If you’ve read my introduction on the home page of my blog, you may have noticed that aside from being a wife, mom to three kids, and a blogger, I also am a teacher. I have a bachelor’s degree in education and I work full time as an ESL teacher at an elementary school in East Tennessee. While I enjoy working with kids and I love my content area (teaching English to speakers of other languages), my first priority is my home and my family. Nonetheless, being a working woman and a homemaker is HARD. It is hard whether or not you are married or have kids. But certainly, having kids does make it even harder.
I think everyone else who also wears multiple hats would agree that the hardest parts in all of this are finding balance and struggling with guilt. Even though we honestly and wholeheartedly desire to give the best to our families, our jobs are so demanding that we feel like at times, we give our families the leftovers instead of the first fruits. Many women today are in a position in which they have to work outside the home to support their families, whether for a season or indefinitely. That is the position in which I am now. Don’t get me wrong: I count my blessings every day. I am thankful that I have a job with which I can help support my family, that it is a job that I truly love, and that I have the health to work both at my school and at home. But on weeknights during the school year, I only get a few hours at home with my kids every night, and those hours often feel rushed. Needless to say, I cherish weekends and summers with all my heart.
My message for myself and for you is this: God sees your heart. God knows in how many directions you are being pulled. God sees the strain on your mind and your emotions, and he is in your corner. God has you in this crazy-wild-exhausting season of life right now for a reason. God WILL take care of you. It does NOT have to be perfect.
I think that there are several things, both practical and theoretical, that would be good for all of us as working homemakers to remember:
1. We need to give ourselves grace and learn to accept imperfection. This will bless not only you, but also the other members of your family. You cannot extend grace to others which you have not yourself received. Your home does not have to look like Pinterest. Neither does your child’s birthday party. If trying to pull off something like that will make you feel closer to your purpose in Christ, go for it. But if it will only add extra stress and guilt, and if it is fueled by comparison to others, then it is not a healthy idea.
2. Try to spend as much quality time with your husband and kids when you are not working. There is a magic word here. That word is NO. In order to have time for your family after work and on your days off, you are going to have to say no to other things to make yourself available to them. This may include many good things, such as volunteering. But, there will be time for other things that you desire to participate in in other seasons of life.
3. Make a habit of using a timer daily when cleaning your house. It is so hard to keep the house clean when people are living in it even for women who stay at home, let alone working moms. It can become so easy, in just trying to get all the cleaning tasks done, that you feel like all you do is clean. Who wants to clean all the time? Then you feel even more guilty for not spending time with your kids. But you also don’t want to live in filth, so what do you do? This struggle has been all too real for me. When I started putting a cleaning time in my night routine, that was a true game changer. After all of my kids to bed, I set the timer for 30 minutes, and I start in one room. The room is different every day (e.g., Living room on Monday, Bathroom on Tuesday, etc.). If I finish that room before the timer goes off, I move on to another room or another task. My house was so much cleaner than when I tried to do too much at once. I felt so much more liberated.
4. Plan a freezer cooking day. This is something that I love to do, and there are so many resources online that provide shopping lists, instructions, etc. You will need to block out several hours on a day off, or if you are doing a lot of meals, maybe even a whole day. You will also need to make space in your freezer. Then, when your freezer is stocked with all the meals that you have prepared, you just need to thaw out a meal in the morning before work, and pop it in the oven when you get home. There are also many freezer crockpot meals, which can cook while you are at work. This is wonderful for people who don’t want to cook every day, but who still want to provide healthy meals for their family.
There is a lot more that I could say on this post, but I will leave you with this: No matter where you are in life, whether you want to be there or not, just remember that what you are doing matters. Your job matters, no matter how torn you feel. Your homemaking matters, no matter how imperfect it may be. Your marriage matters, no matter if your spouse is supportive of you or not. Your relationship with God matters, no matter how guilt-ridden you may feel. I can guarantee that you are doing WAY better than you think you are. Don’t give up, and remember that all of your work is of eternal value, and most of all, that YOU matter.
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