Monday, June 16, 2008

Getting the Day Started

Room to Breathe, by Susan Rios, from Susan Rios Inc.

If you are adjusting to homemaking, you will find quite a few things different. It helps if you acquaint yourself with women who have mastered the art of home keeping, and get some ideas from them. One thing I learned was to get up and prepare a tray with a cup of raspberry tea (called an infusion) or some other favorite drink, and go sit in a comfortable place.

While my eyes adjusted to the light and my brain began to wake up, I was to make a list of the days necessary work. In this list I put reminders of things I had to do at the market, or in various businesses in town: the bank, the post office, the gas station. Also, I included something like: 4:00 p.m. start getting dinner ready. For some people, it will be necessary to begin dinner earlier, if it is something that takes a bit more preparation. You have to account for time peeling potatoes or making a soup, if that is on the menu.

Another thing that was very important to me was to dress up as though I were going somewhere, even if I was not. This was the first thing on the list, always after a shower, using a favorite soap and cologne. Dressing in clothes that were clean and dignified, meant that I would approach my job in a serious way. That way, if I had to go out suddenly, I would not have to change my clothes, or be caught in dirty tennis shoes and a sloppy tee shirt.

If you wake up and feel overwhelmed, this is what seems to work for many homemakers:

Make yourself a cup of tea or favorite drink and put it in a fancy cup on a tray.

Sit in a comfortable place, even back in your bed, and while you sip your tea and eat your apple or orange or whatever you choose, make yourself a list of things you must do. It will help your mind to get moving in a logical way.

Get a shower or bath and get dress, fix your hair, and add scent. For mornings at home, I like light scents like strawberry, melon, pear, cucumber, etc. For afternoons, or evenings, maybe something a bit less energetic and sweeter like musk or vanilla. Just find one that inspires you and speaks to you of the mood of the day.


If you are overwhelmed, just make a simple breakfast and get everyone fed so that you can concentrate on your tasks. As much as possible, get the family to help with the meal so that the burden is not all on you.

I have found that if I can at least get the front room, the one that is first seen from the front door, clean, it gives me confidence to do other things. That room is quite easy to put in order and beautify. The dining area, the bathroom, and the bedrooms should be next. Just go through and pick up and straighten up and clean up. Listening to your favorite music helps, and having a candle lit can bring a feeling of peace while you work. I was taught to save the kitchen til last, but others might prefer to do it first, and I can see the wisdom in that.

The way to maintain the work you have already done is this: on your way to the door, or the bathroom, or the bedroom, just check around and pick up and put away anything out of place. While in the living room or kitchen for other reasons, look around with a critical eye and put things away. It is actually more work to save things for a cleaning day. If you get in that automatic habit, your children will also pick up the habit of "cleaning as you go" and "picking it up, not passing it up."


Mom of Five said...

I was taught to do the bathrooms and kitchen last as well. For me, cleaning the baths and the kitchen requires heavier cleaners, some that stain and require an apron or older clothes, and more scrubbing. Also, these are considered "wet" areas, along with the laundry room, and they often require scrubbing or mopping the floors.

Lydia said...

Mrs. H., I was taught to save the kitchen and bathroom til last because they were dirtier, but also the kitchen in particular would keep you there so much longer. If you begin in the kitchen, it is time to fix a meal or bake cookies and then you will be in there all day long and never get the other work done.

I clean the bathroom when I am using it for a shower, or when I have gone in it to wash my hands, etc. as it seems sensible not to save it for a cleaning day. However, all bathrooms need a thorough cleaning once a week. If you wipe the commode and the sink every day and clean the floor, you will find you don't have to be embarrassed if someone needs to use it. Also the family should be told to clean up after themselves and not leave messes in the sink for you clean up.

~~Deby said...

Another great post for those of us who just need a gentle push or loving refresher of what this calling is about. A great encourgement. Thank you

Lydia said...

Mrs. Texas, I love the finishing touches to any job, as they lift the heart so much: after cleaning up the living area, placing a clean cloth over a table and adding a tea set, or putting a sconce on the wall and putting in a scented candle, unlit, or even a vase of flowers. I believe the grocery store flowers are a good deal because you can divide them into several different vases and containers and put them around the house, and they scent the hous so well. I also like to put finishing touches like fresh sheets of writing paper and envelopes, along with a pen, on the desk or writing area, or a book open to a nice picture, placed on an easel or book stand, and the table set as if you are ready for dinner, or expecting company; the bathroom laid with fresh towel and new bar of soap on the edge of the sink, and a bowl of fruit in the kitchen, or a cake plate full of pretty homemade treats, as a centerpiece on your cabinet top. By the front door I like a little bird bath with water in it and rose petals floating in it, or a wreath at the door.

Anonymous said...

I start with about half a cup of coffee and breakfast, and make my list while the children eat and play.

On the days I do not get around to doing a quick morning pickup, and I really feel it in the afternoon, as the afternoon cleanup becomes much longer.

A good reminder to do that more.

~ Ann

Anonymous said...

Oh, thank you for these motivational suggestions. Just what I needed today!

Thank you,

BessieJoy said...

Did you do all these nice little touches when your children were young? I can't imagine having a pretty bowl with water and rose petals floating around......

My goal for the summer is to clean my home thoroughly and if I can do that I will be quite happy!

Thanks for your blog!

Camy said...

Thank you for the lovely post. Though I have been a homemaker for 16 years, I still struggle and need encouragement.

I have had to learn much of the art of homemaking from books and learned women like yourself.

I want to teach my daughter along the way...


Anonymous said...

My morning starts off with a walk, its my time to pray and plan for the day. The health benefits are a boost as well!
Lovely post as always Lady Lydia!

Nicole said...

HI ladies!

I've been on hiatus from reading the blog for some time, as I found I was struggling too much with working-woman envy. I long to be a homemaker but my husband does not support this. He is a wonderful Godly husband in nearly every way, but he does not want children and while at one time he was open to my being a stay at home wife, he is now opposed to the idea as he sees it as my back-door attempt to have children.

Very sad I know but I am trusting in the Lord and His direction to me has been very clear: seek first His Kingdom, and love my husband, and those things which He has for me will be added in HIS timing. But that doesn't mean that it isn't hard. I only work 3/4 time so I do get to engage in some domesticity, but nothing like I wish I could. I desire so much to be a home maker, and I find sites like these can help sometimes, but also if I am not walking closely with the Lord, they can make me long all the more for what I do not have.

All this to say thanks for being a good source of encouragement for women who want t be homemakers, whether they are full time or just part time-hoping-to-be-full-time. :) And if you're having trouble getting motivated in the morning, think of ladies like me, rushing off to some unfulfilling job, and perhaps that will encourage you to be excited about your day ahead.


Lydia said...

Yes I do have great sympathy for women who feel they cannot be homemakers full time. I am hearing more and more that they do not have a choice. Helen Andelin warned in a television interview, "If women keep demanding the right to work, they will eventually not have the right to stay home." I never understood this until I saw that so many women were expected to work, and that their husbands saw it as an advantage to them. You, and others, will be in my prayers. The best time to have children is when you are young and able to look after them. A lot of men do not realize this anymore. They too have been influenced by the prevailing culture of the world!

Nicole said...

Thanks for your encouragement, lady lydia, and for your prayers. It was good to be heard and prayed for today, when I am longing to be home scrubbing my bathtub instead of sitting at this desk! :)

Blessings and thanks again.

Katrinka said...

I remember being a young mother; my daughter was about 2 years old. I had ambitiously planned to repaint our kitchen cupboard and had removed all the doors off of the cupboards so I could strip them outside and then repaint. The cupboard still attached to the wall needed to be stripped as well. I didn't have anyone to watch my daughter, as I rarely did, since my husband was military and we moved around a lot and I did most everything with her present. But stripping cupboards with a 2-year-old just didn't work, so the project was delayed for a very long time. I got to the point I had to wash my bowls before using because they were dusty from sitting on an open cupboard shelf. (I can be very adaptable, but that quality causes me to grown comfortable with things I shouldn't really be comfortable with!) This one morning I got up and my house was a mess, my kitchen was a mess, I needed a bath, dirty dishes were in the sink, laundry piled up and waiting. I was gloomy and down and felt like doing everything at one time (which was a weakness of mine) and that made me very cranky and disagreeable. It may not make sense, but that morning I decided that Jesus is the same today as yesterday and tomorrow and He would never change. It somehow helped me see that everything was OK and that my temporary mess didn't change Who was in control of everything, and it was a turning point for me. I also have to say that beginning to homeschool was also a turning point in helping me be consistent with my daily schedule. Before that time in my life, I could work really good for one day and then feel overwhelmed the next day and then back in the 'groove' one day and so on. Homeschooling was really the means of making me more disciplined.

Lydia said...

Katrinka, I have to totally agree about the effect homeschooling has on you as a parent. I too could never seem to get started until I began homeschooling, and then, just the act of waking up in the morning took on new meaning...almost a part of the learning itself...and sometimes we discussed things like getting ready for the day and going to bed at night, showing the importance of the rituals.

Anonymous said...

I do things in a different order and a different way but I loved reading about your ideas, Lady Lydia. I keep a notepad by the bed in case I think of anything I need to do the next day, when I'm already in bed. That way I can get it out of my mind. When I'm able to, I like to tidy up and do a little filing in the evenings when my energy is low.

The Proverbs Wife said...

Scents have always been a way of bringing joy into my days.

You have caused me to think about even the scents that I wear. Usually I light candles or use scented waters for spraying the house.

But even the perfumes that I wear can be incorperated into my day. The perfume that I own has a strong scent and I don't desire to wear it daily. But to find a fruity body mist or vanilla spray would be wonderful. Thanks for giving me something to think about as always.

Anonymous said...

It's always interesting to learn how other women approach homemaking. Thanks for sharing!

In the morning I too like to prepare mentally for the day ahead. I brew a pot of espresso make toast then sit relax and plan for the day ahead.

The Lady of the House said...

Hello, Lady Lydia! This morning for the first time, I left my kitchen until last. The rest of my home was actually neat and straight within an hour, and my kitchen took very little time. I'm amazed such a small change can make such a big difference. Thank you very much for that tip. Now, the rest of my home will not suffer because I just can't get out of the kitchen!

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia: Thank you for a wonderful post. I am very encouraged to read your words. I am a stay at home mother and wife of a wonderful husband. I also homeschool and invite quite a bit of the church ladies over for tea. I agree with you on dressing the part, taking a shower, dressing, etc. I have realized that this way I am always ready for the day and also in case someone stops by for a quick visit. Thank you again for encouraging us ladies.
Maria in PA

Abounding Treasures said...

Some great ideas for getting the day started. One that I'm going to give a try tomorrow is to leave my kitchen until last :o)

Thanks for sharing from your experience!

Lydia said...

When I say save the kitchen til last, it isn't exactly accurate. I clean up the area and get the tables all wiped off and stack all the dishes and sweep the floor, and just get it ready to be done. I clean off the stove and any cabinet tops and prepare the perimeters of it, but I always save the hardest part of it til after the living area, bedrooms and bathrooms and dining area have been done. The kitchen takes a lot longer and it can keep you in there all day because after it is cleaned it is usually time to begin another meal or else it is so clean you want to bake something. You can see how it would keep you in there all day. That does not mean that it is a hard, fast rule. If someone is occupying the living areas, bathroom, bedrooms, I go ahead and do the kitchen first. If I can see I will need a clean kitchen in a hurry, I go ahead and do it, but for the most part, I find it a very valuable habit to save it until last. If it is the first room a person sees upon entering the house, then of course, it should be done first.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your inspirational post. I manage to start some days like this and I aiming for everyday. I usually do the kitchen first - but what you say makes sense!