Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Beginning the Day At Home

Rosey Beginnings
by Susan Rios
View this art

If you are just getting started in homemaking, or thinking about it, here are some ideas I'd like to pass on, which I learned years ago.

Write Your Plans The Night Before: Supply yourself with a very special note pad, pen/pencil, and carefully write out your homemaking  plans for the next day.  Shop the day before for essential meal supplies, and anything else that will make housekeeping more efficient and pleasant.  Items might include:

Apron -as pretty as possible
An attractive (to you) notebook and pen
Special soap for any  washing dishes
New dish rag and dish towel for drying
A scented candle for the home
A soothing musical CD to listen to
A tray for tea time
Flock-lined rubber gloves
Cotton work gloves or garden gloves

Most of these things can all be obtained at your local Dollar Tree store. Find the most attractive items to grace your home, which is the most important place on earth. The reason for including them on your shopping list is for the pleasure of using them while you are homemaking. 

Homemaking is more than cleaning and cooking. It is also providing an  atmosphere in your home that makes it a lovely and soothing place to be, and this is helped with some of these little extras.  It will take some effort, but the results are worth it.  If you prefer, try making some things such as your own napkins for the table, candles, soap, or crocheting a dishrag from cotton yarn. It is not necessary to buy everything, but to do whatever you can.

Prepare a tea-time tray for yourself for a tea break at a time of the day that you determine. Place it the room that is the most presentable, to give it a look of orderliness, and to make you look forward to completing certain tasks before you sit down to enjoy it. You might take tea when the mail comes, or when you want to look at the new issue of a favorite publication.*See note below.

Make Your Plans on Paper:
After you have gathered your supplies, you can make your plans to begin the next day afresh, ready for managing your home. This consists of such things as:

Making the front room, living room, or whatever will be seen first from the front door, presentable. This is perhaps something that could be done the previous evening.
Meal plans with menus and any reminders to yourself about the meal preparation, table settings, etc.
Cleaning the kitchen
Making beds
Putting clean towels in the bathroom, adding a new bar of soap, or whatever is needed.
Outdoor work
Any errands requiring use of the car.
Possible visits you might receive
Essential sewing, mending
Leisure time that includes creativity.

A possible selection of writing materials for the home office: blank notebooks with interesting covers, and attractive pens, pencils, most available from Dollar Tree and discount stores.

This is just a sample list, and will vary greatly from house to house. Some times the demands on the homemaker are so great, that only a few things on her list will be accomplished. In that case, they can be transferred to the next day's list. The best way to discover what you need to do, is to discover how your family lives, and what they need the most, what they are constantly looking for around the house, what they use, when they are hungry, what they need to do, and so forth. 

 Even if you are newly married, there will be plenty to do, if you are being conscientious about your time. Naturally, without children, there will not be a huge amount of laundry or dishes to do, so this is a great time to be sewing, knitting, or making things for the home.

I know a young woman who says she "just lives in a trailer."  She is newly married, and never once has she hesitated for something to do. She redecorated her little abode by creating a hanging garden around the entire house, and inside, she covered the couch, made pillows and matching curtains, a table cloth, tea cosy, and all kinds of charming accessories from the same calico cloth.

She is also an efficient homemaker, and is good about making sure that her husband always has clean clothes and always has something hearty and homemade to eat, and often has company. Her dining table, though small, is set with her wedding china. "I want to create good memories of our humble first years," she says, and that is why she appreciates the day at hand, not worrying about the future and not concerned about whether they will have a "real" house, but carefully planning for it and living each day fully and beautifully.

Prepare Yourself:

Mary Kay, who founded a famous skin care company, wrote in her book that she never showed herself to her family or anyone coming to the door,  until she was bathed and fully dressed, hair fixed, looking pleasant and ready for the world. Some women find it better to get up and get prepared before the rest of the household begins their day, when the shower is available and all is quiet.

Being home, you may not think anyone will see you all day, but if you have children, your appearance and cleanliness and attention to grooming will leave a permanent impression on them that they will emulate in the future. God sees you, and as one author wrote, "I must wear my prettiest dress today, The flowers in my garden will want to see me."  This is a fanciful explanation but seriously, the way we dress is a reflection of how we feel about life, and shows respect for the God who created us. Our mode of dress also helps create a mood or attitude of success in whatever we put our hands and minds to do.

Spend Some Time Alone:

Whether you have a room you can sit in or your just get up ahead of the rest of the crowd, you may find it very beneficial to have some time to think before the day begins, with all the urgent things that will beckon you. Open your Bible and your heart to God's guidance, and pray that He will help you guide your home and accomplish the most important things on your list.

When I say "urgent things" I simply mean that people must be fed on time, and that clothes must be washed, floors must be swept, and other things done. If you lag, you'll find the day gets worse as duties pile up. Nothing is more discouraging than trying to prepare a meal when the last meal's pots and pans are still in the sink waiting to be washed, and the dishes are not loaded in the dishwasher.  If you have children and are training them to do this work, you still have to supervise it and are still responsible to see that it gets done. This is the way you guide the home. (First Timothy 5:14)

If for some reason you are not able to spend the first few moments of the day gathering your thoughts and thinking about the day's activities, at least you will be dressed and have taken care of your appearance, will make a big difference in your efficiency.

Begin Your First Task

Light a scented candle, put on some music or something that helps you pace yourself, and begin your daily work. In former days, we used to sing when we were involved in anything that would take a long time. By the time all the verses of a song or hymn were sung, the job was finished. Children can be included in everything you do, as they follow you from job to job and room to room, and that way, you can keep an eye on them at the same time.

Pay Attention to Your Work But Keep the Rest of the Atmosphere in Mind:

Some people can concentrate on something even when life is crashing down around them, but most people need to have peace and quiet while working. It is good to be cleaning the kitchen, but a homemaker needs to be flexible enough to correct other matters in the home so that she can work in peace. Do not lose yourself so much in washing dishes that you fail to hear what is going on in the rest of the home, or that you cannot sense the loss of peacefulness.  Be able to work, but be aware of what is going on around you. If you are homeschooling, I think it is very important to have a neat, clean, and orderly, yet beautiful atmosphere in your home. It adds to the peace and the ability to learn good things. I think part of homeschooling should be homemaking. It sets the tone for the day's learning. Just be aware of the atmosphere of the home and see that it is pleasing and refreshing to the spirit.

Never Lose An Awareness That You Are Accountable to God:

Your motivation for doing your best at home and providing the most wonderful life for your family cannot rest merely on the approval of others. Good manners, good housekeeping, knowledge, wisdom and understanding are all part of a higher code of living that comes from reading the Bible and doing your best. Not everyone in the family will understand it or appreciate it, but they will be taught and guided by your example.

Preparing for homemaking is important because day by day, it sets your family on a course that will enable them to function in life. It will enable you to offer hospitality with peace of mind. Not only that, but keeping house is a fulfillment of the scriptures.

*If you cannot find the ideal magazine or publication for your leisure reading, I would like to pass on an idea I learned from someone. She finds all her favorite articles, recipes, homemaking tips and decorating photographs and prints them out, binding them in one personal magazine which is sometimes as much as 40 pages. Then she enjoys sitting down and reading them in room she has just finished cleaning, during a rest time. She says that reading the articles from paper is a huge difference from reading them on screen, and then she adds it to her personal library. You can make a cover out of sturdier paper and protect the home made magazine.

If you do this, you can punch holes in the left margin and insert wired ribbon to easily bind it, and oh..please don't forget to include some things you like from Home Living!

 Sample of Hand Made Magazine Using Antique Clip Art on the Cover


Anonymous said...

Thank you very much dear Lydia for this inspiring post. I just lit a sweet little candle in a holder which is decorated with mosaic mother-of-pearl squares and matching 'saucer'. I think of you when I watch the light dancing and am thankful it's cozy glow is warming the home-atmosphere on this cool, dull, winter's day. God bless you for your encouragement and example.

Tracy said...

An lovely post full of great tips! I am a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant and have always found Mary Kay's story to be inspiring.:)

Anonymous said...

Lydia, as usual, your post is full of excellent advice. Although I am not f new to homemaking, I know there is much more I can do to make my abode homey.

I really like the artwork you've chosen for your banner. It is lovely and reminds me of paintings done by my grandmother. She used to send me homemade cards with her own watercolor artwork on it, and her own
poems inside. They are as charming today as they were when she sent them.

Anonymous said...


This is a wonderfully encouraging article. Routine is of great value, especially if outside circumstances beyond one's control are wearing on one's spirit (toxic work environment of one's husband, for instance, that can not only drag them down, but everyone else - e.g. if they are the victim of persistant workplace harrassment. Maintaining a routine, even if it is only in two or three key areas, will contribute greatly to one's wellbeing, the wellbeing of the husband who may be copping it at work (this is my own situation at the moment and things are coming to a head for him - its truly horrible, the management are acting disgracefully, but with prayer and grounding here at home, complete dispondance doesn't have its way) and that of other family members. It will also contribute to fostering well-being even, and especially, in the darkest of times. We have control over our homes, even if we have control over nothing else.

Brilliant post!

Lydia said...

Thank you, Mrs. Eliot.

Lydia said...

Thanks, Tracy,

I read her book a long time ago and that was the thing I valued the most from it.

Amy said...

What an inspiring post! I don't usually write down my to-do lists, but that would probably be very helpful for planning my days.

Another tip I have found helpful in recent months that I would add is that one of the last things I do before bed is to lay out the next day's clothes on a chair in our room. That way when I wake up, I already have everything I need organized and ready to go. Hope you are having a wonderful week!

Lydia said...

Amy, setting out clothing for the next day is a good way to be organized, and I will add that spending some time each week sewing will yield some wearable house clothes that are also very stylish. Five or more every-day outfits for home is not too many. Some time should be spent planning and selecting clothes just for the home.

Karen said...

Thank you for this post. I enjoy reminders like this. It is easy to forget these things after many years at home but they make a big difference.

Your observations about clothing have helped me a lot. I never considered what fabrics to look for until you pointed out the need for sturdy clothing at home. It isn't hard to make or find nice clothes for home once you know what to look for. The flimsy synthetic fabrics found in stores just don't work for around the house and I did not realize the problem for me wasn't skirts or dresses, it was the fabric they were made of.

Finding Joy said...

Great advice, in particular for those who may be struggling. My mother was a wonderful teacher, and the way I care for my home is very much the way my mum did. Mother like daughter :)

I am not a list person and find they are more of a problem, it's all in my head!!

I like the idea of candles, but with a cat that likes to walk around on tables and shelves, I am affaide she might knock them over.

Lydia said...


I forgot to mention that I dont light any candles. I just like the scent, and place them in areas I can smell them, such as right by the sink, on the piano, by the front door, etc. They make the house smell nice.

anglow said...

I have a how-to question. We want to replace old curtains on our living room outside wall that has a large sliding glass door on it. We like simple, washable things but I just don't know how to accomplish such a huge task myself and I am on a tight budget. The old ones have to go, though. Do you have some suggestions, Lady Lydia? I do know how to sew.

Lillibeth said...

I replaced the curtains over my sliding glass door years ago. This is how I did it:
I found some twin size top sheets on sale, and went to Joanns and bought an eyelet/grommet punch (use a coupon!) and grommets (metal rings that you can put through fabric, to make re-inforced holes).
The curtains were already hemmed of course, so no sewing (Unless you don't want them "puddling" in which case you would have to hem them up a bit more, or raise the curtain rod).
I evenly spaced the grommets at the top of each "curtain," punched them through, and then ran rope through them and over the rod.
I was going for a nautical theme so white curtains plus rope went well with it.
Later on when I had more to spend, I did buy some very nice curtain rings.

Lydia said...

Cousin Rosemi,

Duct tape comes in all colors these days, including white, hot pink, various blues, and nuetrals. Just fold your fabric over on the top to make a pocket for your rod to go through. Make the fold fatter than the rod, and tape it down on the inside so that it does not show inside the house. If the tape matches the cloth, it will not show up from the outside of the window, either. Buy one of those white plastic stick-on hooks from WalMart and place it on the side of the window so that you can hook the curtain over it. You might have to use some wide, wired ribbon to put around the curtain, and pull the ribbon over the hook. With a wired ribbon, you do not have to actually tie it. Just twist it to hold, and then when you want to let the curtain down, loosen it.

If you use the selvage edges of teh fabric for the long side seams, you do not have to sew it. And the lower hem can be duct taped too, or you could just hand sew it with large stitches. I know you have several small children and are expecting, so you probably do not want too much extra to do, and that is why I suggest you make it easy on yourself for now. Maybe later someone can come over and help you sew it. If you can hand sew, and have the time, don't bother with the duct tape, as the hand sewing will stay put longer.

You could use a sheet, which already has a top pocket in it, and then there would be no sewing or tape at all. You can get these at Goodwill or get a new one that looks nice.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia

I remember being impressed with a similar post a few years ago, and printing it out to encourage a friend. Thank you for rewriting and expanding what was already a great post. It's now a definite classic!

By the way, is it possible to search for my favourite posts from your blog?

Anonymous said...

Oh Lady Lydia, how I needed to read this today! I often forget to make the atmosphere of the home beautiful and special and it only takes a few minutes, and as you pointed out little finances. Thank you! Have a blessed day!

Lydia said...

I will ask someone to help me enable that feature, so that you can use the search section.

Highlandview said...

Your blog has such a sweetness about it. I love that you mentioned Mary Kay. I read her biography years ago and found it very insipiring. We are in our new house now after three years of moving from rental to rental. I am so looking forward to transforming this house to a home.

Anonymous said...

You are so right about the atmosphere of the home. When we get up feeling so happy and someone is grouchy it changes our mood immediately. If I as the mother, keep a sweet disposition all the members of the family can start out the day in a gentle way and everyone benefits. I put a scented{ un lit } candle under my sink. It is such a sweet surprise when I get under there to get out my dish pan and smell it! I make a list the night before too. In my pretty notebook I have 6 spaces for each day. Calls to make if any, places to go if any, and any special things to do for members of the family, and the household chores, and the days menus, and a reminder of prayer requests. I usually mark say, three things that need doing the most, just incase the day gets disrupted these most important things get done. I agree with you. I find when I dress nicely each day I feel ready to conquer the day! Even if you are home alone you may see or be seen by others. How about the mailman? The children walking to school? Your neighbors? We represent our Father as well as our families and need to be good representatives. I am going to go back and read your post again. :) Thank you for being our mentor. Sarah

Julie said...

I loved this article, Miss Lydia! I have printed it out and put it my notebook to read again and again.

Vicki said...

I smiled when I read your last paragraph, Lady Lydia, as that is exactly what I do...and yes, many of the articles I print out are from this lovely blog! I have a little chair in a quiet corner of the living room, and when I have a spare moment I can be found there, looking through my little homemade book :)

Thank you for providing us with so much inspiration. You add to our self confidence and happiness!