Now is the time when we all start organizing our stuff, buying new supplies, and preparing for another fresh start: a new school year. I always get ambitious about how much better this new, upcoming season will be. This time will be different, I tell myself.
Turns out big overhaul projects never stick and usually leave me feeling worse. But small, incremental change – baby steps and small wins – add up much faster than I’d ever guess.
You can set up your day and your week so that you enjoy your life at home – not simply survive, but thrive at home.
A number of years ago when I was sleep-deprived and completely at a loss about how to move forward in all that needed to be done, a friend wrote me some encouragement and a phrase she used has always stuck with me: Build a livable life.
What does that even mean? A livable life will look different for each of us, but it starts by taking a step back and realizing what we’re doing that’s not helping and actually making the effort to do the things that will help us calm the crazy, clear the clutter, and move forward.
With so many details and a lot of needy people, staying home can feel crazy-making sometimes. One day, I sat down and made a list (because that’s what I do) of the things I can do to help keep myself out of crazy-land.
You’ve probably already heard these tips. They’re not new or earth-shattering. I’m just here to remind you that they really do help. They really do work.
1. Have a creative hobby.
God is a maker, and we are little sub-makers. Being creative is human. Having a creative outlet helps us feel connected and whole. Knitting, baking, sewing, sketching, painting, gardening, writing, decorating: finding a way to make beauty is actually a very important outlet that we need.
The book Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer develops this very well, giving plenty of ideas and examples. I also have a short interview with Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary about how and why to make time for creativity.
2. Keep a regular prayer time.
“Prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness God requires of us,” teaches the Heidelberg Catechism. We need to stay in step with God through prayer, as He requires: “Pray without ceasing.” We make this optional and skip it to our own detriment. God’s peace surrounds us when we pray with thanksgiving, the Bible teaches.
If we don’t have peace and we don’t pray about it, we shouldn’t be surprised by it.
3. Lock the bathroom door.
Three minutes of solitude really isn’t too much to ask. Little fingers might still peak underneath the door and wails might still be audible, but a few minutes “cloistered” away is not unreasonable. In fact, it’s a good way to teach the children that moms are people, too, who require at least some dignity and respect.
4. Dress respectfully.
Speaking of dignity and respect, I find it helps when I dress it. I have nothing against cute yoga pants, but there’s a world of difference between cute yoga pants and ratty old sweats. When I regularly dress sloppily, it doesn’t take long before I feel as crummy inside as I look outside. Taking a few minutes in the morning to do my hair, apply mascara, and put on clothes I wouldn’t be embarrassed to go out in not only lifts my own mood, but also teaches through my actions and appearance that home and motherhood are worth respecting and honoring.
My current summer favorite is a knee-length skirt with a yoga-pant waistband I found at Costco. It looks dressy and nice, but is cool and comfortable. With a blouse it’s fancy, and with a tee or tank it’s casual and breezy.
5. Get up & have a morning routine before the kids are up.
I know, I know. It’s really hard. I don’t deny it. But, I don’t think you can deny that starting off the day with a little quiet and space makes for a better start and a smoother day than one where we hit the ground running.
I’ve learned that if I don’t get up before the kids, exercise and prayer time simply won’t happen, so I have to prioritize getting up in the morning if I want to prioritize my own health and sanity.
What small steps do you take that help you stay calm and maybe even cheerful through the day to day?