Keeper of the Home 101: Managing the Home
By Crystal Miller
I have been asked over the years, time and again, “How do you do it all?” I never really have come up with a good answer for it. I have given many different responses, my most often response should have been, “Hard work and a basic understanding of home management helps tremendously!” But I am not always that quick when I talk with people. However, I really do not think I am unique. I know other women who are more organized than I am and have smooth running homes and I am awed by this! As I look at the women who I respect and admire for all that they do I notice a common element; devotion to caring for their homes. This devotion to the home is something seen by me and others because I believe they have a good grasp on “Managing the Home”.
Managing a home takes time, thought and a lot of work. It just does not happen as an afterthought to daily life. When we are frustrated by the way our homes are functioning this is a signal to us that we need to stop and rethink what “Managing a Home” really means. We need to ask ourselves, “Do I have my home as a priority?”, “Am I managing this home as it should be managed?”. I thought I would first take a look at a few “Home Management” guidelines for us to ponder when seeking to answer these questions. Where did I find those guidelines you ask?
I took a look at Proverbs 31 to get some basics on this subject and here is what I found (this is not a comprehensive study on the Proverbs 31 woman, just a few verses and what they say to me):
Proverbs 31:13 She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands
She is a hard worker. So often our inclination is to be lazy. I deal with this too. I watch it in my children. I see it in others. Something about human nature says “Take the path of least resistance”. We can sometimes subconsciously say, “Why do it today when it can be put off until tomorrow”. So learning how to be women who willingly work with our hands is so important. Managing a home is proactive work.
Proverbs 31:14 She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
She is looking for the best deal. It can be another lazy factor to walk into the closest store and grab the cheapest item off the shelf. It takes time to keep price books, to plan menus, to save money and seek the best possible deal when purchasing items for our home. This is being a good steward of the money that the Lord has provided for us.
Proverbs 31:15 She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
She is an early riser and makes the best use out of her day that she can.
She cooks and bakes for her family. In this fast paced world a home cooked meal is hard to find. My children knew a young girl from church and she told them that all her meals were either take-out food or Costco frozen meals. There is nothing that I enjoy more in life than having my family sit down to a home cooked meal. This blessing is missed if we are working to figure out ways to stay out of the kitchen.
Proverbs 31:18 She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.
She works long hours. I love the days that I am up early and getting lots of tasks done and I am productive all day long. Later at night when I drop into bed there is a feeling of satisfaction that is like no other. I am thankful that the Lord has given me the strength to do my job and I am eager to do it again tomorrow.
Proverbs 31:21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
She plans. Planning is such an important key to managing a home. You have to look ahead, not just for winter, but for the day, the week, the month the year, etc.. You need to know what is coming up and you need to plan to be prepared for it.
When you have a long day away from home, driving home is not the time to be thinking about dinner. Yesterday or last week was. When it comes time to buy curriculum for the school year I know the money will be there to do this because I have been planning for this all year and have made provisions for the expense. The school year did not come to me as a surprise that now I have to deal with. Of course things can happen in life and plans don’t always work as we wanted them to, but that is not a reason to not plan.
Proverbs 31:27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
She is the one in charge of her home. If they ways of her household are not as she would desire than she needs to work to change that. The work of home management is a roll up your sleeves and dive right in kind of work.
Proverbs 31:31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates
What she does gets noticed! I love that part. When your husband just loves the meal you cooked for him, doesn’t that make your heart just sing? When someone says how nice your home looks or how sweet your children are or what a beautiful garden you have, it makes you just want to praise the Lord for His wonderful blessings again and again.
These verses give us some guidelines to think about as a homemaker. These are glimpses of a woman who is managing her home and we can learn from this what areas we can focus on in our own homes.
The next aspect of managing a home that I want to share is something that I mention often, in order to manage a home and oversee the “ways of my household” I have to be here and I have to make this job my priority.
For me this has meant that over the years I said “no” to many things that could have occupied my time in order to devote my time to my home. I have said no to teaching Sunday school, I have said no to organizing homeschool events, I have said no to dance lessons, I have said no to basket ball, soccer and other sports. I have said no to visiting times with friends, I have said no to going places when there were better things to do with my time at home.
Of course I did not say no to all these things all the time. Occasionally I would organize a field trip for my homeschool group, for a short time I had one daughter in dance lessons, for awhile I had a son in basketball, of course I would have times to visit with friends (nowadays these visits I do have with friends are such sweet times of encouragement to me and I can thank the Lord for them). One of the biggest overriding decision factors in pursuing any desired activity was the affect it would have on my ability to manage my home.
Often I could handle them for a short period of time, but then I would find that I was quickly doing the housework, or not doing some jobs at all. I was cooking and baking less, I was not paying attention to prices in the store, not searching for the best deals so I could use our money wisely. I was buying expensive prepackaged food and I did not have a husband praising me for the fast food he would have to eat due to my poor planning. I saw many of those guidelines mentioned above being neglected and ignored as I sought after that which was more appealing to me at the time.
It is so easy to get caught up in other things in life and let the home take a backseat. This can’t be helped at times, but as a general lifestyle it won’t get you to where your home is managed and your own works are “praising you in the gates”.
Finally I know it is always important to consider your season in life. If you have babies and toddlers in the home then keep your home routines simple so they focus on basics: the home, the meals, the laundry. Don’t try to be doing lots of other things at the same time. Babies grow up so quickly and it is the perfect time to just enjoy them and focus on managing your home.
Take one step at a time as you learn to manage your home. A well managed home is part of our ministry to our families. The role of “Home Manager” is often much more involved than the world and sadly sometimes those around us give us credit for.
It is my heartfelt prayer that all of you dear ladies desiring to be a better manager of your home find the strength and direction form the Lord that is needed to do this job. This is a job to be embraced and to live it out to its fullest potential!
Clip art by www.countryclipart.com