Here are 7 practical tips to manage your home joyfully so you can savor life’s seasons, avoid burnout in your homemaking, and keep things running smoothly.
By Hilary, Contributing Writer
Before becoming a mother and full-time homemaker six years ago, I hadn’t realized how moms have something to do all.the.time.
My calendar doesn’t have to be filled with a lot of commitments – it’s hard enough work managing a home and family.
For me, it’s been challenging to accept the fact that I might as well count on continual changes, especially when it comes to my children’s development and moods. Before becoming a mom I was used to the predictability of adult life; I never thought to anticipate almost daily differences.
Fortunately, I’ve found that I don’t have to feel unsettled with unpredictability. Even though I know my children change – and our routines change – some habits have helped me to find peace in my life as a busy mom and homemaker.
Regardless of the season of motherhood I’m experiencing, I’ve found seven practical ways to joyfully manage my home:
1. Spend time with God. Every day.
My time spent in His Word has varied over the years – I used to prefer right before I went to bed, then I switched to mid-afternoons when I was a college student with plenty of leisure time. I’ve soaked in the Word while eating my breakfast before work, grabbed small chunks of time when my infants were napping, and in my current season I’m waking up before everyone else in my family to start my day with my Bible.
Without spending time with God each day, there’s no way I can be a wife, mother and homemaker who is abounding in love, patience, kindness, or gentleness – all the things I desperately want and need.
2. Make a daily to-do list.
My daily to-do list is pretty basic – typically it includes spending time with God, homeschooling, writing blog posts, and cleaning. I even need reminders to wash the dishes or do the laundry because strangely enough, if they’re not written down, I forget about them. (I guess I’ve developed the ability to overlook the piles!) Or, I procrastinate until right before my husband comes home.
I’ve always been a list person, and while my scrawled chores are only on scrap pieces of paper, they give my days much purpose and direction. I can accomplish things because I know what needs to be done.
3. Learn to say no to potential commitments.
I thrive when I have things to do and places to go – but I’ve found that I can easily get exhausted and downright grouchy if I have too many plans for days on end. I’ve learned to evaluate our invitations and decide what’s best to do. My husband and I choose to limit our children’s activities and prefer to let them have plenty of free time to play and just be kids.
When I make an attempt to stay home more often, I avoid rushing (and nagging my kids to hurry), I save money and stick to my family’s budget, and I have more time to keep up with work at home.
4. Keep at least one room clean.
I’m not exactly sure why it’s so difficult to keep even one room clean with children in my home. But it is.
After a long day at work, I know my husband finds a lot of peace when he comes home to a clean house. While I can’t keep every room in our house clean, I do make sure to pick up one or two rooms in the late afternoon.
I also tend to feel a lot more on edge when my entire house is out of order – when this happens, I take about an hour of concentrated, quick cleaning to feel less of a mess. And since the messiest rooms tend to be my children’s bedrooms and playroom, I close the doors when the clutter is epic.
5. Have a rough idea of a weekly menu.
Menu planning isn’t a difficult concept, yet it’s a routine that just doesn’t come naturally to me. As much as possible, though, each weekend I try to make a basic weekly menu. I plan seven dinners and know what I’ll need to pick up at the grocery store – or pull from the freezer.
I like to give myself flexibility to pick what meals my family’s in the mood for each day. Yet I’m grateful when I know my kitchen is stocked with all the necessary ingredients and I don’t have to start brainstorming meal ideas at 4:30 p.m.
6. Make sure dinner dishes are washed before bed.
Very rarely, I go to bed for the night and leave my kitchen full of dirty dinner dishes. (This happened the night I went into labor with my son, and my nesting senses drove me crazy during my hospital stay as I wished I would have stayed up just a little later to clean up my kitchen.)
As tired as I may be after I put my children to bed, I know I need to wash my family’s dishes for my own peace of mind. If I don’t, waking up and seeing a huge pile of dried-on, crusted-on dishes gives me a really bad start to my day.
As a side note, I don’t follow strict daily routines, but I do think it’s important to have certain routines – especially for cooking and clean up, mealtimes, and personal grooming. For example, every morning I make my bed as soon as I get up. I try to wash our dishes after each meal and be dressed – yoga pants don’t count – by lunchtime each day. (Since I homeschool my kids, I have more leeway.)
7. Make time for cuddles – and playing and reading.
Marching through each day with a to-do list and series of routines is no way to fully enjoy the life God has given you. With my own family, I’ve tried to be more intentional about enjoying time together and counting on spontaneity.
Sometimes, my young children just want me to play with them and their toys. (As much as I don’t exactly know how to play with Squinkies, I do it anyway.) Reading together is another great way to connect.
I also make sure I get plenty of cuddles and “I love yous” in each day – because before I know it, my current season of motherhood will pass and my children will be far too big to snuggle on my lap.
What are some practical ways you joyfully manage your own home?
Hilary Kimes Bernstein is a Christ follower, wife, mama, and journalist who writes about making healthy decisions that honor God and happen to help the environment at Accidentally Green. She’s written two eBooks, First Bites: How To Instill Healthy Eating Habits During Your Baby’s First Year, and Accidentally Green: How and Why One Family Began Making Healthy Changes That Honor God and Help the Environment.
Thanks for the reminders, I have gotten away from a todo list and I think I need to get back to that!
A funny side note, my daughter and her friend were playing quietly in her room the other night and when I asked what they had been doing she told me they were playing with squinkies. I sat and wondered exactly how 2 girls play with squinkies, but never asked.
Thank you, I love this post! You have given me some excellent ideas and reminders.
I agree that a to-do list helps so much! And I also include things like dishes and laundry or I will forget. 🙂 Thanks for the idea of keeping/getting one room clean. Often I do partial cleans in several rooms, feel like I’ve been cleaning all day but that everything’s still a mess. That’s never good 🙂
When I’m not pregnant, I also adhere to the dishes-done-before-bed rule. But when I am pregnant, it’s such a different kind of tired in the evenings that it’s much less overwhelming to face the dishes in the morning when I feel better than to face them at night when I can barely stay on my feet! It took me a long time to be okay with going to bed with dirty dishes, but it’s what works for now.
I know just what you mean about partially cleaning several rooms! I tend to do that a lot. Making myself focus on one clean room helps me feel like I’m making some kind of progress. 🙂
Oh my goodness. Thank you for such a thoughtful and PRACTICAL post. I feel like I could do every single one you suggested without totally being overwhelmed – and I will.
I have only been a SAHM for 3 years and have two boys unique learning challenges (we homeschool). I am always looking for fresh inspiration!
Great post!!! One thing we do that really helps too is cut the clutter. Every few months or so I do an inventory of what is/isn’t being played with. Anything that’s being ignored gets carted down to the basement in a tote to await either donation or rotation back into use when it seems “new” again. I also swear by baskets, which I keep EVERYWHERE to store stuff in–keeps things looking tidy and throwing stuff in a basket is an easy task even a toddler can help with.
I love using totes in my basement, too! They are SO helpful in cutting down toy clutter. Isn’t it great when it all seems new again!? Thanks for sharing your tips, Laura!
Loved every bit of this insightful post! Very doable!!
Thank you so much!
wow can I agree. Mother of seven here.
God first, be the proverbs woman God wants, not comparing your yourself to other women but Gods standard, put God first. Time with him makes everything fall in place. When the unexpected or plans change,He’s with ya!
One clean room, it’s my bedroom! I don’t leave it until it’s straitened and the bed made. I need that at the end of the day and so does that man of money.
Choose to be a humble homemaker.
I greet my hubby at the door with a smile. The kids and I always make daddy feel like he belongs here. We don’t have toys in the living room at our house but the least we can do is give him a clear path and a comfy chair to sit in.
Keep things in perspective and include the family in keeping order rather than “cleaning”. God is not a God of chaos. (Although our world has plenty of it)
Remember the end product is a happy healthy marriage and children who serve the Lord with joy.
Touch it once, including the mail, no stacks!
I fold clothes everyotherday on the couch and the kids take one stack at a time to put away, last pile is their own.
Dishes done after meals. Except when we have company. We invest in others. I hope this is good. It took me along time to get here.
Love these tips. Thank you x
Thanks for sharing your perspective!
I love your tips … thanks so much for sharing!
Tina @ Treasured Tidbits
Thank you for sharing. It is nice to know I am not the only one who struggles with this. Bless as you continue to raise you.
Tina @ Treasured Tidbits
Thank you for sharing. It is nice to know I am not the only one who struggles with this. Bless as you continue to raise your little ones and live for Christ.
I have a feeling our struggles are pretty common. 🙂 Thanks so much for your comment, Tina!
(If you get bored with reading this, scroll to #6 where I have a tip.) I am a retired teacher. How funny that these insights are just as helpful to me. Your #1 is truly #1…when I forget my time with the Lord my day never has the special quality it does when I’ve put Him first. #2 to-do list…..sometimes I get up out of bed to write something on it…and then I can fall asleep. #3 apparently I am popular as I have lots of requests for lunch dates, prayer groups, help, etc….at first I couldn’t turn anything down. Now I know I need to space out these things and leave myself breathing room. #4 This shouldn’t be a problem for a retiree….but I’ve learned that cleaning is too easily put off when you have “all the time in the world” Although my home is picked up (with only my husband and me to mess it up) but I get overwhelmed with setting aside a CLEANING DAY….I like the idea of one room a day. #5 yes #6…HERE IS MY TIP….I go into the kitchen and have a timed race…I tell myself I only have to do this for 350 seconds…then I start counting while racing like mad…and usually I’m through in that time….I always feel I can do anything for 350 seconds! #7 I am learning to be “present” with my grandkids…and just let everything else go and play and laugh and hug!
Thanks so much for these wonderful tips–and #6 is so much fun!
Oh, I love your tips, Carol. I am definitely going to have to try the 350 second race!!
Rebekah @Surviving Toddlerhood
Great tips! I needed to read this today. Thank you for the reminders to spend time with my Savior and make time for play and cuddles.
Glad you enjoyed the post!
I read this and got so excited, my husband was wondering what was going on. I told him I was so excited to find someone else who would forget to do dishes & laundry if it wasn’t on the to do list. It sure doesn’t help that my laundry is in the dungeon(basement) and my dryer doesn’t have a buzzer. Thanks for these tips!!!
Haha!! That is too funny!
I’m so glad I’m no the only one!! 🙂
I love this article. Thanks for the tips. On a totally Different subject I am in the process of painting my house one room at a time and I love the color in your last picture where you are holding your little girl. If you don’t mind me asking what color is it? thanks
Thanks so much, Nichole! My room color is Sherwin-Williams’ Morris Room Grey. 🙂 (I love their entire Arts and Crafts palette!)
I really liked all of these ideas, especially finishing the dishes and taking time to enjoy my children. I am working on a series called Life’s Essential Ingredients; it has many of the same ideas, with a few extra, if you want to take a look: http://whispersofworth.com/are-you-lacking-in-lifes-essential-ingredients/
As i just,had my 3rd daughter a week ago, this was an awesome reminder for me! I am wondering how I will do all that I need to do with three children but I love this simple concept. One thing that stood out to me too was washing the dishes AFTER the kids go to bed. I always wash them after dinner or something but that leaves no time for me to snuggle with them, or play with them (definitely not enough of that going on in my.house and it needs to,change). Thank you so much for writing this…..it was much needed by this weary but ready momma!