We raise children.
We cook, clean, and keep our home.
But what are we intentionally doing for our families and ourselves to experience joy?
Consider a typical day in your home. How much time do you actually spend in conversation with your husband and/or children? Children are in school 6 or more hours a day. If they attend public school, then, they come home to homework, chores, perhaps a sport or activity, bath time, dinner time, and finally, bedtime. Many times, the routine can become depressing to a woman. We may not realize it, but it manifests itself in our reactions and words. Some of our discontent may come from childhood, but went unnoticed and followed us into adulthood. It affects our perspective, our decision making, and our families.
What does joy look like? A sink full of dishes? A cluttered home? It depends on how you look at it. Once might see it as a great annoyance and a desperate need to catch up with our responsibilities, preventing us from seeing the blessing behind it all.
Although maintaining a clean home is important, we can, in fact, find joy in the mess. Consider what makes it possible to have a sink full of dishes: a home where there is enough food to eat. What makes a cluttered home? A family, carrying on in life, busy with their personal interests, a job, and a roof above their heads.
This is not in any way to say that we will always joyfully clean our homes, but we make that choice ourselves. Happiness, in the midst of chaos, is still a choice. Our thoughts are a choice. Scientifically speaking, our thoughts literally change the landscape of our brains and can have a lasting effect in our bodies and habits. The good news is that we can change that.
So what can we do to better enjoy our families, homes, and even our routines?
- Delegate- We do a lot for our children, but often fail to realize they are capable of doing more for themselves. We do them a disservice when we take it upon ourselves to do for them what they can already be doing. They need to learn life skills. Middle school age children can already be more active in helping prepare meals, taking out trash, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, folding their own laundry, etc. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Resist the urge to do it yourself to avoid a job done badly. The more they are allowed to do it, the better they will become at it. Thank them for their efforts and resist the urge to do the job “correctly” after them. Our homes don’t have to be perfect, but they should be peaceful.
- Check your hobbies- Is there anything in your schedule that is taking too much of your time? As mothers, we definitely have a big responsibility on our shoulders and we need time to ourselves, but we must still have boundaries set for ourselves. Be honest with yourself in your evaluation. Being too busy does not mean we’re being productive. Sometimes less is more. Give your family the gift of time. Don’t be afraid to be spontaneous and go off schedule.
- Talk to your family- Of course, we talk to them on a daily basis, but it can mostly be as an authority figure: “Do your homework, ““Wash your hands,” or “Get in the shower.” They need more from us. Being natural nurturers at heart, we women set the tone and atmosphere in our homes. We must cultivate a healthy and open communication with our families. When we talk to our spouse and/or children, they need to know we are listening and that what they say to us is important.
- Perspective- Contrary to what many of us may think, we are not always right. Our feelings are sometimes deceiving. Our husbands cannot read our minds, and our children truly don’t mean to irritate us. We can remain calm as we correct and discipline. We must have an attitude of gratitude and remember to let it show. It’s difficult to imagine living life without our families, but consider it. If we did suffer a loss in our families, we would give anything to have more time with them. Even if it meant more dishes, clutter, and noise. Yes, we would be grateful for it. We don’t need to wait for tragedy. We can choose to be grateful now.
- Friendships- We are greatly influenced by the people we allow into our circle of friends. Bad company corrupts good character. We must guard our hearts and minds because they shape our thoughts and perspective. We may not all agree on what is permissible or not, but we do have basic knowledge of right and wrong. Make time for friends; it’s healthy. But make good choices in regards to the people you spend more time with.