Enjoy Mothering!

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Up until fairly recently, when we finally let go of tons of stuff, I needed constant ENCOURAGEMENT. I would get overwhelmed and discouraged easily. So I learned to surround myself with things that strengthen and inspire me, and get rid of what drains me. If I looked at an item and it reminded me of something I didn’t want to be reminded of every time I looked at it, out it went. Discarding really cleared up a lot of useless thoughts. Out went the Tigger sweatshirt because every time I looked at it, it reminded me of who gave it to me. A neutral memory, but annoying!  So out it went.  I didn’t want the constant reminder of that period in my life.   


I love to read, and love to learn how others do things. I scoured the library system for homekeeping tips, and frankly, not much existed. So I decided to put together my own binder of encouragement for me. I filled it with pictures that inspired me on in clearing and cleaning my cluttered and very dirty house.  


My mother and my grandmother were both great homemakers and taught me many things, but I needed daily encouragement.  When I was on my own, the FlyLady system was enough – I loved those testimonials.  But in my new home it wasn't working anymore.  Did I fall off the wagon?  Was my problem more serious than FlyLady could handle?  Yes it was.  I had my routines, but the house was overwhelming.  I worked full-time, which meant I was gone ten hours a day or more.  When the baby came, I was home, but who can get anything done with a baby?


The first thing I did was learn how to mother.  I took advice from everyone.  I read every book I could.  But I still needed daily encouragement, and that is when I found AboveRubies.org.  I listened to Nancy Campbell's daughter, Evangeline Johnson, speak on a CD entitled "Freedom Mothering" and she revealed that the secret of mothering is to get REALLY INTO IT.  Stop trying to get out of mothering!  Get into it!  Get really into it!  Be a story-book mother!  She said that if your baby needs to be held for five hours straight and you can't do anything else, so be it! 


That was just what I needed to hear.  My four-month old was cutting his first tooth (but I didn't know it) and he was sooo cranky.  I looked at the clock.  Noon.  I listened to those 3 CDs and walked him around the house, never once putting him down.  For FIVE hours.  And at 5:00 p.m. he looked up at me and squirmed, "Please put me down now."


I put him on a blanket on the floor.  He was happy.  I was happy.  That day was the turning point for me and my baby.  He now totally, implicitly trusted me.  It was amazing.  From that day on I got into mothering.  I listened to many of Nancy's CD's as I cleaned, decluttered and learned how to cook. 


Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday LifeLater, when my son was about two years old, I began listening to Homeschool & Domestic How-To Tips on CD (homeschoolhowtos.com) for even more encouragement and some great advice.  I still bought books, such as "Keeping House" by Margaret Kim Peterson.  Her book is not a how-to book, it is a reflection of what it means to keep house and how it benefits our family.  I read a little of that each night before bed. 


I think my own mother was a wonderful example and I am so grateful to her for her caring and patient ways.  I want to be just like her.  Friends have told me that my mother was the inspiration for them to stay at home with their children, since their moms worked and didn't provide them with a good at-home example.  But while we are growing, we typically do not notice what exactly it is that our mom does, though we FEEL it.  That is where reading discarded library books have come in.  They beautifully illustrate an almost lost art of tender mothering (I rarely see mom’s holding hands with toddlers – usually they are behind or ahead).  I would read and remember, "Yes, my mom did that!"  Later, in talking with my mom, I discovered that she learned a lot about mothering from her step-grandmother, a godly woman, as her own mother worked, and her mom’s mother abandoned the family when her mom was only seven.


By the way, I noticed that in all my reading the best books with great examples of mothering were often pre-1962.  Libraries and schools are discarding them, I guess because the values are too old-fashioned (ha!). 


One of my favorite examples of how typical moms used to act came from "Snowbound with Betsy" by Carolyn Haywood (1962).  As the children watch at the window for their father to come home as a blizzard begins, mother browns cubes of beef, peels potatoes, scrapes carrots, and peels onions to make a stew (enough to last a week if necessary!).  She also makes rice pudding, gravy and dumplings.  When dad doesn't show up for dinner, mom feeds the kids then puts the baking dish back into the oven to keep it warm, preferring to eat with father.


After dinner, mom washes the dishes while Betsy, age 9, dries.  Star, about 3 or 4 years old, colors.  The television is off.  After the dishes, they read and light a fire.  Then they have their baths and go to bed, while mom waits up for dad.  Mom nods off until midnight, when dad finally arrives, bringing a stranded motorist and her two children!  But mom is not phased.  Instead, she is joyful and welcoming.  She brings her guests warm plates, the smoking hot stew, and crisp brown rolls. 


She provides the woman a bed in her sewing room, and each of the children sleep in the extra beds in the children's rooms.  I think they end up staying almost a week!  Can you imagine having your home ready to do this today, and do it joyfully, without any stress?  I can’t, but I’m hoping to get there soon. 


Any book by Carolyn Haywood, with her beautiful illustrations, will still be loved by both children and moms reading aloud.  I hope you build many wonderful memories reading aloud to your children for an hour before bed.  Enjoy mothering!


Why Bother to Clean House at All?

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“Scrub dear, don’t tickle” – Kim Woodburn and Aggie MacKenzie from How Clean is Your House?

Why clean the house when it’s just going to get messy again anyways?  Why make the bed when you are just going to get back into it in a few hours?  I know many people who live this way, and sometimes I do feel like throwing in the towel and saying “Forget it!  I’m sick of doing the same things over and over again!” BUT…

1)     I want my house to be a home for me, my DH & our son – not dustmites, flies, fleas and pests!

2)     I can tell if a week has gone by and I forgot to change the sheets and swiffer under our bed – my throat and ears begin itching (I’m horribly allergic to dustmites).  Dustmites need to be killed in HOT water.  They can cause asthma, eczema, allergies, etc.  They feed off our skin flakes!  Yuck!  So dusting with a damp microfiber cloth, vacuuming, changing bedding once (or even twice) a week, and airing out rooms daily really is necessary.  I keep a small calendar by my bed and note when I’ve changed the bedding.  I also try and wash towels and pajamas on the same day. 

3)     Not being diligent about tossing old fruit, cleaning the litter box, emptying trash cans or doing dishes can result in attracting flies. Flies can lay 150 eggs at a time and hatch in 24 hours and their larvae feed on rotting trash, fruit, veges, and pet excrement.  Disgusting! 

4)     Kitchen trash cans need to have a covered lid and be emptied daily and washed weekly, along with pet bowls, or it may attract mice.

5)     Aadvantage works well on our cats to prevent fleas and is so worth the money.  I recently read that pet owners often become immune to flea bites, but visitors will be their victims! 

6)     Pantry pests can penetrate paper, cardboard and cellophane packages!  I’ve been transferring cereals and crackers to heavyweight plastic containers, and pastas into glass jars that used to hold applesauce (giving my pantry a nice, uniform appearance).  I cut off the package directions and expiration and tape to the glass with clear packaging tape.  I put my flour and sugar into thick, plastic, airtight containers as well.

7)     Dirty clothes put back in the closet, or unvacuumed crumbs on carpets, can attract moths and carpet beetles, which can lay 100 eggs, hatching in only 8 days!  Larvae loves grime, sweat and urine.  Disgusting!  Regular vacuuming and laundering will prevent this problem.  *All the pest information was gleaned from “How Clean is Your House?” book by Kim Woodburn and Aggie MacKenzie

8)     A clean home smells good!  It also helps to inhibit allergies. 

9)     Clutter clogs, but a clean, organized home makes me smile, feel relaxed, and allows creativity.  Decluttering unburdens my mind, as well as my home.  I feel happier, and can bless others with my excess, instead of hoarding something “just in case.”

10) Organizing frees up physical space and mind space – I often feel lighter and have more creativity and more clarity in my life when I declutter and organize.  Letting go, especially of items that bring up an unpleasant, or even neutral, memory, can heal my body and help create a home that refreshes, especially when the Holy Spirit is invited to dwell therein. 

11) A clean, organized, decluttered home eliminates many frustrations.  I always think of “It’s a Wonderful Life” when George Bailey loses his temper after the stairway finial comes off in his hand for the umpteenth time.  I am trying to eliminate those kinds of repetitious annoyances.  My biggest challenge are items that don’t have a home and live out in the open.  I’m trying to get a “bigger”home by letting go of the 80% I rarely use, and decluttering my horizontal surfaces.

12) A clean home doesn’t spread germs.  Days are easier when we are all healthy and when our house is in order. 

13)A clean home helps promote happiness!  It makes everyone who lives here feel better and well-loved.  The time and effort it takes is well worth it – keeping house enhances our life!