Principles of Home Management (also: how to have kids, homeschool, farm, and adventure without losing your mind)

If that title doesn’t catch you eye what will? I’ve been at this marriage thing for six years and this parenting thing for almost five years, so I’m pretty inexperienced at both! The few lessons I have learned are probably no-brainers for most of you, but for me they have been earth-shattering revelations. Today I want to share my top three principles I’ve learned to be a happy human living in my situation. I’ve got a great life to live and spectacular people to share it with, but I’ve also got some hard things. We all do, don’t we? Today I’m sharing three principles that have helped me intentionally choose the greatness of my life and either minimize or cope with the hard stuff.

Maybe these will resonate with you, maybe not, but as my sister says “this is free therapy for you!” Here’s to happy living in any circumstance.

Principle 1:

Preparation is key. Prepare for everything, and I’m not just talking an extra pair of clothes for the whole family in the back of the car. Prepare for meals. Prepare for school time. Prepare for riding in the car. Prepare for nap time, bed time, bath time, and set timers in your phone to help you remember what needs prepared for next. It’s not like you can just toss your kids in bed at the end of a long day and say “see ya in the morning!” A good sleep takes preparation. A meaningful family devotional takes preparation. A marriage that withstands the agricultural industry and weather throughout the summer season takes preparation.

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I’m slow on the uptake, but did you know you can set a million alarms on your phone for specific days of the week and give them fancy names?!?!?!? Been using this feature this week to keep our rhythm moving steadily and have been shocked by the results. I don’t adhere to the sound of the alarm and hop to do whatever it is telling me, but I find it easier to have a specific time of day for activities and to have a reminder when it’s time to clean up and move on to the next thing. This really helps me avoid the social media and blogging trap. Yes, blogging is a trap like all other things.

Also, the sound of a gentle alarm on Mom’s phone is waaaaaaaaay better than the exasperated tone and ever intensifying pitch of Mom’s voice. Kids can’t fight a timer.

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Principle 2:

Mom must be awake before children. This one is so so so so so so so important. I struggle with this one during the summer. Ty’s wonky work hours (insert long hours) mean I’m waiting up for him until the early hours of the next day which makes early rising that much more difficult. One of these days I’m going to flip my schedule so I go to bed with the girls and get up with Mr. Rancher rather than the other way around.

My personal failing at living this principle doesn’t make it any less true. The days I’m up ahead of the girls are much more restful, purposeful, and enjoyable. Making my bed, exercising, dressing, grooming, worshiping, reflecting, and writing are all things I like to do every day and I like to do them A. L. O. N. E. Ever tried to type with a toddler on your lap? Ever tried to take two kids on a run? I did this today (well…I didn’t run but a walk still counts) and listened to blood curdling screams the entire mile home because someone wanted to be held rather than ride in the stroller. That someone weighs 30 pounds.

Our agricultural lifestyle means I don’t get a break in the evening when Daddy comes home, so I have to find other ways to get my self-care time. The only other way is to get up an hour or more ahead of my girls and to enforce a strict naptime/quiet time policy. As my girls grow though naptime isn’t a sure thing any longer. The only time I truly have control over are the early morning hours, and I have to use them to fill my bucket so I can go about my days pouring into my daughters’ and husband’s buckets and any others the Lord sends my way.

Did you know that if you go to bed at 10, waking at 5 feels great?

Did you know that if you go to bed at 9, waking at 4 feels great?

Oh what I could do with all that free time! That’s how I managed to get a Masters Degree and teach while being a full time parent and business partner. I’m going to work on reclaiming my morning hours.

Principle 3:

Mom must believe in grace and partner with Christ in all things.

Ultimately, no matter what systems we have in place in our households, they are going to fail at times. Our kids will get sick or be disobedient or flush Mom’s phone down the toilet to get rid of the stupid timer. Husbands will be grumpy and stressed. Kids will wake in the night. Mom will watch a show during naptime rather than pursue her interests or prepare for the rest of the day (shoot, sometimes the show is totally the right choice, but most of the time I–can I say we?–need to choose the better options that train our characters and nourish our souls). Sometimes dinner burns. Sometimes we yell at our kids, at our spouses, at our moms, at ourselves.

You get the picture. Despite our best efforts we fall short of perfection and Satan would like us to believe that that makes us failures.

But the truth is that Jesus Christ performed his Atonement because we aren’t supposed to be perfect right now. He sacrificed himself so that he could walk with us along our path of imperfection and mistakes so that he could hold our hand and carry us in just the way we need carried. I need to be better at accepting this gift of Christ’s atonement and inviting his grace to fill the cracks in my efforts. His grace can magnify my little schedule so that it really does fill my soul and the souls of my family members. His grace can magnify my early morning time to achieve a happy marriage, physical health, professional development, and preparation for nurturing tiny children.

This journey is a tough one and it’s meant to be! But it’s also meant to be joyful and it can be when we look to and invite the source of that joy to be with us every day.

That’s what I’ve learned thus far on my parenting journey. Stay tuned, I’ll post more lessons as I really learn them. Meaning: I’ll share once I’ve encountered the principle in theory, tested it in reality, failed at it stupendously, and committed to giving it another try faithfully.

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