10 Tips for “Keeping at Home”
Did you know that one of the “good things” in the Bible that older women are commanded to teach the younger women is to be “keepers at home”? Titus 2:4-5 says, “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” I find it very interesting that God specifically says, “keepers at home”, not just “keepers of the home” (although being keepers of our homes is part of our role), and God says that it is a good thing. Sadly, God’s “stay-at-home” mandate is just as unpopular with many women today as the recent “stay-at- home” mandates from our government officials. While we might be uncertain or even skeptical about whether our government has our best interests at heart in issuing such orders, we can be confident that God’s commands are always good and for our best. With that in mind, I would like to take a few moments to encourage you to have the right perspective of “keeping at home”. Instead of viewing being at home as some type of forced detention, I challenge you to see it as a divine opportunity and make the most of it! There is no doubt that even for those of us whose everyday lives are already centered in our homes, the circumstances surrounding this quarantine have disrupted much of the normalcy we may have had. For those who have abruptly been thrown into being at home all the time, it may feel completely overwhelming. Whatever the circumstances in which you currently find yourself, I would like to give a few suggestions to make these days profitable, joyful, and memorable (in a good way)! It is my hope that these ideas will not just help during this temporary time of quarantine, but will be practical tips that will help each of us to be better “keepers at home” in days to come.
1. Start your day right!
Get up. Get dressed. Get going. This may be unpopular, but it is important! Do not spend half your day in bed. The Bible warns against this. (Pro. 20:13) Get up early. (Pro. 31:15) If you have children, do your best to get up before they do. More unpopular advice here: do not ever spend the day in your pajamas unless you are sick. If you do not treat your role as the keeper of your home with respect, how can you expect anyone else to? Get up, make your bed, and put clothes on. This doesn’t mean you have to be “dressed up” every day, but you should wear something appropriate for the work you will be doing. What you wear to bed is not appropriate for work. (By the way, you can look pretty and appropriate for working at the same time.) If you dress “lazy”, you will probably act lazy. Corporations, educators, and others in the professional world understand how much what we wear affects how we think, how we work, and how others perceive us. Why do we try to pretend it doesn’t matter? I encourage you to dress at home in a way that shows your husband and children that you love and respect them and that you take your job of caring for them seriously. What kind of unspoken message are we sending them if we only try to look “respectable” when others outside our home will see us? Final question: How much different would our attitudes about homemaking be if we treated our role as keepers at home with the same passion, drive, diligence, and respect that we would a secular career?
Spend time with the Lord. Make this the first priority of your day. Choose this priority and guard it carefully. If you have children, teach them to respect it. Don’t tell yourself that you don’t have time. We all make time to do what is important to us. When we say we don’t have time to read our Bibles and pray, we are saying that it is not important to us.
2. Set a schedule.
A schedule can be relaxed, it doesn’t have to be rigid, but you still need to have some type of plan. If you don’t “rule your day”, your day will rule you. The Bible says that we are to “guide the house”. You are the manager of your home; manage. Remember, schedule and routines help reduce stress and provide stability and security for our families.
3. Adjust your attitude.
This should begin in the morning (one of the reasons it’s important to get up and start the day with the Lord and have a plan in place before your children get up), but it requires continued work throughout the day. You are the thermostat of your home. You set the mood and the overall attitude of the day. Choose to be grateful. NO WHINING! This isn’t just for kids. Set the example in this area. Choose to be positive. Choose to be sweet and pleasant. Choose to be in control of yourself. There are many things we cannot control, yet we tend to let those things control us. Stop focusing on things and people over which you have no control. Pray about them and let them go. Instead, focus on things you are supposed to control, primarily yourself! Ask the Lord to help you stay in control of the things He has placed in your realm of responsibility. These include your thoughts, your tongue, your temper, and your time. They also include training your children and taking care of your home. We will discuss several of these in more detail in the following tips.
4. Guard your mind. You must control your thoughts, and you need to do so biblically. (II Cor. 10:4-
Avoid wrong influences. Don’t fill your mind with things that create insecurity, instability, or that are false or evil. Fill your mind with good and godly things. (Phil. 4:8) Memorize Scripture. Choose verses that deal with areas you are struggling or need encouragement. Don’t dwell on possibilities, “what if” scenarios, fears, and disappointments. Constant thinking on those types of things will breed fear, anger, bitterness, and depression. Don’t fill your mind with impossible fantasies and unrealistic expectations.
5. Guard your time.
Don’t be idle. “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” (Pro. 31:27) (Eccl. 10:18) Don’t be wasteful. Rest isn’t wasted time, but slothfulness is.
6. Direct your children (if you have them).
Children left to themselves will probably choose the wrong things to do. They’re kids! Help them find good things to do to fill their time. Here are a few ideas: Plan educational activities. You may be “schooling” in some form or fashion right now. If home school is not already your norm, don’t stress about it. Do the best you can. However, don’t be lazy about it either. Keeping your kid’s minds engaged and learning is important. Get it done in the morning as much as possible before moving on to other activities. By the way, many museums, zoos, art schools, and other places are offering free online resources at this time. Take advantage of some of this! Plan fun activities – games, puzzles, skits Plan creative activities – painting, coloring, crafts, building, and more. Play outside as much as possible. Sunshine, fresh air, and exercise are good for them (and for you!). Even if they can’t get outside because of weather, try to find a way to help them be active indoors. Learn/practice a skill – cooking, baking, music, laundry, sewing, woodworking…help your kids learn practical life skills. Give them opportunities to practice (and fail). Schedule regular practice times for music or other lessons. Read GOOD books. Read to your children, and encourage them to read. We require at least 30 minutes a day of reading (on top of their regular schoolwork) as part of our schooling. Serve others. Help your children find ways to be a help and blessing to others. Color pictures. Write letters, notes, or cards. Rake/mow a neighbor’s yard. Call a shut-in. Encourage them to think of things they can do! Help with household chores. Teaching your children to work as part of your family team is good for them (and helps you!). This doesn’t mean dumping your work load on them. It does mean that they can and should learn to help carry the load. Responsibility is good for them.
7. Be frugal with your money.
This is always a good plan, but with many people out of work, even temporarily, this point is very important. One of the ways you can help reduce stress for your family during this time is by being an excellent money manager. This will require planning and work for you (don’t ever be deceived into thinking that being a homemaker isn’t real work), but it will save you a great deal besides money. Wise planning and financial stewardship will save you time and stress in the future. Here are a few basic tips: “Retail therapy” is a short-term fix that creates long-term problems. Don’t be sucked into unnecessary online purchases because you’re bored or anxious. If you don’t have a budget, make one. Even a very simple, basic budget will help you to stay on track with your spending. Plan your meals. Remember, three big meals a day really aren’t necessary. If you have a large family, many times a large breakfast, light lunch, and large dinner are much simpler and affordable than a “continental” type breakfast and a bigger lunch and dinner. Plan your shopping. Don’t impulse buy. Make a list and stick to it. Learn to use what you have on hand. Get creative! Pull out those recipe books and dig into your pantry and freezer. Re-purpose leftovers. Look for ways to save on “non-essentials”. What part of your budget is spent (or wasted) on luxury items or things that aren’t necessities?Learn to get back to basics. Learn to cook “from scratch”. Not only will you save money on food, you will also save money on doctor bills.Processed foods are not healthy.
8. Simplify your life.
Yes, you should have a plan, but don’t complicate your life. Most of us tend to go to one of two extremes when we’re under stress: we either let everything go or we try to micromanage and become control freaks. Neither is good. Use this time to simplify and streamline your normal routine and enjoy the time you have with your family. Take a walk. Watch a sunset. Enjoy doing simple things together. Because of the nature of the quarantine, some of our lives have been simplified without our permission. Don’t complicate it just for the sake of being “busy”. Also, when it comes to housework and homemaking, if you’re feeling overwhelmed start with the “BIG 3” each day:
Make your bed right away each morning (and have each child make theirs)
Keep your dishes done and kitchen straightened.
Pick up clutter in each room throughout the day. Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and pick up and put away as quickly as you can. If you have kids, get them to help you. They love racing the clock!
9. Use extra time wisely.
If you have not previously been home full-time, you may be realizing that when you are at home with your family all of the time being a full-time wife or mom quickly becomes a full-time job! When your house is filled with people 24 hours a day, you suddenly discover there are more meals to prepare, more laundry to do, and more housework to be done. No doubt, you may not have as much “free time” as you might have anticipated; however, if you do some of the things mentioned already, you should have some extra time you would not normally have. How are you going to spend it? Here are a few suggestions: Spend more time with the Lord. Do a new Bible study. Spend extra time in prayer. Memorize and meditate on Scripture. Read GOOD books. This isn’t just for your children. Don’t waste your time. Read a missionary biography, a book that will help you spiritually, or a book that will encourage you to grow in an area where you’re needing some help. Choose carefully and use discernment. Just because someone writes a book doesn’t mean you should read it. Finish a project you’ve been postponing. I CONSTANTLY have a list of projects that need finished or that I would like to tackle. This is a good time to start knocking a few of those out. A word to the wise: don’t overcommit. Choose one thing and finish it. When you’re done with that, you can move on to the next. Don’t commit your husband and family to completing every project you’ve ever wanted to do. Choose one for yourself (and enlist helpers if you can) and finish that one thing before moving on to something else. Learn something new or improve something you’ve let go. Many places are offering online classes or lessons free of charge or at a greatly reduced price. Lots of resources are available right now that may not be available in the future. Want to learn to paint? Sew? Play an instrument? Make bread? Garden? Again, don’t overcommit. Choose ONE thing and work at it. Serve others. For many of us, our ministry opportunities have been changed or limited during this time. You can still find ways to serve. Call a shut-in. Mail a card. Send an e-mail. Video chat with a lonely friend. All of these are good ways to serve. Never forget that our greatest avenue of service given by God is to our families through our homes. If we think we must leave our homes to serve the Lord, we need to get back in our Bibles. Take this time to look for extra ways to serve the people God has placed in your home.
10. Determine with God’s help to be a good steward.
This is basically a recap of all of the previous points, but it is so important. No matter how long this quarantine lasts (and none of us really knows), the time is going to pass. At the end of these days, we will look back and see days wasted in worry or idleness, or we will see days spent wisely. We will look back and see time spent complaining about what we are losing or time spent cherishing what we have been given. This principle holds true for all of the time we spend, but perhaps this “mandated” period will cause each of us to stop and reevaluate our priorities, our values, and ourselves. I hope that it will help us to realize what is truly important, to deepen our relationship with God and those we love, to cherish the privileges we’ve been given, and to steward wisely the precious resources God has entrusted to our care.
Mrs. Niki Lott
Christian Mother, Author, composer, and pastor’s wife