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I have a lot of formal education under my belt. But very little of it helped prepare me for how I now spend the vast majority of my time: caring for my family and running a household. In other words, homemaking.
I didn’t plan for this.
I didn’t study for this.
I could never have imagined any of this.
But this is my life: laundry, dishes, scheduling, crying, diapering, teaching, loving, organizing, crying some more, meal planning, cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring—generally chaotic but beautiful “homemaking.”
You don’t have to be a stay-at-home parent to be a homemaker. You just have to have a family and a home. And a homemaker makes a home not just an address, but a place to live. You work to make it peaceful, safe, comfortable, nurturing and welcoming.
So, having said that…I was convinced for a long time that I pretty much fail at this skill constantly.
But as it turns out, I just needed a little shift in my perspective.
Related: Should I Be a Stay-At-Home Mom?
3 Reasons Why You’re Failing At Homemaking
1. You set the bar too high.
I’m a recovering perfectionist, which means that every day, I have to wake up and fight to feel okay about who I am.
It gets exhausting.
I remember one Saturday morning as a newlywed when I was so excited to be making my husband’s favorite breakfast: blueberry muffins. They smelled wonderful combined with the scent of bacon just starting to crisp.
But I forgot the baking powder.
He was a good sport briefly as he mashed the rubbery concoction between his teeth. But he was also honest that it wasn’t my best work.
I burst into tears because I just couldn’t handle failing him (oh boy, just you wait, young me). And because of that one failure, a part of me felt like I would never get this wife role right.
Ten years later, I don’t cry over blueberry muffins anymore, or really anything that I accidently destroy during the baking process. But I frequently catch myself getting upset when I screw up—I missed a payment, I forgot an appointment, I stained the carpet, I yelled at the kids…
I have to remind myself that I am not Betty Crocker, Joanna Gaines, or Jesus. And nobody expects me to be. While I have grown and will continue to grow, in the meantime, I am the best homemaker for my family simply because I am me, not because of what I do (or don’t).
2. You don’t know what you don’t know.
When you move into your first house, it’s a little bewildering when you discover all the things that can go wrong with it. Nonetheless, when our basement flooded a little over a year ago, I was pretty excited to do a remodeling project.
A month into it I wanted to die. (Okay, not really, but it was bad.)
Pinterest failed me. It failed to mention how hard the work would be, and it also failed to mention how to effectively whitewash your fireplace with drippy, splattery water-paint when you generally hate painting and you have three curious and small kids popping in and out of a generally hazardous work area.
I wish sometimes that I just knew all the things. Like how to grow plants without killing them or how to breastfeed without getting mastitis with every single kid, or how to speak in awesome voices when I read aloud.
But I don’t know all the things, and neither do you, and neither does anybody. Sometimes homemakers get the idea in our heads that we have to know how to be the Proverbs 31 woman from the get-go and just exude awesomeness. When really, it’s a better use of our time and energy when we simply admit that we don’t know how to do the things. Because—you simply don’t know what you don’t know!
Once you admit that you don’t know something, you can still decide to learn it. As a newlywed my culinary expertise was limited to frozen burritos. Now I’m actually a decent cook. It took lots of practice, lots of failure and—most importantly—lots of time.
Related: Goal Setting for the Lazy Mom
3. You don’t ask for help.
I have a lot of embarrassing newlywed stories. During our first year of marriage we were working part time leading a campus ministry. One day, my mentor and I were chatting, and she very gently crushed my soul with these words:
“You seem like you don’t really want help because you already know the answers and don’t ask for input.”
Or something like that.
I have no recollection of how I responded. I think I was picking up the pieces of my jaw on the floor.
Sometimes the most cutting words are the true ones. I think my friend was primarily referring to how I was handling my job in ministry, but it’s an issue that has affected my whole life: I hate feeling needy and I hate asking for help.
I think it’s a rare genetic condition called…pride maybe?
Titus 2:3–5 is perhaps one of the better known passages on mentorship/discipleship, particularly as it relates to women, but in my understanding it’s all over the book. Humans are generally dumb. Humans who are older and more experienced are generally less dumb. So maybe we younger humans should seek the older humans’ guidance.
Personally, while I enjoy the creature comforts of the modern era, one thing we really lack is the relational support our ancestors had. We’re in single-family homes, working our tails off, isolated from community, trying to hack our way through homemaking and life in general. Getting help from wise mentors takes effort and persistence.
How To Not Fail at Homemaking
I should actually stop writing here because the truth is you and I will both continue to fail at homemaking, quite spectacularly as a matter of fact. Hopefully by now you’re cool with that.
Having said that, however, you can make it a little less painful. First, find a mentor. It’s actually not that hard—it could be your mom or some lady from church who is just aching to offer her wisdom. You just have to look, and ask. And it doesn’t have to be a formal arrangement. Invite your neat freak friend over and ask her to help you clean out that weird cabinet under the kitchen island.
Second, do some study and soul-searching about what it means to be a homemaker. Don’t know where to start? The Bible is usually a good place :). Check out my Woman of Strength devotional, which you can find in my free resource collection.
Are you “failing” at homemaking? Which of these tips will help you most?