Many of us have traded in other careers to stay home with our kids and educate them. We love home education, but it’s often a messy job. Our home-educator “career” often involves little people running around, a daily deluge of messes and noise, and sometimes moments of utter chaos.
During some very crazy days, you might be giving a spelling test to one child while holding a hungry baby and also trying to get gum out of a third child’s hair. Maybe you can’t relate to that scenario at all, but my guess is that some of you can.
When I heard that a homeschool mom with four kids under the age of 12 was going to speak at a local church about Home Management, my ears perked up. I knew I could definitely use some help with that.
Amanda was funny and warm. She spent about five minutes describing how her house is a “hot mess.” I wondered where she was going with her talk, because she wasn’t building herself up to be a Very Wise Person with Expert Advice to share.
Amanda’s talk soon took a turn into territory that I wasn’t expecting. I had come to learn some tips about home organization, perhaps, but I left with something more valuable: a renewed sense of what matters most concerning home management.
1) Good home management does not mean a spotless home. When we have the wrong goal—overly focusing on our homes being “perfect” for instance—everything we do may be wrong. God never said we should try to earn his favor by having a perfectly clean home. Our expectations that our home be spotless stem from our own selves or the culture around us. God does call us to seek first his kingdom and to love and serve others. We should primarily love and serve our kids and our spouses.
2) Our days are limited. Life is too short to waste. We should “number our days” and gain a heart of wisdom. Every person should ask what matters most in life. If you have a Christian worldview, your answers to the question of what matters most will likely center on God’s word and other people. When we manage our home, we should keep in mind the things that matter most.
3) Managing our homes begins with managing our hearts. Our kids don’t see the mess we see, but they do see the tone in our homes. Stop making the house the primary motivation. Get to your heart before you get to your home. A way to get to your heart is to memorize scripture and hide God’s word in your heart. God’s word can transform the managing of our home, if we let it, because it will change us.
4) Manage what activities we are doing. Amanda shared: “I was so busy doing all kinds of ‘good’ things, but I was so empty. I was busy trying to earn favor, but not seeking God.” God doesn’t care about our activities, or our house being messy, or our pride in wanting to have ‘perfect kids.’ He cares about who we are. The good things in life can rob of us the best things, as the saying goes. We should say “no” to some (perhaps many) things and say “yes” to the best things.
5) We have to keep our priorities right. When we get our priorities right, there will be days when we don’t get to everything we want to do. Stop listening to what the world says you should do. Ask your spouse what he/she thinks you should make your priorities. This might be very different from the load you have assumed. Ask for help. Expect your kids to help as soon as they are old enough. Remember that when we put ourselves first, we will rarely get what we are looking for.
6) Stop viewing children as interruptions. Our kids are not the interruptions to our agenda; they are the agenda. This C.S. Lewis quote articulates this point so perfectly:
The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s “own,” or “real” life. The truth is, of course, that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day.
It’s easy to get caught up with trying to do things “right” and being annoyed by the interruptions and chaos. I’m grateful for the reminder that I need to manage my heart effectively before I can ever begin to properly manage my home.
Photo Credit: First image graphic design by Charity Klicka; second image courtesy of Amy Koons.