The gray morning drained all my joy. My kids, playing Baby Bear and Mommy Bear, sounded too loud and annoying while I fried eggs like a short-order cook. I wanted an escape. Between pouring more milk, and cutting twelve more strawberries, I noticed the chore list laying on the counter. Suddenly, the day off from school felt less like a break and more like an unending challenge. My desire for productivity fought against their need for extra attention, and the internal debate began: “Do I play along in their game, or start with the tasks on the list?” The baby animals somehow morphed into ninjas, and they cartwheeled into the kitchen with “hi-ya’s” and swooshing vacuum hoses held up in the air as swords. I had to make a choice.
How could I enjoy the little moments without being overwhelmed by the multitasking of motherhood? How could I create a home for my family and also keep order in my house? I often only see the dishes piled in the sink, the floors that need to be swept, and the bills to pay stacked on my counter. It is hard to ignore that my house needs tidying. It steals my focus. A clean house makes me feel like a good mom and wife. It makes my days feel worthwhile, and I believe it gives me value. Stress easily deceives me. With a busy schedule, the kids needing affection, and the duty of housekeeping, my heart starts racing and I grasp for control to make the racing stop.
In the stillness of the night, or when I am driving alone, I know what makes me a good mom. It isn’t maintaining a house, but making a home for people I love; a home where we are celebrated and known, as well as a safe environment, to explore and learn. I want to hear laughter echo off the walls. I want time to read books, teach my kids to cook and train them to have self-control and to love others well. I long to pour myself into the people I live with instead of only the structure I live in. The responsibility to care for a house, and the calling to be a mom are tightly intertwined and both within my role, but I cannot allow them to have equal power over my attention.
I noticed the sign my mom gave me two summers ago when most of our days ended in tears. I see it every day on the windowsill above my kitchen sink. On this day, I stopped to read it:
“Enjoy the little things in life, for someday you will realize they were the big things.”
I put away the milk and the strawberries. I finished eating my eggs and put the dishes in the sink, I didn’t want to miss the memory-making moments with my kids. There would be time to clean the kitchen, but right then they were putting on a concert, and I realized my whisk made a great microphone.
When balancing the tug between house and home, these are some practices I use to help manage our days and not lose sight of creating our family culture.
Creating a home requires limiting activities so we can cultivate the relationships that dwell there. I use timers to put time restraints on how long we will do certain tasks, so the kids know when I am working and when I can play. On paper, I can make any hectic, overfilled schedule possible, but in reality, I get distracted. Setting expectations minimizes conflict.
I have found the simplest way to bring our family together has been discovering the interests we all share. When our family engages in activities we all enjoy, we have fewer fights and complaints, and more laughing and learning together.
When everyone has jobs around the house to be responsible for, I am strengthened to fight the lie that, “everything is my responsibility.” Our family culture grows to be more than having fun together but also loving and caring for each other.
On that gray day when my husband came home, I hadn’t showered and the laundry wasn’t folded. It was 6:00 p.m. and dinner was half-prepped, but I had made a choice to say yes.
Yes to cuddles!
Yes to 5 games of Spot It!
Yes to extra marshmallows in hot chocolate that put smiles on all our faces!
I made a choice to build a relationship with my kids. The house was not in order, but our home was a pleasant place despite the mess, and we could do the tidying together tomorrow!
Curry Winters is a wife and mother of three wild and lovable kids. She is a producer with a loud laugh who enjoys family dance parties and getting too many books from the library. She blogs at Truth for the Trenches about God’s truth bringing hope into the daily routines of life you can find her celebrations and confessions on Instagram.
For April 2018, we are hosting a whole series about Intentionally Cultivating Your Family Culture. Check out Episode #37 with guest Lora Cook and members of the Kindred Mom team, and check back to read more essays in the series as the month unfolds. If you missed it, check out our completed March series on Becoming a Resilient Mom!
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Check out the most recent episode of the Kindred Mom podcast, Episode 37 on Intentionally Cultivating Your Family Culture!