Why I am a Stay-at-Home Mom — Part 3

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’  Proverbs 31:27-29

 

Or maybe this is what you think of housewives...

It is very easy to fall into the sin-habit of ‘eat[ing] the bread of idleness’ especially as a housewife with no or young children where we don’t have a boss setting goals for us or specific demands from 9-5 everyday.  Laziness has become an especially prominent stronghold with the advent of such luxuries as television, computers, and social media (especially Facebook).

So how do I spend my time inside and outside of the home such that laziness does not become a pattern for me?

I will not lie to you that laziness is a weakness/temptation that I am not always successful at overcoming.  There are many times when I end up doing everything except for what actually needs to be done.  For example – I am not a fan of cleaning bathrooms, so this household duty is last on my list of things to do and if I can find anything else to do then cleaning the bathrooms always gets moved farther down the list!  So being able to pinpoint some of my weaknesses like this one allows me to take specific and practical steps toward guarding against those manifestations of laziness.  Just about a week ago, I purchased a dry erase board with a calendar on it and all I have to do is fill in the correct dates for each month.  This calendar allows me to plan when I want to clean specific parts of our home, run errands, exercise, etc.  Planning ahead like this prevents me from getting to Friday or Saturday and realizing that I have to spend the whole day doing everything that I could have done a little bit everyday during the week.

To be honest, cleaning our 2 bedroom, 2 bath, 1200 sq ft apartment does not require much of my time (if I’m diligent to actually do it and not just lolly gag around) and Abigail sleeps for about 16 hours of the day, so what could I possibly do in the meantime other than watch television and stalk people/invent funny status updates on Facebook?

During this time in our life I have taken on the responsibility of being creative with using/saving our money.  We don’t have much left after we pay our bills so it is essential that we use our money wisely so that we are not spending more than we make.  Couponing is certainly a worthwhile time investment, especially if there are coupons out there for items you already use.  There are many times, through using coupons for items on sale, that I end up saving just as much money as I spend.  Couponing does not require much of my time during the week, but we do get a Sunday paper almost every week and I frequent certain websites that do all of the sales research for me.  There are many websites that list sale items at certain stores and draw attention to high-value coupons – I use Money Saving Mom and My Frugal Adventures.  Aside from couponing, I also try to find creative ways to make cheap, healthy food (which sometimes requires more work but is definitely worth it).  Right now, for example, I have a whole chicken waiting in my freezer.  I bought the chicken for $0.79 per lb, which is MUCH cheaper than buying frozen chicken breasts and I can also use the carcass to make chicken broth.  This will be my first time using a whole chicken (I’m not a fan of cleaning out the middle part), but I have a dear friend who will be teaching me soon!

I also have decided to make our own laundry detergent.  The recipe (recipe #2 on the linked page) calls for 1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap, 1 cup of washing soda, and ½ cup of Borax.  It makes a 5-gallon bucket of double-concentrated detergent and costs between 2-3 dollars.  The bar of soap is the most expensive component (about $1.50) but you can use whatever soap you want; Fels-Naptha soap is specially formulated for cleaning clothes, so that’s why I use it.  I find that this detergent works well and I use Shout to spray especially tough-looking stains.l  There are other ingredients you can use to make your own laundry detergent, but I think this might be the cheapest.  Some people have problems with using Borax but nobody in our family eats the laundry detergent so I don’t have any issues using it.

Since we have a baby who is eating baby food (another super-overpriced grocery item) I make it all from vegetables and fruit I buy at the grocery store rather than buying jars of food.  This chart can give you a rough idea of how much money we save by making homemade baby food.  It is a little more difficult to make cereal (fruits and vegetables only require cooking and pureeing) but so far I have been able to get all our cereal for free.

Aside from making sure we are spending our money wisely and keeping our home relaxing and clean, Raymond and I both find it a top priority to invest a lot of our time in our church family.  Since I have ‘free’ days, I am able to spend one day a week at the church making copies, organizing closets, and making phone calls so that the church can use what would have been somebody’s salary to pay for a mission trip, provide childcare for Bible study, help a couple with their adoption, etc.  I am also able to attend a woman’s Bible study on Thursday morning which allows me to form relationships with women in the church I wouldn’t normally interact with.  These women are an encouragement to me as I am able to learn from their wisdom and experiences in life.

In conclusion, I am very joyful as a stay-at-home wife/mom.  I know that this position best serves our family and it gives me opportunities for service and growth that would be squelched if I were putting Abigail in a daycare and working from 9-5 during the week.  I am grateful for a husband who is willing to work hard to provide for our family so that  I can stay at home with our children.  As I mentioned in a previous post, our ultimate goal is to honor the Lord with our marriage and the structure of our family and Raymond and I both believe that this is best done with him providing for/leading our family and me staying home to care for our children (Lord willing, there will be more) and our house.

Thank you to all who read these posts and I openly welcome questions, comments, and ridicule :)

Why I am a Stay-at-Home Mom — Part 2

Is this what you think of housewives?

There are many reasons that we have structured our family in this way, even as Raymond pursues a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. (which he will begin in August 2011, Lord willing).  The primary reason is that we believe the Lord is most honored when we, among other things, strive for Raymond to be the primary provider of our home financially and for me to be the helper to Raymond so that our home is in order and functional and he is able to complete with excellence the work that the Lord has given him to do.  God created man to fulfill the role of leader and worker while he created woman to be the man’s helper (that is, the woman complements her husband and helps him in the task that God has given him) (Genesis 2:15-24; Ephesians 5:22-33).  This role of helper manifests itself in many ways, some are universal while others are particular to our situation, and will modify and adjust as our situation in life changes.  Most importantly, I nourish him with food, I create a relaxing atmosphere in the home, I provide verbal affirmation of the work he is doing and the leadership he provides for our family, etc (Raymond also does many things that serve me, but my focus in this post is on my responsibilities…Raymond does not think of me or treat me as a slave).  Before we had Abigail, I was not only working at Starbucks but attending the University of Louisville as well, and I can honestly say that it is impossible for me to do all the things I would like to do around the house and for Raymond (not to mention adding children into our life) if I have work responsibilities outside of the home.

Of course it would be really nice to make some extra money and it would probably be a lot less stressful for me if I put Abigail in a daycare and paid somebody to take care of her, especially when she’s fussy or having a bad day, but all the reasons I can think of for wanting to work outside of the home are self-serving and they only reveal the idols of materialism and success in my heart.  The Lord has given us everything we need through Raymond’s jobs and the generosity of others and faithfully parenting our children is more important than financially supporting any frivolous/materialistic whims we might have.  We definitely have to work really hard at using our money wisely and finding creative ways to save money, but it is worth it to know that we are honoring the Lord with the decisions we have made regarding our family.

Least importantly, though still a very valid reason, is that staying home with our children is best for them psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, etc.  Much research has been done confirming that a traditional family of one man and one woman who have not been divorced/remarried where the father provides financially and the mother focuses her attention on caring for their children creates the most suitable environment for raising socially mature children (I am primarily referencing The Natural Family by Allan Carlson & Paul Mero though I’m sure that there are other resources).  We want our sons to learn how to be godly men, protecting and providing for their families, and we want our daughters to learn how to be godly women, having a quiet and gentle spirit and joyfully submitting to their husbands.  In order to accomplish this, Raymond and I have to model what we think godly manhood and womanhood is.

Coming to the end of Part 2, I’m pretty sure there will be another post for this series.  I think the topic of that one will have something to do with the practical outworking of being a stay-at-home mom (how I fill my day, what I do to save money, etc).

Why I am a Stay-at-Home Mom — Part 1

I love taking care of this little one

Why am I a stay-at-home wife/mom?  Don’t I have something better to contribute to society and the economy than changing diapers, cooking dinner, cleaning bathrooms, and making beds?  What do you consider to be a worthy contribution to society and the economy?  Wouldn’t I like to bring in more money so that we can live in a house with a yard or have better insurance?  Would you ever willfully choose (and work hard to make it happen) to forsake a promising career path in order to raise/teach your children and care for the home while your husband provides for the family?  How can I find fulfillment in taking care of a 5-month old?

I have looked forward to being a stay-at-home mom for such a long time and I have thoroughly considered the above questions.  I can say with confidence that staying at home to take care of Raymond, our children, and our house is more personally fulfilling than any career I could think of having.  Eve is named as such because she is the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20), so women are created to be fulfilled through nurturing their children and caring for their family.  So, why have I decided to stay at home instead of pursue a career?  I can say with great assurance that I know my place and role and worth is found in the home, caring for my family and doing all sorts of things that I will never be paid money for (making lunches, ironing shirts, staying awake with a sick baby, cleaning bathrooms – see Proverbs 31:10-31).  Of course, my ultimate and eternal worth is found through the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made so that I can be forgiven of my sins and adopted into God’s family, and this is why I find worth and fulfillment in being a homemaker (Titus 2:3-5) and deferring to Raymond’s leadership and direction for our family (Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19).

First, let me say one thing about deciding to be a full-time stay-at-home wife/mom.  Raymond and I both understand that there are situations where it is required for the wife/mom to work for money in some capacity (either part-time, full-time, or from home), but we do have a strong conviction that the best possible situation for a family is that the wife/mom should focus her attention and mind on taking care of the home and family rather than pursuing a career or more money.  I would like to encourage those families who are in a situation where both parents are working outside of the home to start evaluating your intentions and motives for expecting the mom to bring additional income into the family.  Are you both working so that you can maintain a certain desired standard of living or is this a situation where the dad is physically disabled and, therefore, unable to work?  Additionally, there may be an excessive debt that cannot be paid off solely on the husband’s income or some situation of this nature.  If a certain standard of living is needing to be maintained then I would like to challenge you, for the sake of your family, to consider removing those luxuries so that the wife will be free to manage the household with excellence.  Perhaps downsizing the house to lower the mortgage or finding creative ways to save money on groceries or committing to eat more home cooked meals are means by which you can decrease your budget and live off one salary.  So to conclude this thought, I would just like to reiterate that Raymond and I are fully convinced that it is better for the family and more honoring to the Lord that the wife/mom can be primarily at home especially when there are children in the family.

As you may notice from the title of this post, I have broken this post up into more than one part.  How many exactly?….that is yet to be determined :)  I’m not very long-winded, so right now its only 2 parts.  So, I would like to save the next installment for explaining all of the reasons that I want to be a stay-at-home wife/mom.