Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

Owning my messiness January 22, 2011

Filed under: Behaviors,Books,Household — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 12:57 am

I come across as a pretty organized person; in many ways I am, in fact, quite organized. I stay reasonably up-to-date on my email correspondence and purge my inbox every week or two. My computer files are in decent working shape. My calendar is under control. I keep photos current within three months. I spearhead things like playgroup and Bible study and send out weekly reminders to the participant list. Thus I present the aura of being fairly organized. In fact, I’d say that I even lead myself to believe that I’m pretty orderly. And because I’m a productive person and fast-moving, my administrative shortcomings are not immediately obvious.

But the truth of the matter, I’ve been realizing in the past year or two, is that I’m organized with things I care about… but far from organized about things that aren’t of high personal importance to me. Homemaking efforts, closet orderliness, kitchen maintenance and the like have not traditionally ranked high on my priority list. My attempts starting eighteen months ago to adopt homeward diligence have begun moving me toward change.

A few months ago a friend lent me a book she’d found useful called The New Messies Manual: the Procrastinator’s Guide to Good Housekeeping by Sandra Felton. I wouldn’t have called myself a procrastinator before reading the book, but lo and behold, I see that in the home-making arena, I am one. I’m a “messie” – a moderate one, but a messie nonetheless. And when it comes to staying on top of household clutter, I can definitely procrastinate with the best of them. Through the book I’ve learned a lot about myself and some of my at-home tendencies. (more…)

 

Remember when I was fun? August 7, 2010

Filed under: For moms,Household,Mothering role — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 3:53 am

Last month for our eleventh anniversary, my husband and I went out to a comedy club. It was a great night, and as I sat with a drink among hip club-goers, laughing uproariously with my husband, a wistful feeling washed over me. “Remember how I used to be fun?” I asked my husband. Because it’s true, I have been a fun girl in my day.  I’m pretty loud and extroverted and I have a decent sense of humor; those traits can contribute to a fun time if the circumstances and group of people are right.  I can be a kick-my-heels-back kind of girl.

Not quite so much anymore though; much less kicking-back-heels now than in bygone eras.  I was thinking: what happened to that girl anyway?  “You’re still fun,” my husband replied, “but you go into business-mode more now than you used to.”  I appreciated the honesty… kind of.  He’s right though.  It’s all too easy for life with three needy preschoolers, a household to run, and some work to squeeze in to to turn into a ‘getter-done’ state of affairs.  I don’t mean for it to become bullet-point-ish… It just happens  Dinner; check. Clean-up; check. Baths (every second or third night); check. Bedtime routine; check.  Mandatory tasks call, and it’s hard for the mom at the helm to get into ‘fun’ mode in the midst of all that.  At least for this mom.  Who has the time (or energy)? (more…)

 

Involving kids in household tasks (or “Can I get some help around here?”) May 7, 2010

Filed under: Behaviors,Household,Materialism and entitlement,Training — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 2:53 am

“Diligent hands will rule…” ~Prov 12:24

For months now I’ve been trying to figure out how to tackle better involving my children in household operations.  At 4 1/2 and 2 3/4, they’re both capable of doing a fair amount to help out… But I’ve been unclear on how exactly I wanted to achieve this in our home.  I got hung up on all the different “kids job” options and styles out there… Individual chore charts and sticker rewards? All helping out together, tomato-staking style? Tied to allowance or not?  Too many choices, and I felt overwhelmed just figuring out the best tack – let alone getting started.

Our ultimate goals are basically these: (more…)

 

Adopting homeward diligence: before and after January 18, 2010

Filed under: For moms,Household,Mothering role,Routine — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:50 pm

How does my life look different today than it did before my October diligence revelation and commitment?  What does diligence in the home look like for me?  Several readers asked me this following my series of homeward diligence posts (more posts on this herehere, and here); this post will answer those questions. 

First a reminder: diligence is is not a to-do list or an organizational system. It isn’t legalistic and thus can’t be distilled to daily action items. Rather diligence is a mindset and a heart commitment. It’s  Spirit-empowered focus and attentiveness to the tasks God’s put before you – to optimally stewarding your life and all its details.  So there’s nothing right or magical about my specific habits in pursuing homeward diligence. They’re things that work for me, allowing me to convert diligence from theoretical to practical.  Another mom’s diligence in the home might look entirely different. That by way of disclaimer, to encourage all moms to reject legalism in favor of straight-up faithfulness to God and his call on them, as a lead-in to my list.  My personal “Top 8 Things that Foster Homeward Diligence“:

1. Undergirding diligence with Scripture.  The two verses that God used to spark diligence in me – through a kick in the butt by the Holy Spirit – were these from Proverbs 31 about the wife of noble character: “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks… She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” (Verses 17 & 27).  I read these verses over from time to time during my morning prayer times, and I whisper them to myself sometimes as I go about my household tasks as a form of active meditation and on-th-go prayer.

2. Investing in the necessary tools to manage my household effectively.  Until three months ago, I used my Outlook calendar almost exclusively. Great for my personal and professional lives, bad for centralizing information for family life. My main tool for daily reminders were post-it notes… strewn all over my kitchen. Not optimal. So I thought through the items that would best foster my household management and then purchased them.  These included: two white-board calendars (a month-planner and a week-planner) that hang side-by-side in my kitchen; a whiteboard to-do list on my fridge; kitchen step-stools for my preschoolers; two recipe binders with labeled tabs to organize my cooking; craft supply organizers for my pantry cupboard.  Total investment about $80, which I overcame my reluctance to spend by meditating on the fact that my heart will reside where my treasure is spent.  And also by drawing the parallel to professional life – how effective of a consultant would I be if I used dial-up internet or a typewriter? One must equip oneself for success, whatever the realm of work.  And because I acquired the tools after the commitment was firmly in place, they’ve worked wonders. (more…)

 

Training vs. over-training: some thoughts December 19, 2009

Filed under: Authority & obedience,Books,Correction,Household,Parenting,Training — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 4:29 am

In my last post I discussed the possibility of over-focus on child-training to the point of excess and negativity.  I quoted H. Clay Trumbull’s description of parents “who seem to suppose that their chief work in the training of a child is to be incessantly commanding and prohibiting; telling the child to do this or do that, and to do this, that, or the other. But this nagging a child is not training a child; on the contrary it is destructive of all training.”

No one wants to become an in-home dictator, nor to exasperate their child (as the Bible forbids) through excessive focus on parental authority or obedience.  The question then becomes: what’s the line between training and exasperating?  If we do want to maintain high expectations for behavior and be consistent in addressing misbehavior, then how do we moms do this well without overkill?  In short: how do we determine the right amount of emphasis on training, and ensure that our homes don’t become households of nit-picking?

After reflection, here are my top-of-mind thoughts: (more…)

 

Lacking homeward diligence: the background November 30, 2009

Filed under: Household — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 7:00 pm

As described in recent posts, I’ve lately realized a problematic lack of homeward diligence which I’ve been working to rectify.  Diligent at-home moms abound (like Lindsay of Passionate Homemaking or my friend Courtney who helped launch my diligence regimen and now blogs at Whole Diligence ), as do people who are naturally tidy and domestically attentive.  [If you’re one of these, feel free to stop reading now.]  It feels to me, though that I’m in decent company among at-home moms who feel they’re floundering in their domestic efforts and can’t put their finger on why.  One fellow-mom friend said, “I feel like I’m always trying to get organized;” another said, “I lack focus;” a third said, “I understand there’s a better way; I’m just not doing it.”  There’s a shared sense of flailing, of now knowing quite how to get a handle on things in our households. I don’t know if these women struggle with diligence as I do; I’m just noting that their words resonated greatly with how I felt.

It all made me wonder: is there more to a lack of homeward diligence?  Cultural factors, corporate mindset? So I reflected on the circumstances that contributed to my own lack of homeward diligence and came up with these (not an exhaustive list, just my own top 6): (more…)

 

Diligence: the big “E” on the eye chart November 28, 2009

Filed under: For moms,Household,The heart — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 6:08 pm

Since I put myself on a “diligence” regimen a few months ago, I’ve been met with immediate and radical results.  Transformational, even.  The results have been so profound, in fact, that I’ve found it slightly annoying along the lines of – why on earth didn’t I do this before?  Turns out that for me, diligence is the big “E” on the eye chart at the doctor’s office – so huge and obvious, right there at the top, and I’ve been missing it all along. (Credit to my favorite Mark Driscoll, who has used that analogy more than once, and which I love.)

You see, it’s not that I hadn’t been making efforts to improve my under-functional household. I’d been doing so all year: I sat through a presentation on home organization; after that I put a mini-file system in my kitchen.  After hearing about the Fly Lady, I tried her keep-your-kitchen-sink-clean idea.  I heard a talk on crockpot cooking and started using mine on occasion in hopes of  improving the dinner-time-rush scenario.  I’ve been meal planning for nearly a year now.  But none of this stuff made a difference, big picture. (more…)