Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How does your home operate?

The other day, in light of making our husbands a priority, I mentioned making changes to the way your home operates so you will have time and energy for romance.

I thought of some things we’ve done over the years that have helped us in this department:

Teach your children to obey.

I know this sounds so basic, but really, there is nothing more exhausting than spending a day arguing over every.little.thing. with a two year old. Or a thirteen year old. Obedience is the basis of a peaceful home. If you don’t believe it, read this:

Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.
Proverbs 29:17

Peace. Doesn't that sound wonderful?

There are lots of books, lots of methods, that all incorporate the basic biblical premise that parents are to be in charge. I used to have lots of legalistic opinions on this subject, but the longer I'm a parent, the more I agree with Kevin Leman, who says (my paraphrase), "It really doesn't matter so much what you do. Just do something, every time."

Of course we need to be reasonable in our requests, but in general, children can be taught to obey “because I said so.” (I love John Rosemond’s book by the same title). Kids may whine, cry, fuss, and argue, but the fact remains: God put you in charge. Don’t apologize for it. Just calmly expect obedience.

As James Dobson says (my paraphrase), Children can’t adequately raise themselves. Don't believe the lie. You are the best person for the job. Your kids need you to prepare them for adult life, and that includes submitting to authority and following instructions exactly.

Have a plan.

If you don’t have some sort of plan, kids are masters at capitalizing on your indecision. Don’t have a plan for supper? “Aw, Mom, we haven’t had pizza in YEARS!” Don’t know what you’re going to do today? Watch out! Kids have a way of monopolizing your time so that you can’t get even your most basic to-do’s done (how many times have I looked up and haven't even had a shower?).

Planning, for me, helps give me backbone. I can matter-of-factly say, “No, we are not making a papier-mache volcano today because today is laundry day. Messy project day is Thursday,” or, “I have fifteen minutes before I start dinner. Let’s read a story!”

Whether it’s planning a menu (join up with Laura over at Org Junkie to get inspired), having a weekly plan, or planning a basic routine for your children’s day, having a plan relieves you of the stress of uncertainty. Kids will press their own agenda with no regard for yours whatsoever. The little despots.

Uncertainty on your part also stresses your kids. When they know exactly what to expect, they don’t have to act out in order to feel around for where you decided to place the boundary today, which might be in a different place than it was yesterday. It’s a win-win situation.

Routine is your friend, not just in the preschool years, when you are laying the foundation, but as years go by and your kids take on more and more responsibility for themselves. If you establish a few principal routines such as "Work before play," "Clean up before dinner," or "Make your bed before you leave the house," you will reap the benefit for many years to come.

Of course, planning for romance is foreign to most of us tired moms, but let me tell you, it is much better to plan for it than be surprised at 11:00 p.m., when your eyelids are already glued to your eyeballs. Send your husband a text message, email, voice mail or phone call early in the day. "I’m looking forward to tonight," may be all he needs to get home on time and help out with the evening routine. I dare you to try it.

Start early.

Evenings are a beating. My husband generally doesn’t get home until 6:30 or 7:00, which means there is precious little time to get everything done after dinner. You have to get creative. Who says you have to start dinner right before you are going to eat it? Chop the carrots for dinner at lunch time and put them in the fridge. Give your babies a bath after their nap. Refuse to check email in the evening. Make kids do homework before dinner.

This all goes hand in hand with having a plan. I can stew and fuss all I want, but unless I have some expectations that I communicate C.L.E.A.R.L.Y. to my kids (“I will be happy to feed you dinner when your lunch box is put away and your backpack is hung on a hook.”) all I’m doing is making myself stressed. It’s very simple. Place the burden directly on the shoulders of the small people who are responsible for it. They can do it. Really.

Okay, that’s enough for today. I have a few more thoughts, but my POD is awaiting me, and besides, I sense myself stepping up on my soapbox, and I don’t want to scare you.


Laura said...

Good stuff! Soap box away! We have a 4 kids and with it being basketball season, our evenings right now are crazy. But we have a rule - have homework - will travel. Bring it with you! We have studied for many a test in the bleachers. The crock pot is also my friend during this season. Even if it is to just buy a chicken at the deli in Wal Mart and put it my crock pot - it is there when we get home. And it falls of the bone. Simplicity is the key. I have to keep everything as simple as I can for the troops or things get out of control. The tv is off in the evenings and computer is saved for the weekend. There are very few exceptions to this rule. It makes the atmosphere in our home so much more peaceful.

Peapod Four said...

I totally agree on the obedience thing. It is well worth the effort. And effort it is! No doubt. But the result is a much, much happier home.

Anonymous said...

Hello - I'm a recent reader of your blog and I enjoy it. I only have one child right now, but I will say the thing that scares me the most about having a large family (and we would like one!) is illness. Maybe you have written on this before, but how do you deal with colds, stomach flus, ect? Doesn't it knock your family out for a couple of weeks? Thanks :)

Unknown said...

I can't tell you how much I enjoy your blog. It's been such a blessing to my life. Heck, after your sex post, I think you're my husband's new favorite blog since he's been reaping those benefits. :)

Jennifer said...

I just want to take a moment to thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge. I am a soon-to-be-stay-at-home-mom (Eli is due Feb. 15th). Your blog is so helpful and encouraging. Thanks for sharing your heart so openly!!

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

Great advice here, Katherine!

Lizz @ Yes, and So is My Heart said...

Thanks for the advice. I'm getting a little nervous about welcoming baby 3 soon. Your recents posts have been very encouraging.
Oh, and we're making trail mix later today. I've no doubt it will be a hit. Have fun with the POD.

Anonymous said...

I love your Soap Box!! You always have great things to say from a Godly perspective. I wish I'd had your blog when my kids were little. Now, I can nod my head and agree with you and know that what you are stating is "dead on". Thanks again for being so real for all us strangers in Blogland. Melanie in Oregon

Elspeth said...

Advice I can use! Thanks, Katherine for your practical, straight to the point way saying things.

Lori - Queen of Dirty Laundry said...

Once again, just what I need to hear!

We have a consistent expectation for our girls: Do What We Say. Lately, however, I have grown weary of constantly correcting and reminding. Weary, I tell ya!

I really needed your reminder about planning. Because it's true! The constant correcting and reminding is mostly due to the fact that there's no schedule or plan right now, and...well, you get the picture.

So my goal? Make a plan, communicate that plan, and stick to the plan. I think I may see a light over there at the end of the tunnel!

Julie said...

I recently started reading your blog and want to thank you for sharing your wisdom! I have one child (so far) - a daughter who just turned 1 and I appreciate your advice as a fairly new parent. Thank you for the reminder that I need to teach her to obey and that children need us as parents to be in charge. I also want to thank you for your posts on the sex as I needed that reminder also!

Queen to my 3 Boys said...

Ditto to Stacy! My husband loves your posts - and hasn't ever even read one!

Mommy-fied said...

I needed to hear this from someone today. I just disciplined my son and was wondering if I'm too strict a mom.

But yes I agree. Obedience does help keep my household sane esp when hubby's at work almost 11 hours on weekdays(incl travelling time). Making sure my kids go to bed early every day means hubby and I get our time together to catch up and... "you know what".

Laura said...

Well done, I couldn't have said this better myself! Routine is so key that is very true.

Great lessons!

Anonymous said...

So great! Thanks for sharing. You are hilarious. Keep it coming! And we love those resources as well. ;)

kittyhox said...

Love these kinds of posts!! What you said about picking something and being consistent is great advice.

I'm not sure what obedience even looks like with a 20 month old. And a very busy one with extremely selective hearing, at that. Or maybe they are all like that? When does this obedience thing begin and what are the first/baby steps, I'm wondering. I'll have to check out some of those authors you mentioned.

Oh, and I just got my first Bonnie household book, which I believe both you and your sister recommended on your blogs. It is so AWESOME!! Super practical and effective. Minimum Maintenance is the most brilliant housekeeping idea ever.

Good luck with your Pod, etc.!

Anonymous said...

Yes, AMEN! Obedience is pretty much our biggest thing with the kids. It does make for a peaceful existence! And what's more, we started it when they were babies, so now at almost 4 & 5 we can take them anywhere and they are well-behaved for the most part - people are always remarking at how wonderfully behaved they are, and truly, I see it as nothing to boast about, it's just obedience that we have expected. Period.

So, I am right on this soapbox with you!!!

Debbie said...

Thank you for sharing these simple, but important ideas. Since the birth of baby #5 things have been a bit crazy. Even during the end of the pregnancy life was a bit chaotic. It is time to get back to some semblance of order around here. I can see I have been too lax in some areas. You are always writing about things that hit home for me. Thank you so much!

Laura said...

Golly, are you wise or what. This is post for the ages - or at least for my ages.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Very well said! Sometimes hearing the truth no matter how painful, is necessary to "get it". Put first things first and do what it takes to get what needs done,done!