Wake up. Feed the family. Clean the house. Do the laundry. Wash dishes. Pick up toys. Rinse and repeat.
Every. Daggone. Day.
There’s no sugar-coating the fact that motherhood and homemaking can be monotonous.
Your to-do list is the same pretty much every day of the week, every week of the year.
I know firsthand how easily moms can fall into the trap of discontentment. Chances are, you’ve felt that same longing for meaning and purpose that I’ve experienced, wondering “what’s the point of it all?” and imagining what things might have been like had you chosen a different lifestyle.
If you’ve had these thoughts (or ones like them), there’s no need for guilt. It’s completely normal to feel bogged down in the humdrum.
The great news I want to share with you is: it doesn’t have to stay that way!
You can get out of that tedious rut, you can find joy in the everyday tasks, and you can fall in love with homemaking.
Today, I’m showing you several ways how you can do just that.
My Own Struggle With Contentment In the Home
I spent my teenage years dreaming of the day I would finally finish school and land an adrenaline-pumping job in law enforcement.
I wanted to be strong and scrappy, pack a gun, bring down the bad guys, and help people.
At 20 years old, I graduated college with my Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice, got my M.R.S 16 days later, and started my educated, married life in a huge metropolitan area where I began applying for jobs. As far as I could tell, my deck was stacked.
After less than 8 months of marriage, I did something I hadn’t expected to do for another 7-10 years…
I took a pregnancy test. And it was very, very positive.
Based on my own beliefs and values (which are shared by my husband), I made the decision to change careers and become a stay-at-home mother and homemaker.
I never got my action-packed mini-career in law enforcement.
And I will be completely honest with you, I regularly grapple with the life I feel I lost when I became a mom.
I am not always content with changing diapers, distributing fishy crackers, and scrubbing spaghetti stains off of the walls.
I would be lying if I said I abandoned my old dreams and never looked back.
There’s no need for us to deny that motherhood is a HUGE sacrifice in so many different ways. But it is also immensely rewarding.
I have come to love homemaking and take joy from the little things I do every day. Contentment isn’t something that just happens; it’s something you have to claim for yourself every single day.
I’m not perfect, but I’ve come a long way.
I want to help you find happiness and joy in your life, too, no matter your circumstances, but before we get into specific strategies, let’s take a moment to clarify the conversation on homemaking.
What is Homemaking?
For the most part, homemaking is a lost art.
In our fast-paced culture, we’ve laid aside the slow lifestyle that cultivated the joys of homemaking.
Modern-day moms are expected to be stretched thin, running in 50 directions, hauling kids from this activity to that, managing a home-business, working extra jobs, AND still do all of the childcare, homemaking, and housekeeping.
(I’m exhausted just typing that.)
Our fear of lost opportunities outside of the home causes us to miss so many opportunities inside of the home.
Homemaking isn’t supposed to be just a mountain of responsibilities.
It isn’t just chores and cleaning.
And it’s so much more than an obstacle keeping you from “more important things.”
Homemaking is supposed to be beautiful and meaningful.
Think about the word itself… You are making a home. Not just keeping up a house, making a home for your family.
It is a skillful craft which injects virtue, emotion, and character into an otherwise material space.
It is the little flourishes of care that speak love and life into the atmosphere of your environment.
It requires practice, intention, and dedication.
Why Does Homemaking Matter?
A homemaker is the steward of her family’s daily life.
She sets the tone for the day, curates activities and experiences both in and out of the home, and is generally responsible for her family’s well-being.
Homemaking plays a huge role in determining whether your family’s environment is nurturing, peaceful, restorative, and secure, or toxic, disorganized, chaotic, and stressful.
It can also be the difference between a mama who is tired, overextended, and stressed-out, and one who is calm, present, and joyous.
Ultimately, it boils down to mindset.
How will you choose to approach your daily tasks? They’re not going away.
Will you allow them to be a drudgery and steal your joy?
Or, will you choose to search for joy in the process, and value the things you do most often as those which ARE the most important?
Seeing myself as a homemaker instead of an unpaid housekeeper wasn’t a shift I came to on my own.
For me, it actually began with a book: “At Home with Madame Chic.“
This book illuminates the French approach to daily living, which is a stark contrast from what Californian exchange student Jennifer Scott was accustomed to.
Madame Chic, Jennifer’s host, never rushed to set the dinner table in the evening, never schlepped around in baggy loungewear during the day, never kicked back on the couch to snack and binge Netflix.
She derived pleasure from her daily tasks and made it her job to elevate the simple aspects of life for both herself and her family.
It is a must read!
You can also find some great routines and tips from Flylady. I remember seeing my mom’s inbox smattered with Flylady emails in the days before blogs, and finally investigated for myself as an adult.
I have to say, that system will leave you with no excuses and kick you into shape. It goes hand in hand with my philosophy that we need to treat motherhood and homemaking as a legitimate career.
How to Find Joy in Homemaking
1. Take Pride in Your Home
Yes, you’re doing the same tasks on a repeating cycle.
Yes, the floor you just swept will be littered with snack crumbs in t minus five minutes.
But try not to see these tasks as just line items on your to-do list.
Remember the overall impact of homemaking on your space and your family and take pride in your work.
Rather than being frustrated that you’ll have to do it all over again tomorrow, relish the sense of accomplishment that comes from a job well done.
Do everything with excellence, even if you think no one will see it.
The pleasure and accomplishment you reap from doing so will be well worth the effort.
Spend every day making your home something you are proud of. It doesn’t have to be Pinterest-worthy, you don’t have to buy fresh flowers every time you go to the store, you don’t have to constantly be baking something delicious.
Just start by focusing on making your home a safe and comforting place, a space you love to be in.
2. Treat Homemaking Like Your Job
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a homemaker is viewing your home as an obstacle standing between you and bigger, better things.
If you are a full-time stay-at-home mom, then homemaking can and should constitute a significant portion of your day.
Stop trying to plow through your home tasks to get to “more important” things.
Treat homemaking and motherhood like your job! How would you approach these tasks if they were subject to review, or if you were doing them for someone else?
If you were being paid a salary with someone looking over your shoulder, would you leave your sink full of soggy food scraps and dirty bubbles after washing the dishes? Or would you clean out the sink and leave it shining?
Slow down and treat your homemaking tasks as though they matter. Because they do!
In addition, this approach will help you to be a more successful homemaker by improving your focus.
At a “real” job, would you pop out your phone every other minute to answer a text, or scroll mindlessly through Instagram? No way! You might even be fired. Your employer expects your work to take priority.
You also probably wouldn’t show up in your pajamas. No one would take you seriously, including yourself, and it would impact the quality of your work.
View homemaking as a job. Show up and give it your all every single day. Make yourself presentable, put away distractions like your phone, and work hard.
This simple mindset has made a huge difference for me. Instead of feeling like homemaking is keeping me from something, or seeing it as a means to an end, I treat it as an end in itself. Instead of being a hurdle, it’s something that deserves my effort and attention.
I view it as an essential part of my family’s well-being, and I take my work seriously. I benefit so much more from knowing I gave each task my all, than knowing I did a sloppy, half-hearted job.
3. Focus on One Task at a Time
To be a successful homemaker, you need to be intentional about minimizing or eliminating distractions.
No, you cannot lock your child in a closet with a graham cracker and an iPad.
But you can purposefully “lose” your phone in another room.
You can turn off the tv.
You can focus your efforts on one task at a time rather than flitting from thing to thing trying to complete all of your tasks at once.
4. Involve Your Children No Matter How Young
Littles love to help.
No one has taught them yet that chores are a drag.
We can take a real lesson from them when it comes to approaching the work before us with vigor and joy.
While letting a toddler help you wash dishes might actually slow you down a bit, remember, our goal is not to speed through our housework to greener grass! Rather, take this opportunity to be present in the moment, teach your child, and take pleasure in the giggles and bubble-beards.
One additional benefit to doing this is that instead of having a whiny child wrapped around your leg (which will also slow you down), you can both enjoy the task together.
5. Stop Nagging Your Husband
I know this is a really tough one, Mom Friends, but nagging your husband to pitch in will swallow up your joy faster than a toddler with a small object.
The huge responsibility of mothering and homemaking is overwhelming, I know. When it feels like we just can’t do it all, it’s easy to rag on our husbands for not doing more.
Some men are very sensitive to the needs within their home, and pitch in without even having to be asked.
Unfortunately, though, is sensitivity does not come as a default setting for most men. For some, it may grow with maturity, but others may never see our homes the way that we do.
While I absolutely believe that men should be involved in housework and home management, you can’t force it.
If your husband helps less than you would like (or not at all), it doesn’t automatically mean he doesn’t care about you.
I know how overwhelming it all can be, but nagging him to do more (and then being disappointed the times he doesn’t) won’t make you less overwhelmed.
And in fact, when you give in and finally just do the thing yourself, you will be more likely to find bitterness in the task than joy.
The best thing you can do is quit nagging, adjust your expectations, and do the very best you can. It’s not ideal, but you will be happier.
6. Re-frame Negative Thoughts
Despite our best efforts, the endless cycle of domestic life takes its toll on even the best among us.
You may still find yourself sliding into negative thoughts like:
- What’s the point of doing this if I’m just going to have to re-do it tomorrow?
- Why can’t anyone just pick up after themselves?
- I can’t do it all!
- I can’t be everything for everyone all the time.
- Why does my husband get a life while I’m stuck at home with screaming kids and messes?
- I’m so sick of cleaning up the same mess ten times a day!
While I won’t deny the element of truth behind all of these feelings, they certainly won’t bring you joy.
It’s completely understandable (and normal) to have these thoughts once in a while, but the danger is that they can quickly spiral into thought patterns. If you allow the seed to take root, it will grow quickly and aggressively.
To avoid having to dig out a pervasive weed later on, you need to shut the negativity down immediately.
- Acknowledge your feelings as legitimate, but unhelpful.
- Remind yourself that YOU control your thoughts, and your thoughts will translate into your feelings.
- Re-compose your thoughts to be positive, grateful, objective, and forward-focused.
- Immediately engage with something that brings you joy (like playing music, fixing a cup of coffee, reading a couple of pages of your latest book, etc.)
Contentment is a choice, and joy comes from intention. Don’t let something as simple as uncontrolled thoughts sabotage your happiness.
7. Create Rituals You That Bring You Pleasure
Let’s not forget, homemaking isn’t just about “chores.”
There’s so much more to making a home than just keeping it clean!
Scatter little elements throughout your day that make you happy and make your day more fulfilling.
For example, rising before your family to enjoy some tranquility (and caffeine). Spend time doing something you want to do–without interruption! That could be stretching, reading, praying, going for a run, painting, or just staring at a wall.
Enjoy a pot of tea throughout your afternoon.
Maybe you dread cleaning the kitchen, but love listening to audiobooks. Combine the two!
Take time to bake goodies (and actually sit down to eat them!).
Start a small garden.
Diffuse your favorite oils.
Whatever your little pleasures, sprinkle them throughout your day! Having a joyful mama will be more nourishing to your family than anything you could feed them, roll on the bottoms of their feet, or infuse into their bathwater.
Not only that, but elevating the simple things in life will help to keep the humdrum at bay!
Now I want to hear from YOU!
How do you feel about homemaking? What simple things in life bring you joy?