Embracing Simplicity: #ECGsimplifies

Embrace SimplicityMotherhood has made me a little less uptight about messes, what with the pacifiers in every room, colorful toys scattered around the living room, and a bouncer seat that roves around the house and all, but I’m still happiest in a clean and clutter-free environment.

My preference for order and organization is probably the reason watching Hoarders makes my eye twitch. I just can’t hang with the piles. For whatever reason, these people stack and stuff and accumulate until their homes look more like a landfill than a habitable living environment. Possessions cover every square inch and begin to crowd out the very people who collected them.

It’s possible to do that with our lives. Hoarding is oftentimes a mental disorder, but it can also be a spiritual disorder. Our possessions, our commitments, and our leisure activities can create a hectic lifestyle, crowding out what really matters. Our hearts and our homes become so cluttered, we can’t keep our priorities in order. Sometimes it takes the absence of those things for us to realize that they have been subtracting instead of adding to our lives.

Our little family went on a staycation recently, finishing out the lease on the condo my parents rented for their Winter visit. We spent two weeks living in a smaller space with less stuff. It was glorious. When we transitioned back to our own house, I was totally overwhelmed. Though I enjoy my own decor, access to my full wardrobe, and the comfort of being home, I really enjoyed the simple lifestyle we had those two weeks. The contrast made me yearn to recreate the simplicity of our staycation in our normal environment.

I’m on a mission to embrace simplicity, to untangle and uncomplicate my life so I can focus on what really matters – being present in my relationships with God, my family, and my community.

Simplicity creates margins and spaces and openness in our lives. It honors the resources of our small planet. It offers us the leisure of tasting the present moment. Simplicity asks us to let go of the tangle of wants so we can receive the simple gifts of life that cannot be taken away.  Sleeping, eating, walking, giving and receiving love, the benefits we take for granted, are amazing gifts. Simplicity invites us into these daily pleasures that can open us to God, who is present in them all.

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun in The Spiritual Discipline Handbook

The first battlefield in my mission to embrace simplicity is my home. In considering what made our staycation so peaceful, I realized it had a lot to do with the physical environment. Everything had a place and there was little excess. I wasn’t distracted by small piles of unfinished business and the niggling knowledge of boxes that should have been unpacked months ago.

My decor style will never be minimalistic or modern, but I can make choices that will make our home a space where all who dwell and gather are filled with peace.

That starts with purging and putting together. I will systematically (because, unlike hoarders, organization is my mental disorder…) go through our possessions and release what is unused and unnecessary. I will make room for the items we love, the memories that are still covered in cardboard. As I “let go of the tangle of wants” that inhabit my home right now, I hope to create a habit of simplicity for the future.

I began this intentional effort to simplify a week ago and am finding the journey a bit draining. The work is physical, emotional, and spiritual as I take steps to free my home and my heart from excess. Sometimes the steps are small, but progress is being made one day at a time.

I’m documenting my progress on Instagram.

Follow along (and join in!) under the hashtag #ECGsimplifies.

What are some ways you embrace simplicity?

 

Advertisements

3 Ways to Jazz Up Store Bought Pizza Crust

store bought pizza crust

For me, cooking is a joy and a stress reliever. I love the process – gathering, mixing, stirring, chopping, creating – but sometimes I don’t have time to immerse myself in that process. And there are some days when the process I enjoy so much just sounds burdensome. Enter one of my new, faux-process dinners: pizza using a store bought crust.

Pizza crust isn’t too difficult to whip up, but on those nights when I’m tired or low on time, store bought crust is a short cut that allows me to serve a home cooked meal with little effort.

Bread is my culinary best friend, so my tastes gravitate towards pudgy, thick pizza crust. However, my love handles don’t always appreciate my carb-laden chum, so Tim and I have been making our pizzas on whole wheat, thin crusts we found at Target. (This isn’t a sponsored post, just FYI.) It’s square, fairly low calorie, and thick enough to be chewy not crackery.

I’m always down for the standard cheese and pepperoni, but it makes me feel more grown up to be creative with our toppings. Plus, that helps me justify having pizza twice in a week (because you have to use both crusts, right…).

Here are 3 ways we’ve jazzed up our store bought pizza crust:

3 Ways to Jazz Up Pizza Crust

Fig Proscuitto Pizza – based on this from Pioneer Woman.

Sweet, salty, gooey with a fresh bite from the arugula. Eat it with a fork.

  • Crust
  • Fig Preserves – Bonne Maman is widely available and super tasty.
  • Proscuitto – crisped in skillet and crumbled.
  • Mozzarella
  • Bake at 400 until cheese is melted, 10 ish minutes.
  • Top with chopped arugula and shaved Parmesan.

Bacon and Egg Pizza – based on this in Food Network Magazine.

Breakfast for dinner is a favorite. Breakfast AND pizza? Yes, please.

  • Crust
  • Salsa
  • Red bell peppers, diced and sautéd until soft
  • Mozzarella
  • Bacon, cooked and chopped
  • Make wells in toppings and crack an egg into each well.
  • Bake at 400 until egg whites are opaque. Check after 20 minutes.

Peppered Ricotta and Roasted Veggie Pizza with Red Wine Reduction

Roast all your leftover vegetables and throw them on top of some creamy ricotta. A drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette would be a tasty substitution for the red wine reduction. 

  • Crust
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese mixed with freshly cracked pepper
  • Roasted veggies (we did 1 yellow onion, 1 red bell pepper, 1 small sweet potato)
  • Bake 400 until heated through, 15 minutes
  • Drizzle with red wine reduction sauce.

Is pizza in your meal rotation? Do you make your own crust? What are your favorite toppings?

When I have time to make homemade pizza crust, I’m going to follow these 9 tricks for making amazing pizza from Erika over at Let Why Lead!

2014 Goals Update

It’s the middle of March and I’m feeling a little scattered when it comes to the roles and goals I outlined for 2014. My new normal is prompting me to focus more on the process than the results, but I still want to have a clear direction while I’m in process. I’m revisiting my goals today with that in mind.

There are two things I already know about my goals after 7 weeks with James in the picture:

  1. I need to focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking makes me feel even more frazzled than I already am. Taking care of James means my attention is divided anyways. In order to start accomplishing goals, I will have to devote a day to just one task.Today I will work on my Project Life book; tomorrow I will blog; the next day I will organize underneath the bathroom sink, etc. 
  2. Keep my expectations low. Lots of grace.

Self:

  • Daily time with Jesus – Not accomplishing a traditional “quiet time” but trying to be attentive to God’s presence in this season.
  • Regular exercise – The weather is finally warmer which means daily walks are possible. Getting to the gym takes some scheduling effort. I haven’t started intentionally trying to lose the last 10 preggo pounds yet. 
  • Sleep – I can’t get enough…
  • Reading – Different habits, but I’m still able to read with a baby around.
  • Service – No real progress on this one.

Wife:

  • Daily one-on-one time – Definite room for improvement. Usually we get a couple minutes before we sack out in bed.
  • Monthly date-night – We’ve gotten a couple, thanks to my mom. She leaves this week, so we will see how this evolves.

Mother:

  • Prayer – Tim and I pray before bed, but I’m usually half asleep. I need to be better about praying throughout the day.
  • Breastfeeding – Going really well!
  • Reading out loud – Sometimes I cheat and read my own book, instead of a board book, out loud.
  • Document Baby James life – My mom got me a Project Life starter kit. I plan to print pictures next week and plan a day to get going.

Family Member:

  • Consistent email updates – I was doing once a week emails but that has dropped off post James. I need to prioritize these updates over blogging/social media.

Home Manager:

  • Finish unpacking – James has beens staying in our room, but my mom and I did finish putting together the nursery upstairs. Many more decor boxes to unpack. 
  • Cull excess – I have several bags of things to drop at Goodwill.
  • Purge and revamp wardrobe – I unearthed two boxes of my pre-pregnancy clothes last week. Just now starting to wear pre-preggo pants. I think the purging and revamping will be a gradual process as I slim down a bit more.
  • Meal plan – My mom has been feeding us for the past two months, but I’m working on a couple weeks rotation of budget meals.
  • Pay bills immediately – If we had the money to pay our medical bills immediately, I would be on top of it…
  • Daily house de-clutter – On and off successful with this.

Writer/Blogger:

  • Write something everyday – Totally not happening.
  • Comment on blogs – I’ve been doing pretty good with this, I think. In this season, I want to comment more than I blog.
  • Limit back-end blog improvements to a specific day – Or just cut it out all together for now? I’d rather focus on getting blog posts written instead of frittering away my time on social media and improvements. 
  • Read books about writing/blogging – These will be put on hold until I have enough mental energy to enjoy them. I will stick to fiction and Christian living for now.

How are you doing on your goals this year?

Build a Better Baby Registry

Our James arrived a bit early (January 27th!) and I’ve been too occupied with my snuggly little bug to do much writing. That first week with a newborn was a whirlwind, full of joy, tears and soft baby nuzzles. Tim and I learned a ton in those first couple of weeks with James. Part of what we learned was that we weren’t fully prepared.

I’m not talking mentally or emotionally prepared (because who can really be that kind of prepared for the arrival of a child?), but materially prepared. As a first time parent, it’s difficult to know what you’ll need. And good heavens, there are so many options! Stepping into Babies R Us was beyond overwhelming. We tried to create a baby registry with simplicity in mind even though we were starting from absolute scratch in the baby stuff department. My lovely baby shower was the day before I went into labor and we still sent family members off to the store at all hours for things we didn’t have or had forgotten. After a month with James at home, we have discovered where we succeeded and where we struck out in building a good baby registry.

Here are some tips for building a better baby registry (which I will absolutely need to review whenever we have number two). Keep in mind that every baby is different, so not all of these suggestions will be applicable to your family, but I hope you get some good ideas.

This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.

How to Build A Better Baby Registry

General Suggestions:

Our baby registry philosophy was two-fold: simplicity and organization.

  • Simplicity – I’m increasingly anti-accumulation and our house is small. I didn’t want to fall victim to excessive gadgetry and toys that would either be used for a very limited time or would do something that I could do myself.
  • Organization – Tim and I used our registry less as a gift guide and more as a way to catalogue everything we needed. Even if we knew we would be purchasing the item ourselves, we put it on our registry. That way, we could easily keep track of what we still needed to purchase in order to feel ready for James’ arrival.

Don’t register for clothes. The majority of our gifts were clothes – because who doesn’t love to pick out adorable pint-sized outfits? My only caveat to this is if you are using your registry, like we did, as a way to keep track of everything you need to still purchase. We registered for onesies, sleep and plays, and the like as a reminder to ourselves that we needed them.

Get a baby carrier. Having a baby is limiting to one’s mobility. Add Winter into the mix (oh how I long for warmer weather and sunshine…) and it’s possible to feel trapped in your own house. The ability to wear your baby is beyond freeing. I registered for a Moby Wrap because that’s the only baby carrier they had at Babies R Us. Though I enjoy having a Moby Wrap, I’m spatially challenged so it’s a bit high maintenance for every day use. When I was beginning to feel hemmed in on all sides by our house, Tim and I decided a different carrier would be beneficial (for everyone’s sanity). We went to a shop where you can try different ones on, stuffing a very patient James into several until we agreed on an Ergo Performance carrier. If there isn’t a shop that allows you try them on, ask near by mommas if you can borrow theirs to test them out, preferably after your little one arrives.

Consider registering on Amazon. Products are cheaper and everything can be on one registry.

Must Haves: These are must haves for the first few months. We registered for things that we wanted down the road, too, like a Bumbo seat and a Baby Bullet. But we haven’t needed them yet.

Must Haves.jpg

A cute diaper bag. Whether it’s a large purse (find inexpensive ones at TJ Maxx or Ross) or an actual diaper bag, you need a receptacle for all the baby paraphernalia you will end up carrying around every time you leave the house. I love mine from Thirty One.

Arm & Hammer Diaper PailWe didn’t register for this, but we should have. My sister-in-law and her husband went and got us one a couple days after bringing James home. It’s nice to have diapers (and pads!) corralled into one spot that’s smell free and compact.

Stroller. Again, this helps with the mobility factor. I wanted one I could jog with, so we settled on a Graco Fast Action Fold Jogger Click Connect Travel System (includes infant car seat). The Click Connect system makes transferring the car seat from stroller to car a cinch. The height of the stroller and stroller handle is perfect for tall people. The wheels are sturdy and move smoothly.

Auto Mirror. Potentially one of those excessive gadgets, but I LOVE being able to see James’ face while we’re driving. Makes obsessively checking to see if he’s breathing so much easier…

Bouncer. Baby snuggles are the best, but you can’t hold your baby all the time. Bouncers keep baby content when they’re not sleeping and you need to get stuff done – like peeing…

Swaddlers. James is the king of the Moro Reflex and startles himself awake endlessly. He sleeps soundly when all his appendages are wrapped snuggly. Swaddle blankets or a SwaddleMe is a nightly necessity. Swaddlers were a popular gift, but before I had time to return some, I discovered having multiple (3 in the size you’re on) is helpful for when your baby’s diaper leaks on several in one night.

The First Years Infant to Toddler TubAnother thing I wasn’t sure we needed but love having. The whole contraption is pretty small and the infant sling increases its longevity.

Blankets. We have 7ish baby blankets, which I thought was excessive until we used them so often. For changing, sleeping on the floor, covering the car seat, warmth while in bouncer, general snuggling, etc.

Nursing Pillow. I don’t always use mine, but I’m glad I have it. The lactation consultant recommended a Bosom Baby nursing pillow over a Boppy because the curved sides of a Boppy make nursing an infant, who doesn’t have head control quite yet, more difficult. When I’m not using mine to nurse, I use it to prop James upright.

Product Recommendations:

product recommendations.jpg

I prefer Lansinoh Lanolin (nipple cream) over the Medela I got in the hospital. The consistency is easier to spread.

Lansinoh also makes superb nursing pads. I went cheap after I ran out of my original Lansinoh pack and have had lumpy looking boobs ever since.

Pampers Swaddlers are the only diaper (we’ve tried Huggies and Parent’s Choice, too) that fit James properly and don’t leak immediately.

Our pediatrician recommended Bag Balm for diaper rash. It’s inexpensive and works well. Plus, it can be used for circumcision care and comes in a cute 1oz size for your diaper bag.

We held off on using a pacifier until James was well established with nursing. That being said, we are thankful for the calming effect of his “Bunny Button” (what we have dubbed his MAM pacifier). MAM pacifiers are minimalistic and come in a cool case that doubles as a sterilizer.

Good Things (unrelated to registry):

care package.jpgPostpartum Care Package – Your body takes a beating giving birth. It deserves some special attention. My sister sent me a thoughtful package with things I (didn’t know) would need to care for my postpartum body. I got some of these things from the hospital, but certainly not enough.

  • Tucks – I know some people keep them in the fridge for maximum cool relief
  • Dermoplast – an aerosol analgesic
  • Colace – never thought I would need a stool softener…
  • Pads – You can never have enough. Kotex U makes thin overnight pads that have colorful packaging which is a refreshing change from the diaperish ones I took home from the hospital.

I would absolutely do this for a pregnant friend, especially for their first round of giving birth.


Mommy Time: 90 Devotions for New Moms by Sarah Arthur – A devotional memoir (I thought I came up with that genre name until I visited Sarah’s website) that’s honest and humorous. It’s difficult to do anything but eat, sleep, and feed your baby during those first few weeks, but the short devos are relatable and encouraging.

Good Housekeeping: Making the Most of Your Mission Field

Please welcome Abra to Primitive Roads! This is a fabulously meaty post with lots to ponder. Take it in and let it digest, then share your thoughts in the comments.

~~~

My head hits a mountain of clean laundry that is waiting to be folded on my bed. My whole body feels like a slug and all I want to do is crawl back in bed. I hear my toddler stirring in his crib. My daughter calls to me from the bathroom; she needs help finding the toothpaste. I forgot to run the dishwasher last night, so I need to wash plates and forks for breakfast. The toaster oven is smoking. 7:15 on Monday morning, and I am completely exhausted.

“Housekeeping” is the management of the home. For many of us, this is the mission field God has assigned to us. It can include (but is not limited to): Cultivating a healthy marriage, nurturing and training children so they can eventually start their own households, organizing events, providing food, setting the general tone, and bringing beauty and order to the home. That is a lot of responsibilities. The truth is, housekeeping never really ends. What it looks like today will change as we grow older and go through different stages of life, but the work itself is endless. Most of us just pick some arbitrary time to stop and go to sleep, and then the next day we picked up where we left off, which usually means picking up the same toys, cleaning the same dishes and sweeping the same floors as we did yesterday. Two steps forward, 3 steps back. Housekeeping can easily become discouraging and mind numbing work. When that happens, I find that I need to focus on three things to remedy the problem:

  1. Perspective: As Christians, our ultimate purpose is to glorify God. This is done by believing His promises and allowing our belief to change us (Matthew 16:24-26). As we are transformed, we will begin to bring glory to God in many ways, one of which is loving others sacrificially (Mark 12:30-31). Jesus was born so that He could die for us. We imitate His example every day by putting other’s interests before our own (putting our selfishness to death). Moreover, we can sacrifice our desires for the well being of those around us joyfully, knowing the sacrifices Christ has already made for us. Those of us who are blessed to be stay at home mothers have a multitude of ready opportunities to practice this art. We do laundry so our husband has something clean to wear to work. We scrub the toilet so whoever needs to use it will be blessed and not offended by the experience. We change dirty diapers because we want our baby to be healthy and comfortable. The very repetition of a housekeeper’s sacrifice can deepen our understanding of the gospel. To protect yourself from discouragement, remind yourself of Jesus’ sacrifice and give thanks for the many opportunities to mirror it daily. Don’t forget that every time you wash a dish, you are not only testifying to the worth humans have as God’s children, you are also enacting a micro-image of the gospel. Dish duty seems boring to those who don’t recognize the theology incarnated in it.
  2. Priorities: As a wife and mom, our top three priorities should be God, Husband, and our Children – in that order. You are subject to your husband under God. Colossians 3:18 says, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord”. That last part is extremely important. It tells us that our husbands are subject to God, which indicates that God should be numero uno in our lives. There should be no question about where your loyalties lie. Your husband should know that you will joyfully submit to him – in so far as he submits to God. He should know that you will not ignore sin in his life, but strive to respectfully point him towards Christ. As for children, your husband should always rank higher. You were a wife before you were a mother – which is the God created order. Your husband was with you before your children were born and he will be with you after they have grown up and left your home – emphasize your relationship with him. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should neglect your children. Your husband loves you and your children and he, too, should sacrifice his own interests on his family’s behalf. You are both working toward the well being of your home. My point is that we should not use our children as an excuse to neglect our responsibilities as a wife. The greatest gift you can give your children (and your husband) is a home where Mom respects Dad and Dad loves Mom. If you have to choose between quality time with your husband or making a nutrient rich meal – order pizza! Don’t offer up the dregs of yourself to your Beloved. Setting up your priorities this way will help you fight off the feeling of being overwhelmed. Prioritization (especially when it is coupled with God honoring physical intimacy) has a way of keeping your perspective clear and your day ordered. What is the first thing you should do in the morning? Offer up prayer and praise to God. Second thing, tell (or show) your husband you love him. Thirdly, bless your children. When something comes up and you don’t know how to handle it, ask God to guide you and listen for His answer. How to handle tantrums, what to clean first, whether you should be planning meals or winging it – all these ordinary questions have an answer that can be found through applying God’s principles offered in the Bible.
  3. Passion: This is tied into Perspective, or perhaps, an extension of it. True gratitude brings joy. Joy will be your shield against frustration, hopelessness, boredom and anxiety. Joy is the garden in which healthy passion is cultivated. Housekeepers, be passionate about your work! Become a student of the home. Ask questions, seek knowledge, always be pushing yourself to be a better cook, to be a better cleaner, to be a better mommy, to be a better lover. Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed by the wealth of information out there and remember to use moderation (perspective and priorities – burn out is often avoidable by thoughtful prioritization), but joyfully continue your education and you will never get bored. This sort of passion for your calling will greatly increase your quality of life – not to mention that your family will enjoy reaping the benefits of your new expertise. You will bring glory to God by praising Him and diligently seeking excellence in the vocation He has blessed you with. This will also prevent you from side-long glances that obliterate contentment. You will minister to your family and friends with your joyful spirit, welcoming home, delicious food, and best of all – your godly husband will see your joyful offerings and find you even more irresistible.

I am going to be perfectly honest with you, friends. I have not mastered godly housekeeping (not even close). Our work as homemakers will never end. With each new sunrise, most of the chores we did yesterday are undone and there is always room for improvement. I know this can be discouraging and overwhelming. But, it doesn’t have to be. With God as our strength, we can become the type of housekeeper Proverbs 31 encourages us to be. Not through sewing purple clothes or investing in real estate, necessarily, but by tending our hearts with similar respect and care with which they were created by our Father. In our lives, there will always be seeds to sow and feed and weeds to pull – and this will take a lifetime – and that is okay. We have a lifetime to spend on it.

I encourage you to start small: Pick one “P” from above and work on it tomorrow. Start by praying for God to give you energy, joy and discretion. Find the time every day to study your Bible – that is your guidebook, but it won’t be much help if you aren’t familiar with it (2 Timothy 3:14-17). Secondly, connect with your husband. Ask him for his input. Ask him what aspects of housekeeping are most important to him. What chores bless him the most and which ones can be put down lower on the list. Also ask your husband to pray for you daily and don’t forget to make him second only to God when you prioritize your time and energy. If finding the time to pray for your husband and fellowship with him means the laundry doesn’t get folded, that is ok. The laundry will still be there tomorrow. Thirdly, when you start to feel burned out, step back and re-prioritize. Remember that God rested on the seventh day and so should you. You need to rest in order to be fruitful. I recommend putting the un-necessaries on hold for a day or two and reading Crazy Busy: A Mercifully Short Book About A (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung. In it DeYoung offers several different causes of an overly-busy life and points us to freeing, Bible-based solutions.

There are no step by step tips and tricks to make you a good housekeeper. But there are principles, like the ones I have shared, and below you’ll find a couple tips I have found helpful. However, what works for me may or may not work for you. I can tell you one of the most useful things I have learned was to stop seeing inconveniences as a bad thing. G.K. Chesterton said. “An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.” The first thing motherhood taught me was that I needed to learn flexibility if we were going to survive the adventure. One of the primary stressors in the life of a stay at home mom is the lack of free time and mental stimulation. I had four children in 8 years. There have been seasons of pure chaos and seasons where free time abounds. I don’t know what season you are in, but maybe some of these ideas can help usher some rest and sanity into your life:

  1. Set your alarm for 15 minutes before you need to get up – this means you need to go to bed on time whenever humanly possible. Smart phones use an LED light which studyies suggest suppress melatonin, so I use mine to stimulate alertness when I’m groggy. I have a short devotional loaded onto my phone. My sweet husband brings me my coffee in bed (I know, I’m so spoiled!) and I sit there reading my devotional and infusing caffeine into my body before my feet ever hit the floor. I pray and then I get up. My husband and I try to do our Bible reading together and then we pray before he leaves for work – on days this doesn’t happen, we do it when he comes home. This practice has helped us start and finish our day with a united focus and healthy attitude.

  1. Accomplish as many do-ahead/make-ahead chores during your most wakeful time of day. I am a night person, so I get the coffee maker ready, lunches packed, clothes laid out and occasionally even breakfast in the slow cooker before I go to bed at night.

  1. Create free time for yourself. No, seriously, you can do this. Make nap time or quiet time sacred in your home. Encourage your children’s independent creativity. This might mean completely child-proofing a room in your house where they can play safely without supervision. Older children need to understand that one way to show mom respect and love is by giving her some time of quiet privacy. One way we start to teach them this principle from a young age is by not allowing them in the bathroom when mom is using it. Cultivating these types of little habits have a big payoff later. Alternately, a little TV won’t kill your kids! Find a movie or show that will keep your kid’s interests without destroying their brains – not all shows are created equal. With your new free time, make a priority of studying your Bible first and then spending the remaining time doing something you love (reading, painting, sleeping). The discipline of quiet time is good for your children to learn and the quiet time is good for you. You will also find yourself less flustered and worn out when your husband gets home from work, which will enable you to cultivate a better relationship with him in the evening. Everyone wins!

  1. Make a chore list and then be reasonable with your expectations. Figure out (this is a good time to ask your husband for his thoughts) which chores are the most important and use that as a starting place. Delegate if possible. You are not a maid, you are a housekeeper. Even Jesus and the Proverbs 31 woman had help. Children need responsibilities and there is no shame in asking your husband for help when you need it. Right now, I’m using a chore app on my phone. It has a way to schedule which chores pop up on which days and the list is arranged in a manner that is efficient (thanks to professional maids who blog!) so I only have to do each chore once a day.

  1. Audiobooks! I love them. They help keep my mind busy while I am doing routine chores. I put one earbud in my ear and leave the other ear open to hear my children as they play. There are lots of free books available to download through Librivox.com and your public library. This is also a good time to go back and re-listen through last week’s sermon that you only heard parts of because you were taking care of your kids in church. :-)

I am always on the hunt for new ways to improve my housekeeping abilities. What tips do you have for making the most of homemaking?

Abra and her husband, Ben, live in North Idaho where she stays home with their four young children. She is passionate about pursuing God and her hobbies: reading, archery and eating cheese. You can find her at her blog, on Facebook and Twitter.