Enjoying the Simplicity of Staying Home

A reader asked: How much time during the week do you allow for time away from home and/or open your home for things like playdates/hospitality towards other moms. Our church is strong on community and “living life together” and living missionally (which I am totally on board and excited about). However, lately, it feels like we are away from home more mornings than we are home. Those times usually end up with kids in one room playing and moms in another chatting/venting/hopefully encouraging one another. I want my kids to learn the importance of community, but I fear this is encouraging peer-orientation and taking away from my discipleship of my kids. I know I am to be “busy at home” and it just feels like playdates are a good excuse to ignore these duties. Any thoughts/guidelines you use?

If there is one lesson I have learned since the arrival of my third child is that the easiest way to avoid stress and outbursts of anger at my children is to simply stay home. When you consider the work necessary to get four people (including myself) fed, clothed, diapers changed, potty visited, shoes tied, and coats buttoned, I am rather worn out.

Could our time be better invested by simply staying home?

There is true joy to be found in simply being at home. We do experience a lot pressure in our culture to get out and do things in order to supposedly stay sane. It could be a pull to many good things, like much needed fellowship with other woman. Don’t get me wrong. I believe it is very important to be in fellowship with other believers (Hebrews 13:3). But you don’t have to go to the latest play group or gym class for your child to develop socially. You don’t have to go to every storytime or sing-along for your child to love books and be exposed to the wonders of music. You don’t have to go to every moms group to stay connected in community with others. “Ballet classes for 3 year olds are glorified playgrounds,” as one friend so aptly put it. You can do it right from your own living room. There is a balance that we must come through by prayer and seeking the counsel of our husbands.

When it comes to our family, we follow one basic weekly guideline we shoot for – one morning/afternoon outing per week. There may be an occasional reason requiring us to go out again, but this is the most common plan. This might be a playdate with another family, a field trip to our local children’s museum, or storytime at the local library. We believe strongly in the importance of community, so we host a small group within our home on a weekly basis where we share and live life together and challenge on another in missional living. The girls in our small group get together on a monthly basis over coffee or have a night in the hot tub for focused fellowship. We also participate in a monthly Bible study together digging into a book of the Bible. We love it! These things are manageable.

As far as hospitality goes, we usually open our home 1-2 times per month for general hospitality to families in our church or neighboring community. We have the freedom also to call one another as needed. I try to restrict phone calls to nap times so as not to detract me from my kiddos. But this can be an easy way to connect with others, to share needs, encourage one another, and pray without even leaving my home.

I’ve found that if I try to pack up multiple times per week and go somewhere with my kids, my homemaking certainly does suffer. My children ultimately suffer too. They love routine, regular nap periods, reading time together, and such. When we are constantly on the go, they are far more inclined to get grumpy and very needy. They lack Mommy’s focused attention. It’s nearly impossible to work on heart training when you are out and about as well. For the peace and growth of our family we need to be at home together.

There have been multiple times where I sat nursing my baby, untying a knotted shoe, and searching for directions to our destination all at the same time, while reminding one child (for the third time, I dare say) to find his coat, and the other to go to the bathroom. Getting three little kids that are rather helpless out the door is a lengthy and stressful process. I am helplessly impatient with my children as the moments tick by.

Mommy is certainly less stressed, children are more happy, and our household is better maintained when this Mommy slows down and finds delight in creatively using her time at home. If I am feeling lonely or experiencing self-pity about staying home, it is a reminder to stop and check my heart. Where am I seeking to find my fulfillment? Am I looking for my help in others first before my sweet Lord? Why not befriend a book, or the Book of all Books. I want to make sure my heart is still first and foremost towards my first mission – honoring the Lord in our family and home. Beautifying this place. Cultivating domestic serenity here and now.

We are learning valuable life skills and teamwork from our own home today as we work together cutting apples for the dehydrator, unloading the dishwasher, reading stories, memorizing poetry and verses, shaping letters, running around playing hide and seek, and taking a daily pause to rest. This is beautiful when you learn to see the art before your eyes. Time is too precious to waste too much of it running here and there.

I pray you would be blessed to be able to slow down and see the treasure of staying home and delighting in that.

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

100 Responses to Enjoying the Simplicity of Staying Home

  1. Jenni June 5, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    BST-Baby Standard Time
    A term I started using when my second child was born. Being from Seattle, people are very big on being on time. It is very disrespectful to be late in this culture. So I make sure to let everyone know that I run on BST which means I may be early or late or even Very Late. It takes the stress out of getting out. It is supposed to be fun, right? So let the baby finish her nap and chalk it up to BST. Recently I was asked to start working part time for a previous employer and because everyone was aware that I might not be anywhere on time, the experience has been less stressful than I could have imagined. I guess BST is just my way of letting people know that my family comes before whatever other expectations people make for me.

  2. JB December 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    It’s like you wrote this post just for me! For a while there I was in charge of our mom’s group and then felt the responsibility to be at every event! it was exhausting, and to say the housework suffered is a HUGE understatement. it seems most of my friends don’t understand my desire to stay at home rather than running all over town everyday.

  3. Katie December 13, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    Personally I’ve found this to be true for our tiny family also; the more I try to cram in outside the home (mostly errands), the more stressed I and my routine-loving 2 year old are. I recently had a great deal of encouragement from some friends to embrace my role in disciplining my child more consistently and this has meant saying no to my own activities a lot. And I’m so much happier! I hadn’t realized that I’d slipped into a “super-woman” attitude at the expense of my son’s and my own sanity – whoops! It’s always helpful I guess to step back and re-evaluate every few months. I will say that I think there’s a big difference (at least for me) between errands and “social” events, and just getting out. We need to get out. We need air. I try to take my kiddo outside at much as I can, or even go to the mall to walk around on a rainy day (he calls these our “dates”), and to go to a park once or twice a week. But those trips remain soley based on what we can manage in our day – there’s no pressure be there at a certain time or to stay when we just need to go.

    By the way that same group of friends is amazingly encouraging. I get together with 3 other moms with younguns (ages 3 months to 4 years) once or twice a month at the home of my pastor. His wife encourages us, gives practical advice and plenty of hugs, and takes the kids so we can relax a bit sometimes (3 of us are pregnant). The kids learn to play together and love their friends and we get to socialize. We each see first hand that kids are hard work (not just our own kids!) The best part though – and we’ve each said this – is that we all know our priority is our own kids and then our friends’ kids, and THEN each other. We help each other to focus on momming and the social time comes whenever it comes. We don’t have a study or activity planned (those things aren’t bad – they just don’t work well for our group right now) just being together as moms. It’s really lovely. There are other young moms in our church who for different reasons are able to do more; some have more family nearby, some have been blessed with children who are naturally more compliant or less sensitive to schedule changes. Some simply have been moms longer or do not have children under 2 years old. I look forward to maybe being in that category someday, but for now, God’s placed me here and staying home a lot works for us.

    Thanks for the encouragement Lindsay!

  4. Susan December 10, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    Wow, did I ever need to read that one, especially this month! I’m at the same place as you, our kids are about the same ages and we’re getting into homeschooling, so that time at home is all the more precious! This was such an encouragement as I like to be “out,” but I can tell all that suffers when we’re out too much. Thanks for your voice of reason when it seems like everyone else is saying “do more!” God wants our hearts and to be the Marys at his feet.

  5. Sally December 9, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

    Totally agree Lindsay! I enjoy getting out and about on occasion, and sometimes it’s necessary to take a run to the store with two little ones in tow. It’s important, however, not to let peer pressure compel us to do certain activities. It has to be what’s right for each individual family before God. Thank you for the well-written, insightful post!

  6. talia December 9, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    I just have one 18 month old. My husband works 60-70 hours a week and I feel stir crazy if we don’t get out. My girl loves to go places, so we take quick trips to library, park, stores, or wherever all the time. It is what works for us right now. I still cook everything from scratch and spend time with God daily. I love my few monthly outings/ playgroup but try not to just chat away without bwi g with my girl. I love the activities we do. Sometimes we go to grandmas house and hang out (which grandma loves) but that can end up being stressful since I have to pack all food, and she is too excited to nap normally, but we are not schedule people anyway, but more go by the flow do it still works out. I think every family does what works for them, as long as you put God first and follow your kids cues.

  7. Sarah December 9, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    Great post …I made it a point to stay home every day this week ..no play dates and the change in my attitude (less stressed ) was amazing along with better behavior from my 3 year old and less fussyness from the baby! I plan to do that more often!

  8. Susan @ christianmothering.com December 9, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    Thought-provoking post, thank you. I agree that simplicity and intentionality of schedule are both critical in parenting young ones, and less definitely is generally more. At the same time, some moms – depending on their temperaments and the demeanors of their kids – may find that there is such a thing as staying home too much with littles. My own children are 6, 4, 2, and 8 months, and we homeschool too. My son is active and my 6- and 4-year-olds become agitated and restless with too much in-house time. Close quarters and a small yard add to this.
    We have a closely-followed schedule as well – room time/morning nap in the AM, rest time/afternoon nap in the early afternoon. But for us, we need to get out for 1 – 2 hours at least 1x per day for a simple, non-stress outing. It keeps all of us, including this community-oriented/extroverted mom – sane and happy.
    I think this is where knowing yourself as a mom well, and carefully tending to the dynamics of
    your family, are critical. No one model fits for every family.
    Thanks again for the post.

  9. Amanda Kaake December 9, 2011 at 6:19 am #

    Thank you for this article. IT is also something we’ve adopted and been very blessed for.

  10. Karina December 9, 2011 at 5:07 am #

    Thank you so much for this though-provoking post. I have often found it easier to stay at home with my little ones and sometimes wondered if there might be something wrong. Your post has reminded me that my mission is in my home, (not to ignore the outside though) and I need to find fulfillment from my Lord! I have linked up to this post on my own blog.

  11. Tiffany December 8, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    I really needed this. Thanks so much. Your blog is such an incredible ministry. Been following for years and I want you to know Lindsey that I finally, after being off path for to long have re dedicated my life to Christ and am now passionate about being a proverbs 31 wife and I am now training my children in the way, in turn it is ministering to my husband and his Godly role is unfolding to him and he is turning to Christ, all 6 of us are going to church again and our lives have changed so immensely and it all started here for me. I was once betray by my church and left also turning from God but because of you and your blog I have once again returned to serve my king. I just wish you could understand how much of an impact your making here. It’s glorious and amazing. Who would have thought huh that you could lead people to the lord at home behind your computer? :o ) bless you. Btw, I have 4 youngins and boy is it ever stressful going out and about. We live in the country so when we go out of town it is HECTIC. So many places to go in order to conserve trips. It’s made after church far to stressful because we are all hungry after and go out to eat after finally agreeing on a place and then need to run 5 errands after. Needless to say we need a new plan we’ve been really frazzled.

  12. Mrs. Graham Gardens December 8, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    Somehow I missed this post, Lindsay – but boy, is it a good one!

  13. Carrie December 8, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

    I took a year’s leave from teaching after having each of my girls. With my first we stayed home most of the time, with the second I had to get out. She had colic and screamed 24/7 but if I took her outdoors she stopped. So we got into the pattern of going to a local garden and an arboretum, even in the dead of winter. It was such a special time, honestly. It was just myself and my two girls though. I am back to work but will be done in June and I am finally able to be a stay at home Mom without financial worries. I plan to not schedule us for that many things, but I really think that I will continue our outings to our gardens. Exploring nature and the outdoors really helps me teach my oldest about many things. We often talk about God’s handiwork in all of the beautiful flowers.

    • Katie December 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

      What a lovely idea – I love that you’ve found a way to get out of the house, out in the air and out into nature, but also to keep the quietness and routine that some people really thrive on. And congratulations on being able to stay home with your girls soon!!

  14. Christy December 8, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    Loved this. It took me 3 kids to finally realize the value (and necessity) of staying at home more. I often repeat Ann Voskamp’s phrase “only amateurs hurry,” (from One Thousand Gifts) as I find myself getting stressed and impatient trying to get 3 kids out the door. (My kids are nearly the exact same ages as yours.) :) It is SO. HARD. and most of the time not worth the adversity it causes! I’ve also been feeling guilty about not being ‘committed’ enough to our church body…it seems everyone at our church serves in multiple ministries, even if it means putting their kids in the nursery for 2 back-to-back services. We are also one of the only families in our megachurch who bring our baby and toddlers into the adult worship services so we can worship together as a family. My husband sings on the music team, I coordinate a women’s book club, and we are involved in a small group and that is about all we do! THANK YOU for encouraging and affirming my decision to just stay home a lot and invest my time in my little ones during these precious, formative years.

    • 4 little lovies December 8, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

      Christy,

      It was encouraging to read that you take your little ones into the adult worship service so that you can worship together as a family. We so enjoy having our four children with us while we worship. I know not everyone chooses to do this for various valid reasons, but it is encouraging when I cross paths of another mama who does.

      Love,
      Lisa

      • Katie December 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

        We also have our guy in church with us for a good portion of the service (he’s still learning and 1 1/2 – 2 hours is a long time for him). It’s so nice to have you favorite wee ones next to you singing isn’t it?! I wasn’t raised this way, but I’m definitely enjoying it :)

  15. Tammy December 8, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    I agree. My 3 kids are older (14, 17, and 22) but we now have 3 pre-adoptive foster children living in our home (ages 1, 2 ,and 3!). Wow, what a change. I see a huge difference when we just stay home; well rested kiddos and a less stressed mom. I do try to do special things with my older ones when my husband is home; even taking one to the grocery store is special when it’s just the two of you. But when I take out all the little ones, they’re usually out of sorts by the time we get home.

  16. Jennifer December 8, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    I always enjoy your posts, Lindsay, and appreciate your love for the Lord and his plan. I would like to also agree with some of the comments about a little time away from the house being beneficial and, in and of itself, not a reason to feel guilty.

    All those things you said about it being so stressful and a bit annoying to get out of the house with children is so true, but I’ve got to say…My kids really thrive in social settings. They are extreme extraverts (like their Dad). I could stay home almost all the time…it’s they who start going crazy…and making me crazy in the process!

    It’s a good point, thought, that the time that IS spent at home should be purposeful and valuable and not taken for granted! The most valuable things ARE learned at home!
    Thanks!

  17. Carron December 8, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    OH my dear! I loved this post so very much. Yesterday we spent a very unplanned day out in the city & it was so busy, and costly, that I never want to leave our home again!!!! Thankfully, the children were all well behaved–but began to become unnerved because it was such an unusual day compared to their typical schedule. Your post described everything I felt after returning home. Thank you for sharing to encourage me & other moms that need a little reminder that it’s ok, it’s enough, it’s perfect, it’s what God intended for us—>to just stay home sometimes. How else are we to consistently rear our children in the love and admiration of the Lord? Out and about does not generally provide them a sense of security & trust when practicing character traits. I’ve noticed in my children that they become a little more fearful of the busyness around us. Anyway, Thank you. I was blessed by reading this & empowered to keep life simple in the name of Jesus. My time away from the home should be for ministering & not going to Target for legos :)

  18. Elisabeth December 8, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

    Great post. I wish I had learned this when I was a young momma with small children. I am now an older momma (I still have some small children) and I am so thankful for the time at home with my kids.

  19. Shawn December 8, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    Great post. It is very refreshing to be encouraged to stay home and care for our children and homes.

  20. Shannon Hazleton December 8, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Lindsay. This is some of the top advice I have for stressed moms of littles – just stay home! We will find a meal in the pantry, rather than ‘running’ out for a ‘quick’ trip to the store. And we turn down lots of play dates as well. I’m convinced this adds to our peace, helps us spend less, and helps keep my heart and mind where it should be.

  21. Lanai December 8, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    Once again, thank you for sharing your heart. Possibly going through a transition in life again, but too soon to tell.. And making the decision to stay at home with my 7 month old. Ending college after receiving an AA & hoping my family will understand.. Living in this world and not being “of” it is hard for some people to understand outside my husband & our “God family”. This is an encouragement to me to know I’m not alone in being at home with my kiddo & imprinting her life! We have been so blessed with the ability for me to be able to & want to honor God & Him receive the glory for our sakes.

  22. Jill @ The Prairie Homestead December 8, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    THANK YOU for this post. I really, really needed to hear this right now…
    I stay at home with our daughter and we live 35 miles from the nearest town that offers groups, playdates, activities, etc.
    We go to church on Sundays, and usually have at least one or two other “outings” each week.

    However, I am very, very happy to stay at home the rest of the time.

    We homestead, which means we have lots of animals and chores to do, and I also cook everything from scratch, which equals lots of kitchen activity. Nothing makes me happier than making my home more welcoming and cozy, and I love spending time cleaning and decorating.

    I feel very, very fulfilled being at home as much as I am.

    BUT, I have no one else to relate to, as the few other stay at home moms that I know seem to be on the run 24/7. No one else I know in real life actually seems to spend time at their home at all.

    I’ve actually wondered if there was something wrong with me for enjoying just staying at home so much. I do like people, and my daughter is plenty socialized, but like you said, the more we’re gone, the messier the house and barn get, the less we eat healthfully, and the more stressed out we all become.

    Thank you so much for this encouragement today!

  23. Jessica December 8, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It was very encouraging. It is hard to find the balance between staying home and going out. What works for one family may not work for others. Also, as our children grow, we might change the way we did things in the past. For now, with a 5, 3, and 2 year old and one on the way, staying home is the way to go! We go to 3 church services a week and the library once or twice a month. For me, that feels like a lot! But I am sure that will change some when my children are a little older. I also don’t belive that children need to be involved in many activities to be socialized.
    Thanks again for this article!

  24. Lorie December 8, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    I did a little chuckle here when I realized I was reading SO much of the last week in this post. The fact that I do get grumpy trying to get my 3 year old and 18 month old out the door and the housework suffering. Thank you so much for reminding me that walks outside and just being a family together is enough.
    I do want to add that your picture for this post is so cute! I absolutely love it :)

  25. Ande December 8, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    This post was so encouraging and affirming. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this! My husband and I have been sharing a car. My baby girl and I find much delight in being home most every day. On days I do have the car, I get stressed doing too much. We are about to get another car. Even when we have more opportunity for freedom, I think I’ll continue keeping our schedule simple, very similar to how you described.

  26. Lisa December 8, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    Another thought I had and I do not want anyone to think I am attacking or being snarky. But if we are feeling rushed and stressed over trying to get small children out the door, this can also be an opportunity for improvement for both parent and child. Maybe a routine needs to be tweaked or even established so that leaving the house for an activity is more efficient.

    I always had troubles getting out the door for our weekly playdate and then I sat back and looked at what was going wrong. I sat down the two older kids (soon to be 5 and 3) and told them what I expect from them when I tell them it’s time to get ready. I also rearranged our “coat closet” so the kids were able to get their own jackets, hats, mittens, etc. out and on with little assistance from me. That left me time to get the baby and myself ready and then buttoning/zipping the oldest two as we are walking out the door.

  27. Lisa December 8, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    I think activities outside of the home are important in raising our children. They are opportunities to learn to share, work (play) with others, develop relationships and social skills, build strong and loving communities. I do not think they take away from teaching children discipline but rather strengthen the moral, ethics, and character that we wish to instill in our children.

    While duties, roles and responsibilities at home and raising children are important, appropriate social activities also are important in raising children as as mothers (and fathers). Just because we are outside the home does not mean that there is no discipline. When I attend playdates, church activities, family gatherings or other engagements or even errands such as doctor appointments or grocery shopping outside the home with my children, I expect them to behavior and act appropriately. Discipline does not stop because we’ve stepped outside our home.

    I do believe that we do not need to have planned activities every day but rather have a balance that is appropriate for our home, myself, and my children.

  28. Christie December 8, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    LOVED this post in every way! Thankful to be at home each day with 3 :)