Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why are younger generations not getting married but still having children?

I found this on the LAF/Beautiful Womanhood site. I just have to sit and shake my head in disbelieve after reading this very confounding article from NPR, yet I know from personal experience the insanity that 20-somethings are falling into today. Do they not want to get married because they can’t afford it or because if they can’t have their fantasy they just don’t want to have anything, and how do children factor into their logic? How is it that a child isn’t a financial liability, but marriage is? AND THESE PEOPLE ARE GETTING COLLEGE DEGEES!

Enjoy the article below, or cringe at what it divulges, and then read my response below. Don't be scared away from the article because of the website name.  They bring up some very important point that aren't getting asked.

Why are younger generations not getting married but still having children?

A recent NPR article explores this question. One brilliant interviewee says:

“‘A lot of people, I think, see marriage as a piece of paper,’ says Mellissa. ‘A piece of paper that costs a lot of money to change.’ She laughs and explains that she means divorce.”
Her boyfriend says:

"‘For me,’ says Andrew, ‘it feels unsafe heading into a marriage, where two people rely on each other, to go into it unprepared. In my family, my mother never worked, and my dad's income was always very sufficient to support our family. I'd like to model that in my life.’”
In other words, Mellissa figures she will likely get divorced so why bother getting married? But did she intend to have children anyway? Isn’t splitting up just as ugly with a child, possibly uglier, regardless of a marriage license or not?

Her ever so brilliant boyfriend thinks that it is a bad idea to go into marriage financial unprepared but living with his girlfriend or fathering doesn’t count?! He wants things to be just perfect for marriage, with him being the working dad and Mellissa being the stay-at-home mom.  What do you think Jr. will say to knowing that he was conceived out of wedlock and his parents lived in sin while they got their college degrees?

Where do they find these people?

I wonder if Mellissa and Andrew even intended to get pregnant or if that was just an “accident” that happened due to the act of sex. Funny how sex results in children! Hmmm…never thought about that did you Mellissa and Andrew?

Putting their stupidity aside…

There are other statistics that say that divorce rates are dropping. Is that because people who would have gotten married and then divorced aren’t getting married in the first place?

USA Today makes this exact point:

“… The national per capita divorce rate has declined steadily since its peak in 1981 and is now at its lowest level since 1970...”
“Some experts say relationships are as unstable as ever — and divorces are down primarily because more couples live together without marrying…”

“… The marriage rate has dropped by nearly 30% in past 25 years; and Americans are waiting about five years longer to marry than they did in 1970.”
The marriage rate has dropped by 30% and divorces are down to their lowest levels at 37%. Interesting tidbit there.

That being said, why is it that these crazy kids who want to live together but not get married want to have children? Why do they continue to have children even though they are literally planning not to stay with the other parent? Do they feel a divine right to do so? Do they fantasize that a child will unite them? Or do they just not give it much thought until the deed is done?

That is my bet right there. They aren’t planning on having children. I have no proof, but I would bet some dough that Mellissa and Andrew didn’t intend on their little bundle of joy popping before they were married.

So what about those few people who did intend to have children (putting aside the teenagers who have their heads up their rears)? Why do they not want to do get married?

I think it goes back to what Mellissa said (as idiotic as it may seem). They don’t want to be bothered with divorce. They want to pack their bags and go when the relationship no longer is worth the effort. After all, weddings are fun! Who wouldn’t want to have a wedding! Divorces on the other hand, often cost just as much or more than a wedding and nobody throws you a party…usually.

They are living in Hotel de Disneyland if they believe that it is cheaper to have a custody hearing than it is to get a divorce?

Are they concerned at all about the child’s feelings? Do they think a child would care if there was a piece of paper stating that their parents were married or not when they are having to pack up their belongings and having to say goodbye to mom or dad to go live somewhere else? Do they actually believe that a child is fine whether their parents live together or not?

Do they believe if they don’t stay together they can amicably share custody of Jr.? Do these people ever stop to think that they might not end up with shared custody because this person that was not good enough to marry wasn’t good enough to be a co-parent either? And who wants to share custody anyway? Why would you bring a child into this world only to share her 3 out of 7 days a week, 6 out of 12 weeks or just on summer vacation? Do they think the child wants to be shared between two people who don’t really care about each other or loved by two parents who love each other?

There are more than enough statistics to prove that children do far better in life when living with both of their biological married parents. Google it if you don’t believe me.

On the upside, that does free up every other weekend so that you can go out and have “adult time”.

But, you see this issue has nothing to do with what is best for their children, it has everything to do with what is best for the parents, or so they believe.

The motivating factor overall is selfishness. People don’t want to go through the trouble of staying married so they don’t get married in the first place. They don’t want to give up the act of sex either so they pretend to use “protection”. At some point the condom doesn’t work or the pill is forgotten. They end up with children they didn’t intend to have with people they didn’t intend to marry.

Let’s put this forward: If your partner isn’t worth marrying and committing YOUR life to, why are they worthy of being your child’s parent? Good genes? This person is going to be in your child’s and your life forever whether you like it or not. They are going to influence your child’s personality, habits, and values. They are going to help form and shape them from the ground up for better or worse, present or not.

Don’t you think a good test of being a parent is how good of a spouse they are? Don’t you think that if they can commit to you that would be a pretty good indicator of what kind of parent they are going to be?

Something to toss around.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The "S" Word: Socialization

I have heard homeschoolers tell of the uncomfortable questions about socialization, but I had never really experienced that much of it.  Most people do ask about how we get it, but no one ever assumes they don't get it.  Most of the time they are just asking the question becasue of the misinformation they have been given and I am happy to clarify how homeschool socialization is actually far superior to public school socialization. A couple of weeks ago I had to attend a funeral for a great-aunt. After the visitation some of our family went out to eat dinner. I sat next to a cousin I don’t often visit with. She is a very nice woman, lots of fun as far as I can tell. It came up that we homeschool our children. She leaned in close, shielded her mouth with her hand, and whispered “But what about socialization?” It was as if she was cursing without regard to my children’s presence. However the “S” word was just too much for their innocent ears to hear.

I told her, without regard to my children hearing, that we do a lot of socializing through church, sports, and clubs. The children get as much socialization as is good for them. I also mentioned that unlike school, I can control the socializing. I told her that homeschool isn’t like it used to be when homeschoolers were relative shut-ins. (Was it ever really like that? I don’t know.) Overall, I didn’t do the argument justice, but I just wasn’t in the mood to explain basic child sociology to her.

She seemed to be relatively understanding after I explained it to her, but she obviously had more on her mind she wanted to say but didn’t. It wasn’t really the time or place to go too deep into the subject. However, it just keeps popping back into my mind, the way she said it as if it were a dirty word. I think it was probably innocent enough, but what possessed her to behave that way? Has she heard stories about homeschoolers being backwards? Has she heard something about my children specifically? Now I am getting all weirded out by it.

I am coming to the conclusion that non-homeschoolers look at us, hear our opinions on education and socialization, and assume that we are criticizing them personally. Instead of them hearing, “My child wasn’t learning good social behavior, she was learning to follow the crowd,” they hear “Your child is one of the ones who were leading my child astray” or “You are doing a disservice to your children by not homeschooling them.” In reality, I could care less whether other people homeschool or not just as long as they do not take my right to homeschool away. I do believe that most families could benefit from homeschooling, and that society in general could benefit from more homeschooled children. However, my job right now isn’t to change the world—it is to prepare my children to live in but remain separate from the world. Sending my children to public school was working in conflict with that goal, but that is only in reflection.

I feel the need to clarify…again…why we homeschool.

Our decision to homeschool had more to do with academics and less to do with the social aspects of school. We could see that there were going to be some problems in the future, but overall, the children our daughter went to school with were mostly good kids. We were having issues with institutional learning in general. They were not able to address our child’s needs without making her feel like she was not as intelligent or that there was something wrong with her. We felt we could address her academic needs in less time, with less hassle, and more effectively than they could, plus we were in a position to do so. We were right!

School became her god. I haven’t been able to put that into words until now, but that is exactly what it was like. Her life revolved around school completely. When she got home she had homework to do, a lot of homework, too much homework for a second grader who just spent 9 hours away from home (one hour bus ride to and from although we only live about 7 minutes from school). She was usually very tired and had a hard time focusing. She behaved for the teacher better than she behaved for me. She wanted to be with her school friends more than she desired to be with family and other friends. She was socialized, all right – socialized to function in school only. School invaded our family time through after-school functions and homework. School not only was her god, but it was becoming our whole family’s god. We had to schedule every aspect of our life around school. My husband’s work interfered less with our home life than school did. However, even knowing this, it was very low on our reasons for homeschooling because we were still stuck in the mainstream mindset that accepts public school as a god. I knew I didn’t like it, but I just accepted it as the way it was.

My husband and I simply decided to reject that model. Call us rebels, anti-establishment, or whatever. We have a saying around our house: If it doesn’t work, don’t participate in it. Life is too short to waste time on things that don’t work. From everything I have observed institutionalized learning doesn’t work in the long term, and often in the short term. You have seen the news reports so I won’t go into great detail here, but our school system is ranked very low in math and science, our children are killing one another in those schools, and they can’t even answer basic history facts that are crucial to understand if the American dream is to stay alive. That isn’t “working”, it is failing. What about how the American family is so dysfunctional that we call dysfunctional normal now? Our children spend the better part of their day in school. Why don’t we look at that model and question whether or not is at least partially responsible for these problems?

Why would I continue to participate? Somebody explain to me why it is good to keep supporting a system like that?

“OH, but the children! What will they do all day long if we didn’t have public school?”

Get a job! Work on the farm! Learn at home! That is significantly more productive than what they are doing now.

Are homeschoolers judging? YES! We are judging that we don’t want to participate in that system any more. Does that mean we think we are smarter than my cousin who asked about socialization? Maybe, maybe not. What we ARE is willing to reject what doesn’t work in our lives. Why does it have to be any more than that?

How many kids do you know that come out of public school being totally socially retarded (this probably isn’t PC)? Why is it that if they aren’t social butterflies that that means they are less than those who are? If you are a Christian you will love them regardless of whether they know how to appropriately schmooze. You will see the beauty of their soul and be thankful society hasn’t ruined them yet.

In our culture we spend entirely too much energy judging people on their social potential. That is what this comes down to, doesn’t it? If they aren’t socially gifted, regardless of how smart they are, or how good of a person they are, they won’t be able to live an upper middle class life, or maybe they won’t have beautiful friends, or maybe they might marry someone ugly. Who the heck cares? How about this? You worry about your family; you work on preparing your children to be Godly wives, husbands, and parents and I will do the same for mine. When you have it all figured out, write a book.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Feminism, Femivorism, and Homemaking: Revisited

I wrote a piece recently that was a counter attack to an article I read, The Femivore’s Delima . It was a long and grueling piece and I am afraid that most of the points I wanted to make about homemaking were lost in the length. This is my attempt to summarize why homemaking is a legitimate career and needs to be celebrated.

Do you want a rewarding career and high pay? Don’t read further if you do?

We are seeking a homemaker to work and be on call 24/7, 365 days a year. This woman will be the manager of the home: insuring that the home is clean, the people in the family are well taken care of, and the logistics of the home run smoothly. Often this job entails tasks like shopping, cooking, cleaning, minor (possibly major) first aid, teaching, mending, laundering, gardening, and dealing with bodily fluids (of other people on you). A successful candidate will have proven skills in patience, communication, meeting deadlines, and being able to adjust to new and different situation on a moment-to-moment basis while still accomplishing the day’s regular routine. Potential homemakers should not expect any rewards or acclimates. If income is required the candidate will need to hold down a second job (often a full-time job) while still accomplishing all tasks necessary to be considered successful at homemaking. Lazy, selfish, self-centered people need not apply.

If you would have read this job description before you got married and chose to be a stay-at-home mom would you have made the decision to do it? Wouldn’t you rather work in a corporation where the pay is great, you receive awards for a job well done, and they have casual day only on Fridays? No poop. No goop. And no croup.

Feminists would have you believe that unless you get pay raises and vacations you don’t deserve as much respect as those who do. We even try to argue, “Well, I have a degree so I am as smart as you, I just have a higher calling?” Why do we feel we need to justify ourselves? Isn’t our job just as important?

Why ARE we so undervalued?

Because, we are looking to others to value us! We are valuable. God created each of us for a purpose and with loving hands. If you need to look any further than your own backyard, Dorothy, you are going to be sorely disappointed.

Each homemaker brings her unique personality into homemaking. Some raise chickens and grow organic produce, others shop at the supermarket. Some teach their children, others volunteer at the local school to help the teachers that their tax dollars pay for. Some work in high-rise office buildings, some work from their kitchen tables. Some are liberal, some are conservative. Some are poor, some are rich. Some are Muslim, some are Christian. Regardless of our personal convictions and political preferences, we are the same in one way; we believe we can best serve this world by serving our families first.

Sometimes we discredit ourselves. We say things like, “I am just a stay-at-home mom,” or “I don’t work for a living.” What are we doing?! Why would we discredit ourselves like that? They don’t need any more ammunition, do they?

Our profession is noble and righteous and always has been.

I am not trying to judge those who can’t have this lifestyle. Some times in life, “Crap happens.” We don’t have a choice to be a 2 parent family. We don’t have a choice but to put our kids in a daycare.” And, the only way our home is going to get clean is to hire someone to do it for us because we want to focus on being with our children instead of scrubbing the toilets. I get it and I am not talking about YOU!

I am sick to death of reading articles and seeing talking heads on T.V. telling me to be a complete person I need to have a job, have a degree, and sacrifice the well-being of my family for my own.

If it weren’t for homemakers who would do the laundry? Who would cook dinner? Who would pack lunches? Who would take the kids to the doctor? Who would clean the house? Who would help the kids with their homework? Who would pay the bills? Would do the shopping? Who would volunteer at church? Who would go to PTA meetings? Who would meet with the teachers? Who would be the home school teachers? Who would walk the dog? Who would take the dog to the vet? Who would take the library books back? Who would give the kids a bath? Shall I go on?

Homemakers: Don’t absorb the worldly view that you are less because you choose to serve your family. You are unique and beautiful. Your purpose is true and good. You don’t need to be anything than what you are to be important. Love your husbands and celebrate them for the sacrifice they make for your well-being. Love your children and keep them with you for as long as you can and don’t entrust their lives to the government. Make your homes clean and beautiful with what you have and don’t feel ashamed because your home won’t be published in House Beautiful. Value yourself; don’t wait for someone else to do it for you. Know that you don’t walk this life alone. There are millions of women exactly like you, doing exactly what you do every day. We can’t all be wrong

Sunday Morning Stress: A war for your soul.

How many times has our family been under so much stress on Sunday morning that it would have just been easier to call it quits and go back to bed? I’m embarrassed to say: too many to count. Actually, Sunday isn’t the only day that this could occur, but Sunday seems to be particularly bad because we all know that we should be in peaceful, joyful moods on our way to worship the Lord. It seems hypocritical to be yelling at the family minutes before you are to be studying and worshiping God. I think we could add that it is hypocritical to act one way on Sunday and not on every day of the week.

I have been tempted to give up and not go to church at all, hearing that voice in my head that says, “You are a hypocrite, you shouldn’t go to church until you resolve these issues.” I am reminded of Jesus in the wilderness telling Satan, “Get behind me!” I fervently believe that it is Satan’s lies that are trying to keep me from going. There is nothing he wants more than to stop believers from worshiping and learning about the Almighty.

As with any good lie, it is mixed with truth. Am I a hypocrite? Yes. I know very well that I should not lash out in anger. What makes it hypocritical is that I tell my children not to behave like that and throw temper tantrums, but then I go and do it because things aren’t going my way on Sunday morning. The lie is that because I am a hypocrite and a sinner that I somehow don’t deserve God’s word until I stop the behavior. LIE. LIE. LIE. There is never a time I need it more!

And let’s just say it isn’t me who needs it, it is my husband. Well then move out of my way Satan because I need to not be a stumbling block to my husband. I am his helpmeet. Nothing runs smoothly in this family if he is not right with God. He is our spiritual leader.

One of our family’s biggest stumbling blocks on Sunday, or any day, is lack of preparation. We do not function when the house is a mess, clothes aren’t clean and orderly, or when we don’t have enough rest. It can be all or one, but when those things are not running smoothly, Satan sees his opportunity. My husband and I lose our tempers with each other and/or kids and it is all downhill from there. We then hear that voice, “Stay home.” “Go back to bed.” “You are too tired, just miss this one Sunday, it won’t matter.” “Nobody will miss you anyway.” “You should resolve this argument before you go sit in that pew.”

Thankfully, I can say that we haven’t missed one Sunday because of this to my recollection. We go anyway, in our sin, and we sit and listen and receive God’s word. However, the temptation is there and I want to eliminate the temptation and never give myself a chance to fall victim to it.

So how can I neutralize the enemy’s opportunity?

It is simple isn’t it?  
  1. Get the house picked up (clutter is the main issue not a dirty toilet).
  2. Keep the laundry under control and lay out clothes the night before.
  3. Get a good night’s rest.

 Easier said than done, right?

“So tell us guru, how do we solve this issue?” 
  1. Remember that this is a war for your soul and the souls of your family. There is nothing more that Satan wants than to keep you and God separated by sin. On Saturday night it may be nice to stay up late and watch a movie, but it is far more important that you get to church the next morning and are fully awake and rested so that you can receive God’s word with an open fresh mind. This goes for your children as well. Nothing can put an ugly stain on Sunday morning than a whiny, disobedient kid.
  2. Remember during the week that this is a war for your soul and the souls of your family. Keep the laundry going all week long. 1 load a day, 2 loads a day; it will depend on the size of your family. Whatever it takes to have clean laundry hanging in the closet of every person in the house, do it.
  3. Remember every day, but around here especially on the weekends, that it is every person’s job in the family to keep up with the house work. We often like to pretend that moms, working or stay at home, are there to be the maid. That just isn’t so. Mom holds the right to delegate any task at any time to any person in the family because she is the home manager. If dad is the home manager, then he holds the delegation power. “Submit to one another.”
Overall, just remember whatever your issues are on Sunday getting out the door, there is a war on for your soul. You are a participant regardless of whether you are aware of it or not. If you can’t find the motivation to eliminate those issues which keep you from church on Sunday, focus on it being a war, not a war between you and your loved ones, but a war between God and Satan. Whose side are you on?







As a side note: is a great place to start getting your home and life under control. I read a multitude of blogs about homemaking, but this one is very helpful because you can sign up for a daily email reminder that keeps you on task for the day. If I find myself in a funk, I read the email and just do what it says. Someone else does the thinking and planning and sometimes that is just what I need.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Feminism, Femivorism, and Homemaking

After reading this article, I believe the best way to respond to it is point-by-point. You will see my comments in blue. I have written a conclusion to my thoughts at the bottom.

You can read the original article at

The Femivore’s Dilemma
by Peggy Orenstein

Four women I know — none of whom know one another — are building chicken coops in their backyards. It goes without saying that they already raise organic produce: my town, Berkeley, Calif., is the Vatican of locavorism, (Also a haven for liberal feminists) the high church of Alice Waters. (*An American chef, restaurateur, activist, and humanitarian. Nice resume compared to what is coming to describe a traditional homemaker…wait for it.) Kitchen gardens are as much a given here as indoor plumbing. But chickens? That ups the ante. Apparently it is no longer enough to know the name of the farm your eggs came from; now you need to know the name of the actual bird.

All of these gals — these chicks with chicks — are stay-at-home moms, highly educated women who left the work force to care for kith and kin. (She is probably very confused about how someone making a living could long to be at home with her children, caring for her home, and being a helpmate to her husband. I know, it is hard to understand human nature.) I don’t think that’s a coincidence: the omnivore’s dilemma (I have no idea what that means) has provided an unexpected out from the feminist predicament (You mean they aren’t all satisfied with hating men and the women who love them?), a way for women to embrace homemaking without becoming Betty Draper. (There it is…we are compared to a fictional character on a TV show; she couldn’t even find ONE example of a homemaker that represents the essence of the role that is honorable and decent) “Prior to this, I felt like my choices were either to break the glass ceiling or to accept the gilded cage,” says Shannon Hayes (That’s because you have no imagination or creativity and suffer from the need to have your peers accept your life choices, and since they all loathe the traditional homemaking role you are trying to gain their approval by turning homemaking into activism instead of accepting what it really is—a sacrificial act for the betterment of all society.), a grass-fed-livestock farmer in upstate New York and author of “Radical Homemakers,” a manifesto for “tomato-canning feminists,” which was published last month.

Hayes pointed out that the original “problem that had no name” was as much spiritual as economic: a malaise that overtook middle-class housewives trapped in a life of schlepping and shopping. (The actual problem is women buying into the feminist line—what you do isn’t important or admired.) A generation and many lawsuits later, some women found meaning and power through paid employment. (Was it really meaning and power they were looking for or, was it out of necessity? Or, was feminism trying to convince them they shouldn’t be content with their lives as they were?) Others merely found a new source of alienation. (They were alienated from their peers who had all bought into the feminist line.) What to do? The wages of housewifery had not changed — an increased risk of depression (show me the statistics), a niggling purposelessness (repetitive word choice, and why is homemaking and living a simple life without purpose?), economic dependence on your husband (God forbid if we were to depend on someone other than ourselves, we wouldn’t be fully human, and we might have to show appreciation instead of contempt) — only now, bearing them was considered a “choice”: if you felt stuck, it was your own fault. What’s more, though today’s soccer moms (another term invented to avoid being called homemaker or housewife) may argue, quite rightly, that caretaking is undervalued in a society that measures success by a paycheck (caretaking is undervalued by people who have to label others as femivore because they have devalued homemaker and housewife for so long they would seem hypocrites if they were to now change their minds that those roles were, indeed, valuable), their role is made possible by the size of their husband’s. (Again, I say that feminists don’t want to give credit to the men who take care of their families financially, and second, they have no idea what homemaking is all about.) In that way, they’ve been more of a pendulum swing than true game changers. (AH, homemakers don’t get the approval of feminists yet again. DANG. I didn’t know I was being recruited by the feminist movement to change the game, I just thought I was doing what was best for my family.)

Enter the chicken coop.

Femivorism is grounded in the very principles of self-sufficiency, autonomy and personal fulfillment (a.k.a. not playing on the family team, separate from their families, and just plain selfish) that drove women into the work force in the first place (which really aren’t the reasons women went to work in the first place, it was so they could help provide money for the family, simple as that—which by the way is completely honorable). Given how conscious (not to say obsessive) (again devaluing the importance of what even the femivores do, according to her definition) everyone has become about the source of their food — who these days can’t wax poetic about compost? — it also confers instant legitimacy. (Oh yes, because what homemakers were doing before wasn’t legitimate.) Rather than embodying the limits of one movement (in other words, they rejected feminism), femivores expand those of another (gave their own personality to being a homemaker, which is what we all do by the way): feeding their families clean, flavorful food (wouldn’t want to offend the foody feminists); reducing their carbon footprints (wouldn’t want to offend the environmentalist feminists); producing sustainably instead of consuming rampantly (wouldn’t want to offend the communist feminists). What could be more vital, more gratifying, more morally defensible? (Seriously? Why do homemakers have to meet your standards of morality?)

There is even an economic argument for choosing a literal nest egg over a figurative one. Conventional feminist wisdom held that two incomes were necessary to provide a family’s basic needs (No, in fact, it wasn’t conventional feminist wisdom, it was and is still called economics.) — not to mention to guard against job loss, catastrophic illness, divorce or the death of a spouse (trying to scare us into submission to the feminist gods). Femivores suggest that knowing how to feed and clothe yourself regardless of circumstance, to turn paucity into plenty, is an equal — possibly greater — safety net. (Same feminist line, different office.) After all, who is better equipped to weather this economy, the high-earning woman who loses her job or the frugal homemaker who can count her chickens? (The one who is a partner and helpmate to her husband, together facing the hard times, is the one who will survive. It’s why God created man AND woman.)

Hayes would consider my friends’ efforts admirable if transitional. Her goal is larger: a renunciation of consumer culture, a return (or maybe an advance) to a kind of modern preindustrialism in which the home is self-sustaining, the center of labor and livelihood for both sexes. (What was old is new again. What was rejected is embraced.) She interviewed more than a dozen families who were pursuing this way of life. (There are more than 300 million people in America and she interview 24 – 50 of them. Who were the control groups?) They earned an average of $40,000 for a family of four. They canned peaches, stuffed sausages, grew kale, made soap. Some eschewed health insurance, and most home-schooled their kids. That, I suspect, is a little further than most of us are willing to go: it sounds a bit like being Amish (How lovely, now I am no different than a backwards religion in her eyes because I don’t want to buy into a health insurance system that is bankrupting our country and homeschooling my children because I don’t want to send them into the war zone that is our public school system. I am so glad she respects my way of life.), except with a car (no more than one, naturally) (I have two cars, thank you--one is even a gas guzzling truck that I drive daily.) and a green political agenda (no green agenda here).

After talking to Hayes, I rushed to pick up my daughter from school. As I rustled up a quick dinner of whole-wheat quesadillas and frozen organic peas (YUK), I found my thoughts drifting back to our conversation, to the questions she raised about the nature of success, satisfaction, sustenance, fulfillment, community. What constitutes “enough”? What is my obligation to others? What do I want for my child? Is my home the engine of materialism or a refuge from it? (Uh Oh, sounds like you are being infected, better get to a meeting of NOW so that you don’t waver on your feminist beliefs.)

I understand the passion for a life that is made, not bought. And who doesn’t get the appeal of working the land? It’s as integral to this country’s character as, in its own way, Wal-Mart. (OMG, she didn’t! Farming is integral to the human race’s existence, I think we can all go without Wally World if we had to.) My femivore friends may never do more than dabble in backyard farming — keeping a couple of chickens, some rabbits, maybe a beehive or two — but they’re still transforming the definition of homemaker to one that’s more about soil than dirt, fresh air than air freshener. (She doesn’t get that homemaking has never been about an identical job description for every woman who chooses to put on an apron. Each homemaker brings her unique personality to her home.) Their vehicle for children’s enrichment goes well beyond a ride to the next math tutoring session. (Darn tooten.)

I am tempted to call that “precious,” but that word has variegations of meaning. Then again, that may be appropriate. (Oh please don’t call what I do precious. I really don’t need your approval and certainly don’t want to be patronized.) Hayes found that without a larger purpose — activism, teaching, creating a business or otherwise moving outside the home — women’s enthusiasm for the domestic arts eventually flagged (Show me the stats! How did she “find” that our enthusiasm flagged?), especially if their husbands weren’t equally involved. (Here we go again; blame the men.) “If you don’t go into this as a genuinely egalitarian relationship,” she warned, “you’re creating a dangerous situation. There can be loss of self-esteem, loss of soul and an inability to return to the world and get your bearings. (Is she serious? I have lost my SOUL?) You can start to wonder, What’s this all for?” (Certainly NOT for the simple purpose of loving my family.) It was an unnervingly familiar litany: if a woman is not careful, it seems, chicken wire can coop her up as surely as any gilded cage.

Peggy Orenstein, a contributing writer, is the author of “Waiting for Daisy,” a memoir.

I am so thoroughly disgusted with this article that I want to have an article burning, but I won’t waste the paper to print it. Peggy Orenstein is obviously a feminist who can’t understand why her friends are jumping ship. She looked to another feminist, Shannon Hayes, who jumped ship, but didn’t want to throw her support behind the women she loathed her whole life. So instead, she redefined the homemaker and created a new term: femivorism (a little bit feminist, a little bit omnivore, a little bit activist).

Both of these women have not the slightest clue what homemaking is all about. For ages before the 1960's, women were what made the world go round, although they might not have gotten credit for it. They washed, scrubbed, wiped, and scoured behind the scenes so that their families could go out into the world shiny and beautiful. But that doesn’t even scratch the surface. They were farmers, teachers, writers, chefs, politicians, musicians, among many other roles. They balanced work and homemaking with precision. Some of them made homemaking their main career and by doing so saved their families precious dollars that have always been hard to come by. They cared for every family member, making sure that their clothes were clean and mended, their tummies were full of healthy foods, and their minds were full of interesting and useful ideas. They supported their husbands through their work, giving him the needed encouragement to face his often times tedious and grueling work, and helped to give him a peace of mind that came with knowing his family was safe at home with food on the table. They gave each child the love and affection they would need to venture out into the cold cruel world that awaited them, and were there to greet them with loving arms when they returned. They prayed to God every day that their families would return to them, whole and happy. What could be more legitimate than that?

Each homemaker brings her unique personality into homemaking. Some raise chickens and grow organic produce, others shop at the supermarket. Some teach their children, others volunteer at the local school to help the teachers that their tax dollars pay for. Some work in high-rise office buildings, some work from their kitchen tables. Some are liberal, some are conservative. Some are poor, some are rich. Some are Muslim, some are Christian. Regardless of our personal convictions and political preferences, we are the same in one way; we believe we can best serve this world by serving our families first.

Feminism has always made the mistake in their belief that women wanted something more than an “atta girl.” They believed, and wanted homemakers to believe, that their role was somehow diminished because it didn’t come with a paycheck. How very materialistic of them. They could point to women who did work and say, “look at them, they are earning a living and they like it.” When, in point of fact, these women probably would have preferred not to have to walk the tightrope that is a work-home life balancing act. They tricked the American woman into believing that she would feel empowered if she became the superwoman of the 90's—balancing work, kids, husband, home, school, and volunteering. What they got were sore feet, drained energy levels, and still, they were undervalued.

Why ARE we so undervalued? Because we are looking to others to value us! We are valuable. God created each of us for a purpose and with loving hands. If you need to look any further than your own backyard, Dorothy, you are going to be sorely disappointed.

To Ms. Orenstein and Ms. Hayes: Don’t discredit my profession by comparing me to some ridiculous caricatures of what you believe a homemaker to be. My profession is noble and righteous and always has been. I feel sorry for you because you haven’t found the true importance of being a woman and are looking to others to validate your existence. Be a writer or a femivore. Either is fine with me, but don’t try to discredit me because you don’t understand my way of life.

To the homemakers of today: Don’t listen to this tripe. You are unique and beautiful. Your purpose is true and good. You don’t need to be redefined to be important. Love your husbands and celebrate them for the sacrifice they make for your well-being. Love your children and keep them with you for as long as you can and don’t entrust their lives to the government. Make your homes clean and beautiful with what you have and don’t feel ashamed because your home won’t be published in House Beautiful. Value yourself; don’t wait for someone else to do it for you. Know that you don’t walk this life alone. There are millions of women exactly like you, doing exactly what you do every day. We can’t all be wrong.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Supermom Syndrome vs. Suzie Q Homemaker

The Supermom Syndrome vs. Suzie Q Homemaker

Too often in life I feel the tug between the Supermom Syndrome and being Suzie Q. Homemaker. I have a strong desire to serve out in the world, but also know that I have a responsibility to fulfill, a responsibility that I choose to dedicate my life too while my children were at home. I am constantly looking for ways to streamline homemaking responsibilities at home so that I can have more time to pursue challenges outside of the home.

I have never been the kind of person that is settled doing the same thing day in and day out without variety, so you can imagine being a stay at home mom has presented a few challenges for me. However, even though this could lead me to sin, I have come to understand that God knows me, loves me, and can use me just as I am. With this revelation, I found that if I wait on the Lord to show me His will He will provide variety in my life.

There is a pitfall to watch out for. Some women want it all, the Supermom Syndrome. They want a good paying job, to be in control of their homes and children, to volunteer in the community, and to have all of these things flourish under their stewardship. Wouldn’t that be nice?

It really bothered me once to read a magazine article about this very woman. Her home was perfect, they wrote only glowingly about the kids and her relationship with her husband, and followed it up with all the volunteering she did while still balancing a full time six figure job. YEAH RIGHT! What a load of fluff. I know no one like that, and those that I know who even come close to that have an eminence amount of help from paid staff. They might as well have put her in a swimsuit and told us they touched up the photos. We must not compare ourselves to these fictional characters who help to sell magazines.

But we do compare ourselves to this fantasy created by magazine editors! We set unrealistic expectation of ourselves based on what the world says a woman should be or could be if she just put her mind to it.

It is important to remember that there are only so many hours in a day. If you aren’t careful about how much time you devote to things outside of your main ministry of being a mother and wife, if you don’t set expectations to those you answer to about your commitment to your family, and if you don’t set reasonable limitations for yourself, you could find yourself in a serious situation where you feel overwhelmed and underappreciated. You may find yourself feeling guilty and resentful of not only commitments and people outside of your home, but of those people and responsibilities inside the home as well.

I have read other blogs and self-help books that say I should be content to just be a wife and mother. I read a blog recently that gave another unrealistic point of view about being completely content and focusing only on your role as a wife and mother. The writer believes that church is a serious hindrance to these responsibilities. She used an example of a woman who was feeling an extreme amount of stress over her responsibilities in a ministry and felt like she was being pulled away from her role as a wife and mother. The solution the writer gave was to give it all up! We are to do the Lord’s work and my children need to see me working, giving, and worshiping in the church. If they don’t see a good example of this, they will not do it as adults. Eventually, there will be no one left in the church to serve or to worship. Taking oneself out of service to the church is avoiding the real problem: an unrealistic view of motherhood.

A more realistic response to this woman would have been to give her some tools on how to relieve the stress and pressure of this demanding ministry so that she didn’t have to give it up while still balancing her responsibilities at home. A lesson on time management or delegation might have been useful for her home and her ministry. A lesson on how to deal with demanding people in the church (and at home) might have saved her from the emotional warfare people tend to wage on us. There are several reasonable solutions that could help her to become a more proficient leader and homemaker, but instead the writer decided to tell her to give it all up and stay at home. Give me a break! “We’ve come a long way Baby.” NOT.

I feel like God opened these doors for a reason. He promises never to give me a test that I can’t pass. Of course I need to be thoughtful and prayerful when I take on new responsibilities, but why is it that I must stay in my home and be content with cleaning every square inch of my house? Why can’t I serve? Yes, raising my children to love God is top priority. What about some practical experience?

Every person needs to know their limits and be realistic about their schedule. It is ok to say no. It is also ok to say yes. My schedule may send some people running, and others would say, “That’s all you do?” Every person needs to take the time to prioritize their life, set realistic expectation, and then adjust the schedule accordingly. You may also need to learn some new skills or fine tune some old ones.

I have had to make adjustments to my schedule from time to time. Recently, I noted that I wasn’t really spending enough one-on -one time with my 4 year old son. He was spending the day with me, but I wasn’t giving him direct attention. I adjusted our routine a little and started making sure I spent that important time with him. It wasn’t anything to feel guilty about or to beat myself up about. It was just something I needed to adjust.

I also was just reminded by my husband that I was letting the house go a bit. Without telling you about the temper tantrum I threw because of the lack of help I get form him and the kids, because that would be too embarrassing for me, I will just tell you I sat down and came up with a new chore schedule and posted it around the house.

Does the stress ever get to me? Absolutely, but learning to deal with that stress in an effective way is preparing me for something.

Call me an over achiever if you must, but I just don’t want to miss out on all the great things God has to offer. I want to teach my children that there is more to life than what is going on in our home. How will they learn to be servers and stewards if we don’t get out in the world and serve? No, I am no superwoman nor do I want to be. I just want to serve God with my family and make the most out of this precious life he has given me. No, I am no Suzie Q. Homemaker either. I want to provide a warm loving home where God comes first and everyone knows they are loved. We can accomplish this regardless of how much time we spend in the home.

What do you do when you do find yourself in a situation where you have too much on your plate? I don’t believe that God will want me to drop my commitments in His name. I try to work on a plan that allows me to handle my responsibilities until I find the appropriate time to hand some of it off. There is an appropriate time to resign and that is at the end of a term not in the middle after just accepting or committing one’s self.

There are few items on my plate that are ongoing and not negotiable. My responsibilities as a wife, mother, and homemaker are non-negotiable. However, homemaking can be shared with everyone in the family. What homemakers need to remember is they aren’t in this life alone. They have been given husbands, children, family and friends to walk through life with. If Mom is feeling overwhelmed, it is up to the family to work through this with her, not leave her to fend for herself.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hospitality for the Energetically Challenged, Part 4 Schedule Your Time

In Part 3 of Hospitality for the Energetically Challenged, we spoke about realistic expectations on how much cleaning to actually do. We introduced some important Life Truths: building relationships is more important than pretending you are a supper mom, and love the friend, but avoid the sin.

Now we are going to get down to the nitty gritty and talk about how to schedule your time, in Part 4, Schedule Your Time.

Keeping Up During the Week
One of my biggest problems in keeping the house clean was not setting aside special time to actually perform the duties. I might know that I need to wash the dishes, vacuum, and freshen up the bathrooms, but during the day, between homeschooling, kid’s activities, cooking, and simply making sure nobody set the house on fire, I just didn’t have the time.

I had to create a daily cleaning routine. It started off simple with just identifying each day of the week as a day for a specific area.
  • Monday – errands (too tired to do that after co-op)
  • Tuesday – freezer cooking (don't do that anymore)
  • Wednesday – office work (HA)
  • Thursday – laundry (Must be done every day!)
  • Friday – general cleaning
  • Saturday – yard work
  • Sunday – rest

I still fall back on this schedule when my daily routine starts to get behind. We graduated to a little more complex system recently. We set aside 1 hour in the morning to do chores. We use index cards with all the areas of the house that have daily chores that need to be done. We each take a few cards for the week and take care of those areas. We very rarely get all of it done, but the thing is that at least once a week all those areas are being touched. This may not seem like much, or maybe it seems like a lot, but honestly it was what had to be done. (That was a flop.  Guess I better get a new post out there about how we do chores now.)

Keeping up with chores doesn’t exactly fit in with the Energetically Challenged’s lifestyle, so it seems. However, being one who is energetically challenged, I know that I would rather expend a little energy through the week in short bursts than all at once when I don’t really have it. This by far is the most important thing you can do. Choose a cleaning routine that fits well with your family and lifestyle. You may need to try many before you hit on the right system. (Now that's still true.)

 New Life Truth: A little goes a long way.

Evaluating What Needs to Be Done
With 5 very messy people in this home, we still have things that need to be done before the guests arrive above and beyond the list or repeated from the list. I put those things into my calendar with a reminder that those tasks are in preparation for guests. For instance, next Sunday evening is our Bible study. My list of “to-dos” so far is as follows:

  1. Bake brownies
  2. Make lemonade and tea
  3. Set out cups, plates, and forks
  4. Freshen bathrooms (no major cleaning, they aren’t going to take a bath)
  5. Dust common areas
  6. Run vacuum in common areas
  7. Take baskets upstairs (these are baskets at the bottom of the stairs that are loaded with kid’s stuff left laying about during the day)
  8. Straighten front porch
  9. Wipe down walls and doors where needed.
  10. Mop kitchen floor (and bathrooms if needed)
  11. Set out a couple of games the kids would like
  12. Straighten the living room
  13. Everyone declutter their own bedroom and make beds.
During the week I will schedule some time to do these tasks when we do the morning chores.

  • Thursday – wipe down walls
  • Friday – make brownies and freeze, dust common areas, straighten front porch
  • Saturday – take baskets upstairs, bedrooms, mop kitchen floor, straighten living room, run vacuum
  • Sunday before church– take brownies out of freezer
  • Sunday After lunch – set out games, make beds, make drinks, set out cups/plates/forks, freshen bathrooms
As a disclaimer, the first few times we did this, we were pulling all-nighters because during the week we weren’t taking care of the necessary cleaning chores. Don’t be discouraged the first time you get the house ready. You will eventually get into the cycle of cleaning and inviting, cleaning and inviting.
Remember: It is very important that you actually put this into your calendar. It will remind you of the high priority. If you just have a “to-do” list laying around, it doesn't show the importance as if each of those items were actually action items on your calendar.

In Part 5 of Hospitality for the Energetically Challenged, we are going to wrap up the series with some great Bible verses that apply to hospitality and fellowship and general inspiration to get you going.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hospitality for the Energetically Challenged, Part 3 What Actually Needs to Be Clean

In Part 2 of Hospitality for the Energetically Challenged, I introduced a new truth to you: the more invitations you make, the cleaner your house is. The cleaner your house is, the more invitations you will make. And, the more invitations you make, the deeper your relationships become. Seems pretty easy, right? It just kind of all takes care of itself.


I know ladies that wouldn’t even think about letting you into their home if there was a smudge on a window or one dirty dish in their dishwasher. God love these women, but I am not one of them. Unfortunately, I can go overboard on how clean I think my house should be to extend an invitation. I know my home isn’t going to look like a model home in one of those really ritzy subdivisions where the houses are way to big and the lots are way too small. But how much should I really be getting done?

Part 3, What Actually Needs to Be Clean, will explore how to set some realistic expectations.

What can I live with?

We need to find balance between immaculate and hovel that we can live with. Sure, I would love to have such a clean house that you could eat off of the floor. You know the type? They are the homes you see in magazines. However, I know that those pictures are created by an artist/technical guru who first takes great time getting everything just absolutely perfect, snaps the photo, and then takes it back to computer where they continue to manipulate the contents of that room. It isn’t a realistic view of how people actually live. Just like those skinny models that have been retouched more times than my nail polish (bad analogy, I bite my finger nails).

What I decided I could live with was the common areas being clean and decluttered. The common areas in the house are a must. It is very likely my guests will be in those areas. They include the kitchen/dining area, living room, bathrooms, and front porch. Unfortunately, our guest bath is under construction right now so that also means my master bedroom which is attached to the bathroom for the main floor. This may be a different list for you.

I scratched off the garage, the yard work, and the laundry room. If these areas are not picture perfect, I don’t stress. If we didn’t get our chores done in those areas it was simply a matter of running out of time to get the work done during the week. We will catch up on it next week. I had to ask myself what was more important, spending time with people, or running myself ragged?

The kid’s rooms, which are all the same floor, are a compromise. I was so tired of organizing little tiny toys that were just going to be dumped out during the kid’s time with their friends, I just finally gave up. I do still have them clean their rooms to the best of their ability, but it is their responsibility not mine and they are also still required to help out with a few other chores in the common areas.

Another compromise, or maybe I should call it understanding, I had to reach was how to actually clean a room. I know, how could I not know how to clean? Well, for some odd reason when I cleaned a room it involved not only the traditional cleaning rituals, but also I would reorganize, redecorated, and sometimes repaint. No kidding! I learned to let that go. I still do those kinds of activities, but I absolutely do not do them as a part of my cleaning to prepare for guests. They are totally off limits.

New Life Truth: Building relationships is more important than pretending I am have enough time in the week to be a supper mom.

How much can my family get done in the time we have available?

When planning our week or month, and looking at when we could have guests over, I always work from our master schedule which is my Hotmail calendar (Live now). I put everything in there the first moment I can. I do not let it pile up and do it on one day. The MOMENT I sit down at the computer after receiving a new item I enter it. (If I say it enough times with conviction it will be true.)  Or maybe I know that this is just a bad week to have someone over because by Sunday we will have trashed the house! I know how our family operates so I am careful to not try to load us down with too much. We can always go out.

I also know how much the kids and Hubby can realistically help with. If Hubby is going to be working most evenings, I know not to count on him to get the yard work done and hang that set of shelves that I have been bugging him about. Oh wait! I said that kind of stuff was off limits.  I know the kids are good for about 2 chores for the little ones and 3 or 4 for the oldest. I also know that if they are left alone to work together…forget it. It won’t get done. I have to make them work separately and supervise the little ones all of them. If I don’t have the time to supervise, it won’t get done.

New Life Truth: Don’t set your family up for failure.

What will my guests be comfortable with?

What are you comfortable with in other people’s homes?

Obviously, you want sanitary environments. Clean your toilets. Nothing is grosser than having to use a bathroom where there is some seriously bad stuff growing in the toilet. The kitchen should be sanitary. Of course, you may be in the middle of cooking a meal so things won’t be perfect, but no crusted dishes. And for Pete’s sake, no visible dirty clothes piles.

Do you really care about what is in their closets, under the bed, or in their cabinets? No. Do you care if their children’s room is messy? No, as long as there are no dirty diaper laying around (yes, we actually have had this happen in our own home, whoops). Do you care if their desk is cluttered? No.

Really what we want is someplace relaxing to sit, somewhere clean to eat, and some place we can go potty that doesn’t look like the men’s bathroom at the gas station. Use your best judgment.

Now, if you are reading this and saying to yourself, “I am OK with going to someone’s house that has dirty toilets, crusted on food, and dirty laundry piles in the living room,” I want you to know that I have sat in many a nasty house because I really wanted to be with my friends and although I wasn’t exactly comfortable, I wanted to be with them more. You will have friends that are OK with the mess. However, are you OK with it? Is your messy house going to distract you from a good time.  You need to be able to relax.

Every time I have ever had anyone over and I had those things wrong with my place, I apologized and just felt horrible that they were seeing how I actually lived. The point is the relationship. Your job isn't to judge them for judging you.  Your job is to be hospitable and there is nothing in the Bible that says that has to include cleanliness. 

What about those guests that I know are judgmental?

It is no fun inviting people over and then worrying every minute that there is something not good enough about your home. These are the kinds of guests who are best to invite out rather than invite into home. Let them judge the restaurant.

What I found myself doing is allowing their sin to become my sin. Their sin of being judgmental turns into something very ugly in me. I will stress my family out, become short tempered, have feelings of resentment towards my family for not helping more and resent the guest for being judgmental. Envy sneaks in there as well, because I believe that my home should be as good as theirs.

Until I was able to really accept God’s love for me and understand that His approval was the approval I wanted most, I would turn their sin into mine. Of course I don't do that anymore because I'm PERFECT. If you feel like you are in danger of doing this, love your friend, but avoid the sin.

New Life Truth: Love your friend, but avoid the sin. (It almost rhymes. It at least has good rhythm.)

Part 4 in this series, Schedule Your Time will explore exactly that, how to schedule your time so that the cleaning chores get done before the guests arrive.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Hospitality for the Energetically Challenged, Part 2 Invite People Frequently

Part 1 of Hospitality for the Energetically Challenged warmed you up to the idea of hospitality by showing you that hospitality is your responsibility not your neighbors. Although it would be nice if we were so popular that we received an invitation every week, month, or heck even once a year, if you really want to build relationships it is up to you to extend the hand of friendship. You won’t be sorry. 

In Part 2, Invite People Frequently, you will learn why inviting people frequently will actually cut down on the work you will have to do to get ready for company and make your job of hospitality much easier. 

I am sure there is someone reading this blog saying to herself, “DUH”. But for me it wasn’t so obvious.  

My House is Finally Clean…

…and I Don’t Want You to Mess it Up.

I remember not too many years ago my Mother-in-law came for a visit.  I want you all to know that I love my MIL, no if ands or buts, BUT in her excitement to be with her grandchildren, often the entire house can get destroyed in less than 15 minutes. This occasion was no different. She loves to bake with the kids so they had made something along those lines. There was flour on the cutting board; she walked it over to the kitchen trash and dumped it in and it all fell on the floor.  She doesn’t even say, “woops,” she just grabs her purse and says she is going to the store. She walks out and I am sitting there looking at this pile of flour on the floor and looking around at the other messes she has made in the house, and I am getting really upset.  It put me in a foul, unforgiving mood, and other issues that would have just rolled off my back ended up being “straws that broke the camel’s back” issues.

This hung with me for weeks, months, OK, years! I couldn’t understand why she had to wreck our house like this. I NEVER did that at her house because I am PERFECT! Over time I started to realize what the problem was. I wasn’t enjoying her company, I was enjoying my clean house.
The question then became, “How can I enjoy her company without getting wrapped up in the all the efforts I put into the house?”

It finally came to me when I was prepping for her next visit. “Just don’t clean the house,” someone told me (that would be my mother). How could I do that? MILs are notorious for judging you (as are mothers) on the state of your home. But I gave it a shot. I didn’t do quite as much. I did get all the clutter put away and get the house generally clean, but I didn’t wash walls, shampoo carpets, shine the silver, etc. I went to no greater lengths than if my best friend were coming over to hang out. She came and did the same thing she usually does and there were a few moments when I walked into a previously clean room and found huge messes, but I didn’t linger on it long because I hadn't put a lot into the clean house preparing for her visit. We ended with one of the best visits we had ever had. I even hated to see her go.

Did I learn my lesson? No.

…and Now I am Too Tired to Enjoy Your Company.

I had a birthday party for one of the kids last year (4 years ago) and I went to great lengths to get the house ready. Again, I worked my fingers to the bone and irritated my hip injury. By the time the party was going I was in so much pain that I really just didn’t enjoy it. All I could think about was when it would be over. I think that was the day that I finally decided that this routine of letting the house go, then bringing out the jackhammer to get it clean less than 24 hours before guests arrived had to end. (OH if only it would have lasted.)

…and I Scarred My Children and Caused a Divorce in the Process. (Not really my husband doesn't use that word.)

The other issue that is even more embarrassing to me than a dirty house is how I was reacting to my family. Because we didn’t have a good cleaning routine down and it was so infrequent, I nearly always had issues with kids griping about having to help. This is a whole blog series in itself, but I could get pretty infuriated over this. I do things for them constantly and when I ask then to do something for me I expect them to do it without complaint because I'm PERFECT. However, that wasn’t what was happening. Sometimes I wished I could just ship them off with their dad for a day out so at the very least they wouldn’t be tearing up what I had just cleaned, but I firmly believe this principle:

Thou must clean what thou hast destroyed.
You Are Who You Are

I wish, I wish, I wish, I was the kind of SAHM that had it all together and cleaned house daily, but I just am NOT. Let's just say I am working on it. Like I point out in my binder post, I have to come up with solutions that account for being a procrastinator and work around it.  I don’t and won’t punish myself daily or entertain thoughts of going back to work because someone out there who wants to control what I do with my day says I should do things their way.

However, for whatever reason, having company over really motivates me to get things clean. So, bada-bing, bada-boom, there you go, the answer to my clean house issue and wanting to make stronger connections. Just invite people over a lot! (This totally works even 4 years later.)

A New Truth!

The more invitations I make, the cleaner my house is, and the cleaner my house is, the more invitations I make, the more invitations I make the deeper my relationships become. 
WOW!  Who woulda thought?
I have been doing it backwards my whole life.  It went something like this: The more I clean my house...oh forget it, I hate to clean my house. 
That philosophy doesn't exactly make it easy to grow deeper relationships and in the end, that is what this series is all about. 

LAZY GIRL TIP #3: Hospitality is a tool we use to grow deeper relationships.

How Frequently is Frequently?

The frequency really depends on your schedule and what you think you would be comfortable with. If our schedule would allow, I would invite someone over every week. What I found out was that our schedule doesn’t allow for that. We are more flexible than others because we homeschool, but with extra curriculums, Bible studies, home improvements, etc., our schedule is still tight.  My husband has a full and part time job, and I have many volunteer activities on top of my responsibilities at home. We are very busy! Plus, we want to make sure we are spending some down time as a family where it is just us. (Listen to all the excuses! Now I say just do and make room one night a week.  Relationships are more important than sports.)

Sit down with your spouse and your family calendar. Then follow these steps:
  • Discuss and make a list of people you would like to invite over in the next few months. Don’t forget to leave room for at least one or two people you haven’t met yet.
  • Discuss how long it takes you to get the house as clean as you feel comfortable with having guests over, but no more. You don’t need to clean every drawer, closet, and storage area. 
  •  Look at the calendar and find one or two days a month a week that would allow you to invite company over. If you are daring like us, set the goal higher. We called it Friend Friday, but it was turned into Sundays. (Now back to Fridays.)
  • Keep the gathering simple. No need to invite every person you know on the same day. Just one family at a time. More on this in a later post.
  • Schedule one big cleaning task per day until the day of the invitation. Actually write it on your calendar.
  • Block out 2-6 hours (SERIOUSLY, it does take me 6 hours sometimes. UGH!) the previous day for cleaning the rest and use the day of the invitation to cook and primp. The better you are at keeping up with the cleaning, the less time you will have to spend the day prior.
  • In the event of a cancellation, ask someone else (just don’t tell them they were second on the list).
  • In the event that you can’t find anyone to come over, just enjoy the day with your family, playing games and watching movies. You deserve it!

The Snowball Effect

The more you invite the cleaner your house will be the next week. Not only does it help build relationships if you keep the flow of guest coming you will find that from week to week since you are at least doing weekly cleaning, that you are making progress on problem areas in your house.  Say for instance in your living room, the first week you just declutter and vacuum.  The following week you declutter, but there is less stuff because it hasn't been 3 or 4 weeks since you did that.  You now have time to declutter, vacuum, and dust.  The following week declutter, vacuum, dust and organize.  Who knows what it may lead to!

What If My House Just Isn't Going to Be Clean?

Have you ever heard of the park or a restaurant?  It doesn't have to be fancy.  You just need some place you can relax in and have great conversation.  Don't pick Chuck-e-Cheese.  Not only can you not hear in that place, you will likely come away with some kind of virus. Parks are great because you can use a shelter and set up shop for a while and it gives your kids some place to play.  Just keep in mind that weather could bring you back to your house anyway.  You might also go visit a local attraction. Some of our best conversations and most fun we've had have been away from our home.

So there you go.  Your new truth:
The more invitations you make, the cleaner your house is, and the cleaner your house is, the more invitations you will make, the more invitations you make the deeper your relationships become. And that is what makes life so good! 

Part 3 of the series, What Actually Needs to Be Clean, will discuss setting up realistic cleaning expectation. It is a fine balance between making sure your guests feel comfortable in your home while not punishing yourself with unnecessary tasks.