Help for the Overwhelmed Homeschooling, Homemaking Mom

I’m sure I sound like a broken record when I post about homemaking, ya’ll, but I really, really am out of my element when it comes to anything remotely homemakerish. Really.

I’ve tried sewing. I bought a machine after Thanksgiving one year on Black Friday. After almost pulling my hair out to get the stupid machine set up (while reading the little manual), I made three clothing items that were supposed to be aprons for the three girls. I’m not sure anyone could have really known they were aprons, and the whole thing was just so frustrating I packed the machine up and never used it again. Strike one.

I am not a home decorator. I have no curtains- just bare mini blinds and shutters. Our color scheme could be considered whatever works. I don’t care about paintings or art work on the walls. I only frame and hang pictures of the family (in $5 Walmart frames). When I was first married, I tried really hard to care and to attempt to have color coordinating accessories and cutesy decorations, but I lived with a constant frustration that I wasn’t getting it right and that I just needed to buy one more thing to make it really look good. I finally gave up and breathed a sigh of relief. Strike two.

I am not- most definitely- a cook. I’ve learned enough to keep us from starving, but that really is about it. My children didn’t know what to think a few years ago when I had surgery and people brought in meals. They actually had edible food that wasn’t one of the eight or so dishes that I can actually cook (not that I’m counting). In fact, one of the meals was a big hit with the kids and Jason, and I commented that I’d have to ask the cook for the recipe. Everyone got really quiet, and then Kathryne looked at me, and with total honesty said, “Mama, honey, I’m not sure it would really taste the same if you did have the recipe.” Strike three.

Homemaking help for homeschool moms
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As a young wife and mother, this lack really worried me. I did spend quite a bit of time struggling with the discouragement of not measuring up as a homemaker. Thankfully, through wise, older mentors and by the grace of God, I began to see that my worth as a person didn’t depend on my homemaking skills. And I learned to look at what was really important and focus on those things instead of on the “trimmings” that really didn’t matter in the long run. There have been a few key things that helped me to be a less discouraged and overwhelmed homemaker through the years.

I learned to seek my husband’s opinion and prioritize from there.

It became obvious as kids were added to the family that I couldn’t do everything. I couldn’t continue to struggle in all areas of homemaking and be a good mother and be a homeschool teacher and maintain my sanity. In the midst of my craziness came an excellent, inspired idea from a godly, older than me homeschool mother. Her idea was to make a list of every single thing that might vie for a wife and mom’s attention. Then take the list to your husband and have him give priority to the things on the list- more important, less important, not important at all, extremely important. Then, instead of scrambling to do every single thing I thought I needed to do, do what’s important to him.
This is really an excellent idea if you think about it. First, God intended for our husbands to lead the home. It’s not a sexist idea and it doesn’t mean they are to carry a big stick and grunt out orders to us, but it does mean that they are responsible to God for what happens in the family. So, what they consider important matters. Also, we women tend to think emotionally. It’s how we’re wired. Men, in general, think more rationally. So we view all we think we have to do, and it builds and builds in our minds until we’re crazy. Our husbands look at the list and think- “Now why are you doing all this stuff? And why would you even want to rotate the art work on the walls every month anyway?”
Jason gamely filled out the list, and I was amazed to find that some of the things I had been stressing over weren’t important at all to him. And some of the things that had been getting the short end of the stick were really important. It was very freeing to let go of some of those things that weren’t important. (By the way, that wise and godly woman has a couple of books on sale on Amazon now. I can guarantee she has some godly wisdom to share.)

I learned to honestly evaluate why I tried so hard to do some of the homemaking things I attempted.

This wisdom came from a book I read as part of a Bible study group- When People Are Big, and God is Small. The point of the book is that so many times the decisions we make are because we are more focused on what people are thinking or doing than on what God wants us to do. In regards to homemaking, this made me take a step back and consider why I wanted to be a “good homemaker.” Did I want to learn to sew because I felt like it was a way God would have me provide for my family and meet their needs? No, I wanted to be able to chime in when other women at church were talking about that dress they hand smocked or the baby quilt they made for that shower gift. Was I decorating my house because I wanted to provide a peaceful, loving environment for my husband when he came home each day? No, honestly, I was doing it because I felt it was expected of me, and I didn’t want to let people down.
When I really took time to evaluate the things I was so frustrated about, the reasons for doing them weren’t the right reasons. Instead I needed to step back and start seeking God’s will instead of being a people pleaser. One way to do that was through pleasing my husband (remember that list?) and seeking to minister to others. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong if you are a great seamstress or if you have a knack for decorating or are an amazing cook. It just means I was trying to do those things for the wrong reasons.

I learned the futility of comparison.

This is one I think I’ll always be learning, but it’s coming along. Comparison has been a trap for wives and moms for all of time I think. We think of it as more pronounced in older times when who you were and your standing in society was of preeminent importance. But it’s still a pervasive trap and can catch us without us being aware.
Among moms it goes something like this, “Well, Johnny just slept through the night last night. He’s only six weeks old. Isn’t that amazing?!” In the back of your mind you picture yourself pacing the floor with a whiny toddler at 4am this past morning, and you wonder what you’re doing wrong. “Kate said a full sentence yesterday! Our pediatrician is amazed that she’s already talking. She’s only eight months old.” And in the back of your mind you’re thinking of all the times you’ve had to coach your two year old to use her words instead of grunting for juice. Anytime you find yourself in a group of other wives and mothers- or reading through their blogs- you can fall into the comparison trap.
The truth is you are not in the exact position of “that other mom.” God didn’t put you in her home with her husband or her kids. He gave you a different set of circumstances. And He doesn’t mean for you to measure up to her standards. He means for you to measure up to His. And he gives grace because He knows you don’t.
Homemaking help for homeschool moms
So, take heart my friend. Don’t be discouraged in your homemaking attempts- even if they aren’t successful in your mind. Make sure your focus in on the right things. And don’t get hung up on all the rest.
If you’re looking for a way be a little more organized homemaker and feel a little less overwhelmed, pick up my free Homemaker’s Notebook here. It’s a digital file that has pages for you to print out to create a binder of materials that can help you to organize your household.
Homemaking help for homeschool moms

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