To the women who feel the need to write a facebook rant every Christmas, apologizing for not having their homes Martha Stewart ready.
To the seasoned homemaker that says to a new mom, “don’t worry, when your house is a mess, it means you love your children more.”
To every single well-intentioned person that has ever said to me “how do you do it?” or better yet, “how do you do it all?”
I’ll tell you what I tell everyone else…
Something’s gotta give.
Yes, I do enjoy keeping my house clean (ish).
Yes, I do enjoy decorating for Christmas with themed rooms, multiple trees, color coordinating throw pillows and seasonal artwork.
But no one can do everything.
You just can’t do all the things all the time.
I put effort into looking nice when I go out of the house, but come on, I’m a stay at home mom and I homeschool my kids. I’m not going to pretend I don’t look like a hot mess almost all day, every day, other than Sunday morning.
My thing may not be your thing, and your thing isn’t my thing! I know moms that LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to plan birthday parties. I dread them like the stomach flu.
You, momma, are awesome at so many things. Maybe your thing is birthday parties. Maybe you make your kids an amazing breakfast every morning, or pack them notes in their lunch. My kids are lucky to get a pop tart.
Maybe you cook healthy, organic meals. Maybe you keep up with the laundry. Maybe you take your kids to the library on a weekly basis or run your kids to soccer practice.
Maybe you make an amazing spaghetti sauce, or do an awesome job at gift giving. Maybe you’re super on top of sending cards in the mail when family members have a birthday. Maybe you’re the first one to show up when a friend is in need. Your talent could be arm wrestling, thumb wars, knitting, jewelry making, acting, singing, public speaking, organizing, being a friend, peace making, gardening, or so many other things.
So what is it? What do you sincerely enjoy doing? That’s your thing.
Want to know a secret? You, yes you. When you come over for a visit and the living room, kitchen and dining room look super put together… it probably means I’ve gathered up a giant load of crap and piled it in my bedroom, then locked the door.
Something’s gotta give.
It’s not that I’m embarrassed for you to see the real me, and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest to see your house a mess. I just feel better about life when things are clean. Don’t hate. We can still be friends.
I crave order and routine. I love having things clean and guest ready at all times. In fact, we have a lot of people in and out of our home on a daily basis, so as a general rule, I try and keep the house 5 minutes from guest ready at all times. For me, that means having the floors freshly vacuumed, the downstairs bathroom wiped down, the kitchen sink empty, throw pillows fluffed, a pleasant scent in the air and clutter hidden away. What it DOESN’T mean is there wont be huge fingerprint smudges on every window and mirror in sight.
Something’s gotta give.
I can find time to do most things around the house, but I can’t do it all.
While I’m at it, here are a few of the things I’m horrible at, honestly forget to do or regularly ignore:
- Remembering to send birthday cards to my nieces and nephews (horrible, right?)
- Keeping up with my friends
- Making my family breakfast
- Doing the dishes
- Planning meals
- Cleaning the windows
- Giving my kids baths
- Taking my kids to the library
- Folding my clothes
- Making my bed
- Meeting deadlines
- Reading emails
- Sending thank you cards
- Going to bed on time
To name a few.
But there are also things, we as a family, have intentionally left out of our life or chosen not to participate in because we need margin.
We have intentionally chosen to live with one car, not to pay for cable and not to buy anything we can’t pay for with cash. This gives us financial margin because we live on a small budget. We have intentionally chosen not to sign our kids up for multiple extra curricular activities, this gives our family time margin. I’ve chosen not to stress about my kid’s rooms being a disaster. That is their space and as long as they have’t trashed the rest of the house, I can give them slack in their rooms. This gives my sanity some margin. We don’t buy our kids huge birthday or Christmas gifts. We can’t afford to do everything and we would rather have money to take our family on trips.
It all comes down to what priorities you have as an individual and what priorities you hold to as a family. When someone uses the phrase “I just haven’t had the time to get that done.” It really means “I just haven’t made that a priority.” Because for real, we all have the same amount of time and we’re all busy doing something. We all just choose to use our time differently.
Do what works for your family.
I use this phrase a lot because what works for your family, may stress my family out. What works for us, may totally confuse you guys. What helps me, may discourage you. Stop doing stuff or filling your schedule with things, for the sake of doing things. Pick things that make sense for you and your kids, that are in line with your family’s values and individual interests.
Do stuff on purpose.
Have you ever reached the end of the day and thought, where did this day go?? Have you ever gone to bed at night with things you wish you had done weighing heavy on your heart? Time, too easily slips away from us, and if we haven’t made it a priority to do the stuff we really want to do, the things that really matter wont get done. Things that matter don’t happen on accident.
When I am on Pinterest, I see OPTIONS, not EXPECTATIONS. But I know this isn’t the case for every woman. I know because I’ve had this conversation with you! If being on Pinterest stresses you out, then just don’t do it. Or better yet, this is me telling you that you’re off the hook. No one expects you to make your house look a certain way unless it’s something you take joy in.
Fill your home with joy and your life with purpose by letting yourself off the hook for things that don’t really hold lasting value. Align your life with what matters most, model your days to reflect Christ, show compassion, grace, love and forgiveness. Be teachable and humble, use the gifts you’ve been given. If you’re good at decorating, then decorate for the glory of God. If you’re good at making spaghetti, then make spaghetti for the glory of God. If you’re good at sending handwritten notes, then send away for the glory of God. Take yourself off the hook for the things you’re not good at and let’s rejoice in all the wonderful things that make us unique!
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Cor. 10:31 (NIV)
In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.
If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
Romans 12:4-8 (MSG)