|Love my sign made by Kendra (At Home with K)!|
We've made some radical changes this past year in our home. One of the biggest, one that's made a huge difference, is that we no longer travel 40 miles one way to dance three times a week. It was Joy's choice, but definitely something I had been praying about. We figured between actual dance and the drive time to and from there, we were spending 7 1/2 hours minimum a week (usually more though). Joy had been feeling the stress of the hurried lifestyle with no time for anything else, and had been battling with what to do. With the addition of our Luke this year, I think we all felt the need to slow down and enjoy life's simple moments more. However, we did leave the final decision to Joy. She confidently announced last September, after going a few times to dance, that she wanted more time at home, time with Luke, and time to try other things. All this to say that now our outside activities this year have taken place during the day while dad is working (gymnastics, homeschool gym day and guitar lessons). This has made a tremendous difference.
Simplifying our lives with less trips out of our home has made our home so much more content and peaceful. It has improved the atmosphere - the entire "feel" of our home - since we've slowed down. It especially changed the evening hours. We were already accustomed to our days at home with homeschooling, but we were rushing late afternoon and early evenings to activities to the point that when we had an evening home, it was a huge treat. Now it's more the normal to be home in the evening and the outside activity that occasionally arises is the exception.
Don't get me wrong. We made it a point to do things together as a family before when we were rushing to activities (that's just it....it was more effort....a determined.make.it.a.point.to.do) because it was important, but now the small enjoyable things happen much more often naturally as a family because we're here at home more. I know this has also helped tremendously with Luke's adjustment, attachment, and security this year also. He's had a secure home routine, and I think that has made a huge difference.
When I was younger, way before I was married and had children, I knew that a wife and mother was what I desired to be above all other things. The career part waivered, but not the vision I had of being a wife and mother. As a matter of fact, I would plan out in my mind how I would fit my career into my home life and it always had to include being home with my children (when the time came for us to have children). Mothers on TV shows like June Cleaver (Leave it to Beaver), Lucy (I Love Lucy), Caroline Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie), and Olivia Walton (The Waltons) were my role models. I know I'm showing my age now. :) In real life, there was my very own mother, who was always at home with us. I knew without a doubt that was the home life that felt right for me....even as a child and teenager. Thankfully, I have a wise husband who has always supported that desire and shared the same ideas, beliefs, and values concerning our home and family. (We discussed this many times before marriage because it was very important to me, as it was to him).
Being home in the late afternoons and evenings has allowed us to create a routine that I think will be remembered far above rushing to lessons or outside our home for activities. Now when dad comes home from work, Joy and Luke rush out the door (usually barefoot) to greet him with a hug and kiss as he opens his car door, and then I'm waiting for him at the backdoor with a welcome home kiss. Oh, we did those things to welcome dad before, but now it's different. It's anticipated and slower paced, not hurried and on our way somewhere. It's hard to explain, but it just feels different.
I've been enjoying reading the book, Organized Simplicity.
The author states something that I wholeheartedly agree with. She is speaking of the time that mom serves as a taxi, carting kids from activity to activity - play dates, lessons (which by the way stretch the family finances too). What happens to the things we enjoyed growing up? Things like lazy days reading a book, playing outside....etc? The author, Tsh Oxenreider, says, "I wonder what our children's memories will be when they reflect on their upbringing - an innocent time full of play and exploration, or the booster seat on the way to ballet practice?" Ouch. That's so true and made me ponder and reassured and reaffirmed to me that we were doing the right thing by slowing down and changing our priorities a bit, concerning activities. I have great childhood memories that included playing outside alot, reading alot, eating homemade popsicles, riding my bike, and playing games. I don't want my kids to miss out on the good stuff.
With our afternoons and evenings home now, there's more time for better meals with sit down dinners as a routine and more homemade desserts (instead of saving those for when company is coming). :)
I've enjoyed trying out new recipes and Joy is learning to cook and loves it. I want her to remember us cooking and laughing together (and I'm sure she'll remember the messes Luke makes when he's "helping"). :)
There's more time for evening bicycle rides.
Or 4 wheeler rides.
Time for playing in the sandbox.
And of course, the pool.
We've read more books aloud - books that inspire - and this all after school is "officially" over for the summer. Books like these....
More time to gather together in our room and watch educational, inspiration or family movies or documentaries. Two or three years ago, we gave up our cable TV and don't miss it at all - it's wonderful!
There's more time to get back on track with routine family devotions time. There's more time to do as the Bible says in Deuteronomy 6:7 concerning teaching your children God's Word and ways - "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up."
Time for exercise. Working out several times a week has been enjoyable and provides a time when we gather upstairs in the loft....Jason and I exercising, Luke playing with his trains, Joy exercising and then reading aloud to us (I love being read aloud to since I'm usually the one that does that). We often do our devotion time at this point too.
Even simplifying our stuff. The book I spoke of that I've been reading, Organized Simplicity, has opened my eyes to all the "stuff" that needs to go in our home as well. I've cleaned, decluttered and organized our bedroom and bath closet and drawers so far. If we hadn't worn it in a year, it went. I'm still working on other rooms, but so far we've sold a few things, donated alot of things, and taken out many bags of throw aways. It feels good!
Being home more has allowed a regular nap time (for Luke - not in the car on the road much at all)...and quiet time for Joy and me. I love this too!
Home and family have always been right behind God and faith in Him, but it just feels more content now. I think somewhere along the line, we (mostly me) had said yes to too many activities. It's actually liberating to say no sometimes too! I think everyone is happier in the long run the simpler we keep it and the more we stay home. As a matter of fact, when we are away from home, Luke asks, "we going home now, Mama?" (or kome as he says).
It has also allowed more time to work on our apartment/pool house or "Cedar Loft" as we dubbed it. We're making progress there....Jason mostly. The part where he'll need me out there working with him is getting close. :)
Oh and not to mention with the price of gas, we're saving money because we try to coordinate trips to town to make the most of our time and money when we do go.
So with more time at home, I imagine you'd wonder why my last blog post is dated April 24th, right? Well for that, I really have no excuse apart from the fact that other things have prioritized my time.....not anything huge, just simple things. And sometimes my computer tends to be a time robber. I'm trying to work on that. Therefore to fight temptation, I have to press the off button. However, I have missed it and am anxious to be back to bloggin' and am trying to work this into my simpler home life routine, as well as some crafting and decorating that's long overdue too. I guess you could just say I needed a break to focus on other things, which also included finishing up our school year and winding down. And honestly, for some reason, I didn't feel I had much to offer the blogging world. Do you ever feel that way? But I'm finding myself with ideas and thoughts flooding into my mind that I'm anxious to share with my blogging friends and I'm also just anxious to be back. :)
So what about you? What do you do to create a homey atmosphere....peaceful and content in your home? What do you do to create a simpler home life? Have you made changes that have led to a more "home and family friendly" lifestyle? I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas on making your home "a home" with time to enjoy the simple pleasures and creating a content and peaceful atmosphere.
I looked up the definition of home in my trusty 1828 American Dictionary of Language by Noah Webster - the original dictionary. It says:
Home (n.) - a house, a close place, a place of rest.
I like that.... a place of rest. That's how it should be.
Then I looked up the same word in the New Webster Dictionary (1993). It says:
Home (n.) - one's own abode, the abode of one's family, residence.
I like the family part, but I think it was intended to be a place of relaxation and rest, for all the family, just as the 1828 dictionary implies. (I always prefer the old dictionary version).
Home.....it really is our haven and the center of family life......where the very best memories are made. That's why it's my favorite place to be. :)