and why is it valuable?  Being orderly saves us time, energy, and money.  And what mom doesn't appreciate that!  *laugh!*  I've written a simple yet detailed post about the value and purpose of organization, called, Orderliness - A Closer Look.  For the practical how-to's part, I've also written two very detailed posts called, Organizing a Home: Principles and Tips For Organization, Parts 1 & 2; and over 50 additional posts on organization if that sounds appealing.  *smile*



Good lighting

This is also hugeThe amount of light in a room really effects how much a person can enjoy being there day in and day out.  It not only makes the room pleasant to be in, but by eliminating shadows and dark corners a room can feel way more spacious than it does when it's dim.



When we purchased the this, our first home, there were two cheap little ceiling fixtures with two light bulbs inside it in the center of the family room, and the same in the kitchen, in the bedrooms, and every other room.  We immediately began saving money to install recessed lighting in all the main living areas of our home as one of our top priorities.  We purchase one or two can lights at a time (about $25 a piece with a nice trim) as we could afford them and set them aside until we had enough for an entire room.  Then my husband, Bob, transformed the room by installing them.  We did the dining room (removing the bulky chandelier), the kitchen, hallway, and playroom/computer room.  I am totally convinced that this is one of the main reason why people feel our home looks so spacious despite it's limited square footage.  In fact people always say, "Are you sure your house is only 1,100 square feet?"  *chuckle*  Yes.  We're sure.  Here are photos of our family room, dining room, and kitchen with the improved lighting.






(Our children's clothes closet in the garage - lighting is the key to "cheerful" and "clean" looking & feeling)


And as a side note, we've been using "Daylight" or "Reveal" light bulbs that are color-corrected, giving off a white-white light instead of the usual yellow-ish light of normal light bulbs.  This makes a substantial difference as well.  And now we're actually switching to LED lights which also have that nice white light, but which use a fraction of the amount of electricity, and by the time we have all of our light bulbs switched out they'll save us about $50 per month.  

The regular light bulbs use 65 watts, but these LED ones use only 9.5 watts with the same or greater light output! For those with a mind that wants to know how, most of the energy in a standard light bulb is wasted as heat not light.  This is 86% less electricity used for the same light output, and the lamps last way longer than the regular ones do.  Regular ones last about 6 months for us at $4 a piece, compared to LED ones which cost $25 a piece but last 10 years.  So over the course of 10 years, this is a $55 savings on the cost of each light bulb alone in addition to the savings on the electric bill. With the amount of time we spend in our home (and being in the Northwest where it is not bright and sunny all year round) we have the lights on about 15 hours per day. If you go shopping for lamps like this I encourage you to take into consideration how many hours per day you use the lights as the life of the lamp will be different than the suggestion on the box but so will the electricity savings. But lighting is not the only miracle-worker in our home...



Music


Years ago we invested in a good stereo, and I think it was one of our best investments ever. We can make our computer's sound go through the surround-sound speakers, making our computer-based movie and documentary experiences really nice despite the small monitor.  And we use both Pandora online, and the 5-CD changer I use all day, every day, to play my favorite music during our homeschool mornings.  Music like movie sound tracks, instrumental, hymns, and other favorite music artists.  We keep the volume low, but it's a nice background sound that makes us all smile through out the day as we work and come and go.  We sing along and laugh, sometimes acting out our favorite parts of songs.  *chuckle*  And it occupies my brain when I feel like I'm supervising people's school work but am not needed every minute.  Good music really helps keep my eyebrows lifted (rather than scowling at irritations and frustrations), if you know what I mean.  *smile*  And helps me keep a focus on the Lord when days feel hard.  We also listen to audio books on the big stereo so that the whole family can hear it easily when we are in the family room or are around the table eating lunch. This isn't really an issue of volume as much as it is clarity and well-balanced sound and good speakers etc.  In addition to good music and stories, I also love...


Fresh air


The way a home smells also makes a big difference on the experience of being there.  The forced-air heating in our house does a nice job of circulating the air through out the rooms, but still with so many people in a small space it can get stuffy.  During our summers I love to have the windows open all day long, allowing fresh breezes to pass through all of the house, and in the fall and spring I still try to keep the windows cracked around the house to allow fresh air through.  

Another way I keep the air smelling fresh in our home is to make sure we do not have any laundry lying around the house or in the bedrooms or closets.  For some reason I've yet to figure out, laundry lying around - whether it's clean or not - always makes spaces smell bad.  So laundry in our home (post one, and post two) has a plan for how we stay on top of it.  *smile*  The fresh air alone is a major reason for me to do this!  *laugh*

Another fairly common thing to occur in a home which is packed with way too much stuff, and therefore cannot be dusted and cleaned well, is the presence of Dust Mites.  These are a microscopic bug that feeds on, and defecates in, dust.  *eww*  I know.  Sorry.  I clearly remember my mother teaching me about Dust Mites and the first time I smelled them, and I pretty much vowed then and there that there would be none in my house when I had one.  But I don't think I've ever heard anyone else talk about Dust Mites, and I don't know that most moms are even aware that Dust Mites exist - and that they can be eliminated by de-cluttering, so that we an dust our homes better and avoid the stinkiness of these little darlings.



Scented reed diffuser


A nice-smelling house just makes me smile and love being there!  For years I enjoyed the Yankee candle scents, but since having young children I haven't done candles for years now so I didn't have any really nice scents for a long time.  Then I decided to try a Yankee reed diffuser, which I planned to keep in our bedroom where real little kids do not go, and where I was confident that older kids would not drink it.  *chuckle*  

And, here is what I've learned about reed diffusers.  The Yankee reed diffuser I had smelled so nice for about 2 weeks, and then all of a sudden I couldn't smell it any more (and yes, I did flip the bamboo sticks often).  So I tried a Bed Bath and Beyond brand.  Same thing.  I thought maybe those weren't nice enough brands.  So the next opportunity I had to be receiving a gift (our extended family shares gift ideas with one another) I said I would really love a reed diffuser from Pier One Imports (like my mom uses).  I've always really liked Pier One's air freshener sprays, and they're good quality products (and only a couple dollars more than the Wal-Mart brands).  Well I experienced the same thing - nice for 2 weeks, and then nothing.  Huh.  Well with a little research I learned that most commonly people's noses adjust to a scent that they are around frequently and their nose then just learns to sort of "tune it out".  And I think especially because it was in our bedroom, where we would sleep and smell the scent all night long, my nose was turning off the scents.  Bummer!  I knew it wasn't the reed diffuser itself because our children said it still smelled nice to them, and company said it smelled nice to them, and my mom's reed diffuser smelled great at her house.  But I couldn't smell it in our bedroom unless I stuck my nose right in to the glass jar.  *laugh!* So - if you choose to use these wonderful scent creators, have no fear if you can no longer smell it after 2 weeks. It's still there.



Candles


I have always loved the scents and the ambiance of nice candles in a home, too.  When we had only babies then I felt safe having candles around the house.  Then I used to keep a scented Yankee jar candle burning in our bedroom blocked by a baby gate where no kids entered, hoping the scent would make it to the family room.  But now that we've had a large family and many people going in and out of our bedroom all day long I no longer feel safe burning candles.  My husband has worked in the field of disaster restoration - fire and flood repair - for many years, and I've heard enough stories of how fires originated from candles, and have seen enough photos to be cured of the temptation to light candles in our home any more with children present.  *chuckle*  However!  Costco has come up with a solution for people like me!

Costco now sells a few different sets of flameless, vanilla scented LED pillar candles, for only $20-30 per set of 7 candles of either uniform height or varying, made with real wax - and they're beautiful!  *cheer!*  They produce a warm light that flickers and "dances" within the wax pillar giving the full effect of candles but without the danger of fire.  They are battery operated enabling them to be displayed all in a single location or in various places through out a home.  And, get this, they're remote control.  *laugh*  So they can go on higher up places but still be turned on easily.  The picture is an example of what they look like.



Now I know that the practical "how-to's" like the ones I've shared here can seem way simpler to implement than addressing heart issues of having contentedness, peace, and joy at home.  And the practical strategies are a good place to start!  But the heart issues are the root of the problem, so I encourage you to not skip one for the other.  *hugs*  I really want to reiterate my encouragement to you to invest in one of the books I recommended (listed both above and below).  That is where you will see lasting change and wholeness from the Lord that brings peace.

This is a subject that Sheri from Large Family Mothering and I have written about simultaneously. When we write cooperatively we call these posts, 





Blessings on your home,

Recommended resource:
Managers of Their Homes, Steve & Teri Maxwell ($25)

Other related posts I've written:
Orderliness - A Closer Look
Organizing a Home:  Principles and Tips For Organization, Part 1 of 2
De-Cluttering:  The First Steps To Organization 
Large Families On Budgets - Making More Out Of Less, Part 1 of 2
Family Participation:  Chores For Kids 
Choosing Thankfulness

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