We are almost to the end of the book! Have you enjoyed reading it? It is my favorite book (thus far) on mothering. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, I’d encourage you to do so today! It is a book I will pull off the shelf many times (and already have) through my journey.
“Home–it’s such a beautiful word! It’s the center of our lives, the place that holds us with invisible strings of love within its walls…Home is a haven from a world that is swimming with challenges and difficulty. It is a school where one learns how precious life is intended to be. It provides the context of learning to know and love my Creator, the beauty of the world he made, and his Word, which guides me. And it is the environment where direction and purpose and values are passed from generation to generation, protecting and preserving all that is precious to life.”
Home is a haven. It is a place I love to come home to when away and even when things are crazy, just realizing that we have a place to call home is comforting. It is a privilege that we have the opportunity to set the atmosphere of the home. I don’t know about you, but it seems to be a daunting task when I take into consideration the ramifications of my attitudes and actions regarding my role here.
Ms. Clarkson covered quite a few aspects of being the keeper of the home and I really appreciated and benefited from her wisdom. I’ll cover the best from each section!
A Vision for Home
Hospitality is a characteristic she mentioned that several women in her life demonstrated of which she respected and desired in her own home. This is something we both desire to always have as a part of our home life. Not only do we desire to reach out to people with the purpose of ministering to them, we desire to model and therefore teach our children the important role hospitality plays in the life of every believer.
In addition to hospitality, she mentioned moral purity was modeled and taught.
“In the context of these homes, where the moms and dads sought wisdom every day in directing their homes for God’s purposes, the children thrived…What was the common denominator in these homes? It was the woman’s commitment to making her home consistently welcoming, comfortable, and life giving.
“That kind of home-making is not easy…It is a commitment of the heart, mind, and soul to the task of subduing (making productive) a very specific part of the earth–the domain of the home. It involves teaching minds and nurturing hearts and shaping souls, in addition to getting the rugs vacuumed and dinner on the table!
It’s not a job for the fainthearted!”
Creating a Nurturing Environment
In the many moves the Clarkson family has made, she shared the keys she found to help accomplish this goal. “One of the first things I have always considered was how to make the physical home a giving place–a source of rest, comfort, beauty, peace, and pleasure for those who live there as well as for those who visit.”
What a neat perspective to have when considering how to decorate or arrange our homes! I am so thankful for her later reminder that the most important aspect of creating a nurturing home environment is our own attitudes and actions toward our family and our role within the home.
A (Somewhat) Organized Household
Ah, ladies, pay attention to this section! This is where so many of us get tripped up in our role as the keeper at home. Ms. Clarkson says it perfectly at the beginning of this section,
“Most of us live under the heavy cloud of ‘House Beautiful’…because the responsibilities of maintaining a home, especially a home with children, are so varied and unrelenting, the pressure to get it all together and keep it together is constant…That’s why effective home management is an important part of making a home into a nurturing environment.”
This topic is worthy of a post of its own! I have learned that the most important thing for me to spend most of my time and thinking on during this season is the souls of my children. I am not (usually) a lazy person, so I know that the housework and other responsibilities will get done eventually. I have learned that we don’t need to eat elaborate meals, the sheets don’t need to be changed every week, the bathrooms can go a little longer than I used to think (but read about my time saver!), and that we can live out of laundry baskets for a few days. I don’t like things to be messy, but I’m not a neat freak. I’ve found a happy medium (most days) that works for us. I think the key is finding what best serves your family and going with it.
We shouldn’t compare ourselves to each other! And, just to encourage you a bit, in a little informal survey I’ve been doing, most women don’t clean nearly as often as we all seem to believe we should clean. And as far as meal planning, household notebooks…do what works best for you and your family. I’m so thankful for other women sharing how they do things in their homes because I’ve taken some from here and some from there and have passed by some ideas that wouldn’t best suit us.
“Stuff consists of all those things that seem necessary to life but also seem to pike up to unmanageable levels. Stuff is what surrounds us, collects in the corners, and jumps on any open tabletop or counter.”
Can I get an “Amen”?
I can’t stand to have “stuff” just lying around. But it somehow happens everyday. Not just that, but our kids have somehow acquired miscellaneous small toys that have no place and don’t go with anything. Ms. Clarkson hits the nail of a head when she says, “If there are children in the home, their stuff will always give evidence of their existence. House Beautiful will inevitably become House Reality.” Ha! So true!
She mentions that in their home, they have a once-a-day pick-up time. In our home, we strive for twice a day…before naps and before bed-time. I don’t always accomplish the before-nap pick-up but in the evening, we strive to accomplish it daily. It makes a huge difference in my work load and in my sanity!
I have also been in elimination mode lately. Also deserving of another blog post, I don’t want my children to love or just have piles of “stuff.” And, there is so much “stuff” that they just don’t even play with, but gets dumped out anyway and then left behind on the floor. (Actually, Blane says this is their way of playing with it). So, the toys that don’t have matches, that I notice are never really played with have been collecting into a bucket to give away. This has also helped my sanity level.
My kids are content with less.
Ms. Clarkson admits that this is not her strong suit. I like her strategy though: she deals with “every item as it comes in, assigning it a place to belong, even if it’s not perfectly organized.” How helpful!
We have a designated place for receipts that need to be entered into our budget, a place for mail that needs to be read, places where we (usually) put our purses/wallets/keys, etc…It’s so helpful!
I was just speaking with a new friend the other day (who has five children aged five years and younger!) and she mentioned that they try not to be busy. Someone else told me of a mom who began homeschooling and exclaimed, “I guess I need to be at home if I’m going to home school.”
Our culture is always on the go. However, as Ms. Clarkson so keenly stated, “We also realized that for the children to be influenced primarily by us, they had to spend most of their time with us.”
I have sought to keep our days simple for the sake of togetherness, enabling necessary training and discipline, to fulfill responsibilities within our home, and to guard precious sleep that my children need.
Establishing Life-Giving Routines and Traditions
Any mom of young children knows how beneficial routine is in a child’s life. In fact, I know how beneficial it is in my own life! What a helpful reminder from Ms. Clarkson that by developing routines, we can save time on the details of running our homes as we don’t need to repetitively and constantly need to be planning. Sure, some plans (like meals) need to be re-planned, but systems can help simplify this greatly.
I love the section when she speaks of how easily routines can become family traditions! Just thinking about the fact that these things are what our children will remember is so special.
“Family routines, of course, easily become family traditions–those things that “we always do”–and such traditions are essential to maintaining a secure sense of family identity. They build a sense of belonging that all of us were meant to enjoy.”
Ensuring the Future
“Even under the best of circumstances, the work of subduing the domain of the home often goes unappreciated. Children are often oblivious to the fact that they have an important person who is managing so many areas of the home in order to provide them with a stable life and a warm, nurturing home environment…
The strong and secure future we help build for our children is laid by the hundreds of small deeds we do every day as we serve faithfully in our homes. Yet the great value of our service will be felt for generations to come and throughout eternity.”
Wow. This chapter was such an encouragement to me as I consider the value of my role. It is indeed one I take very seriously, and I’m reminded that it’s for good reason. I hope that you were encouraged and inspired by this chapter as well!