Note from Jess: I wrote this more than a year ago, three months after having baby #9.
We’re… barely… creeping out of the postpartum season. Wowzers, things feel overwhelming.
I looked around last night and here’s what I noticed:
- the driveway was a mess. Recycling that hadn’t made it to the bin, toys that were broken and cracked, three strollers sitting askew in various places, and more… were littering the driveway.
- the yard was a mess. A part of the yard that I had previously created to be raised gardening beds is overgrown with weeds this summer since I’m not growing anything there, and the boys have been using it as a digging pile so there are toys and ripped gardening fabric sticking up out of the dirt.
- the living room was a mess. Broken cracker dust was ground down into the carpet. Toys, pens, and pieces from various games were sticking out from under the furniture.
I’ve seen books and websites and video gurus that advertise a “system” that will keep you and all your kids on track, or the end-all solution to meals. Friends have even touted these as working for them.
Maybe it’s me. But these type of external, miracle-cure fixes never keep working for us.
When our home life starts to spiral out of control, it’s usually due to a need for me to do some mental work.
GOOD OLE’ PEN & PAPER
For us what works is me sitting down with a pen and paper and re-analyzing the parts that aren’t working. Sometimes the problem is too big for me and I need to talk it over with my husband, or even working through it alongside some of the kids who may be most affected by it.
I try to identify which area feels the most out of control, and tackle it first. We try to communicate clearly & lead the kids by specifying WHY we’re finding a new approach in X area.
Doing Mystie Winckler’s free “Brain Dump” has helped me many times.
Other, targeted solutions that we use:
- For decluttering, we do an annual decluttering chart to help track how much we’re getting rid of. This is the FREE decluttering chart we use (each year she posts a new one). Using this system motivates us to work together as a family to get rid of over 2,000 items each year.
- For homeschooling, I might reevaluate the schedule, or jumpstart in one particular area. Often it’s cutting things I’m realizing we don’t need to do anymore, or cutting some to add in others. I try to re-read Walk By the Spirit in Your Homeschool Decisions OFTEN (at least every couple of years).
- Usually when things fall apart with chores, it’s because everyone could be pitching in more than they are, and because I’ve stopped inspecting work to see how & if it’s being done. Basically, it means we’ve gotten into bad habits. I talk through any problem areas/concerns with the kids (and sometimes my husband too, if there’s something he can help me think through), and then revamp the chore chart and take a week to train/re-train everyone on their new areas of responsibility.
- For behavior, I talk it through with the hubs and we choose one MAIN thing for each child, to focus on, and dial down on that one thing until we start to see significant improvement. Sometimes, when things have gotten really out of hand, we’ll zero in on one main thing in general for everyone (like NO TALKING BACK, or ABSOLUTELY NO MEANNESS TOWARD ONE ANOTHER) and focus our attention on that, until things come back to how they ought to be.
And when I am not pregnant or breastfeeding, which (admittedly) has been almost never over the last 18 years… I like taking time to fast and pray. Again and again God has– like the loaves and fishes– taken those times of fasting and multiplied them.
He does miracles in my heart and mind when I undistractedly devote time to him throughout each day. And then that spills out onto my family. THEY benefit when I am spiritually attuned to God’s ways and His word, and when I am active in prayer for them.
MOTHERING IN A NUTSHELL: GET UP AND DO IT AGAIN.
Personally, the last couple years I’ve really come to see that mothering is a continual process of analyzing, problem-solving, reevaluation, and recommitment of my whole self, OVER and OVER and OVER.
And can I be honest? I want it to be easier.
I want to do it once, and then move on to newer, more fun things… once solved, I want things to stay solved for all of eternity.
It can be so easy to feel drawn to those one-bullet solutions to slay the dragons that arise in our lives as moms. I wish the schedules or systems zealously promoted by the lady on the vlog/blog/book cover/conference stage would work for us.
But these real flesh and blood people (each with their own strengths and weaknesses) need me (with my own strengths and weaknesses) to keep being willing to find the new way things will work here in our actual home, in this actual season, with these actual people, rather than lamenting that the old system isn’t working or giving into that feeling of, “I’ve told them and told them…; it’s no use”
It is easy to want to give up, but I’m realizing this is my whole job.
For me, this process of keeping our home functioning well, according to God’s definition of “well”, and in line with my husband’s vision/desires, is a big part of what it means to be a mother.
What about you?
What helps you, when your home needs a reboot?
What one step could you make today to take on this job God has given you and do a slightly better job tomorrow?
FURTHER READING ON THIS IDEA:
- Here’s Why the Arguing and Complaining is Non-Stop in Your Home
- What This Homeschool Mom Does When I Get Burned Out
- Are You Ignoring Your Mommy Radar?
- VIDEO: When Mama Feels Overwhelmed