My hope today is to encourage some of you homemakers who feel overwhelmed when it comes to the care of your home. I'm still a learner even after 30 years and I hope you will always consider yourselves learners. What I'm sharing with you are tasks and routines that have worked well for me over the years so don't feel you need to put in place each one but maybe you can gain a tip or two today for your home.
I so desire that my home would be a sanctuary for my family and an oasis for others that the Lord sends our way. It does not mean perfection but there is a sense of order and our home expresses the things we love. This will look different for each of us but the reality still stands that we need to have some order, get meals on the table, clean, pay bills and take care of laundry. Along with all the other tasks needed in the care and upkeep of our homes.
A “house” is the building or structure in which people live. A “home” is much more the place that is uniquely prepared for you.
~ Dorothy Patterson Kelly, The Christian Homemaker's Handbook
I understand that to some of us order comes naturally and then there are some of you (like me) who really have to work at it. I have found that I have much more time in my day when I work hard at keeping order. I'm hoping to encourage you to do the same.A 'house' is the building or structure in which people live. A 'home' is much more the place that is uniquely prepared for you.
What I'm sharing with you today are tips that my grandmother and other family members shared with me or modeled for me when I was a young bride. I was clueless in the kitchen and had no idea what it looked like to care for a home and family on my own. So below are my top ten – yes it's a list but who doesn't like lists. Quick and to the point! I know y'all are busy so let's get down to business!
10 Tips for Beginning Homemakers:
1. Make your bed every day: A simple two-minute task that gets you started in a good direction and instantly makes your room look cleaner. Teach your kids to make their beds too. (I used to change sheets once a week but now I do it every two weeks, hoping that doesn't gross anyone out). I also wash and put back on the same sheets so I don't need to deal with folding them!
2. Tidy: This seems basic but it's so neglected. Take the time a few times a day (maybe you do it after or before every meal) but get the help of your kiddos and pick up around the house. It instantly makes your house look clean. Put things back where they belong and if they don't have a home – find one for them! Remember this always – you can't organize clutter! Clutter begins when things don't have places where they belong.
3. Get dressed: I wrote a whole post on this. As a young mama who stayed home with her babies, this one was a challenge for me but my whole day went better if I got dressed first thing and got my babies dressed. We were then ready for visitors or to run an unexpected errand if needed.
4. Put together a Cleaning Routine for your home: My young mama's (and us old ones too!) this will be huge help. Let me share simply what I do most weeks. I clean where it is needed. That's it! Let me layout for you what that looks like.
On most Monday's I do what I call my Weekly Home Blessing (Flylady term). This means every Monday each room gets dusted quickly, tidied and vacuumed. It is a quick routine that takes me maybe an hour. I love the duster attachment on my vacuum (I use it more than a feather duster or I love a microfiber cloth too).
From there each day I tackle what I see needs dusted a bit more or may need my attention, maybe a floor needs mopped or I notice baseboards in a certain room need attention. I may see fingerprints on windows or doors or switchplates to wipe. Do my appliances need a good exterior or interior cleaning? I devote about an hour a day to home care and cleaning. It may be more on some days when I have time and need to tackle a larger project but it doesn't absorb my whole day.
I have some favorite cheats and make use of Swiffer cloths and paper towels with spray cleaner at times. Yes, I know not the most “green” methods but it is a help if it is one your budget can afford. I love my Swiffer cloths in my bathroom to pick up hair quickly without having to get the vacuum out.
I make sure to notice areas that need tidied and decluttered a bit. My magazine basket, kitchen desk, and book areas need my attention the most. Bathrooms are cleaned weekly and usually, I do it while I'm already in there. Bathing your kids is a great time to clean their bathroom. (See my Five-minute bathroom cleaning post here.)
5. Budget & Finances: This is not my favorite or one that I feel like I have the most experience with but I have learned it out of necessity. My best advice is to put together a simple filing system for your home (I wrote a post here). Make it really simple so you'll use it. As for budgeting, there are tons of great apps out there but we're still pen and paper kinds of people and one of the best eye-openers for me was to track my spending for a couple of months as we were adjusting our budget. It seems backward but I could see areas that could be eliminated and how much we spent in areas that were of necessity or where we could cut back on them too. Going over this one with your spouse is a huge help.
6. Tackle Laundry: If you have the need to do a load or two a day then just do it. It really doesn't take that long to do a load of laundry from start to finish. (Wash, dry, fold & put away is doing a load.) Take the time to organize and set up your laundry area so it's efficient and you have everything you need. I love to listen to Podcasts while I'm folding laundry or ironing (yes, I'm old school and still iron at times). I don't have a set laundry day but usually start a load early in the morning so I'm done with laundry way before lunch.
7. Have a Meal Plan: You knew this one was coming. I couldn't get by without my meal plan. It makes my days easier and keeps us on a budget for food. When I have weeks that I haven't meal planned it's a disaster. I spend more money running to the store or eating out last minute. Just sit down for 30 minutes a week and make a meal plan. Write a list of all your family's favorite meals and choose from that each week. To broaden your cooking skills try to make one new meal a week. If you're new to cooking do not beat yourself up. Keep it simple. Use Pinterest for meal ideas and make good use of your crockpot. Two of my favorite beginner cookbooks are still the good old Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. (I have two posts on meal planning here and here.) Or check out my complete, simple ultra-affordable menu planning course below:
8. Learn a New Skill: I know what you're thinking really – “I'm just trying to get dinner on the table – serious a new skill!” I'm not talking about taking a class outside your home or online – but you might like to. If this is an interest to you have you checked out Craftsy? It is a great site and I've taken a couple of their cooking classes. We have loved Blue Apron to get out of our normal cooking rut on occasion and learn some new techniques and get a great meal out of it too!
It may be that you need to learn how to use your crockpot or another appliance that will help get dinner on the table faster. You may want to learn to sew or knit. Maybe you want to learn how to reupholster furniture or make curtains. Starting a blog may be on your to-do list. Pick something that interests you and learn more about it.
Reading books on how to manage my home has been a help to me. I love to be a continual learner with God's Word being my top priority but I also love to learn more about being a keeper of my home. Some favorites that have been a help to me in my homemaking are The Christian Homemaker's Handbook, Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God, and Designing a Lifestyle that Pleases God.
9. Use Routines to Start and End Your Day: This is always my top piece of advice. I have a morning and evening routine that helps me to start and end my day well. I always share that if I only get these two things done I've already accomplished much in the day. They are just a set of simple steps to get your day moving forward and ending it so you're ready to tackle tomorrow. These routines change with various seasons of life too.
My key current steps to my morning routine are: Making my bed, time with the Lord, exercise, shower, breakfast, dishes, pets cared for, start a load of laundry, to-do list checked, take my vitamins, see what's for dinner and determine what cleaning tasks I want to get done in my home today.
My evening routine: Tidy house, dishes done, write a to-do list for tomorrow, clothes laid out for exercise, read, journal, pray.
Maybe you even have an afternoon routine that you do after lunch.
10. Keep Master To-Do Lists for Repeated Tasks: This task has simplified my days immensely. All I mean by it is I have master lists for various tasks that are repeated in my home. I keep them in my planner and they make these tasks automatic for me.
Here are some of my lists I keep in my planner and on my phone:
Holiday Meal Menus
Healthy Travel Snack Ideas
Packing lists for travel (airplane travel and car travel lists)
Movies, book, and places to go lists
Meals we would like to try lists
Christmas gift list
Master to-do list for our home (these are bigger projects I would like to get to)
Cleaning lists for daily, weekly, monthly and yearly tasks
I desire to be a blessing to my family and one way I do this is by caring well for our home. The goal for all of us is to make sure we are attending well to the priorities God has given us. As keepers of our homes, we are to be diligent in the tasks set before us. This is your job ladies, the role the Lord has called you to. Do it well just as you would do a job outside of your home. God is our employer and He has entrusted us to care well for our families and a part of that is in the way we care for our dwelling places on this earth He has gifted us with.
The beauty of the house is order;
The blessing of the house is contentment;
The glory of the house is hospitality;
The crown of the house if godliness.
I'd love your input – what tips would you give to beginning homemakers? Please share it with us in the comments.