It dawned on me recently that it’s been about three years since I quit my job as a group home manager. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it, I LOVED my career and never thought I would be a stay-at-home mom. But God has been truly gracious with me over the last few years and He has shown me what a blessing a good homemaker can be for her family.
Honestly, it has taken me every minute of those three years to get to the point where I can actually say that I’m a decent homemaker. The first year was a disaster; I couldn’t cook, my house was a cluttered mess and I spent way too much time watching Netflix. But with time I learned a few tips from other homemakers that changed my day-to-day routine for the better.
So here it is; how to survive your first year as a homemaker.
1. Downsize your household big time. I’m not talking about losing the house or kids, I’m talking about getting rid of some stuff. Clothes. Toys. Craft supplies. Kitchenware. If you are an average American woman, chances are, you’ve got way too much stuff in your house. Trust me, it’s going to catch up with you. More knick-knacks equal more dusting. More toys get you more conflict with the kids when they don’t put them away. More dishware and clothes discourage you from washing as often as you should and leaves you playing catch-up later. The less you have in your house, the easier it will be to keep it clean and organized. It can also save you some money in the long run because you will have a better idea of exactly what you have in your home.
Many women swear by the KonMari method of de-cluttering. While I roll my eyes at Marie Kondo’s concept of things “sparking joy”, the actual process she uses for downsizing household goods is spot-on. The method is effectively this; de-clutter by item category rather than by room (clothing instead of a bedroom for instance.) Using her method, you would collect ALL of the clothing in the entire house and pile it in one room. Then, you would pick up each item individually and inspect it. Is this item damaged or broken? Have you used it in a while? Do you actually love this item? Then place the item in one of three piles; keep, donate or trash. I did this myself a few years ago and decided to sell some of my discarded items as well. After you’ve thoroughly purged your home of excess, you can easily organize and maintain the cleanliness of your home. A home with less stuff is a thousand times easier to manage, and I wish I had done a downsize the first day I became a homemaker!
2. Create a routine for yourself. Going from a 9-5 to staying home can feel like a breath of fresh air because nobody is controlling your schedule but you. That can make it easy to slip into bad habits and neglect responsibilities around the house. Writing down a schedule for your homemaking can help keep you on track. You don’t need to schedule every minute of your day, but if you have 3-5 chores (dishes, trash and sweeping) that you do every day along with one rotating chore (like laundry, mopping floors etc) then you shouldn’t get behind on housework. The same is true of typical household errands like groceries, getting the mail, paying bills etc. Without a general plan for these responsibilities, I wind up wasting a lot of time while my house looks like a dumpster.
3. Create or finesse your budget NOW. Staying home should save your family money in many ways, but the extra time out of the office can be a financial trap for a lot of women. It was for me! I suddenly had all this time to take my kids on fun (but not free) outings. I saw all these neat kitchen gadgets I “needed” to cook with. And Pinterest is the devil, seriously. I saw THOUSANDS of fun projects for the house and the kids that I had to buy supplies for. You see where I’m going with this?
If you don’t make a plan with your money, you are planning to fail with your money. Lifestyle changes like dropping from 2 incomes to 1 will change your financials a little anyway, but it can also expose some truly foolish financial behavior, and now is the time to deal with it. Sit down with your spouse and create a budget (or update your old one). Make a budget line for projects, homeschooling material and family outings. Then stick to it!
4. Connect with other women for support. There’s a reason why the Bible instructs older women to teach younger women. Marriage and raising children is hard work, and we all need a friend that can encourage us when we are downcast, call us out when we are mistaken and who can offer practical tips for the tough (and sometimes lonely) work of homemaking. Pursue a few close friends with extra vigor during your first year home, these relationships will prove to be a great source of support and feedback.
5. Establish a pattern of turning to scripture. Look, prayer and scripture study is not going to get simpler as your kids get older. It’s way too easy to use the infant and toddler years as an excuse to neglect our spiritual maturation. We’re tired, younger kids are needy and we often lose track of time in those years. I did it too! But now that I no longer have toddlers, it’s becoming evident to me that I have the same amount of time as I always had. So not only do I still not have enough “quiet time” for scripture reading but now I’m also fighting against years of bad habits regarding my personal time with the word of God. Now is the time to create a routine for studying the Bible and spending time in prayer. It is undoubtedly the greatest investment you will ever make, and a woman who pursues the wisdom of the Lord will serve her family well no matter what role she’s in.
What advice do you wish you had received as a new homemaker? Chime in with comments below!