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Making Priorities & 15 Good Things I Don't Do

Most women, myself included, get overwhelmed when they read Proverbs 31. There is no way in this world I could get done in one day what she got done in one chapter. That's why it's important to understand that her picture is a portrait of a lifetime, not a summary of Super Woman's day.

We go through seasons of life where we are able to engage in different things; right now I'm mothering through the little years where all the kids are still in car seats, they all need their shoes tied by an adult, and someone else to give them a bath. They aren't quite big enough to make their own beds, make dinner, or watch younger siblings when Mommy needs a nap.

It's busy, exhausting, and rewarding. I have to remind myself not to compare my Chapter 1 to someone else's Chapter 100. I'm not Martha Stewart. She can keep an immaculate home, tend glorious gardens, and grow every vegetable perfectly because she is at a different stage of life and her priorities are different than mine. She does not have three small children, nor does she homeschool. Of course she isn't any less of a person for that, but it would be silly of me to measure myself against her.

I'm responsible for using 24 hours wisely everyday. I use 7-8 of them for sleeping. That leaves me with 16 to manage well. Managing them well means learning how to prioritize and giving the most important things the most attention. In our house, that order looks like this:

  1. God
  2. Spouse
  3. Children
  4. House
I start everyday in the Word. I can't make it through the rest of the list with out God's help so it only makes sense to give Him the #1 place in my life.

My husband prefers a good meal to a clean house or an empty laundry basket, so if I have to choose between making dinner or cleaning the shower, the former takes priority.

We believe our primary purpose as parents is to raise our children in the fear of the Lord. It's a hard exhortation to remember when there are crumbs under the table and sticky fingerprints on the window, but if it seems the only thing I accomplish in a day is giving instruction, administering correction, breaking up squabbles, reminding our children of the necessity of their salvation, and teaching them to pray for a clean heart that hates evil and wants to do good, then the most important things have been given the most attention.

I'm told by seasoned mothers whose children have flown the nest that one day you will have time to bake, and sew, sell handmade goodies and keep a spotless house, but you'll probably wish you still had the company of several little people who think you're the world.

To help keep my priorities aligned properly, there are several good things that I just don't do. One day I'd like to do them, but right now I don't have enough time or attention to give them.

1. I don't cloth diaper. I know it's more eco-friendly, and I've heard it's no more work than disposables, but I haven't taken the time to build up a stash. My washing machine doesn't get much of a break as it is and I'm not sure how I'd find the time to keep a clean supply of diapers on hand or the stomach to slosh around poopy diapers in the toilet (or is that not required anymore?) When a pack of 136 diapers goes on sale for $17.99, I stock up.

2. I don't bake my own bread; partly because Brad eats gluten-free and I cannot seem to make a loaf that doesn't taste like a hockey puck, and partly because homemade bread isn't very high on our priority list. I don't eat much bread either. The kids eat store-bought sourdough bread at lunch time. One loaf lasts us a whole week, so the time and effort it takes to make my own doesn't save me any serious coin in the long run.

3. I don't iron. I recently pulled it out for the first time in three years to iron a blazer. Marveling at this new invention, our two-year-old son asked, "Why are you vacuuming your shirt, Mom?" Wrinkle-prone items get pulled from the dryer as soon as the cycle is finished. Sometimes they get hung up on hangers and hung neatly in the closet. Sometimes they lay on top of the dryer until I need to wear them.

4. I don't bath our kids every day. I don't even bath them every other day. We (usually Daddy) bath them when they're dirty (at least once a week, I assure you).

5. I don't use natural remedies for everything. I'm a vaccinated, formula fed kid and grew up taking Tylenol for headaches. I have a long way to go before I'm comfortable knowing what herb to give for what ailment, what homeopathic drops to pour into my baby's mouth when she's teething, and what essential oil to rub into my temples when my head is pounding. I want to though, and I'm slowly learning how, but you'll still find Tylenol in our medicine cupboard.

6. I don't grind my own flours. In fact, my electric grain mill is for sale if anyone is interested.

7. I don't have a large garden. There's not a great deal of room on our city lot. We grow tomatoes, peppers, onions, cucumbers, a few herbs, and whatever happens to seed itself through our compost. It's more of a teaching tool for the kids and it satisfies my gardening itch. I enjoy making Tomato Spice Soup from our produce, but I buy and preserve nearly everything else from local farms.

8. I don't can. I don't know how. It's on my list of things I want to learn. Thankfully, my friend Jill is a great teacher and my Mom is willing to hold my hand and walk me through the process. I'm terrified of things exploding in my face. For the past five summers, I've simply cleaned, cut, bagged, and thrown seasonal produce in the freezer. Gently, of course, so it doesn't get bruised. That much I understand about preserving.

9. I don't dust every week. It's really just a country accent anyway and we're honored when folks take the time to autograph our bookshelves. Kidding. Sort of. I make an effort to dust every Friday on "Housework Day," but sometimes it goes two weeks before it gets done. The kids each get a rag too, which means our carpet is probably due for an interesting homeschool science experiment...

10. I don't sew, knit, or scrapbook. At night, when the kids are in bed and I've got some time to relax, I write. Keeping a blog is the therapy that works for me. It's a fun way to interact and learn from a community of like-minded moms and a bonus to be able to contribute to our family income.

11. I don't coupon. I don't even look at flyers. They go from the mailbox to the recycle bin. I can purchase everything I need from three stores and they're all within 5 minutes of each other. It's quick, convenient, and just one afternoon in town (if you have three children in car seats, you get me).

12. I don't go to the Ladies Bible Study at church. We homeschool.

13. I don't have a phone. I don't want one either. I'm not sure I'd have the self-discipline necessary to give it the same amount of attention I give the non-existent one now. I'm sure it'd be handy one day if I were in a car accident or stranded on the side of the road. I'm relying on the generosity of those passing by and assuming they probably have one I could borrow.

14. I don't exercise. Not deliberately, at least. I've been blessed with a good metabolism and consider giving under-doggies to thirty-five pound toddlers on the swing for half an hour, and chasing our one-speed (fast) son around all day good enough.

15. I don't serve fancy meals. I like to cook a mainly whole food diet, but I don't go all Jacques Pepin on my family. Every morning we have the same smoothie for breakfast. Every afternoon we have the same sandwich for lunch. Snack-wise, I serve simple things I know our kids love. In the evenings, we typically enjoy healthy, low-fuss dinners like Cheeseburger Pie, Taco Salad, or Coconut Curried Chicken. Sometimes we have grilled cheese, or order pizza.

How 'bout you? Are there good things that you don't engage in because you simply don't have the time? What are they? What or who gets the bulk of your attention and what gets the leftovers?

Part 1: Keeping A Growing Home | A Management Series for Moms Part 2: Keeping A Growing Home | Know Your Role! Part 3: Keeping A Growing Home | Making Priorities & 15 Good Things I Don't Do Part 4: Keeping A Growing Home | Time-Saving Home Management Tips Part 5: Keeping A Growing Home | My Daily Schedule

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