How do we love thee? Let me count some ways…

I have always found it remarkable that sometimes people think that being a homemaker is a somehow limiting occupation. Like there isn’t enough to do. Before I go on to some specific ideas, I’d like to just say a little something about this. I am fairly certain that if you gave yourself five minutes, some scratch paper and a pencil, you could come up with a list of at least thirty widely respected careers that could fall under the heading of homemaking. What I mean is that if you are a homemaker, it isn’t like there isn’t any scope. A homemaker needs to be a great many things on a shallow level, but if she wants to get deep in some area or another, that simply adds richness to the home. It adds life. It adds love. Think of a few ideas here with me. Interior design, Cooking, Baking , Pastry Chef, Landscape Architecture, Musician, Artist, Event Coordinating, Educator, Accountant, Tailor, Farmer. A woman at home can dabble in almost anything – not wasting her time, but learning her craft.

But if you are all on board with the thought of loving your calling at home, but simply having trouble with the tangible ideas, here are a few:

1) Love the unlovely. Do something nice for the place you don’t like. This is one of the reasons that I knit dishcloths and buy nice soap for the kitchen sink. Not because I was so overwhelmed with love for the sink, but because a nice cheery dishcloth, cute tea towels, and yummy soap work together to make the kitchen sink a place that I have put some love, not just a bunch of stuck-on oatmeal. I always love the final step of rinsing out the cloth and hanging it to dry, making the sink look all cheery again.

2) Buy a book, and read it. Spend some time trying to absorb more information about what you do. Read a cookbook. Love of things can be contagious. Find a person who is so full of love for that thing, and listen to them talk about it. Find a passionate cook, and read what they have to say about it. I have read books on baking bread, books on laundering methods, books on interior design, and books on decorating cupcakes with strange combinations of candy products. Does this obligate me to a life of baking our bread, precision laundering, and perfect decor? Of course not. But it gives me more respect, more understanding, and more excitement about what I have to do.

3) Get some goals and work on them. I once made bagels every day for a week until I got them right. It was the same recipe, and it took me that long to master it. Did the same thing in our early marriage with baguettes. Turns out that things don’t always work the first time, but if you actually want to be able to do it, keep trying. Figure it out. I bet your husband won’t mind if you decide to master roast beef, or homemade pasta, or the perfect cookie. There is a lot of joy and satisfaction in achieving goals, as well as lots of opportunities to give up. Don’t.

4) Get your head in your home. If your head is always some place else, it is no wonder that your affections are also. A good way to refocus is to spend a couple days without any online activity. Give yourself a few minutes in the evening to check your e-mail and such, but otherwise spend your day mentally at home. Just give it a whirl. Although I think there are a great many fine things about social networking and iPhones, and all manner of technological advances, sometimes it just bogs you down. If you were really trying to get something done, would you invite thirty people over to run around the house with you showing you their family vacation photos, favorite songs, games they are playing, things they found shopping, or jokes they heard? Can you imagine the horror? But we do this all the time, and then wonder why we are feeling mentally fuzzy and zonked. Your mind is a busy thing, use it to help you with your own work, not the petty business of others.

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37 thoughts on “How do we love thee? Let me count some ways…

  1. Yes! Good way to to start my morning! And now off the computer and down to make more toast, clean up one of the toddlers, change the baby’s diapers and get the preschooler ready for school! Hooray for meaningful repetition and thank you for writing! Every time you do somehow God uses it to fill my heart with thankfulness — even, and maybe most especially, when I am exhorted in an area I have slacked off in.

  2. Your suggestions are so good and practical. I’m a seasoned homemaker, well into my 50’s, and you’ve given me some insight into why I don’t like doing certain chores and have never liked doing certain chores. Working on “loving the unlovely” immediately might change my attitude towards those responsibilities. Also, can attest to the truth that “get some goals, and work on them” is a great approach to mastering some skills and accomplishing something that will bless your family and home. My husband still speaks fondly of “the year of the Key-lime pie” when I made at least three versions of Key-lime pie a month until I produced one that really put a smile on his face… Thanks for the great encouragement today!

  3. Thank you! I LOVE all your blog posts and look forward to them!! I am always so encouraged after reading them.

  4. Wow! I had never thought of online socializing from that perspective. I am getting off the computer now! Thanks!

  5. This is fantastic advice. Especially putting some love into the unlovely places (hello, laundry closet) and taking a break to clear my mind, which really has been “feeling mentally fuzzy and zonked”. Thanks so much!

    Tauna

  6. Reminder: Right after breakfast check Femina. I’m the kind of person that stress can easily bog down into a blinking eyed zombie with scarcely the mental capacity of a particularly slow potato. So I check my e-mail 16 times and wonder why folding the laundry sounds like an unreasonably difficult task. Sounds like it’s time for brisk walk to the coffee shop and a couple hours packing boxes with some Christmas music playing. As my husband reminded me – we aren’t the only people who had to pack up and go cross country at Christmas time :) At least I’m not pregnant and on a donkey. (Pregnant would be nice, but I could still do without the donkey. Praise God for Henry Ford!)

  7. Thanks so much for these examples, i’m putting an action plan together, (not to mention an Amazon order). Sorry if requesting examples of how to fall in love with home sounds a little basic to you. In my family a love of home making deffinately skipped a generation. As a child I recall clearly how relieved my dear Mum was to get back into the workforce when my youngest brother began school. It was as if she was finally enjoying self-esteem after her 12 years in stagnation. She loved us and respected Motherhood, but not the life at home. So you see how invaluable blogs like yours are to those who like me really want to ‘love the little years’ but are seeking a bit of tuition. I’m truely grateful.

  8. Love these ideas… and that last paragraph was a much-needed boot. :)

    I discovered your posts on the Desiring God blog, read your book and was truly encouraged by it — and now I’m here for more! 😛

  9. Please show me one of your washcloths that you knitted. I would love to do that, too, but need some direction on how you do it. My FB page is ‘Janice Ellis’ if you want to send a personal message or a link to how it’s done. Thanks so much. I love your site and learn so much from it. : )
    Janice

  10. It’s funny how simply hearing someone else say “I once had to do something over and over and over to get the hang of it” can mysteriously make it seem not so tiring having to do something over and over myself! I guess just knowing that I’m not the only one who may need to actually practice making pancakes gives me a bit more energy to keep at it. That’s also a great tip about reading up on a subject I’m not all that excited about. I wonder if I can find some books on the joys of cleaning out the fridge. I’d love to get excited about that 😉

  11. Love the last paragraph, especially. I have a love-hate relationship with social networking. For me, I find that it feeds discontentment as I see the fabulous things others are doing. I have to severely limit it and get my head in my own home. A friend told me that people can make their lives look like anything they want it to online. Very true.

  12. LOVE! love this. love precision laundering too, but that’s a big time hog. and hey, thanks to some love-of-cooking-filled texting, i’ve been messing around with ENJOYING making some food, so i testify to point 2. and point 1’s specific illustration is totally true for me too. who doesn’t want to wipe dirty kids and dirty counters (but only in that order) with a pretty handmade thing?

    and @Sarah! – you are making me want to re-register to comment with an exclamation point after my name. it’s way more fun that way.

  13. oh, wait, one other thing – @janice, this post has some of her amazingly cute dishcloths – http://www.feminagirls.com/2009/09/29/because-you-can-never-take-a-metaphor-too-far/ . and in the comments there are links to a couple of patterns. and here are two more just because i’m tired and it seemed like fun to look at them.

    ballband dishcloth (really cute, no matter how boring this pattern link is) – http://www.elmore-pisgah.com/ballband%20dish%20cloth.txt

    grandma’s favorite (or one of it’s 18 other names) – http://majorknitter.typepad.com/photos/patterns/dishrag_and_magazine_photo.html

  14. Thank you for this post! I found it through LAF. Something that’s really helped me in my homemaking is playing with scheduling. I limit the number of times per day/week I do certain tasks, otherwise I get burnt out. I also try to find a time of day of week that doing given chores will seem the least cumbersome to me.

    For example, I only do ironing once a week. It’s not that I really mind ironing, it’s just that getting everything out and doing it is mentally overwhelming. If I have it in mind that it only happens on Wednesdays, it’s a lot easier for me to get it done.

    With dishes, I only do them once a day if I can help it (twice if we have company or I’m doing a lot of cooking). While I like going to bed with a clean sink, there’s something that I don’t like about having the breakfast dishes waiting for me all day. Not to mention that it can cut into my sleep time if I don’t get around to them right after dinner. So right now, doing the dishes after breakfast works the best for me, and I have a clean sink for the better part of my working day.

  15. Love this, too! I love that illustration for internet sociability. I knew that stuff fogged me up and hurt my day, but this helps me get an idea why.

  16. Cheers Rachel, great words of wisdom! Hope your birthday was great, the twins turned four! Amazing. Many Blessings.

  17. I was thinking similar things a few days ago and wrote a post called “I’m a Mommy, not a Mompreneur”. Days at home, especially with small children, can keep us so busy. Our families, and making a lovely home for them, are our highest priorities! Here are links to my posts:
    http://momsinneedofmercy.blogspot.com/2011/11/im-mommy-not-mompreneur-part-1.html
    http://momsinneedofmercy.blogspot.com/2011/12/im-mommy-not-mompreneur-part-2.html

    I would love to read some books on laundering methods! I find it fascinating :) Can you add in the titles (or in the comments)?

  18. And moms of special needs kiddos also take on the titles of pharmacist, nurse, insurance billing expert, and medical equipment technician! Moms can make tube feeding more beautiful by making or purchasing cute tubie huggers for baby’s new “belly button” and can surround the hospital-room nursery with cute stuffed animals who also have tubes.

  19. Loved the pictures of the dishcloths! Since I don’t know how to knit, I decided to crochet one. Thanks so much! : )

  20. Hi,m a new reader of ur magazine m m newly wed so this article is prety useful for me because u keeping my head in home is a challenge for me . I think I ll use this article to make my life easier.

  21. Just last week I found something new and fun to help me enjoy washing dishes and prepping for dinner. I put on an audio book. Began listening. And soon the kids piled in and sat on the floor to listen too. A cherished time indeed.

  22. Thanks so much for this post! Saw your posts on Desiring God, followed you here and recently bought your book. They are all a HUGE encouragement! @Bobbinoggin, the audio book is a great idea! I’m going to use that for sure.

  23. Right on, appreciate this! I was just trying to explain to a friend that I don’t LOVE to cook (she noticed all the unusual dishes I make) but that I love my family so I have worked hard at challenging myself with cooking to make it more interesting for me. I find ways to embrace the work load I have been given, to make it more inspiring for me and less of a drudgery. Oh I agreed so much with all your points!

  24. Thank you so much! Coming from a culture which puts way too much focus on girls going to college and getting an outside career, I am thankful that I had a mother who chose to stay home with my brother and I. Both of my parents fully support my doing what I want to do, provided that it is in the will of God. My heart is in my home, and I am looking forward to devoting serious time honing my homemaking skills and learning new ones. Your article really encouraged and inspired me.

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