“The more one meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.” ~ Confucius
Good Wednesday morning! We’re halfway through another school and work week. If you’re on vacation, you may be halfway through that. Sorry. 😦 How is it going with your challenge project this week? Are you still amazed at how much you can get done in just 15 minutes a day? I know this means that some projects take more than a week, but you want it done right and to have the task completely finished, so take the extra time if you need it.
Disclaimer #1: The post below refers to household in which the husband and wife/mom and dad reside together. It does not apply in situations in which there is verbal or physical abuse. If you are in either of those situations, I pray that you seek help immediately.
Disclaimer #2: I am telling my story here. About how I went from full-time career woman to full time stay-at-home mom (and then home school mom). I know everyone’s situation is different. But whether you work or not, you – as the wife and mother – are the heart of your home.
Disclaimer #3: I get on my soapbox at the end. There is a warning just before I get on it. 🙂
I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” (If you hadn’t heard it before, you have now.) We laugh at it, but it’s a true statement. Ladies, you are “Mama” even if there are no kids in your house. You are the heartbeat and the mood-setter of your home. While hubby/dad is the leader, you are the heart. And while the leader may be grumpy and difficult, how you respond to him sets the stage for how everyone else in your house responds to him as well. (If hubby or dad is not around for whatever reason, you are the heart and the leader. I know that has to be hard.) Being the heart of the home is an important role.
Have you ever noticed that if you’re grumpy, everyone else in your house is grumpy? If you’re stressed, everyone else in your house suddenly does the ONE THING that aggravates you the most? If you are tired, everyone needs something…NOW! The rest of your family is simply responding to your mood. Teenagers are especially adept at mood reading (since they themselves are usually quite moody) and will joyfully (I think) add to whatever negative vibe you’ve got going on. Babies can sense mom’s mood and will respond to it, as well. Unhappy, stressed mom = whiny baby. Almost every time. Husbands who walk in the door warily just waiting to see what the mood is like before deciding whether it’s safe to head to the family room or if it would be wise to retreat to the man cave have obviously felt more negative vibes than positive ones.
Do you want your house to be filled with grumpy, stressed people? I doubt it very much. Then you can’t walk around all the time being grumpy and stressed. This is where organization, schedules, and routines become very helpful. No one can be un-grumpy or un-stressed in a house that is chaotic and disorganized. Neither can anyone be especially un-grumpy and un-stressed in a house that is in perfect condition all the time because no one is allowed to touch anything. (Having been there, I can assure that perfectionism breeds more grumpiness and stress, not less.) You’ve got to find your balance – the place where you are on an even keel. Things that need to get done are getting done. The house is in a general state of order. Your laundry is done. You have a calendar that has just enough on it but that isn’t full every single day and night of the month. You are being selective in what goes on that calendar. (You may, in fact, dare someone to put something on it without consulting with you first. I do. I admit it. I am the “calendar Nazi.” I like my calendar to be mostly blank. It makes me happy.) You’re not overbooked, overworked, or overlooked. Hubby comes home to dinner being prepared or even ready; he’s happy. He helps by taking care of the dishes after. Kids have mom to help with homework or just listen to them – because she isn’t running off to evening meetings every night – and they’re happy. They actually put away their laundry when you ask. Well, maybe by the fourth time you ask. You’re available, appreciated and adored. You’re happy.
Whether you work outside the home or not, you’re still the heart of your home. When I worked full-time with two little ones under the age of three, I was not a happy heart (of my home), and that was reflected to others quite clearly. I was stressed, tired, grumpy…sometimes I was just plain mean. (True confession.) Yet, at the time, I wasn’t willing to give any of it up. I wanted to be able to do it all and do it well. I had this image in my mind of the career woman in the business suit whose house was always clean, whose kids were always smiling (and clean) and whose husband just thought she was all that and a bag of chips. I discovered that I couldn’t manage all that. I tried for several years, but I just couldn’t do it. Either everything at work got done and nothing at home was ever quite finished, or everything at home got done and work fell behind. I was tired. T.I.R.E.D. (I know some people manage quite well. I was not and am not one of them. Fact.)
To you moms who can work outside the home – whether full time or part time, whether because you want to or because you have to – and are able to maintain balance with your home life, I give my utmost admiration. I couldn’t do it, and I had a great boss and co-workers. Deep in my heart I knew that I was meant to be at home, and until I got there, things just weren’t going to be right. Still, I ignored my desire to be home for several years. I mean, after all, I had a college degree. I couldn’t just stay home, could I? I had schedules then because I had to maintain control in some way. I knew we had to eat (and when I got home and was bone tired, I didn’t want to go back out.) I knew we had to have clothes to wear (so I did a load of laundry every day). Schedules kept everything from completely coming apart. Apparently, they didn’t make me any nicer, though. Just saying.
I went back and forth between full-time and part-time working, and a couple of periods in there when I didn’t work. In the end, I was working full-time to pay for daycare (which is crazy expensive!), work clothes and gas. Have you ever actually sat down and crunched the numbers? We did that. Here is my salary. Hey, that looks good. Here is what I actually bring home. Oh, that’s quite a chunk gone. Here’s the daycare bill. Wow. Here’s how much I’m spending on gas to go back and forth to work each week. Hmm. Here’s what I’m spending on clothes, pantyhose (I hope I never have to put another pair of those on. Ever.), dry cleaning, etc. Well. Seems like I’m not making much after all. Still, it’s something. Right?
But when my husband said to me, “Either you quit or I’ll quit for you,” I knew the time had come. I knew he’d had enough. I turned in my resignation and came home. (Some people thought we were crazy, but we were okay with that.) We have never regretted that decision. I burned my “Superwoman” cape and moved on with a smile on my face. My son was 7 and my daughter was 5 when I finally quit work for good to stay home. (Oh, how I wish I could go back in time. I would never have gone back to work when my son was a baby. I can see now that we were just doing what was expected of us.) My kids are now 21 and 18. Finances are tight at times – especially now that we have two in college – but every time I ask my husband if he wants me to go back to work, I get a very definitive “no.” That tells me that we made the right decision. The salary was nice; having a happy heart is oh so much nicer. We’ve never had to go without anything…I think that’s God’s blessing because we finally followed His lead and did what He had been telling us to do. My house is now in a general state of order most of the time. My calendar is relatively clear. Dinner gets made. (True Confession #2: One night last week I wanted pizza. And I didn’t want to take the time to make it. I ordered it AND had it delivered because it was cold and I didn’t want to go out. And I enjoyed it.)
If you do work outside the home or from home (whether you want to or have to), the schedule, the routine, the discipline are extremely important. They will help you maintain your sanity. They might even make you nice! Taking 15 minutes before work to do a few little chores (putting dinner in the crock pot and throwing in a load of laundry) and 15 minutes when you get home (throw the load in the dryer and clean the bathrooms) can make all the difference in whether you spend your weekends on housework or on resting and relaxing.
Warning: Soapbox ahead.
If you are working outside the home because you want to not because you have to, I urge you to think about that. While stuff is nice, it doesn’t define you. I, for one, am not going to be impressed the size of your TV, the model of your car, your granite counter tops, your huge house, or your fancy vacations. I would be impressed by an orderly house and the fact that you have time to sit down and have a cup of coffee with me. I care about your happiness. I want your life to be full of joy, not stuff. (You realize that all that stuff may be the reason you found this blog or Facebook page in the first place.) I want you to enjoy your life as it is and as you want it to be, not as someone else tells you it should be. That’s called contentment. The saying about your kids only being young once…it’s true. So just think about it. Do that number crunching. It was quite an eye-opener for us. It’s so, so easy to fall into the trap of what the world says you must have and must do to have it. Don’t believe the commercials you see on television. That’s not real life. That’s someone else telling you what you need – and paying big bucks to tell you that. Where do they get those big bucks? From you buying in to what they’re selling you. You do not need designer bags or clothes, fancy dinners out three times a week, or a bigger and better house, or the newest model of the car you already own. Nor do you need to eat out of a box or bag from the grocery store every night. (I don’t care what anyone says, boxed or even frozen macaroni and cheese does not taste as good as homemade. You are welcome to it.) There is nothing inherently wrong with “things.” It’s just that we, as a society, seem to place more emphasis and importance on “things” rather than people. I, myself, would rather have fewer things and happier people living in my house. (Again, teenagers and 21-year-olds may still be grumpy. I can’t explain that one. I’m not sure anyone can. I’m sure I was the same way.)
Soapbox speech over.
So…YOU are the HEART of your home. You are the essence of what goes on there, of the mood, of the “feeling” that you and others get when they walk in your door. Think about that. Meditate on it, even. Changes may be necessary. Cleaning, organizing, scheduling, exercising and taking care of yourself, eating well, working or not working…all of these things affect how you see things and , as a result, affect your heart. Figure out what it takes for you to be a “happy” heart and then go for it!
“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” ~ Jim Rohn
Have a blessed day!