The role of a christian wife and mother can be a tremendously difficult calling but, we can ease the difficulty level by managing our homes. There are things we can do within our sphere of influence to bring peace and joy instead of chaos and exhaustion. In the areas of children, house, meals, husbands, finances, time and talents we can make choices to manage well instead of just managing to get by!
When we have children we are committing to a lifetime of managing them! At first that management is constant, but as they grow it gets to be less and less until they oversee their own management. That seems like an awfully daunting job. There are things we can do to make our days and relationships with our children flow smoother. The first item we need to address is how we view our children. If we view them as a priority instead of an interruption we will set ourselves up for success. We need to choose to deal with each issue whether it be attitudes, behaviours, squabbles with siblings or disobedience as soon as they occur. If we will stop at the first sign of an issue we will save ourselves time and pain later on. So many times I allow a bad cycle to start where I am distracted and ignore an issue, which leads to someone being hurt, crabby, offended or crying which then leads to a screaming mom which then leads to a house full of cranky people that in turn have more issues that perpetuate the cycle. Stop this before it starts. Being willing to stop what you are doing, peacefully and calmly deal with the problem to completion. We need to interfere with the natural inclinations of our children. Proverbs 29:15 says, "The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother." We must manage our children whether it be by rod, encouragement, discipline or mediation. Guaranteed the issue will not generally resolve itself and only end in disgrace for us!
Some tips on preventing and managing issues before they arrive are to limit free time, guide and direct clearly and at eye level and communicate rules and expectations. The younger the child, the more immature the child, the less free time they should have. It is better to guide the time clearly. If there is a free slot of time give clear directions such as, "you may play in your room quietly, before you can come out and do something else you must pick everything up," or "it is now puzzle time, I want you to get 4 puzzles sit at the table and do all 4." This will keep the children occupied and focused. Many times we expect children at too young of an age to know how to manage their time well. It is overwhelming for a young child to not know what the boundaries are. They usually will spin quickly out of control. It is our job to help them maintain control until they are old enough to know how themselves.
We also need to manage our time well. If we are being distracted and tempted to push the children away we need to evaluate what is taking up our time. We may need to pull back for a while from what we enjoy if it means that we aren't focused on our children. It is a must that we are approachable and interruptable. I don't mean that we are at the mercy of our child's every whim and want. I mean we need to be able to stop what we are doing and tend to one of our most important jobs right now-them! If the Internet, phone, TV, books or whatever else that takes up your time is causing you to ignore what is going on around you, you need to manage it better!
I must mention that we need to interfere with our children. As tempting as it is to try and let them figure it out themselves when they are young this is simply not okay. Children are not born with the ability to negotiate, give grace and live selflessly. Therefore they usually cannot come to the best and wisest solution on their own. Again, it is our job to manage them and disciple them in our homes. Keep an open ear, when there is bickering or fighting we must interfere and deal with the issue.
Lastly, I want to discuss our communication with our children. It is very important that we model good communication. We need to look our children in the eye when we speak to them, especially when giving a command or request. If we look at them, speak clearly in simple language and give clear and simple steps as to what we want done we will see they will obey so much better. It is also a good idea to require a, "yes, mom." If we hear this we know they understand and heard us. This is such a good reminder for me, to take the time to find my child and speak clearly to them instead of yelling across the house!
If we are willing to guide, direct, be approachable and interrruptible we will see some chaos turn to peace. It takes determination to keep this standard. Like most things the more we put it into practice the more of a habit it becomes. In my next post I will write about the importance of managing our homes in the area of keeping up with our house and food.