Home, the spot of earth supremely blest, A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.
I’m curious to know what a day’s schedule is like for you. You really have such great priorities and I’m wondering how you fit everything in each day or week? Between taking care of your kids, husband, spending time with the Lord, serving, planning, buying food from different sources, cooking, cleaning…How do you do it? Any tips on some of the best ways you organize your time while maintaining a simple, peaceful home?
This is a question I receive frequently. I am not perfect. Things can get a little distorted on the blogosphere and it is almost impossible to give a complete and accurate picture of what day to day life looks like at our home. There are different seasons in life. There are times when the schedule goes out the window (like when we welcomed #2!), and other times when God draws us back into a period of rest and reviewing our lives to eliminate anything that might be causing stress or mixing up our priorities. It is important to seek to make your home a haven, but it must not be pursued before maintaining peaceful relationships in your home. Keep are some thoughts the Lord has graciously taught me…
1. Keep your relationship with the Lord first and rise early.
We strive to wake up each day between 5:30-6:00 am so we can have some refreshing times in the Word independently. We get far more accomplished in our day when we start early enough. Lately this has definitely been rough to maintain with a little guy that is keeping us up late into the night, or when I struggle with insomnia, but it is our goal. I personally cannot pursue a wise management of my home apart from my relationship with the Lord. I need to cry out to Him daily for the ability to faithfully complete the task He has called for me. Even if I can just take a few moments to pray, pick a verse to meditate upon throughout the day, I am strengthened to complete my homemaking responsibilities with a joyful countenance. May the Joy of the Lord be your strength! (Nehemiah 8:9-12).
Eliminate physical clutter. More importantly, eliminate spiritual clutter. ~D.H. Mondfleur
2. Keep your priorities in the right place. Maintain regular date nights & family nights.
Make a list of your roles. Wife, Mother, Christian, Homemaker, Writer, Manager, whatever they may be. Then prioritize them. What are your three most important roles? My list is: Follower of Jesus, Wife, Mother, followed by Homemaker, Writer, etc. In order to maintain a simple, peaceful home, I need to guard against my role as a homemaker coming before my role as a mother. It’s so easy to keep going down the list for the day, and side track those teaching and nurturing opportunities the Lord gives with your children.
I need to make sure I am always growing and nurturing my relationship with the Lord in order that I might be able to joyfully fulfill my other roles – even if it is just 10 minutes each day in His Word! I have learned the importance of scheduling in an amount of time for just quality time with my little ones. This is on my to-do list every day! Each day, Karis and I sit down for an hour to do various learning activities together. This helps keeps my priorities in the right place. Relationships are first! When I keep this in balance, by Gods grace, everything else falls into place.
Make your own personal mission statement to help guide you in these times of evaluating your priorities.
3. Take time to rest.
Acknowledge Sunday as the Lord’s appointed day of rest. Take time to be a family and enjoy each other’s company! If you can take regular prayer retreats to just get away for a few hours, or a whole day, it does wonders for maintaining a God-centered perspective in your calling.
4. Maintain a right perspective of the home.
What is the purpose of your home? My purpose is to maintain a peaceful restful home. I want it to be a haven for my family and those I welcome in hospitality. This provides me good Biblical motivation to keep it maintained in an orderly fashion. Simplifying allows for more time to focus on relationships with your family and others. You may want to consider developing a mission statement for your home.
A good home must be made, not bought. Joyce Maynard
5. Eliminate the clutter. Have an annual/bi-annual re-haul of your home.
This is my number one means of keeping a simple home. I am continually seeking to de-clutter. When my home is organized and simple, there is peace. My goal is to have a place for everything and everything in its place as much as possible. More stuff means more things to maintain, clean, organize, break and replace! At the beginning of every year, I progressively work through each room in our home and thoroughly de-clutter. I mean thoroughly! Be aggressive! Don’t hold on to anything you don’t need. If it hasn’t been used in a few months, it is removed. I then take a load to charity (i.e. Pregnancy Resource Center, charity clothing store) or sell items on craigslist. Once you do this, each following year becomes easier! I complete an extensive cleaning spree just prior to Summer and also clear out any excess. These items then get stored for a summer garage sale.
Another idea is to include one daily task of de-cluttering a certain area, drawer, cupboard, closet, each day or week. Just chose one area to work on that week. Part of my weekly planning is asking the question: what area of my life needs simplifying this week and how can I pursue that? This may very well be that kitchen drawer that needs my attention!
6. Complete a daily to-do list (but keep it flexible!).
Each week during my planning retreat, I map out a master to-do list for the week. It is from this week that I select 3-6 tasks to complete each day of the week. Every night before I retire or before I begin the day, I try to compile a brief list of tasks for the upcoming day. This helps me plan in advance and get a good start on the next day. Writing it down helps me sleep better! My list is never more than 3-6 items in length. Keep it manageable, especially if you have children around. I strive to remind myself that even if nothing on my to-do list gets done for the day (we all have those challenging days), as long as my husband and children are nurtured and fed, then it has been a productive day! As long as I have spent quality time training and investing my children, loving my husband, and the kitchen sink is clean, I am happy!
7. Hold a weekly family planning meeting.
This was a habit developed when I was growing up. Every Sunday evening, our family would gather in the living room to discuss our schedules for the weeks, transportation needs, etc. Now, Aaron and I take a few moments each Sunday evening and sync our schedules for the week. Helps keep us organized and communicating well.
8. Take a weekly planning retreat.
I cannot express how much adding a simple weekly planning and prayer retreat has assisted me in maintaining a joyful heart in my homemaking! After feeling completely overwhelmed, physically exhausted, and being prone to be quick tempered with my children, I knew the enemy was trying to attack my joy and make me unproductive. I am realizing more and more how he seeks to attack me by discrediting my role and tempting me to compare myself with others. I asked my husband about the possibility of getting away by myself on a regular basis for just an hour or two to help pray, plan, and prepare for the week. I was so blessed when he supported me in this and it has made a huge difference in our family. Planning in advance definitely helps maintain our simple and peaceful home. Learn more about this routine here.
9. Make a regular schedule for cleaning/house maintenance.
How can you peacefully maintain housecleaning? Map out a simple schedule for your home maintenance. One load of laundry a day, bathrooms on Tuesday, Kitchen on Wednesday, or whatever method suits you. Write it out and place it in a visible spot that you view most frequently. I rarely get to indepth cleaning at this season of my life. Things are picked up, bathrooms cleaned, kitchen floor mopped, dust, and vacuumed throughout the house. These tasks are spread out throughout the week, but the majority are completed on Wednesday morning (which is my housecleaning focus day). We leave those deep cleaning projects for our annual spring cleaning spree.
10. Work quickly.
It seems basic but it is important to set your mind to a task and stick to it! Whatever you hand finds to do, do it with all your might! (Eccl. 9:10) Set a timer if necessary and try to work quickly around your home. Can you get those dishes done in 15 minutes? Set the timer and go!
11. Conquer your distraction.
We all have them. Too much of anything can be a bad thing. Too much computer, phone, email or even reading. My weakness is too much computer time. I submitted my weakness to my husband and he has set up parental controls on my computer (they have these settings within the System Preferences – Parental Controls on my Mac). I now have a limited 2 hour time frame for computer time within the hours of the kids’ afternoon naps. This has been incredibly helpful for preventing the temptation to check my email in the morning when I have more important things to do. This has been a huge blessing to guard my time! Sometimes the Lord calls us to take drastic action to help re-focus and guard us in maintaining our priorities. Ephesians 5:16 says, “Make the most of your time for the days are evil.”
12. Make a simple schedule with morning and evening routines.
For our family, having a simple schedule is very beneficial but not completely necessary. Rather than mapping out hour by hour how our day will transpire, I work around a model of “themes” or focuses for each day of the week. This gives me more freedom to not get overly consumed with my to-do list as it is much more simplified.
Mondays: Organizing for the week, Finish laundry (if necessary)
Wednesdays: Housecleaning (one week I clean the upstairs, the following week I clean the downstairs) – I also do one housecleaning task each day.
Thursdays: Baking Day (Karis and I like to make one or two recipes of muffins, coffeecake, etc. for the upcoming week – this is our morning activity together)
Fridays: Errands, Outing day (I have simplified our lives a lot by doing a monthly shopping run based upon our monthly menu plan and a monthly errand run, on other weeks I do some bookkeeping for my dad, visit family, etc)
Saturdays: Laundry day
Sundays: Weekly Planning Retreat
That being said, a day in our life looks something like this:
5:30-6:00 am – Get dressed, personal devotions, make to-do list for the day
7:00 am – Make breakfast, nurse Titus
7:30 am – Family breakfast
8:00 am – Aaron leaves for work, get kids dressed (bath on Tues, Thurs & Sat), kitchen cleaned
9:00 am – Dinner prep, fill water bottles, Housecleaning task for the day
10:00 am – Karis time (learning activity, baking, tea, etc)
11:00 am – Walk with kids
Pack Aaron’s lunch
House pick up
Lay out clothes for tomorrow
Personal shower (Tues, Thurs & Sat)
That’s about it! I love the simple life…
For further inspiration for simplifying in many aspects of your home, check out my Simple Living Series. Join me in the nitty gritty aspects of simplifying my home.
Simplifying in the Bedroom
Simplifying Menu Planning
Simplifying in the Bathroom
Simplifying in the Kitchen
Simplifying Your Wardrobe
Simplifying Your Purchases
Simplifying the Toy Collection
Simplifying Your Home Office
Managers of Their Home by Steve & Teri Maxwell – this is a helpful resource especially for home school mothers for managing your homes. My mom used this constantly growing up in order to manage all the different schedules of a household with eight children.
Shopping for Time: How to Do it All and Not Be Overwhelmed by Carolyn Mahaney – my favorite read on maintaining a proper balance of being wise users of time, keeping Christ first, and still maintaining your home. Read my review here.
Confessions of an Organized Homemaker – a great practical book on home organization.
What tips can you have to share?