Monday, 30 June 2014

How to Organize a Chore Routine
                                                        The Washing Line by Helen Allingham 1848-1926

Sometimes mothers feel compelled to do it all. We have many responsibilities to juggle and somehow we feel that if we can successfully keep all the balls in the air, we can prove our worth to the world. The world says that we are, “just mothers.” Matt Walsh brilliantly refutes the word, “just,” in an article titled, “You're a Stay At Home Mom. What Do You Do All Day?” In this encouraging article he puts the word “just,” to rest.

“Yes, my wife is JUST a mother. JUST. She JUST brings forth life into the universe, and she JUST shapes and molds and raises those lives. She JUST manages, directs and maintains the workings of the household, while caring for children who JUST rely on her for everything. She JUST teaches our twins how to be human beings, and, as they grow, she will JUST train them in all things, from morals, to manners, to the ABC’s, to hygiene, etc. She is JUST my spiritual foundation and the rock on which our family is built. She is JUST everything to everyone. And society would JUST fall apart at the seams if she, and her fellow moms, failed in any of the tasks I outlined.
Yes, she is just a mother. Which is sort of like looking at the sky and saying, “hey, it’s just the sun.”

Daughter, grasp that truth! Nothing you do should be belittled. You are important. Your worth is not dependent on your success at emulating Wonder Woman. So choose wisdom! A wise woman knows she has limits and asks for help. She does not stuff her exhaustion, nor does she grow bitterness. The mom who is wise knows that working together as a family builds unity and refines character. Please don't hinder your family by trying to do it all.
                                            The Rabbit Hutch by Helen Allingham 1848-1926

So how does one organize a chore routine? This is what works for me.  You might like another method, but this might be a starting point.

  1. Consider all the chores that need to be done, broken down by rooms and/or spaces. (living room, bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, laundry room, outside, garden, etc...) Write them down as soon as you think of them. Keep a list for a week and add to it anytime you remember another task.

    Example: In the bathroom, I wrote down the following chores:

    a. Wipe countertop/Scrub sink and sink fixtures
    b. Clean mirror
    c. Wipe toilet with disinfectant wipe, scrub hinge area with brush
    d. Clean inside toilet with cleaner/brush
    e. Scrub bathtub/tiles/fixtures
    f. Sweep/mop
  1. Determine how often each task needs to be performed. (Daily, once a week, twice a week, etc.)  Don't forget outdoor chores!
  1. Prayerfully consider who in your family is capable of accomplishing each task.  Remember that your children require patient training and accountability.  Please don't discount their abilities or potential. They want to emulate everything mommy does! Take advantage of their play. Invite them to sort socks, load the dryer, sweep the floor, and help you do the dishes. A little extra effort in training them when they are young, will teach them the very important message of, “I can!” Lavish them with your praise.

    Divide the chores between everyone in the family, so that no one is over burdened. If you have very young children, Mom and Dad will still have the bulk of the chores. I encourage you to re-evaluate this list every year. New chores can be shares with children who have grown in maturity.
  1. Now, write or type each family member's name on a piece of paper and list the chores they will be required to accomplish along with how often the tasks need to be done.
    Katie, age 5
    Sort clothes whites/colors (  twice weekly )
    Bring soiled clothing to the laundry room ( twice weekly )
    Set the table for dinner  ( daily )
    Fold wash clothes and hand towels ( twice weekly )
    Help Mommy and Daddy load the dishwasher ( daily )
    Pick up toys in Living Room  ( twice daily )
    Tidy bedroom ( twice daily )
    Put away toilet paper in bathrooms on shopping day ( once weekly )
    Help put away groceries on shopping day ( once weekly )
  2. Next, decide when you want the chores to be done. I have discovered that two chore periods a day, keeps the atmosphere in our home much more tidy and relaxed. We do our chores once in the morning, and then again after dinner. Experiment to find what works for you.  Choose times that seem sensible for chores. We do chores after breakfast and Bible are done in the morning, and then again right after dinner.
    Now look at each family member's chore list. Divide their chores into the time frame that you have decided upon.

    Note:  In our family, I have designed a routine for the weekdays and one for the weekends that includes yard work or tasks that require a team.

    Once you finalize your task routines, type up a list complete with boxes to check off as they accomplish each chore. Slip each list into a page protector and post it on the refrigerator. Attach a dry erase marker to make it easy to check them off. For very young children you can use pictures to depict a chore, rather than words.
Katie, age 5 – Morning Chores
Help Mommy load the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher
Pick up morning toys
Sort laundry and bring clothes to the laundry room
Fold wash clothes and hand towels

Katie, age 5 – Evening Chores
Set table for dinner
Wipe table off with a soft cloth
Help Daddy put the dishes into the dishwasher
Pick up evening toys
Tidy bedroom before story-time

Katie, age 5 – Weekend Chores
Help Mommy put away the groceries
Make sure there is toilet paper in both bathrooms

  1. Call a Family Circle to introduce the new routine, explaining its necessity and encouraging everyone that they are a vital component in making home feel and function better.
  2. Take a few weeks to train children in the chores you have assigned them. First show them how to do the chore, then do it with them. Finally, release them to do it themselves. Encourage their successes and gently correct their mistakes. Regularly inspect their work. Require them to repeat the chore if it is done poorly. Use encouraging words and celebrate every little success.
  3. Be prepared to tweak your routine and chore assignments as necessary.

With a bit of hard work and patient perseverance, you will be enjoying a tidy and more organized home.

Many blessings,

Yvonne Ferlita has been married for nearly twenty-five years and is mother to four children ages 22, 20, 16 and 11 years old.  She is a follower of Jesus and gratefully relies upon His grace. Having overcome perfectionism, she has embraced the imperfect excellence found in the ordinary life God has given her. Yvonne has homeschooled her children since 1998 and has helped them enjoy their unique gifts, while overcoming various learning and life challenges. Her therapy is writing, crocheting, swimming and laughing. She and her family reside in Brandon, Florida surrounded by four orphaned cats and a lovely, but bossy, labrador retriever. She blogs to encourage at Not Perfect - Just Ordinary.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Saturday: Projects

As a wife and mother, you may find enough to do at home without any extra hobbies but, in the past, what are now considered hobbies were essential household crafts. Certainly, my mother and mother-in-law both made their own and their children's clothes by sewing or knitting. I've done my fair share of both too, although I am far less skilled than they were. One of my grandmothers kept chickens and grew all her own vegetables. The other, who lived in a city, still had a patch of garden and crocheted beautiful clothes for her grandchildren.

All women were taught to cook, sew, knit, take care of babies, clean their homes etc at school when I was a child, even in our very modern, feminist, academic girls' high school, where all the girls were expected to go on to university. All boys were taught 'handicrafts', which included knitting, in primary school too!

Once, such things were an important way of making the household budget stretch further. Perhaps now, they are just a great way to fold love into a handmade gift. It would be sad to think that such skills were on their way to being lost altogether.

As you think about your work at home, is there a skill you wish you had? You could ask an older woman to teach you.

One skill I don't remember being taught at school was gardening. This strikes me as a little odd. Most people in the UK live in homes with gardens. Even the most brown-fingered of us have a lawn, a couple of flower borders, some plants in pots. If you need to live frugally, then keeping a vegetable patch or having an allotment is vital.

This June, I have masses of raspberries and strawberries coming into the kitchen every day, for the outlay or a few pounds several years ago and very little effort. I have a variety of tomato plants just flowering, some runner beans winding their way up canes, a couple of peppers, an aubergine plant and several purple sprouting broccoli plants for next spring's table.

However, he most cost-effective plants to grow at home are herbs. There are herbs which will keep providing you with what you need year after year, with almost no tending: marjoram, mint, sage, lemon verbena, rosemary, chives and thyme are my favourites. Barely a day goes by when I don't use one of them.

Each week, we'll have posts about various household crafts and projects. Do join us, Dear Daughter.

Mimi is a wife to Jamie, mother to two grown up children, a mother-in-law and a grandmother to a darling little grand-daughter. She home-educated her children and now teaches exam subjects to groups of home-educated children. She's a Worship Leader in her church and has a passion for helping women raise children to adulthood with a strong faith in the Lord Jesus.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Friday: Faith

Contributing to Your Faith Community as a Young Mother.

It's easy to become over-scheduled as a mum especially, I found, at church. There can be some unrealistic expectations placed on young mothers. I quickly became overwhelmed and exhausted soon after becoming a Christian. I was so desperate to share my faith, to serve Jesus, that I signed up for all kinds of things at church. I was already home-educating my two young children, which was a job and a half, in itself! I'd been asked to teach in the 3-5 year old group during church and I was doing it, but not feeling quite right about it even, though I was good at it.

One Sunday morning, I left the church to go to be with this lively group of little ones, when I realised that I was sacrificing the only free hour I had in the week without my own children to be teaching and taking care of other people's children. And I was missing the sermon! What was wrong with this picture? I scaled back my responsibility and, with the help of a discussion I had with some other Christian mothers, I decided on an approach which I found very helpful for many years after that.

I was advised to only be involved in activities to which God had clearly and specifically called me. Wow! What a relief that was! It became gradually obvious to me that this is what would spare my sanity in the long run! This is such a simple concept, but it has served me well. If you think that this is a cop out and an excuse to do very little...just wait, it may not be!

God called me very clearly and specifically to begin several adventures during those early Christian mothering years, including leading an evening home group for 8-11 year olds and starting and leading two different, long-running home education groups. However, because God had called me, He also generously equipped me for these tasks. I had been patiently (mostly) listening for His call. When it came, I didn't feel overwhelmed or exhausted. I was ready to give them up when He called me to, also.

A kayaking lesson I organised for a home education group. Yes, they did go onto the water next!
What I had also accepted was that my primary calling was to my husband and children. This is what I urge of you too, Dear Daughter. Invest your time and love in them and, through that, God will use you to bless others. Listen for His call and He will equip you for the tasks He plans for you.

Thursday: Food

Frugal Food.

There are times of financial crisis or uncertainty in almost every marriage, sometimes brief, sometimes extended, but it's possible to survive and even to thrive during them. A big part of every household budget is food. What will make the difference is your skill levels. These are some of the things which have helped us survive some really long periods of little money.

1. Cooking everything from scratch and I mean everything.
2. Preserving my own food.
3. Eating seasonally.
4. keeping a store cupboard well stocked.
5. Planned purchasing.
6. Meal planning
7. Teaching children to eat a wide variety of foods from early on.
8. Using my freezer to its full capacity.
9. Growing at least some of our own food.
10. Being hospitable and thinking generously.

All of the above have helped me and I am sure that I have left lots off the list. I didn't mention using coupons because, in my country, it's not always terribly helpful. 20p off something that costs £2 isn't much help to me when there is another brand of the same item which only costs £1 in the first place. However, I know that in other countries this can be extremely helpful

Do you recognise that you need to skill up? don't panic. There will be more articles on these subjects in coming weeks. In the mean time, you could pick one topic and research it yourself! Invest in your own education, as mentioned in yesterday's post, and buy a good book on preserving food, for example. My Good Housekeeping Complete Book of Preserving for example is older than both my children and is still useful to me!

Mimi is a wife to Jamie, mother to two grown up children, a mother-in-law and a grandmother to a darling little grand-daughter. She home-educated her children and now teaches exam subjects to groups of home-educated children. She's a Worship Leader in her church and has a passion for helping women raise children to adulthood with a strong faith in the Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Wednesday: Educating Ourselves

Educating Ourselves

When you begin a new job, you are usually trained to be competent in it. A period is set aside during which you are taught and given the support, skills and resources to reach a good standard of work. You are often mentored by a more experienced worker for a while.

This does not happen when we first get married and/or have a our first baby. :-)

There is an assumption that our mothers would have taught us everything we need to know, which may or may not be true, and there is also an assumption that we will instinctively know how to mother a baby. In my experience, neither were true and, so, I initiated a serious self-education campaign!

Books and friends were my first recourse when I started out. Later, the internet became a source of much useful (and much useless!) information. Peer-to-Peer support can be valuable, but don't feel you need to re-invent the wheel in order to prove you are capable; other, older women have gone ahead of you and many are more than happy to offer their help or suggestions. That's what this blog is all about.

Young Housewife, Oil on canvas, by Alexey Tyranov (1801-1859). The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

It's not a matter of failing if you need to ask for help. In fact, it's the first step in being successful at something. We aren't all born housekeepers, home-creators or mothers. It's heartening to know that it is possible to learn 'on the job'.

To learn is to grow, dear Daughter, and it's a life-long process.

Mimi is a wife to Jamie, mother to two grown up children, a mother-in-law and a grandmother to a darling little grand-daughter. She home-educated her children and now teaches exam subjects to groups of home-educated children. She's a Worship Leader in her church and has a passion for helping women raise children to adulthood with a strong faith in the Lord Jesus.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Tuesday: Marriage

We just celebrated our silver wedding anniversary. We had lived together for a few years before that. We weren't following Jesus back then and so we followed the usual social pattern of living together before considering marriage. It was not a very secure time for our relationship and much went awry during that period. We almost broke up after a few years. It would have been easy to do so.

Long term relationships are hard. They require investment of time and self-sacrifice and compromise and humility and all kinds of things, once you get past the first couple of years of being 'all loved-up'. But mostly, what they require is commitment. We didn't have that until we were married and then only a fraction of what we have now. What changed? Jesus walked into our marriage when we became Christians. Suddenly, this wasn't just a social or legal contract, it became a covenant.

Then, when challenges came our way, such as severe financial stress, international moves, disability in the family, teenagers (love 'em but they can be a challenge!), chronic illness, it wasn't just our own love of each other that we relied on to get us through; it was God's love and commitment to our marriage covenant.

You might find this video clip interesting. It's a conversation between 3 pastors on sustaining the covenant of marriage.As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote to a young married couple, "It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love." If God is in that marriage, which He is, then you need not fear. Continue to submit to one another, in love and humility, find joy and fun in everyday living and keep your eyes fixed on the long term.

I love you both, Dear Daughter, and pray for you daily.

Mimi is a wife to Jamie, mother to two grown up children, a mother-in-law and a grandmother to a darling little grand-daughter. She home-educated her children and now teaches exam subjects to groups of home-educated children. She's a Worship Leader in her church and has a passion for helping women raise children to adulthood with a strong faith in the Lord Jesus.

Monday: Home

'An Englishman's home is his castle.' The meaning of this saying is, I think, that our homes are the places we feel most safe, where we have some control over what happens, where we can live peaceful and satisfying lives. I feel confident in asserting that this applies to men and women everywhere, not just in England! We each need our home to be a place of sanctuary where we can recharge our batteries for the parts of our lives which are out in the world and possibly outside our own control.

For those of us who are organisationally challenged, our homes can quickly become less than helpful in meeting those goals. The mountains of ironing that threaten to topple over, the mountains of dirty dishes, the great piles of important paperwork left unattended can all contribute to feelings of anxiety for everyone in the family.

Those who find such things never happen in their household will find it hard to understand those of us who do. Sandra Felton thinks the world is divided into Messies and Cleanies. She describes herself as a Messie and freely admits that she needs help to organise herself. Long ago I read one of her books and recognised myself. I needed to set in motion some systems which helped me to function better within my home and help me to create somewhere warm and welcoming for my family to return to each day.

Sandra has a blog which you may find helpful.

Another blogger I have found incredibly helpful is Rhonda at 
Down To Earth. She has some great practical ideas for getting organised and the wonderful thing about her is that she believes in the intrinsic value of our work at home.

Some people find Flylady helpful in establishing routines.

Organized Home is also brilliantly helpful. I've used many of her printable resources.

On future Mondays you will find other links, resources and tips for controlling and pacifying your work at home, enabling you to enjoy being there. 

Welcome home, dear daughter!

Mimi is a wife to Jamie, mother to two grown up children, a mother-in-law and a grandmother to a darling little grand-daughter. She home-educated her children and now teaches exam subjects to groups of home-educated children. She's a Worship Leader in her church and has a passion for helping women raise children to adulthood with a strong faith in the Lord Jesus.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Welcome Home, Dear Daughter!

We are writing this blog as if for all our daughters, daughters-in-law and grand-daughters, current and future and all those who visit here to seek wisdom (sometimes) and encouragement (always) from wives and mothers who are walking further along the path.

If there are days when it feels to you that your role as wife, mother, keeper of the home, cooker of meals, wiper of noses and leader of little ones to God is like a daunting climb up a mountain, hang on! We are just a little further up the mountain than you and we can send down a rope ladder for you, or reach out and help pull you up.

I hope you enjoy visiting and that you will each feel encouraged in your day to day tasks.

'The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.' Proverbs 14 verse 1.