Showing posts with label Staying at home. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Staying at home. Show all posts


Being Hosts (Opening up our home)

Last week, we hosted people in our home four out of the five week days ranging from over 20 people to a handful of people to a single dinner guest. One day, we even had two separate events, one in the morning, and one in the evening. Every week on average, we have people in our home at least two days, often three. This week, though, really required us to stretch our hosting abilities and comfort levels. 

Can I tell you something? It's such a blessing. 

This culture of ours can be so very strange. The middle class (huge as it is) emphasizes making your home beautiful, picture perfect, and ready to host large groups. The newer homes feature large kitchens with islands perfect for setting up buffets full of food or drinks, with an open concept to keep everyone together even while a meal is being prepared or served. There are multiple bathrooms available. The larger living room offers more options for comfortable seating with sectionals, chairs, couches, and loveseats. Some homes even have mini movie theatres, complete with personalized recliners and elevated seating. 

Yet so often, these perfectly designed homes stay quite private. The movie theatres go almost unused since there are also large TVs in the other more commonly used rooms in the house. The family uses the home, sure, but the features that make these homes great for hosting do not get used for actual hosting.

Why is that? I cannot speak for everyone, but I know for myself there is a level of fear there that I have to work at to overcome. Part of the pressure to have a beautiful home means that there is a lot of room to fail, be judged harshly, and get burnt out. What if the people coming into my home look around and think, "This is it?" What if the kids destroy the rooms they play in, leaving little tornados everywhere for me to clean up later? What if I run out of plates or forks? What if I forgot to clean the lip under the edge of the table and my guest notices this? WHAT IF? The list can go on and on.

I actively fight against this. Well, I'm trying to actively fight against this. If someone comes into my home and thinks, "This is it?" the chances are they will not actually tell me. I may feel it when I watch them look around, or hear comments that aren't necessarily kind in nature, but ultimately, my imagination is really more of the problem here. I can only imagine what they are thinking and that does not usually work in my favor. The other side of this is a bigger issue. Am I actually closing up my home to others because of what others think? There's a word for that. Pride. The bible states clearly what we should do with this kind of pride.

Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Psalm 10:4: In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

If we are focusing on ourselves and what others think of us, we cannot also be focusing on God. We cannot be using our gifts given to us to glorify Him. That's bad! Right?? I mean, isn't that the point of our lives? To use our lives to glorify Him?

I've been wrestling with this for years. My husband and I both enjoy hosting people in our homes. We get a rush from it, energy that kind of bursts out while we prepare and enjoy our guests and then fizzles out leaving us exhausted by the end of the day. It's convenient for us that we both enjoy it, but that doesn't really make it less work. 

Hosting is a lot of work. It's helpful that we enjoy it, but that doesn't mean it's always easy. Whether or not you are aiming to impress or just trying to be prepared, your house needs to be relatively clean. I panic a little sometimes when I think of my standard of clean versus someone else's. Will they think we are huge slobs? Will they find that spot on the high chair that I keep missing, with layers of food stuck there for months? Will they notice that the floorboards in the bathroom are full of dust? Will they look at our floors and think that they are clearly not freshly mopped? 

After years of hearing that hospitality is something God requires of his children, I learned that I am setting up obstacles that He does not require. God does not require us to have every room perfectly cleaned. He doesn't expect us to spend the entire day deep cleaning areas that nobody will notice anyway. He doesn't expect every pillow to be in place, every piece of clothing hung up, every dish cloth to hang perfectly. Those expectations are worldly, placed in our minds by the enemy, giving us reasons to say no, turn away people you otherwise could share your lives with, and close ourselves off to other opportunities. It pains me to think that we have done this in the past. If God has given both of us the gift of hospitality, why would we let anything stop us from doing it?

God does not require us to be perfect, either. There are things to consider and be aware of when someone is visiting. Where should they put their coats and bags? Do they need something to drink? Do they know where the bathroom is? The list can go on and on. If this is what overwhelms you, the need to be present and ready to jump up and serve your guest, I would like to remind you that our culture works in our favor here. In many other countries, the expectations put upon the hosts are nonverbal but very important. It would be rude to not offer drinks or food. Some countries expect slippers to be provided when guests arrive. Some countries expect there to be multiple courses to every meal. America's culture is so much easier than this! Most of the time, guests are welcome to grab a drink if they want one. They can leave their shoes on or take them off. There is not a list of things unsaid that are passively expected. America's culture is casual which makes hosting quite a bit easier.

In our home, we keep things pretty casual. I keep the bathroom relatively clean, I try to sweep the floor and wash the table. I prefer to have the meal at least mostly ready if the guests are coming to eat, but I don't mind finishing it up while visiting with them. Mostly, though, I am honest with myself that when we invite people into our homes, we are inviting them into our lives. They are going to see a little bit of our messes. They are going to see me disciplining my children because that's what happens when you are parents; you have to continue to do it even when other people are around. They are going to see that some of our rooms are much less clean than others. That's okay. In fact, most people are more comfortable when they see imperfection. It's a relief, isn't it? Personally, when I notice something imperfect in someone else's home, I think to myself, "Oh good! They aren't as perfect as they seem. I can relate much more now."

There are a few things that we do in our home and with our family that have helped make it easier to open up our homes.
  1. I work with the girls almost every single day to maintain a clean room. We take out most of the toys so there is less clutter, and I expect them to put away pajamas, dirty clothes, and clean clothes that are left out every morning before they can play. I also expect them to make the bed. Most days, if the bed was made the day before, it's quick and easy to make again. Most of it is done! You just need to straighten the blanket and pillow. It's when we don't make it for days that it gets completely pulled apart and messy. If they do this every morning, it's done in less than five minutes and they do it without grumbling. It's a habit more than anything. Sure, it was hard to get them to do it at first, but after a few weeks, they figured out that it was expected and that they could play quicker and sooner if they just did it. 
  2. I have streamlined how I clean the bathrooms. Keeping the cleaning supplies stored together, it probably only takes five minutes to wipe down the sinks and counters and clean the toilets. That's all I do! There's no need to clean the shower every time someone is coming over. The floor gets mopped when I mop the rest of the house. The mirrors are on an "as needed" basis. If there are toothpaste marks or finger smudges, I grab the Windex but if there isn't, they can wait another week.
  3. I bought a sweeper that is much wider than a broom, kind of like you see in schools. I can whip around the edges of each room in just a few minutes (that's where the dust and dirt always seem to gather) and the room is instantly feeling cleaner.
  4. Keep the counters clean! I hate when the junk drawer items linger on the counter, so I don't allow it to happen. Easier said than done, right? But honestly, it stresses me out, so I've just not let it happen, mainly by purposefully finding homes for the things that regularly end up there. Anything that can go in cupboards or be put away is put away on a daily basis. I've learned to throw the dish towel and wash cloth in the laundry room right before guests arrive. The less stuff there is to clutter it up, the easier it is to clean up quickly. 
  5. We keep folding chairs and disposable plates and cutlery stored in our storage room just off the kitchen so that they are easy to grab if we need them. They used to be in our basement, but it was inconvenient to go and get them. Just the thought of dragging them through all the twists and turns and up the stairs makes me break out in a sweat, so their new home is definitely better.
  6. I keep bottled water on hand (stored with the other things mentioned above) that I take out just for our guests. We don't use them when it's just our family at home, so I don't need to worry about us running out or not having enough for everyone. Having them on hand is just one more way to make our guests feel at home (it's easier to just grab a bottle of water than find the glasses and figure out our filtered water). We don't always do this, but for bigger events, it's handy.
My prayer is that our culture can be more willing to open up our homes. With fences and attached garages, it seems harder and harder to get to know your neighbors, and more and more we find ourselves engaging with our devices instead of the people around us. My hope is that we can actively fight against the urge to shut others out, and instead connect with each other on a personal level. For us, that is done best when we are at our home.


How I'm doing eight months out

Amelia is almost eight months old, which means I am eight months postpartum. It's about time I do a little update on myself.

In July, I started my membership at the Family Wellness Center. The main reason I went there is because they have childcare available almost all of the time. I pay a hefty amount for it, but it's so very valuable. Three to four times a week, I bring all three girls there and then work out for up to an hour and a half. I cannot tell you how amazing this has been for me both mentally and physically. I also go most weekends if we are in town, but they often stay home with hubby if it's possible.

Why a gym membership, and an expensive one to boot? We have chosen to keep the girls home instead of sending them to preschool (another post for another time) so I spend a lot of time with them. Like, basically, all of the time.  Mostly that's fabulous since I choose to do that and I really can't or shouldn't be complaining about it. There's just a need at times for some seperation. I also have a need to just be healthy for myself and for them.

I tried. I tried really hard to work out at home. One of the rooms in our basement is set up like a mini gym and everything. The problem wasn't the equipment, though, it was the time. With Amelia sleeping irregularly since forever, I couldn't count on doing it at naptime. Every single time I tried, she woke up and needed me. Then, the big girls stopped napping in the afternoon. That left either mornings before they got up or evenings after they went to bed. (I tried to work out with them awake and that was laughable at best and insanely frustrating at worst. Just no.)

I was committed to the morning workout idea because I just love the idea of it, but Amelia was nowhere near the point of being predictable. If anything the only predictable thing was that she would wake up when I had planned on getting up and heading downstairs. So that just didn't work. Plus, she was waking up 4-6 times a night so I really did need the sleep. That took out the late night working out too, because re: sleep needed.

So, I got the membership, and now we go either late morning or late afternoon. There has been some adjustment with meal prep and other kinds of outings, but overall it's great. The girls are thrilled to go and the steady socialization has been just what Amelia needs since she is so clingy to me almost all of the time. 

I have found that I need a super intense workout for me to feel accomplished. It clears my head and leaves me with a good tired feeling. I go from being snappy and short tempered to being calm and annoyingly happy. This is good for my time with the girls and let's face it, everyone else, too.

As for food, I was counting my macros and using It was going well but it's a lot of work. I lost all but about 5 lbs that way (very slowly, but I was okay with that) and then I sort of stalled. I wasn't following it closely enough for it to truly work and I knew it. I was struggling because I just wasn't hungry enough to eat as much as it said I should eat. Weird problem, right? But I decided to listen to my body for a while and just eat when I was feeling hungry. The last five lbs came right off when I did that.

Since then, I've been slipping back into old habits and eating mindlessly, so I'll probably go back to counting macros or at least staying within the calorie limit. I know my weight hasn't gone up a lot, but it's fluctuating a little higher than I want. 

As for how I look and feel, I think it's going pretty great! I'm back to my prebaby weight and size, fitting into my smallest jeans and most tops. My body shape is still different with my tummy being thicker than before, but I can tell that I'm overall tighter and more toned from lifting weights. It's kind of crazy. My weight isn't really lower, but becasue my muscles are more toned I can fit easily into  clothes that were super tight when I wore them before I was pregnant. 

Being back to this point has been rewarding enough for me to stall right now. I was just so happy to have options again and feel like I have some sort of style. Ultimately, my goal is to lose another 20 lbs and reevaluate at that point. I will continue to run, lift weights, and go to a bunch of different fitness classes since that helps me all around (mind, body, and soul) and will be working on intuitive eating with tracking mixed in to keep my head in the game.

These pictures are posted in chronological order from mid July to last weekend. It's not that noticeable, but I'm still proud of the changes I've made.

And a comparison shot or two:

July to October 2015

All of these pictures show me one thing. I need to find a decent, well lit full length mirror. :)


Bit of Truth

Time for a bit of truth.

After the "honeymoon period" of the first couple of weeks, I got the flu (old news, I know) and seemed to feel better after a couple of days. But the truth was that I felt miserable. I was overwhelmed with the state of my house, felt outrun by my moving baby girl, and couldn't face the kitchen for meals and cooking. All I could think was "how am I going to do this every day?" It was such a dreadful feeling, and I felt like a failure.

But then the weekend came, we left town, had some great family time, and came back to settle into yet another routine week. This time? I thrived. Suddenly nothing was too much, I wanted to bake or cook, clean, chase the girly girl around. So what changed?

I didn't give myself time to recover. I forget sometimes that I'm pregnant and need a break sometimes. That just because I'm not over the toilet puking doesn't mean I at 100% and can do anything and everything. So after I allowed myself to rest guilt free over the weekend, I truly was able to enjoy my time and get it together in my life.

It's difficult to not be hard on myself with expectations and desires around the house. I forget that life happens and there are ups and downs.

Truth: I love staying at home and this is exactly where I am supposed to be. It's just hard to remember this when I'm not feeling good... maybe I should write this down and frame it somewhere so I won't be so hard on myself.

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New Faces

One of the things I was really excited about when looking forward to staying home was connecting with other SAHM's. I had no idea how to start the "connecting" but I knew I wanted to do it!

Right away after my grand Facebook announcement, I was told about a Mom's group through our church, the church we are still relatively new at. The fact alone that I was told by about 3-4 different people impressed me and I started to get pretty excited about it.

It meets two times a month and alternates between two mom's homes. Can I just take a moment to praise God for this group? Seriously, it is such a blessing! We've had a hard time connecting with other families at our church because of Josie's nap time conflict and the general busyness of a growing church. On top of that, a lot of the families are split between the two services so you only get to meet some of them. 

I'm so excited for the opportunity to connect with other moms (most of whom stay home) and get that adult interaction. Plus look at all the new friends I'll have that are in the same place as I am in my life. That has been a bit of a struggle for me up to this point because we were the first to have a baby in our group of friends. I love my friends and never ever want to lose touch with them, but when my kid needs to be in bed by 7:30 and they want to hang out til 11, it just doesn't work.

It's so hard to bridge that gap when we're at different places at our lives. I can no longer commit to afternoons or full evenings with friends because Josie can only do something for a couple of hours at a time. I can't justify getting a babysitter every time a friend wants to double date because me staying at home has us on a tighter budget. I do have friends that just don't grasp this and it's been hard on our relationships. 

Since so many of my friends are still working full time, I have prayed (not enough, but God still heard me) that I would find ways to interact so my busy mind wouldn't be bored (I feel guilty even typing this) with Josie when she's napping or doing something that doesn't need me involved.

So far though, every single second has been great. Seriously, on the days coming up that aren't so good, I need to remember how the first couple of weeks were and focus on how good things really can be.

Want to leave a comment? Click on the title of this post and scroll to the bottom. You'll see the comment section there. Can't wait to read what you have to say!